III: Pear

Forget messages and ships, here's a pear in a bottle.

III: Pear
Two pears in a pear tree. Not pictured: partridge. Photo by Daria Shatova / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is tridi, the 3rd of Brumaire, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate la poire, a tree that makes high-quality clarinets but okay we'll talk about the fruit.

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A normal-sized, standard-issue, grocery store pear contains 12,000 micrograms of formaldehyde. Your entire body also has about 12,000 micrograms of formaldehyde in your bloodstream at any given time, naturally. Pears and people: equal partners in formaldehyde having! (Also, not for nothing, but the amount of formaldehyde in a vaccine that scares people so unnecessarily? A mere 100 micrograms.)

We have monasteries to thank for so many of our alcoholic traditions being refined and codified and industrialized. Monks just knew how to assemble a distillery. But one beverage that actually appears to have originated within medieval monastery walls (as opposed to being just perfected there) is the eau-de-vie – also known as akavit or aqua vitae. Probably a creature of necessity, monks would take any overripe fruits and berries they had grown and not managed to consume in time and distill them into a liquor, hoping to find a healthy elixir. In the process, they created a 45% ABV clear beverage that you have to swallow quickly if you want to taste it at all, but that carries through the pure taste of whatever fruit made it.

What I cannot discover, no matter how hard I search, is whose brilliant idea it was to do this with a pear stuck in the bottle.