Thursday, October 22, 2009

Please Pass the Chartreuse

In a profoundly scientific discussion about naming colors at HP Labs, the other day, the color name chartreuse came up. Nathan declared he'd never heard of it until he saw it recently used as a response to his ongoing web-based color-naming experiment. I stated that I only knew of it because my mother used that word when referring to a new dress or curtains or something. I told you it was a profound discussion.

Chartreuse probably stuck with me because, from age 12, I became fascinated with organic chemistry in general and, azo dyes, in particular. So, I'm almost sure it went on my list of chemical terms along with malachite green and paranitraniline red.

What I had intended to say in our meeting, but forgot because there were so many other profound things being discussed, is that chartreuse is also a French liqueur derived from a variety of herbal extracts. Hence, the association with the color green, I assume. I only learnt about this liqueur a few years ago, when I was giving a computer performance class at Sun Microsystems in Grenoble, France. The Grande Chartreuse monastery, where the genuine article is made, is located in the mountains between Grenoble and the Lyon airport.

Unfortunately, not only is green not my favorite color (I'm color blind to dark shades of green), but I don't like the taste of Chartreuse liqueur either. My favorite is hazelnut liqueur. So, please pass the Frangelico instead.