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Belgian Beer Makes the Cut for UNESCO's Cultural Heritage List

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If you've ever visited Belgium, a large portion of your travel time was likely devoted to eating and drinking. The small European country is famous for its culinary offerings (frites, waffles, and chocolate, anyone?), but even more so for its beer culture. Now, The Guardian reports, Belgium's storied suds have been officially added to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Launched in 2006, the list identifies traditional occurrences, observances, and social activities around the world that help define citizens' national identity.

According to Reuters, the Belgian Brewers trade association petitioned the specialized United Nations agency to add beer drinking and brewing to the list. This past week, UNESCO's Intergovernmental for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage met in Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa, to debate whether beer (and other proposed cultural additions, including Indian yoga and Czech and Slovak puppetry) should make the cut.

Beer production and consumption might not sound high-brow enough to warrant a vaunted status, but Belgium takes both activities pretty seriously. The country is roughly the size of the U.S. state of Maryland, yet it boasts nearly 200 breweries and 1500 varieties of beer, according to the Belgian Brewers. Not surprisingly, beer is even one of the nation's national dishes.

Plus, the trade organization argues, beer helps the local economy, promotes camaraderie among citizens, and is historic, to boot. Rudi Vervoort, a mayor and member of the Brussels Parliament, agrees: Earlier this week, he commented to The Guardian that the beverage "has been a part of our society since time immemorial." We'll toast to that.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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7 Surprising Uses for Tequila
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Happy National Tequila Day! While you could celebrate by having a few drinks, you could also skip the hangover by unlocking one of tequila's amazing abilities outside of a glass. Many spirits are useful for activities beyond sipping (vodka, for example, is a great stain and odor remover), but tequila holds some particularly magical powers. Here are just a few of them.


In 2008, a team of scientists in Mexico discovered that when the heated vapor from an 80-proof tequila blanco was combined with a silicon or stainless steel substrate, it resulted in the formation of diamond films. These films can be used in commercial applications, such as electrical insulators, or to create one big fake diamond. Who knew that spending $50 on a bottle of Don Julio was such a wise investment?


Keeping with the science theme: In 2011, researchers at England’s University of Oxford suggested that we may one day be gassing up our cars with tequila. They identified agave, the plant from which tequila is produced, as a potential biofuel source—and a particularly attractive one, as the plant itself is not consumed by humans and can thrive in desert climates.


Scientists have long promoted the potential benefits of the agave plant for its ability to help dissolve fats and lower cholesterol. The bad news? These properties get a bit diluted when the plant is distilled into alcohol. Even more so when it's whipped into a sugary margarita.


Take three or more shots of tequila and you’re bound to pass out. A single shot can have the same effect—just not in that drunken stupor kind of way. Relaxation is one of the positive side effects of tequila drinking; a small amount (1 to 1.5 ounces) before bedtime can reportedly help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.


Too much of a good thing may not bring a welcome turn of events for your liver … but your colon will thank you! Researchers at Mexico’s University of Guadalajara have identified the blue agave as a potentially helpful source for delivering drugs to the colon in order to treat colitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease and even cancer.


If Ernest Hemingway had known about the healing properties of tequila, his signature drink might have been a margarita instead of a daiquiri. In 2010, experiments conducted at Mexico’s Polytechnic Institute of Guanajuato revealed that the agave plant (which is high in fructans, a fructose polymer) could stimulate the GLP-1 hormone, aiding in increased insulin production.


“Plenty of liquids” is a well-known remedy for getting oneself out from under the weather. But expanding that definition to include a kicked-up shot of tequila makes a day laid out on the couch sound much more appealing. In the 1930s, doctors in Mexico recommended the following concoction to fight off a cold.

.5 ounce of tequila blanco
.5 ounce of agave nectar (to eliminate bacteria and soothe sore throats)
.5 ounce of fresh lime juice (for Vitamin C) 

Though some people (including tequila companies) swear by its healing powers, others say it's hogwash.

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What's the Kennection? #158
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