Tiburón -Shark- Žralok

Tiburón -Shark- Žralok: Writing Cooking Traveling

Friday, October 22, 2010

Quiz Night at the Dial Arch

It’s amazing how quickly the brain sorts information, specially when lubricated with a room temperature ale at an English pub in Southeast London. The quizmaster—a thirtyish bartender with a microphone and a list of questions—made the rounds of the booths and tables, repeating the question, “What is the capital of Uruguay?”
My brain, a depository of useless information, ideal for activities such as this, went through the following process: map of South America, Uruguay is not Paraguay, Uruguay is across the river from Argentina, Buenos Aires is across the river from… “Montevideo!”
Five of us at the table, my friends looked up at me. “Are you sure?”

We wrote down the answer on our already rather soiled piece of paper, satisfied smiles acknowledging our progress, each question getting closer to our goal tonight: Not be last place.
When I was exchanging marathonic facebook messages with my new best friend Andie, the friend of my ex who I was going to be staying with in London, she asked if I minded going to the pub with them on Sunday night for their weekly Pub Quiz. I never mind going down to the pub and inquired about this Pub Quiz. A tradition in the UK, usually more widespread among towns and communities, where everyone goes to the pub—usually on a Sunday and even people who don’t drink—pay an entry fee (ours was two pounds each), and get handed a sheet of paper on which to answer a variety of trivia questions, occasionally go to lightning rounds where you can win a free drink, and overall just drink and think. I know, awesome, right?
Having nailed the Montevideo question, Andie and I got up to get the next round. I’d landed that morning at Heathrow and after a roast lunch at a pub in Covent Garden—pubs were something of a theme during my five days in London—we took the Thames Clipper from Sharing Cross down past Greenwich to Woolwich Arsenal, where Andie and her boyfriend Tom live (and where the football/soccer team Arsenal originated). It’s the London equivalent of Bayridge, a nice area with a lot of diversity and historic buildings—most of them arms factories, the lawns in front of them decorated with old cannons— that have been converted into flats or, as in the case of the Dial Arch where we found ourselves that night, pubs.
I’d been given a crash course on what to expect in terms of English beers and ales. First of all, they are not the same thing. To Americans the term beer covers everything from Budweiser (or piss, as its known in Europe) to microbrews. But the English have gradients. A beer is generally a lager, the yellow, lighter beer served cold, while an ale is a darker, more complex type of bitter served at room temperature. I asked where Guiness and other dark beers fell within this labeling matrix and we finally just came to the conclusion that Guinness is delicious and left it at that.
At the bar I knew that I needed to try some ales but as a former resident of the Czech Republic, and having been starved of decent Czech beer on tap for several years now, I had to order a Pilsner Urquell. One of the best things about the Dial Arch, though, is that they have 2 ounce tasting glasses so I got to sample one of their in-house cask ales and have my beer, too. Day one in England and I’d been doublefisting since lunch. The ale was surprisingly bitter but I think the hardest aspect to overcome is the temperature, because the expectation is that beer should be cold. But this wasn’t beer, it was ale.
We picked up a Pimm’s for Andie, a Guinness for Tom, and couple of other beers for our friends , some crisps (potato chips) and headed back to the table where the question was, “What was the name of the tree where Eve got the apple that tempted Adam?”
In my brain two simultaneous images came up, the Hieronymus Bosch painting of The Garden of Earthly Delights (not sure why...) and my high school English teacher Ms. Otero, who made us analyze Genesis as a work of literature. Somehow this combo resulted in, “The Tree of Knowledge.” To which I quickly added, “Wait, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
We wrote it down and the round ended. We swapped answer sheets with the table next to us and marked off right and wrong answers as the quizmaster announced them. Every time we realized we’d gotten one wrong we cringed but that’s what the beers were for.
At the end of the night we achieved our goal: the table next to us came in last place (without any tampering from us, mind you) and we came in next to last place. Overall, a very successful evening.
Oh, and in case you were wondering what time it is:

No comments:

Post a Comment