The Year in Food 2007

Absinthe Not Cool Anymore

The favorite booze of pseudointellectuals, Burning Man participants, and those who like to wear crushed velvet became officially uncool this year when it was legalized by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Banned since 1912, the spirit can now be imported to the United States as well as distilled here, as long as the word absinthe is not printed too prominently on the bottle and the drink contains fewer than 10 parts per million of the substance thujone (so, effectively, none). Derived from the plant wormwood, thujone allegedly contains psychoactive substances whose effects have been described by believers as being similar to THC’s in cannabis, and as hokum by others. Its presence in absinthe was often disputed as the reason van Gogh cut off his own ear and other artists at the fin de siècle lost it. But even if it is mind-altering, the quantities contained in most commercially available modern-day absinthe probably aren’t enough to make a difference. Care for a totally legal, unpsychedelic, vile-tasting herbal liqueur anyone? —Lessley Anderson