Thursday, May 23, 2013

Freer and the Fake Scotch

When I return to the East Coast, I am ever hopeful to squeeze in a visit to the nation's museums.  Besides the obligatory stop at the excellent National Gallery, the Freer is my sentimental favorite.  Housing gems of Asian art bequeathed by yet another art amassing industrialist Charles Lang Freer who was also a principal patron of Whistler, the Freer houses Whistler's Peacock Room.  The gold leaf is borderline gaudy and exquisite at the same time; the back paint is actually green in the light which you can see only when the shutters open once a week. 

I am not a great appreciator of Asian art and I go to the Freer not for the treasures of China, Japan and Korea but really in hopes of seeing pages of the Freer Jami- the most splendid illustrated book produced by humankind.  I was sorely disappointed again. They rarely have it on display and I need to make a special appointment.

The Freer also houses oddities such as these Chinese philospher's stones which I sadly did not get to stroke as they were safely trapped behind glass.  I have a very small rock collection filched from hiking mostly in the shape of hearts but never have I come across such charismatic unencumbered pieces of stone. Instead of a tea pet, I think such a stone might make good company for a tea session.

After a long day of museum trotting, I spied this bottle of Johnny Walker Swing casually hanging out on my mother's kitchen counter. I dribbled some scotch on the rocks to relax and was taken aback by a completely unexpected taste. I was confused because it didn't come in that tapering trapezoid bottle. I gushed, "This is the fruitiest smoothest scotch I've ever had."

My mother giggled and said "I fooled you."  She had refilled the bottle with a home fermented ume syrup she mixed with soju.  I don't like JW too much(not because I'm some single malt snob) so I was entirely happy to be fooled.  So sipping my fake scotch, I contemplate museums that I wish I can wander around once again before I die:
  • Museum of Cairo - Crammed with dusty antiquities floor to ceiling, one can feast one's eyes on choice stone sarcophagi to pharaonic underwear, the Cairo museum has the added charm of inside smog and endless honking directly wafted in from Tahrir Square. 
  • Chester Beatty in Dublin 
  • Ulster Folk and Transport Museum 
  • Rock Collection - The Natural History Museum, London 
  • Larco Museum, Lima
  • Musee du Cluny, Paris
I've dutifully trudged through the Louvre, the Vatican Museum, Uffizi, the Met, British Museum, Victoria and Albert, and so many of the great museums - but somehow those above really captured my heart and imagination. My only regret was that there was not an equally toothsome food venue anywhere near them.

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