Absente, Images and Tastes of the Green Fairy

by David Carrier and Michel Roux

Much to my delight, I’m enamored with a book on Absente. During the past two years, quite a few authors have written about the magic of this famous liqueur. However, Carrier’s compilation brings everything to life in spectacular fashion. It combines history with over 130 photos of well known works of art with numerous artists’ biographies, accompanied by exceptional cocktail recipes featuring Absente – Absinthe Refined – Grande Absente and Absinthe Originale. The book is enhanced by delicious food recipes, featuring Grande Absente, by world renowned French Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard. This is a coffee table book that deserves showcasing anywhere.

Michel Roux, the man behind the liqueur and book, first set out in 1999 to bring Absente back to America. However, it took until 2006 for the Green Fairy to return to the U.S. market.

Jim Nikota, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Crillon Importers, wrote the book’s introduction, Absinthe for Americans – Another Crazy Idea. Jim has the knack of combining Michel’s passion and creativity with the history of the famous liqueur known as The Green Fairy. He describes in detail how the original liqueur was banned in the U.S., starting in 1912. By the combined efforts of Michel Roux and Crillon, they were able to adjust the formula to adhere to U.S. standards and, along the way, make the slight change in name but not flavor. Absente and Grande Absente are the updated versions of this 138% proof liqueur.

Jim says, “Absinthe, that notorious green-hued liqueur, had ingrained itself in Parisian culture and become the trademark drink of bohemian artists like Degas, Manet, Picasso, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. Many of the world’s most celebrated painters devoted pieces – such as Manet’s The Absinthe Drinker and Degas’ L’Absinthe – to La Fee Verte, the Green Fairy.” He also goes on to quote writers like Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway and describes how they used and viewed the very potent liqueur.

In the book, each original piece of artwork, with artists’ name, is accompanied by either a drink recipe or a food recipe using Absente. I was enthralled with the many familiar art selections, even though I never associated them with Absente’s history.

For a food writer who enjoys all aspects of the culinary arts, such as those displayed at Bocuse d’Or, this book is a treasure. I own several great books on the historical aspects of food and Roux’s book is now an added prize.

Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard was honored when Michel Roux asked him to contribute the 18 food recipes developed around one of the three variations, Grande Absente, for this prestigious book. Poinard is an appropriate choice, since he is a 5th generation chef from Lyon, France, where he owned five restaurants. He holds the distinguished honors of belonging to Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises and is a certified member of the Oldest Best Chef’s Association of France.

A little over a year ago, Poinard and his wife Valerie, a winemaker from Domaine de la Fond Moiroux, opened the successful Bistro de Leon in the village-like atmosphere of St. Augustine, Florida. I’m looking forward to meeting Chef Poinard and Valerie in January, 2010, when he will be the Celebrity Chef for the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association on Holland America‘s ms Eurodam. You can get more information on Chef Poinard from Leigh Cort at leighcort@bellsouth.net.

ABSENTE – Images and Tastes of the Green Fairy is available at www.ABSENTEbook.com for $49.95 plus shipping. The great aspect of this website is that you can look through the book before you purchase. As you go through page by page and see the beautiful representations, I imagine you will also become enamored and want one yourself.

Reviewed by Maralyn D. Hill

Maralyn D. Hill, President
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
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“Success” was Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards