Has anybody, besides me, ever wondered why almost everything is celebrated with Champaign? Seriously all it is, is a dry sparkling white wine. Thinking of it in those terms you can get it anywhere. I know a great Michigan winery which makes a great sparkling white wine for about ten bucks. In contrast, real Champaign can’t be had for less than a hundred-twenty. That’s just nuts. Especially when you find out what real Champaign is.
You might think it’s the grapes it was made from, and you’d be wrong. Any idiot knows you can grow grapes anyplace. Oops! I mean, that is, unless you are a fan of Mr. Ohh! In that case, you’re never an idiot because your brain is so full of wonderful facts that you couldn’t possibly fit this grape thing in your already overpacked noggin’. Phew, dodged a bullet on that one.
Before I get myself into more trouble let me get to the point. Champaign is Champaign for one reason and one reason only. Because it comes from Champaign France. End of statement. And “Why” you ask is that that important? It’s not. What is important is the yeast. Yep, the little bugs they use to ferment the stuff. So, go on out and buy that bottle of Dom Perignon. You’re not paying for wine, you’re paying one-hundred plus smackers for bugs. Heck I’ll give the dead ones on my windowsill for nothing. How many times have you toasted a beautiful couple’s nuptials by slurping down a couple thousand of overpriced French bugs? Now don’t you feel silly.
The really crazy thing is there have been court cases as to whether or not you can call your wine Champaign. If you’re in Italy you can use the same grapes, process, and bugs but it’s not Champaign. It’s Asti Spumante and costs half as much. Why? Because Marketing agents and legal teams need to make money too. It’s the only reason I can figure.
So, the French continue to market their bugs as being the best bugs in the world. It’s kinda like the pride Americans take in their sports teams. They might even have cheerleaders. Can you imagine six shapely women in tight skimpy outfits, bouncing and shouting; “Our Bugs Make Bubbles! Your Bugs Go Flat!! Or maybe Give me a Y! Give me an E! Give me an AST! Yeast makes alcohol for you and me!!! Of course, all this would probably be said in French, so we all wouldn’t understand it anyway. But the point and pride are still there.
It makes me wonder about what France really exports. We’ve discussed how proud they are with their bugs, but what about their mold? Blue cheese is made all over the world except in Roquefort France. There it’s called Roquefort cheese, only it’s the same stuff. It’s white cheese that got ruined with a bitter blue mold all through it. I don’t know about you but when the stuff in my fridge gets moldy, I throw it out. I don’t sell it for some ridiculous price. I guess cheese makers do. I’m going to have to check eBay to see what the market is for meatloaf that looks like grass is growing on it. But this is beside the point.
The thing is Roquefort cheese is considered a delicacy and costs mega-bucks. Regular Blue cheese is crumbled on salads and can be found at any cheap food mart. Let me say again, “It’s the same stuff.” I’ve had both and they are bitter, creamy and leave a crappy aftertaste. Same, same same. I mean there might be a dozen or so folks, around the world, with a pallet good enough to tell the difference. But no more than that. Most folks who say they can tell the difference are lying, and trying to make points with their hoity toity friends, leggy curvy girlfriends.
Either way the French are proud of their mold. Much more than other countries. Look at the swiss for instance. Everybody and their brother make Swiss Cheese. The kind with the holes. The holes are made by gassy bacteria who burp deep within the cheese and make gas pockets. Yet you never see some swiss guy stand up and scream, “Ze Vorld may noot have our belching bacteria. It belongs to za Sviss and no one elz.” No, their just happy that everyone enjoys their cheese, and isn’t that just beautiful. Then again it may be farting bacteria in which case they’re probably glad to get rid of it and make more gruyere. Sadly, this is beside the point.
The real point is we are suckers for this marketing hype. Howard J Snodgrass a colonial vine maker, or somebody else, went to France about four-hundred years ago and tasted the wine. They announced it to be the best they ever had. That did it. The marketing folks got a hold of that and the rest is history. Now, everybody is brainwashed into thinking French wine better and pay mega bucks for it. If Howard had gone to California back then things would be different. Howard would have probably died a horrible death. California was full of wild animals back then. I’m talking about mountain lions not the Oakland Raiders. But either way French wine is just wine. If you lived in France and tasted it every day, you’d probably be fawning over some Napa Valley Shiraz.
I think the worst example of all this is caviar. This is salty fish eggs. Personal opinion, YUCK!!! Now you can get fish eggs at the local bait store for five to seven bucks an ounce. You can get the same ounce of salmon eggs at the market, called caviar, for twenty smackers. Now, if you get the eggs from Russia, they can go for up to a hundred-fifty for an ounce. And to jack those prices up they have to scam us. They say those expensive eggs are from a beluga whale. Now, I don’t everything but I know whales don’t lay eggs. So how can you have Beluga Caviar? Just another Russian conspiracy. Congress will have to get Mr. Mueller to investigate.
I brought all this up because a friend of mine, was recently at a very ritzy holiday party. The company paid for it. Nobody I know could pay for this stuff. There were all of these things; Champaign, Caviar and Roquefort cheese. There was also a bunch of good stuff like prawns as big as your fist, but I want to concentrate on the negative.
The thing is the owners were so proud they had all this expensive stuff everyone had to try some. Well according to him, after you’ve swallowed a few mouthfuls of salty fish eggs, chased it with moldy cheese, and washed it all down with extra dry French bubbling bugs, your taste buds are so shot you can’t possibly enjoy prawns and fruit. My friend, his wife, and several others smiled as best they could, thanked their hosts, and left the party early. He called me and I met up with them with a couple of four-packs of Frostie Root Beer, and boxes of Twinkies, to save the day.
Sometimes you need to celebrate with some real honest American food.