A Town Called Condom

While reading Walter James’s Barrel and Book: A Winemaker’s Diary (Georgian House, Melbourne, 1949), I ran across the following recipe for Cognac on Page 57:
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I’ve never made Cognac and, after seeing the recipe above, I don’t think I have the stomach for it. Just remember; if you make Cognac, don’t call it that. If you do, you could be subject to legal difficulties. That is, if you survive drinking it.

Walter James was, per the biographical information on the front dust cover flap, “an Australian wine grower with a sense of humor, a love of literature, and a considerable knowledge of wine and food.” Book and Barrel was the first of James’s books that I purchased and also, apparently, the first of his published works. Since then, I’ve acquired six others. He’s one of my favorite writers and I have tons of fun reading his stuff, even the second and third times. Most of these books were available only in Australia. I found them via abebooks. They are great fun and are very informative about wine growing in general and in Australia in particular. They contain many anecdotes and references to literature and authors.

Concerning the French town “Condom” referenced by James, it certainly does exist and Condom is certainly the name. According to Wikipedia, the name has nothing to do with the English word for the protective device worn by males. However, the mayor of that town decided to capitalize on its name and established a museum devoted to the display of “population-control devices.” Sadly, the museum closed in 2005. Having gotten to know Walter James fairly well through the reading of seven of his books, I’m surprised that he didn’t capitalize on the name by making a bawdy comment about it. If you’re interested in learning more about Condom than you can find in the English version entry in Wikipedia, try the French version. Just be sure to hit the translate button if you’re not a reader of French. James’s occasional off-color comments are another reason I enjoy reading his works. Here’s what I consider to be a hilarious example of such stuff, scanned from Page 79:
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It’s comforting to know that the young lady ended up in America. Perhaps you recognize her from James’s description.

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