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Backdated bubbles.

I read with interest your article on the possible re-creation of King Midas' funerary feast ("King Midas' modern mourners," SN: 11/4/00, p. 296), particularly the part about the beverage. As an anthropologist and home brewer, I have long been interested in the history and antiquity of alcoholic beverages. The article says the brewer of "King Midas Golden Elixer" targeted "an amount of carbonation" halfway between wine and beer.

I may be wrong, but I know of no ancient source that speaks of what we would properly call "carbonated" beer or "sparkling" wine. Modern bubbly beer and sparkling wine are produced either as real ale, via the champaignoise method, by adding a bit of sugar right before bottling to reactivate the yeasts, or in the case of commercial pasteurized beers and certain unmentionable wines, by bubbling CO[sub]2 under pressure at bottling.

Neither of those methods was apparently available to the ancients. If there are ancient texts that refer to "bubbly beer," the only way that could have happened was that the beer was being drunk during the first few days of fermentation, when it was indeed foaming, and thus much before we moderns would consider it finished.

Thomas W. Kavanagh

Indiana University

Bloomington, Ind.

I really enjoyed the article on reproducing King Midas' funeral feast. The descriptions of the food sound delicious. Is it possible to get the recipes? Perhaps you could post them on your Web site.

Michael Bleiweiss

Methuen, Mass.

You can find chef Pamela Horowitz's recipes for the King Midas feast at www.museum.upenn.edu/Midas/recipes.html.
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Author:Gorman, J.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jan 20, 2001
Words:265
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