Tuesday, 22 October 2013

charter house, road house

Our journey homeward took an unexpected but pleasant turn through the Chartreuse Mountains near Grenoble, that lends its name to the monastic order of the Carthusians (Kartause, originally the Order of Saint Bruno of Kรถln), who are renown for their eponymous liqueur. It would have been short-shrift to visit without adequate time or preparation but we did get a bottle to sample later and are excited about seeing the region properly, next time.

French alchemists working for the royal court invented the secret blend of 130 herbs and plant-derivatives as an elixir of long-life and chartered the monks with producing the tonic and safeguarding the recipe, which is still only known to two living brothers at a time. It did not register to me at first, but we saw this cordial being served as an after-dinner digestif, with its distinctive yellow-to-green pale, also lending its name to the colour chartreuse. We understand that the taste is to cover quite a spectrum as well, ranging from tangy to sweet to spicy. Though the potion may not exactly provide the sough-after immortality, the alchemists and the monks surely must be on to something as chartreuse has the rare characteristic of improving with age and survived a rather colourful odyssey, remaining true to character and countering pretenders, throughout tumultuous ages.