Cut lime half into slices, place in rocks glass with bitters and muddle. Add ice, cachaca and pisco. Top with ginger beer and stir.
~ A Dr. Bamboo original creation
When you hear the word "Amazon," what's the first thing that comes to mind?
A lush, rainforest environment?
Fierce and beautiful warrior women?
That place on the web that used to have just books and CDs, but now sells, well, everything?
I always think of piranhas. I guess it's because at an impressionable age I got hit with a whole load of spurious information regarding these guys. I remember learning about the Amazon river in elementary school geography, and like most kids, I promptly forgot everything about it except that it was home to MEAT-EATING FISH.
Now take this fact and run it through the filter of movies, TV, comic books, and general academic laziness, and I came away with the impression that the Amazon river was filled to the brim with ill-tempered, hyperactive, ravenous little bastards constantly on the lookout for any scrap of flesh that had the misfortune to plop into their home.
Fuelled by entertainment media and poor research, my only perception of the Amazon became that of a murky waterway existing solely to bring quick and brutal death, every inch teeming with miniature sharks. This was a place you wouldn't even dare dip your big toe for fear of having it razored off the second it broke the surface.
I used to watch nature documentaries showing locals happily zipping along in low-slung boats, their edges mere inches from the water, and think, "Get out of there! Don't you realize where you are?? If that boat sinks, you'll be devoured before you swim three strokes!" I marveled at their recklessness, and assumed they must be cut from the same cloth as those who walked tightropes between skyscrapers and ate mushrooms they'd picked in the wild.
This was also when I encountered the term "skeletonize." I frequently heard it in reference to piranhas, often when an author or film narrator would grimly describe how a large mammal could be "skeletonized" by a school of the tiny carnivorous fish within a ludicrously short amount of time. (I began wondering how they were so certain and specific about this. I envisioned a team of researchers standing on the banks holding stopwatches as they shoved yet another confused ox into the water, hoping to shave a few minutes off the last victim's time).
However, it turns out most of the commonly-held perceptions of piranhas are wildly exaggerated, and in some cases flat-out false. In fact, a researcher was recently quoted in the New York Times science section as saying, "They're basically like regular fish...With large teeth." Nonetheless, they are scary-looking. With their grumpy, fang-filled underbite and manic-looking eyes, they persist in keeping the Amazon river low on my list of places to take a leisurely swim.
However, the Amazon is high on my list of "inspirations for drinks." Enjoy one of those drinks as soon as you can.
On dry land.