I love beer. Particularly craft beer. I’m a sucker for a good IPA, or an amber, or a pale ale. For special occasions, there’s the expensive stuff. If I’m traveling, I try to discover local brews. And the first swig is one of the simplest great pleasures in life. But I’ll stick to the numbers. And they’re morose for the US beer industry. Yet there is an astonishing winner.
With the European Union going into recession possibly, with the US growing, but not enough, with China booming, or crashing, and with Japan languishing, the worldwide economic picture is confusing, and debt crises have been swept under the rug by voluminous money-printing. But there is one economic indicator that is particularly … tasty and, if consumed in quantity, more vertigo-inducing than all the Eurozone bailout mechanisms: wine.
There still are some economic numbers that aren’t seasonally adjusted or manipulated with fancy statistical footwork by governmental, quasi-governmental, or non-governmental number mongers. And they give us the true picture of the worldwide economy: beer, wine, mood, and San Francisco real estate—with more predictive power than is allowed by law.
In France, the litany of job reductions continues. Today, it was Air France. It followed automaker PSA Peugeot Citroën, French banks, nuclear-power conglomerate Areva, drug maker Sanofi, newspapers, ferry operator Seafrance, etc. It’s tough out there. And now, France’s heavily subsidized signature industry—wines—got slapped in the face. By China.
Udon noodles came, like so many things in Japan, from China. Kūkai, a Buddhist monk from the province of Sanuki on the Japanese island of Shikoku, had brought them back. Today, the province is called Kagawa Prefecture, but the noodles are still called Sanuki udon—which sparked an international dispute between Japan and Taiwan. All because of a noodle guy.
All heck broke loose in China when Zhejiang’s Provincial Administration announced that 30,000 blood nests, the rarest and most expensive bird’s nest, contained high concentrations of sodium nitrite. They’d all been imported from Malaysia. And it opened the door to a huge scandal.
A couple in Nagasaki, Japan, made sashimi out of a fugu he’d caught in a nearby bay. An hour after eating it, her lips and limbs got numb. He also developed symptoms. The neurotoxin in the otherwise comical fish was beginning to paralyze them.
And so is obesity. Good food and leisurely meals bien arrosé are considered the glue that keeps families, and French society, together. And yet, chain restaurants have elbowed their way in and now control 20% of the total restaurant market.
So people ask me that after reading the post below. All sorts of researchers are studying this phenomenon, and they’re coming up with a laundry list of reasons, which I may or may not buy, but here is a thought from memory lane.
Germany, country of the Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law), and cradle of beer as we know it, where, at the age of fifteen, I regularly drank a few Helle too many at any pub I wanted to, well, that very country not only has failed to export its beer, but now, Germans have stopped drinking it themselves, apparently.