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November 2014 Issue / Vol. 2, No. 21                                                GENTIANAEACEA  FAMILY

Executive Chef Jose Mejia

Chef Rodney Brown

F&B Director/
Chef Kevin Maguire

November 2014
 Chef's Larder

Check out this month's out-takes on our Facebook page —


John Rothstein, Sommelier

Bourbon Steak

Moonshine Nation
by Mark Spivak

Eileen Crane
Domaine Carneros

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Synopsis: Gentian Root (Gentianaeacea)

One of the most popular bitters in the plant world is no stranger to mixologist wizards. You know the ones. They have amber dropper bottles of who-knows-what lined up within an arm’s reach away. Like old-time apothecaries, they add their secret-somethings to their specialty cocktails that make imbibers feel exceptionally good. Without a doubt, one of those bottles contains the classic bitters, gentian root. Bitters, basically, activate the body’s digestion system. As the bitter hits the tongue, the salivary glands, which shake hands with the pancreas, react by, as the saying goes, making the mouth water. The salivary gush contains enzymes, and the pancreas reacts in kind. Research has proven salivary glands don’t function correctly with an impaired pancreas, like chronic pancreatitis (Kamisawa et al., 2003). As the digestive juices and gastric acids start to flow, the liver springs into action. This begins the flow of bile, which digests fats, and readies the gallbladder to release it. By the time the food arrives, everything’s set up to digest it and nourish the body. Stagnation in any one of these processes hobbles the digestive system. This causes, at the least, bloating and pain; at worst, disease. At this point, most people reach for an antacid. Antacids are created to muffle digestive juices, so go figure. Besides being considered an all-around great digestive stimulant and stomach tonic, gentian root is legend in the herbal world as a tonic to strengthen the body, generally; but especially after a debilitating illness. It’s a mover of congestion—liver, spleen, portal vein, and uterus (pregnant women take note). It’s considered a gold standard for intestinal parasites and a superior antiseptic. Medieval Europeans used gentian root as an antidote to poison, a popular murder weapon at the time. Over-indulgers might keep that in mind for mornings-after.