The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker's Journey
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Selected as a Top Ten Book of the Year by Dwight Garner, New York Times
A “fearlessly honest account” (Financial Times) of man’s love of drink, and an insightful meditation on the meaning of alcohol consumption across cultures worldwide
Drinking alcohol: a beloved tradition, a dangerous addiction, even “a sickness of the soul” (as once described by a group of young Muslim men in Bali). In his wide-ranging travels, Lawrence Osborne—a veritable connoisseur himself—has witnessed opposing views of alcohol across cultures worldwide, compelling him to wonder: is drinking alcohol a sign of civilization and sanity, or the very reverse? Where do societies fall on the spectrum between indulgence and restraint?
An immersing, controversial, and often irreverent travel narrative, The Wet and the Dry offers provocative, sometimes unsettling insights into the deeply embedded conflicts between East and West, and the surprising influence of drinking on the contemporary world today.
is dominated by Hezbollah now. And I am sure one day they will cut the water to the vineyards. Well, I say they might do it, not that they will. They can’t make Lebanon dry, but they can make it drier.” He watched me drink with a shrewd looseness, his head slightly tilted, and asked me again if I thought Kefraya was a wine that could do well in America. It was, to me, a wine crafted with precisely that in mind. “Good, good,” he said. When the meal was over, we moved to arak. He was pleased that
fermentation in Crete. Dionysus, he claimed, arose in some complex and obscure way from the fermentation symbolism of early Crete, where fermented honey and then beer suggested life emerging mysteriously from decay. It was fermentation itself that made Cretans think of the indestructibility of zoe. As things decay, they give off an enigmatic life; they bubble and seethe and self-transform. Like honey and mead, wine suggested zoe and seemed to partake in cosmic life. “A natural phenomenon inspired
which is famous all over the Middle East. A vile thing, if you think about it. A dark and secretive passion that expressed itself not in gay conviviality and comradely exuberance but in trashed hotel rooms and surly scenes and the halfway house on the causeway, where the drunkards huddled like crack addicts after their debaucheries in Bahrain. To Muslims living in more tolerant lands, however, the Saudi booze appetite is less shocking than a sign of character related to the overall condition of
centered on the usual beverages of the newly decolonized world. It is a colonial inheritance, as it is everywhere, and one that has until now not been repudiated. For until now almost nothing of the colonial inheritance has been repudiated except its abstract ideas about race. For all the rhetoric that liberation created, the whisky and soda remain alongside the electricity grids, the roads, and the airports. Only Islam has begun to roll back that tide, and it, too, will keep most of the goodies
glasses of disgusting Omar Khayyam with plates of hummus. The place was often empty. Marco leaned his elbows on the bar, and we talked about the old days. Ah, how magnificent Cairo was then. A lake of precious distillations at which intellectuals and men of taste could sip at their leisure like glorious honeybees. It was all over now. Where were the intellectuals and the men of taste? Where was the grace and the finesse of yore? The deep sophistication of Egypt must still be there somewhere,