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Caffeine Addicts of Gor: A Guide to Gorean Black Wine: A Real Eye-Opener

Author: unknown

Filed in: gorean information

    On any world, a good strong cup of coffee is considered both a delicacy and, to many, the ideal quick pick-me-up to enable a person to shake off the effects of alcohol or to greet the morning (or evening) wide awake and ready for anything. Therefore, it only stands to reason that upon the planet of Gor, one would, if one sought long and hard enough, discover the existence of coffee. There is in fact coffee upon Gor; we are first introduced to it in the fifth book of the series, Assassin of Gor, and it appears regularly in later books. As an avid coffee drinker myself, I admit that I view this fact with a certain amount of relief. Long nights at the paga tavern make the existence of coffee a very important addition to the listing of Gorean beverages.

     Black wine, or "Black wine of Thentis," is the Gorean name for coffee. Tarl Cabot first encounters the beverage while posing as the Assassin Kuurus amidst the dark dealings of the House of Cernus, the swiftly deposed usurper of the throne of Ar. It is brought to he and his slave/confidente vella from the house kitchens by a serving slave, and is presented to him in a thick clay bowl, similar to a normal paga bowl. He mentions that it is a rare delicacy in the city of Ar, and we may draw the conclusion therefore that black wine is so readily available in the house of Cernus due to the false-Ubar's close ties to the Kurii and his sponsorship of Kurii slaving voyages to the planet Earth; in fact, Tarl's first encounter with black wine might actually be Earth-grown coffee brought back to Gor by Cernus' minions. On the other hand, the House of Cernus is at that time one of the wealthiest houses on the planet of Gor, and black wine of the Thentis variety might very well have been acquired to grace his personal larder and breakfast kitchens. Wherever the black wine came from, Tarl describes it thusly:

"I had heard of black wine, but had never had any. It is drunk in Thentis, but I had never heard of it being much drunk in other Gorean cities...Then I picked up one of the thick, heavy clay bowls...It was extremely strong, and bitter, but it was hot, and, unmistakably, it was coffee."

(--page.106, Assassin of Gor)

     Tarl makes a great deal of the fact that Thentis is very protective of its monopoly on the harvesting of black wine beans. It is implied here, and in later books, that the theft of these beans from the fields of Thentis is considered by the growers to be a capital offense, and that the location and number of such fields is a closely guarded secret:

"Thentis does not trade the beans for black wine. I have heard of a cup of black wine in Ar, some years ago, selling for a silver eighty piece. Even in Thentis black wine is used commonly only in High Caste homes...Originally, doubtless beans were brought from Earth, much as certain other seeds, and silk worms and such..."

(--page.107, Assassin of Gor)

The Turian Connection

     The preceding takes place rather early in the series, and we are left to divine that by the time black wine appears in the later books, as far away as distant Turia and the lands of the Tahari desert, that perhaps the men of Thentis have become more willing to trade what seems to have become for them an excellent trade item. Or perhaps enough beans have escaped the clutches of those of Thentis to give rise to the appearance of other fields, wherein the elusive black bean is grown. Nonetheless, by the time Tarl arrives in the Tahari several years later, in Tribesmen of Gor, the fierce Tahari raiders are in possession of black wine, and have developed quite a ceremony for its service. Perhaps the trappings of serving the heated beverage were adapted from the ever popular Tahari tea ceremony, wherein Bazi tea is served, with the addition of tiny spoons of sugars served in the manner of Turian wines, as described earlier in Nomads of Gor. The addition of creams might also be adapted from the usage of Bazi tea. In any case, certain rich pashas and tribesmen of the Tahari seem to be in possession of it by the time Tarl gets to the desert.

     In the following excerpt, it is mentioned that in the Tahari, black wine is served from tall, slender silver pots with long curved handles and stemmed pouring spouts:

"From one side a slave girl...fled to him, with the tall, graceful, silvered pot containing the black wine... She (then) returned to her place with the pot of black wine."

(--page.88, Tribesmen of Gor)

     The following describes the Tahari usage of a separate tray for condiments. It also describes the correct manner by which slaves may test the temperature of heated beverages, without sticking their fingers in the liquid, and we learn that the sugars served in the Tahari are of two colors, plain white and (perhaps flavored) yellow:

"She carried a tray, on which were various spoons and sugars. She knelt, placing her tray upon the table. With a tiny spoon, its tip no more than a tenth of a hort in diameter, she placed four measures of white sugar, and six of yellow, in the cup; with two stirring spoons, one for the white sugar, another for the yellow, she stirred the beverage after each measure. She then held the cup to the side of her cheek, testing its temperature; Ibn Saran glanced at her; she, looking at him, timidly kissed the side of the cup and placed it before him. Then, head down, she withdrew."

(--page.89,Tribesmen of Gor)

     Tarl later describes the manner in which the black wine is kept warm between servings, by placing it upon a small brazier of coals, and we learn that, at least in the house of Tarl's hosts, black wine is served in small, delicate red enameled cups:

"I decided I might care to taste the steaming, black wine. I lifted my finger. The girl in whose charge was the silver vessel, filled with black wine, knelt beside a tiny brazier, on which it sat, retaining its warmth... She rose swiftly to her feet. She knelt, head down, before me. She poured, carefully, the hot, black beverage into the tiny red cup... The other girl...lifted her tray of spoons and sugars. But I turned away. She was not summoned. The girls, white-skinned, were a matched set of slaves, one for the black wine, one for its sugars."

