Baba's Business

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Once upon a time somewhere in the deep suburbia of Ukraine lived baba. Baba was producing homemade vodka, widely also known as moonshine. Then a tourist from the United States of America came along. Thus a video on You Tube appeared. Somebody in "Decanter" stumbled across it and that's how I discovered the recipe for Ukrainian vodka:

3 buckets of water
3 to 5 kilos of sugar (depending on the taste expected)
0.5 kilo of yeast

A couple of old pots, a pipe, old pair of knickers, rags, stove and coals also needed. Couldn't figure out the rest. Perhaps you might.

On the 19th of June 2007 the European Parliament has voted down a bid by MEPs from Poland, Finland, the Baltic states, Sweden and Denmark to tighten the legal definition of vodka. The so-called "vodka belt" countries wanted to restrict the term to spirits made only from potatoes or grain. But a majority of MEPs voted in favour of a looser definition. According to BBC, vodka made from anything other than potatoes or grain will have to say so on the label yet it can keep the name "vodka" on it.

For those who come from countries mentioned above this was basically a battle for copyright. Just like Champagne has to be made in Champagne and Cognac - in the region of Cognac. Otherwise pleae be kind to use the name sparkling wine or brandy.

Despite loosing this battle Lithuania has to face another one now and it is a question of whether the politicians will have the guts needed to confront conservatives (by this I don't mean just political movement). I am talking about the legalization of homemade vodka which would include legal measures to control the quality of the production, making sure it is made in a more civilized way than "baba's pot". Just like whisk(e)y - once illegally mass-produced on such a scale that in 1820s as many as 14,000 illicit stills were being confiscated every year today it is one of the best-known Scottish exports. And boy, some of them are delicious...

Lobbyists who are pushing the legalization of homemade vodka in Lithuania claim this could become a huge attraction to foreigners, especially those interested in countryside tourism. The levels of production would be controlled, so would be the quality. Some believe this could help to decrease the rate of alcoholism in the country. Besides, the likes of baba would probably have to improve the sanitation.

On the other hand, what could be better after a day of swimming in the lake, fishing and horse riding than a dram of top quality homemade vodka with some Lithuanian charcuterie, rye bread and pickles? Old people say if it's well made you would drink a bottle and wake up the following morning fresh as a daisy. Forget "Smirnoff" or "Huzzar".

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