Booze, Bollywood, And Dutch Football: A Conversation With Rosie Schaap

If you talk to Rosie Schaap for less than five minutes, you will realize that she is both an incredibly interesting conversationalist, and somebody with a massive amount of knowledge floating around inside her head.  According to her bio, she’s been a bartender, a fortuneteller, a librarian at a paranormal society, an English teacher, an editor, a preacher, a community organizer, a manager of homeless shelters, a ghostwriter for an inspirational magazine, and soon she’ll add another notch to that list when her book Drinking With Men comes out on Riverhead.

In the meantime, Schaap is busy writing about biting the hair off the dog that bit you the night before and classic martinis with a little extra vermouth for her New York Times Magazine Drink column.  And as you’ll read below, she’ll be talking about none of that this Wednesday at our Greatest 3-Minute Movie Stories event at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan.

I’ve begun to think you know pretty much all there is to know about booze. I’m curious how you became an expert in the field, and it’s alright to call you an expert, right?

This question brings to mind a (probably apocryphal) story I’ve heard about the trial between the painter James McNeill Whistler and the critic John Ruskin: at some point in the proceedings, Whistler was asked to justify how he could charge a certain sum for a painting, how many hours of labor went into its making, etc., and answered to the effect that the number of hours was irrelevant; what he’d put into the painting was a lifetime’s experience. (The part I don’t like to call attention to is that, although Whistler won the case, he was awarded damages of one farthing, and was destroyed by it). So, while I’m uneasy with the word expert, I like to think I bring a lifetime’s experience to this amazing job. If we’re open to a great variety of drinking experience, and truthful to our palates’ responses, we are all experts. I’m always tasting, always asking questions, always testing recipes, always learning. Arduous research, I know.

You wrote a piece for NPR on the seven types of soccer fans, and I’m assuming you fall under the category of “The Real Deal.” What draws you to soccer? I know that it’s a sport that has a connection to bars and pubs, so I was wondering if it had something to do with that.

It’s not called the Beautiful Game for nothing: soccer’s rules are straightforward; it requires minimal gear; physicality, grace, and quick thinking all matter. I always liked soccer in a typically American, fair-weather, World-Cup way. But yes, a bar had everything to do with my late-blooming superfandom. At Good World, where I was a regular for many years, a substantial number of my drinking buddies were British expats, many of whom were besotted with the sport. The more I became part of that bar’s culture, the more I assimilated into that group of regulars, and watching and talking about soccer became an essential part of my life, too.

You’re constantly tweeting about Tottenham Hotspur FC and the Netherlands National Football Team.  How did those particular teams become your favorites? I know your favorite football team is pretty close to religion…

The Dutch national team was my first soccer love, due to my Dutch heritage. Dutch soccer is always something to be proud of, even if the current squad can’t really be said to play in the historically elegant, distinctive Dutch style. (For more on classic Dutch style: One of my favorite sport books ever—I’ll go so far as to call it one of my favorite works of nonfiction ever—is David Winner’s Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football. It’s more than a primer on totaalvoetbal, it’s a sharp, funny, utterly original meditation on Dutchness itself).

As for Tottenham, the credit (or blame) goes to my good friend Geoff, whom I met at Good World. He knew I was a supporter of the Dutch national team, he knew I was a Mets fan, and he knew I was Jewish. For reasons about which there is much debate, Tottenham has long had a substantial Jewish fan base. So his irresistible pitch (no pun intended, I promise) went something like this: you like soccer anyway; you root for losers anyway; and you are a Jew anyway. Naturally, I was hooked. As I write this, Spurs are 3rd in the league—lovable losers no more.

Push comes to shove, what’s your absolute go to drink? Am I asking for trouble by even asking this question?

No, you’re not asking for trouble, though it pains me to think of just one drink. You may be disappointed to hear that the one alcoholic beverage I really can’t imagine living without is red wine. What on earth would I do at dinnertime? Then again, the idea of a world without whiskey distresses me, and gin is essential in the spring and summer, and I do love a pint of stout…oh, alright, you are asking for trouble.

Can you give us a hint what you’ll be reading at the Greatest 3-Minute Movie Stories event?

It may be obvious that reading, writing, soccer, and drink are high on my list of favorite things. Less obvious? So are Bollywood movies. A decade ago, one such film, Lagaan, just might have saved my life—even though it’s about cricket.

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