(--page.105, Tribesmen of Gor)

     Apparently, there are several ways by which black wine is prepared, and it often varies in strength depending upon the factors involved in this preparation. In the book "Slave Girl of Gor," for example, we see a group of warriors on the march, rousing themself each morning by sharing a pot of steaming black wine, which they guzzle greedily from huge mugs. In this case, it seems that the black wine beans have been ground rather coarsely and are simply boiled in hot water to produce the desired effect. The particular group of warriors happens to be from Ar, we later learn, so it stands to reason that, since the warriors of Ar comprise the best equipped and most civilized armies on Gor, that they have adopted the use of black wine as a refreshing morning stimulant. Some common warriors, apparently, have access to the rare beans of Thentis, it would seem, and they make use of them by drinking a rather heavily watered down version of black wine, which seems similar in almost every respect to the manner in which coffee is commonly consumed upon Earth.

"I, grasping the pot with a rag and both hands, poured him a handled, metal tankard of the steaming black brew, coffee or black wine."

(--page.74,Slave Girl of Gor)

     Some time thereafter, however, we learn that, by the time of the Vosk River War a few years later, the delicacy known as black wine seems to have become even more prevalent upon civilized Gor, and is now available to even a minor gathering of Captains and Warriors in a secondary river port town such as Victoria. By this time, many of the Taharese serving mannerisms seem to have emigrated north and have been adopted as the general way whereby black wine is now served. As many as three slaves are now employed in the formal serving of black wine among guests.

The former slave and Guardsman Jason Marshall tells us:

"The two slaves, their chains removed, now returned, and began to serve the black wine. The voluptuous slave of Aemilianus, whom he had not yet named, placed the tiny silver cups, on small stands, before us. The lovely little slave in bluish gauze, whom I had not yet named, holding the narrow-spouted, silver pouring vessel in a heavy cloth, to protect her hands, poured the scalding, steaming black fluid, in narrow, tiny streams, into the small cups. She poured into the cups only the amount that would be compatible with the assorted sugars and creams which the guest might desire, if any, these being added in, and stirred, if, and as, pertinent, by Aemilianus' slave, who directed the serving."

(A few new additions have also appeared in the method of service, as well as the term "to the Second Slave" which seems derivative of the Taharese mode of serving. Small silver cups are used, each of which has its own resting stand. In later books we learn that the silver brewing pot, cups and stands, and the tray with its serving spoons are now considered part of the standard "black wine service" in the north... it is implied that these items make up the typical Gorean tea service as well.)

"'Second slave,' I told her, which, among the river towns, and in certain cities, particularly in the north, is a way of indicating that I would take the black wine without creams or sugars, and as it came from the pouring vessel, which, of course, in these areas, is handled by the "second slave," the first slave being the girl who puts down the cups, takes the orders and sees that the beverage is prepared according to the preferences of the one who is being served."

(Though more available now than before, we learn that most black wine beans are still grown in Thentis, and that black wine is still considered to be a luxury by the standard Gorean.)

"Black wine, except in the vicinity of Thentis, where most of it is grown on the slopes of the Thentis range, is quite expensive."

"The expression "second slave," incidentally, serves to indicate that one does not wish creams or sugars with one's black wine, even if only one girl is serving."

(--pages 244-245, Guardsman of Gor)

     We also learn that, perhaps due to its very rarity, black wine is often brewed very strong, with less water added to it than is added to Earth coffee, at least in places where it is not readily abundant. I suspect that in such cases Goreans grind their black wine beans much finer than is customary on Earth, reducing it to a smooth black powder, similar to the way Japanese green tea is ground. Nor is Gorean black wine filtered in any way; therefore, it only stands to reason that black wine would be bitter and strong, since the coffee to water ratio is much less than in Earth coffee. Gorean black wine might therefore be compared to a similar drink of unsweetened cocoa powder, considered a delicacy in late Rennaisance chocolate houses on Earth. Gorean black wine is stronger even than espresso, and is drunk in small amounts so that its flavor does not overpower the imbiber. As far as its effect goes, grind up a handful of No-Doz tablets and mix them in a shotglass full of water to simulate the effect. : )

"I lifted the tiny silver cup to my lips and took a drop of the black wine. It's strength and bitterness are such that it is normally drunk in such a manner, usually only a drop or a few drops at a time. Commonly, too, it is mollified with creams and sugars. I drank it without creams and sugars, perhaps, for I had been accustomed, on Earth, to drinking coffee in such a manner, and the black wine of Gor is clearly coffee, or closely akin to coffee. Considering its bitterness, however, if I had not been drinking such a tiny amount, and so slowly, scarcely wetting my lips, I, too, would surely have had recourse to the tasty, gentling additives with which it is almost invariably served."

(--page.247, Guardsman of Gor)

     This, then, is black wine, the Gorean version of coffee. Try to keep this in mind next time you order up a huge mug of it. It is a viciously powerful stimulant and will really set your toes to tapping... a Mega-Mug(tm) of THIS stuff will probably keep you awake until the next Passage Hand.

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