Poland's viable solution to environmental overwhelm - beer and ginger

This has not been an easy summer for the planet. The world looks a little wounded to me, and a lot of people I talk to are feeling it. We've had the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico on our minds, the worst marine spill in the history of the industry, and now the worst heat wave in a thousand years in Russia, not to mention flooding in Asia. (All of these climate events were predicted in the last global climate report, the Associated Press points out.) 

How do we deal with bad news in our lives? It’s a big question. Earlier this summer Ira Flatow, of NPR’s Science Friday, interviewed an expert on “compassion fatigue,” Charles Figley of Tulane University. He pointed out that for people who care, burn-out is almost inevitable in troubled times:

By the way, if you don’t have any compassion, you’re not going to get compassion fatigue. So, you know, welcome to the human race.

Figley added that everybody needs to recharge their batteries sometimes, to turn off the news, to breathe, to take pleasure in their lives.

One little thing that gives me great pleasure in life is ginger.

While visiting Poland a few weeks ago looking for my ancestral roots, I learned that the Polish people like to drink their beer with a berry syrup, and sometimes with a ginger syrup. I went on a search for this ginger syrup, and finally found it...as the picture below shows.

Slightly inebriated Andy with beer in Poland 

Now, I don’t usually drink beer out of a mug the size of a large pitcher, with ginger or without, but when in Warsaw that’s the way it’s done. The ginger helped me digest the heavy Polish food, and -- though you might not believe it -- I barely experienced the after effects of the inebriation that is written all over my face.

But beer with ginger syrup turns out to be wonderful! So when I got home, I set out to make my own version.

Here’s how: Pick up about a pound of ginger, preferably good and fresh from the farmer’s market. Peel and slice it and boil for about half an hour in four cups of water with one cup of sugar, until it’s reduced by half. Once cooled, add a few tablespoons to your favorite beer!

Share with friends on a lovely summer evening and enjoy.