For the first time ever in my life, I attended a Renaissance Faire in my area.  Now, that may seem shocking, given that I am a fantasy writer who loves dressing up in costume (one of the reasons Halloween is my favorite holiday); this sort of thing is right up my alley, and why I’d never been before is a mystery that will remain so for years to come.

Jenna at the Renaissance Faire

The Central Coast Renaissance Festival, July 2010

     Despite my obvious case of ‘missing out’, I went with two friends (yes, in costume), and proceeded to peruse the vendors and enjoy the sights and sounds (and smells) of this joyous event, smugly content with the fact that I had dressed the part and ‘blended in’.  Other than seeing the joust, stepping along the wayside to let the queen pass, checking out the swords and longbows being displayed, tasting the medieval food and greeting fellow revelers in ‘Olde Englishe’, I wanted desperately to try mead.  Having spent three years of my college career studying the ancient ways of the Celts and the Norse and learning that bees were considered little cows with wings (cows provide the milk, bees the honey for mead) and were very much respected (heck, there were laws that applied only to them, my favorite being the one which stated that a bee found visiting flowers on another beekeeper’s property could mean trouble for its owner), it’s a surprise (like my lack of Ren Faire attendance) that I’d never tried that honey-based concoction so coveted by the Celts and the Vikings. 

     After passing by a few booths selling jewelry and daggers, my friends and I stumbled upon a ‘pub’ selling the mead we so eagerly sought.  I gave them my money and got a small portion of the stuff.  It was served in a small plastic cup (the very type one might get potato salad or salsa in) and was similar in appearance to a light beer.  Now, since I had never even seen mead in a bottle before (and knowing the reputation of the Vikings and Celts), I originally expected this stuff to be rather potent, something along the lines of Irish whisky or Scotch.  I lifted the cup and took a hesitant sip and . . . ambrosia from Valhalla!  It was very much like white wine, but not nearly as sour, yet not overly sweet.  Oh what joy to discover you actually like the very drink those you had read and studied about once enjoyed.   I’m not a wine drinker, nor do I like beer or hard alcohol (unless it is well mixed with something sweet or sour), but mead, mead is the drink for me!  Now if only it were as easy to find as wine and beer . . .

-J.E. Johnson

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