There was a time in the UK when buying mineral water was something considered somewhat esoteric. What was wrong with drinking the stuff from the tap? Now, with water sources ranging from Highland springs to Malvern wells, Britain is well (!) supplied with natural water which hasn’t been chlorinated or otherwise tampered with. However, there still remain stalwarts who think that mineral water is a big con and that what their parents imbibed from the kitchen standpipe is good enough for their tracheas.
The fact remains, however, that at my old school (Dulwich College, founded 1619 by Will Shakespeare’s best actor, Edward Alleyn, to atone for his life of debauchery and general fun) pupils were served beer rather than water for their lunch breaks as they would then have a much better chance of surviving into next year’s class.
Let us also not forget the terrible cholera epidemics that afflicted Victorian London’s population and whose main causes were the adulterated water supplies (as first discovered by John Snow and his Broad Street Pump experiment of 1854).
Fortunately, due to the efforts of Bazalgette and his ilk (who built the northern and southern outfall sewers near where I used to reside in Woolwich) there are no further risks of being infected with cholera if one drinks London tap water. However, in my opinion, that is not sufficient reason to spend one’s life just surviving on recycled (three times it is said, at least!) Thames liquid.
In Italy, where water also carried the risk of the malaria mosquito, mineral water has always appeared on home and restaurant tables. Each Italian has their favourite, whether it be San Pellegrino or Rocchetta and whether it appears in still or in sparkling format.
Spas have also been part of the Italian social scenery for years, whether it be Montecatini, Chianciano terme, Fiuggi or even our beloved Bagni di Lucca, and quite rightly so – not just to have a decent water supply, but also to stave off all those digestive malaises caused in the rest of the year by rich and plentiful diets of delicious dishes in disproportionate quantities for the liver to cope with satisfactorily
We thought our tap water coming from a mountain area would do us fine until we bought a couple of goldfish and found that they died a couple of days after their tank had been filled with the standard water company product.
Now we try always to use non-tap water (except for having a shower, I suppose – cleaning our teeth with the effluent still remains a matter of some debate). We use two sources to obtain it. One is a spring a few minutes’ walk above our house, another is off the road leading down to Bagni dI Lucca. We bring two cloth containers with us – each containing six bottles and fill up whenever we’re en route past these places.
The water tastes delicious, the replacement gold fish have never had a bad day, the water’s free and we have caught neither cholera nor malaria!
We do feel a lot better for drinking nature’s liquid as, after all, over half our body is made up of water and it is recommended that one drinks two litres of H2O daily.
Water is so important that I think that it must come at the top of any list about where you are moving to. The Gobi desert (which I visited in 2008) is superlatively wonderful but ….
We are so lucky that we’ve got the real, natural ,unadulterated stuff here and not only! We’ve also got the best medicinal waters in Italy at Bagni di Lucca, at La Cova. In fact, we use red bottles to full up with la Cova waters and non-red for everything else. After all, when we change the water in our fish tank we wouldn’t like our friends Tira and Molla to surfeit on chalybeate waters and feel out of water.
As the proverb says “water is the only drink for a wise man” (pace the grappa, limoncino, Cynar, Pieroni, Fernet-Branca, Campari, etc. etc.)