Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Sarsaparilla & c

The summer of 1975 saw me (as an English  seminarian in between my Junior and Senior years) helping to organize Vacation Church Schools in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. (It's a long story, but that summer ministry eventually led to my coming to the U.S.A. in 1976 and serving parishes here since).

Together with seven other students I spent a week of training at the former Camp Bement in Charlton Depot, MA.  At the end of that week the American students took me to a bar in Worcester, MA with the aim of getting  me drunk on Tequila. They failed!

Then a team of four of us began our summer programme, beginning at St. James Church in Greenfield, MA.

Tequila pshaw.  What I lusted for was a Root Beer.  In England I had read about it in the "Peanuts" cartoon, but I had never tasted it.

My trusty companions took me to an A & W roadside stand (remember those!) on Route 2 in Greenfield. 

Not the Greenfield stand, but you get the idea.
There I savoured a Root Beer in a Frosty Mug.  'Twas great!


There are various root based drinks which owe their origins to Africa and to Native America  (Root Beer, Birch Beer, Sarsaparilla).  

There was a time when folks brewed their own root based drinks (my 93 years old friend Betty recalls that her dad used to do so - together with alcoholic beer in prohibition days).

Now the stuff we can buy is mostly made with artificial flavours -  not good.

I thought that Sarsaparilla was a thing of the past until I bought some in our local Mennonite Farm store.

Brewed or concocted in Pennsylvania.

It's OK, but it is not great.  I won't be standing in line to buy more.


I had no idea that the word had that first "R" (Sars).  I thought that the drink was called Sassparilla.  Is it a silent R, or have I been mis-pronouncing the word?

One source said that Sarsaparilla is (or was) popular in the east end of London.

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