On one of my walks, I happened upon a large, industrial building flying the tri-colors of the French flag. Given I was, at the time, walking about in the Australian countryside, I decided to investigate.
As improbable as it may sound, I had happened upon a distiller of the pear-flavored eau de vie, Poire William.
Umpteen years ago, a Frenchman on holiday discovered a bounty of fresh pears in the region, and -- to shorten the history considerably -- he partnered with a local gentleman farmer and together they (or more properly speaking, their children now...) turn between 4 and 10 tons of fruit into pear-flavored jet fuel each season. The entirety of the production is shipped back to France in specialized containers. Where it is consumed in staggering quantities by the locals.
Eau de vie in the Australian bush? It couldn't be real. The fumes leaking out from the massive still are enough to make you wobble a little. And if you sample as much as I did, it all starts to feel like a dream.
I might even have convinced myself it all had been a dream. Except for the fact that I met Li Ping in the lobby of the distillery. Ping was very real, indeed.
And he would soon bring a big change to the Lab.
More on that next time.