Aside from the fact that I really wanted to work a title reference to Dr. Strangelove into this blog somehow, the two major parts of that clause are definitely relevant to my journey here, or really to any journey I undertake. Let's break it down: First, I really don't like worrying about things. Second, raised on a culturally diverse diet and blessed by Odin with an "open-minded palette," I've developed a taste tolerance for just about anything.
Now, you're probably still scratching your head in a befuddled state. You want to ask me, "But Simon, what is Gammel Dansk and in what manner does it relate to your taste buds?" To answer this, we'll have to delve into some etymology.
Dansk is the easy part of this couplet, meaning "Danish." The first word is a little trickier but still doable, with Gammel glossing to "ancient," or, more appropriate to the vernacular of liquor naming conventions, "old." Old in the sense of, say, Old Crow. I think most of you will, from the resounding depths of that reference, be able to infer the terror that this word should inspire in you when placed before "Dansk." I'm looking at you, Greg Swanson.
Now, there's some context you should be aware of when approaching Danish liquors and food in general. The only real spice they have in this part of the world is Anise. For those who aren't aspiring botanists out there, this is the plant not quite responsible for unleashing the abomination known as licorice upon this world, but for then imitating its flavor for some probably Satanic purpose. I think it's one of the only plants that could withstand the constant yelling emanating from Viking civilization around the turn of the first century.
In all seriousness though, the Vikings, in keeping with their truly brutal nature, liked really bitter stuff. Lacking hops, the Vikings chopped up wormwood to brew into their beers. I don't know if you've ever bitten wormwood, I had a chance to do so at the brewery tour we went on, but it is true to what I'm certain its namesake would taste like. So really bitter tasting weird shit ended up in a lot of Danish sweets and treats, but most importantly in Danish liquor. They have licorice shots, menthol shots, schnapps flavored with dill leaves and soil -- you name something you would never want to ingest concurrently with alcohol, they've got it.
So now this brings us -- dramatic pause -- to Gammel Dansk. Gammel Dansk has licorice. It probably has anise. It has echoes of vermouth. It has the flavor sucker-punch of bitters. It has 40% alcohol by volume. It has it all. Gammel Dansk is an incredibly potent bastardization of more or less everything you wouldn't want to drink independent of some vast quantity of mixer, but all mixed together. And the flavors do not complement each other, except in the sense that it makes the true awfulness of every distinct stitch of this Frankenstein's brew really come to life.
The first time I had Gammel Dansk, at the ridiculous kollegium party I described a few posts ago, I thought that in the frenzy of the party somebody had also struck me in the torso with a 2x4 at the moment that I took a swig. The second time was a much more fitting occasion, standing on top of the grave of Gorm the Old, the first King of Denmark, where our teacher busted out a bottle and plastic shot glasses for the whole class to suffer under. Rational prudence would have led to me refusing to drink the stuff a second time, but we were on study tour, and the site we were at is literally as old and Danish as it gets. Literally, that site is host to a rune stone with the first recorded instance of the land being referred to as Denmark. Also, it's been my habit this trip to never say no to adventure, which this drink certainly qualifies as.
Somewhere in this tangled mess of words is a point I was trying to make about letting go and just rolling with it. The study tour was stressful, our group was full of really outgoing people that I have a history of being intimidated by. And it happened, but I feel like I got by alright, and I kept saying yes to adventure with maybe one exception, and it worked out fine. Maybe not ideal, but in truth it's not worth worrying about if somebody else had a better time than you. It isn't about having a really epic time all the time, in fact it can't be philosophically speaking. I had to fight those thoughts, tag-teaming me with my bizarre discomfort with travel, tooth and nail, but maybe I gained some ground. We'll see.
It always surprises me how my situation here never really stops changing, new people are constantly entering and exiting the scene. It's a Plato's cave of beer and people and bad karaoke, figures parading before my eyes -- some of which in a sense won't even be real to me in 3 months. In another sense, though, there are a tremendous amount of choices open to me here if I just take the initiative. Me inviting people out to parties or making plans is something completely foreign to my normal experience, I like to have things just coalesce organically. But it's refreshing to ask people to come out for a night on the town, it makes me feel more in control of the situation than I normally do. Confidence is fun.
I saw a couple of the kids from my tour out on the town last night and everything was groovy. I say groovy because I literally can't wait until this weekend's Ice Disco party (tagline: "The Shizzle on the Izzle"). I'm just gonna end it there, with the part about disco on ice. Because that is downright exciting.