I've been living here in the Gapsereau Valley for a while now and I have my connections to the fish, but the alewife I'm referring to is not a fish.
Alewife was the term for working women with expert knowledge in ways of using herbs and fermentation to create beverages that are nourishing and medicinal. Much of their knowledge has been lost to us over the centuries, but some remains. In the 16th century “beer purity laws” were enacted in England and Germany that limited the ingredients allowed in beer and ales. This first step in commercial control of food production led to the consolidation and large scale commercialisation of beer brewing and, for the most part, eliminated the small domestic, artisan beer producers, many of whom were women or alewives.
These hand-sculpted, hand-carved and hand-painted ale cups are a tribute to these professional women, their knowledge and the importance of traditional knowledge.
Four years ago I made seven of these. I haven't made any since until now. This year there are 6 cups on offer. Each one is unique. $45