C is for Chouchen
Chouchen is the Breton name for mead, also known as "Chemillard" in Gallic regions.As most people in Celtia know, mead is the ancient alcoholic beverage touted in early Celtic tales and epic poems. For those not familiar with this golden nectar of the gods, mead is made of honey and water, with the addition of a little yeast for fermentation. The liqueur ferments rapidly but acquires its flavour slowly.
The importance of mead to the ancient Celts is the epic poem Y Gododdin by the bard Aneirin, in which a Brythonic king provides warriors drawn from several British kingdoms with a year's feasting and mead drinking in his halls in Din Eidyn before sending them to the Battle of Catraeth. These brave heroes of yore lose, but live on forever in Aneirin's glorious mead-honeyed words.
Other legends suggest it was the drink of the elves and it corresponds marvellously well with our Tales and Legends where Druids are there with fantastic fairies and other characters.
Another legend suggests that if it is consumed to excess, the chouchen paralyses the part of the brain dedicated to balance and we then fall on our behind... This myth does not have anything scientific and Chouchen remains a very pleasant drink, often slightly sweetened which will refresh you as an aperitif between friends or the summer in day while others will taste it as a digestif, always very fresh... Mind you I have seen this myth verified on numerous occasions!!!
Chouchen is the typical Breton alcohol obtained by diluting honey with water (hydromel), which is fermented. The end result of today’s process is a soft, sensual and voluptuous alcohol. The original version was made of apple cidre and honey.
In earlier times the effects of chouchen were very violent as bees would often get into the mixture along with the honey and their venom would diffuse into the beverage!!! Chouchen could then have a stunning effect as the venom attacked the brain, leading to a loss in balance!! This is no longer the case today.
Chouchen is always drunk cool, generally as an aperitif. There are different kinds of chouchen here, some of which are prepared with a mixture of seawater as well as fresh water and honey.