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Strega: The Witches' Brew That Will Seal Your Love Forever

The witches decided to give people, especially those who vowed their hearts to their partners, a valuable gift. They distilled a magic potion for the souls entwined in love.

Food
| Indiwo.com| UPDATED: August 23, 2017, 4:04 PM IST
Strega: The Witches' Brew That Will Seal Your Love Forever The yellow liquer is designed to stir up the misty past and the hoary women who made a wonderful charm on the lovers with their magic potion (Image: Strega Alberti Facebook)
News18 Tippling Point (Thunder and lightning)

First Witch: ‘When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?’
Second Witch: ‘When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.’
Third Witch: ‘That will be ere the set of the sun.'
First Witch: 'Where the place?’

– (Macbeth – Shakespeare)

Where the place? Where do witches meet?

The place is Benevento, the sleepy town in Naples, Italy. Walk along its lonely streets at night. You have just entered the witches’ coven, if you believe the local legends.

Long, long ago while the old hags — who flew around the earth in household brooms — were idling their time in the dark alleys of the town, the tales tell us, the witches pondered about doing something different, something good for the mankind. They were fed up with the monkey business they were long into and the poor image people had of them.

The witches decided to give people, especially those who vowed their hearts to their partners, a valuable gift. They distilled a magic potion for the souls entwined in love.

Once a couple sip the potion, the love is sealed forever, it will never fail. Such was its power.

Centuries passed.

Like any other child of the town, Guiseppe Alberti of Benevento was also brought up on the fairy tales. As he grew up, he stepped into the liqueur business armed with a childhood tale. He saw an opportunity in infusing a legend deeply rooted in the psyche of his town folk with a drink he made.

The City of Witches, Benevanto, soon warmed itself to the new myth that begins with Alberti hankering after some herbs to make his drink. Soon he stumbled on a witch trapped under a fallen tree — a djinn-from-the-magic-lamp situation. The hero saved the poor soul (do they have one!) and a grateful witch rewarded Alberti with a secret recipe for making the drink. He called it ‘Strega’, which touched many a raw nerve among his people.

‘Strega’ in local tongue means ‘witch’.

The yellow liqueur is designed to stir up the misty past and the hoary women who made a wonderful charm on the lovers with their magic potion.

Since 1860, Strega has been the signature liqueur of the city. When you thread through Benevanto, you will see how Strega has permeated the life of Benevento. There are cakes, pastries and puddings steeped with Strega. Even a candy is not spared but is redolent with the liqueur.

Strega has already made its appearance in Italian movies, literature and television. The aftermeal drink (digestif) is an icon in pop culture.

The yellow comes from saffron. The pronounced taste of juniper and mint gives the mildly sweet drink a unique character. The drink is served straight or you can take it on the rocks.

So the next time you visit Italy, go to Benevento on a starry night. Sit opposite the girl you love with only a flickering candle and a bottle of Strega between you. Now let her take the first sip. Receive it back and take it to your lips, never letting your eyes stray from hers. As the sweet liqueur seeps down your taste buds, little waves of a warm tingle might swell up to flush your face. You will find her eyes catch the sheen off the candle and burn with a brighter yearning. My friend, this night with you at an exotic place named Benevento will never die on her.

Thank the witches.

Your love is sealed with blessings from the ancient women who lived or still live in the dark crevices of the world we hardly know. Such love can never wither.

The charm’s wound up.

(Manu Remakant is a freelance writer who also runs a video blog - A Cup of Kavitha - introducing world poetry to Malayalees. Views expressed here are personal)
First Published: August 20, 2017, 8:42 AM IST
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