Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The World of Oleanna: Skål! The History of Akevitt and the Art of the Toast

Akevitt is the traditional spirit of Scandinavia, where it's been produced since the 15th century. Somewhat like vodka, akevitt in Norway is made from potatoes and gets its flavor from the aging process and added spices and herbs (generally caraway or dill).

Akevitt is derived from aqua vitae, or water of life. In Norway, it is aged in oak casks, and served room temperature. It is drunk at celebrations including Christmas, Easter, and Constitution Day. In Oleanna, akevitt is definitely an important part of their celebrations.

One key tradition in the drinking of akevitt is toasting your companions. In 1967, Swedish actor Max von Sydow demonstrates (hilariously) the proper way to toast: look your companion in the eye, drink off your akevitt, and look your companion in the eye again.

A fun side-note: the folks at The French Culinary Institute's Tech'N Stuff Blog have been recreating this ritual with foodies and celebrities; the results are pretty amusing.
Skål (cheers)!

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