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*Freelance Traveller

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Hot Judy and Ice Judy

This article originally appeared in the July 2012 issue.

Wherever humans go, they’ll find something to ferment into ethanol, and then they’ll drink the ethanol. One particularly interesting find was the stem-pulp of a Vilani succulent, the shuudii plant, which is edible when boiled three times, casting the water away each time, then pressing the leavings into cakes and heat-drying. It is not considered pleasant fare, and is regarded only as something to be used when travelling and nothing better available. Military personnel tried using the starchy shuudii cakes—intended as emergency rations—in their stills. They found that the initial fermentation was undrinkable and mildly poisonous, but heat distillation yielded a drink that was both pleasantly flavorful—often described as “kind of like pomegranate-and-avocado, if pomegranate was a citrus fruit”—and mildly euphoric, beyond the normal effects of alcohol. “Judy”, named from mis-hearing the name of the plant, became popular among troops serving where shuudii grew.

An accident with a food-storage unit being used as a support for a Judy still resulted in a batch of Judy being produced by freeze distillation. One person tried it, and died within seconds; the autopsy found that the Judy had contained a highly-lethal neurotoxin—although the indications were that it had the same flavor as normal Judy. The two forms were named “Hot Judy” (safe) and “Ice Judy” (poison), and strong cautions against Ice Judy went through the grapevine, even as an official total ban on Judy went out (which was ignored as often as any ban on stills).

Hot Judy is exported from worlds on which shuudii grows, and commands high prices—often more than Cr15 per 100ml single servings, or over Cr100 per liter in retail shops. (For spec trade, assume a base price of Cr65 per liter (bottled) to buy and Cr80 to sell, 10k bottles per displacement ton.) Ice Judy is not acknowledged to be produced, but has been named as the cause of certain prominent deaths; now, few people will accept an offer of Judy without seeing the seal on the bottle broken in their presence.