Beers to your health!

It is perhaps the oldest  recipe known to Man:

  • one part barley flour
  • one part millet flour
  • sugar
  • water
  • yeast

The ancient Egyptians called it hqt. We call it beer. In Egypt, it was considered a health food, enjoyed morning, noon, and night, by children and adults, upper and lower classes, women and men. It has even been discovered in tombs as an offering to the gods of the afterlife.

Scholars now believe the beer familiar to the pharaohs  may have been somewhat sweeter than modern-day incarnations, perhaps due to the extreme sweetness of the date sugar these early brewers probably used. Its alcohol content was lower too, though still high enough to provide a mild buzz. It was highly nutritious, sans gazeuse, as the folks at Evian would say, and thick with impurities of all sorts — which doubtless added to each batch’s unique flavor.

Fast forward a few thousand years to November, 2011, when I needed  something for acute PAIN. “Oxycodone” the doctor wrote on his prescription pad. Back at home, I took one capsule, went into hallucinations, and sent the remainder back to the pharmacy. What to do? “IPA,” said my dear spouse, referring to a popular form of beer, India Pale Ale, made with soothing, soporific hops.

And that was it. A hit or two of easy-on-the-stomach, calming ale in the early evening and I was freed from the worst of my pain, sleeping soundly and dreamlessly throughout the night — that time when the body’s healing mechanisms work best — then speeding my way back to strength, thanks to one of the oldest health foods known to man. Just like the Old Kingdom adage, so beautifully painted on the side of a New World building, promised.

I wasn’t a beer drinker before my  pain episode. But you’ll never catch me without a six-pack of the magic elixir in my house now. Five bottles for the pantry — and one for the medicine cabinet.

Photo: Sarah Camut


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