For over two years the radio and television advertisements for the Mexican brew Dos Equis have featured the unnamed "Most Interesting Man in The World." His ability to speak French in Russian and other such feats has made the character a legend in advertising as well as in popular culture.
From the beginning, the mystery of this most interesting man was kept intact. But now the story can be told. The following interview took place under less than clandestine conditions. As it was a telephone conversation I will have to take the man at his word when he tells me that his name is Jonathan Goldsmith and he does like beer... Dos Equis in particular.
This is the story behind the most interesting man in the world...
Jonathan Goldsmith, born on September 26, 1938 in New York City, is an American actor of Arab descent and has appeared in many television shows over the last 30 years. In 2007 however Jonathan Goldsmith became the most interesting man in the world.
Where was the place that you had your first epiphany beer, that is, a beer that was more than just a fizzy yellow refreshing beverage for you?
I think that that was in Martinique. I was on a sailboat and we were sailing through the Caribbean. It was a local beer and it was absolutely delicious.
What interests you most about beer now?
It’s a seasonal thing with me. When it’s warm there is nothing that can quench my thirst like ice cold beer. I absolutely love it. I drink lots of it in the winter but… We were just out sailing on Sunday and I had an extra ice chest in the back of the boat for beer which of course is Dos Equis… I fall in love with their Amber. I keep it real cold. I like beer so cold that I’ll actually put ice in it sometimes.
What have you learned about beer since working with Dos Equis?
That they pay very well… I haven’t learned that much about beer but I have learned that there are distinctly different tastes. Some are bitter, some are heavy and some of course are just the opposite… light. Some leave a bitter after-taste… a bite to it. Some are salty… There is a range of sensations that covers broad flavor parameters about beer that I never knew. In the past I was not particularly a beer drinker… I wasn’t when I got involved with Dos Equis, but I’ve learned to really love their Amber beer. It has more of a taste and richness to it. It has more substantial taste. I don’t like a weak beer. I don’t like light beers. I don’t like very dark heavy beers. I like Dos Equis.
That got me hooked on it and that’s the truth. It’s a beer that I’m contractually involved with but even if I wasn’t it wouldn’t make any difference. I genuinely like it.
I understand that you are a gourmet cook...
That’s negotiable I once made an omelet that my kid wouldn’t eat and when we put it on the floor the dog backed away from it.
That said… I do enjoy cooking. On a sailboat it’s a little bit more challenging. We do a lot of cooking, particularly in the winter with a Crockpot. We love it… with beer. We’ll put a pork roast in with sauerkraut and bratwurst… I’ve poached salmon in beer... with a bay leaf and a little paprika...
There is a restaurant if you ever get to LA called Casablanca and they cook almost everything in beer. It’s a Mexican style restaurant and it’s a wonderful place everything is cooked in Dos Equis. It’s Casablanca on Lincoln Blvd... Everything on the menu is made Dos Equis. I’m not saying this because it’s Dos Equis, I’m saying it because it makes it interesting they cook everything in Dos Equis.
The best onion rings I ever made were made with a beer batter.
Can you tell me why the beer in the batter is better?
I find that the dusting of the corn meal or bread crumbs stick better to what you are frying or sautéing… I frequently will batter fish with beer batter… it’s my batter of choice.
What’s the most challenging aspect of cooking with beer?
Beer can evaporate rather quickly depending on how much heat you use. I think it cooks off quicker than wine. But then again it depends on the cooking temperature. If you are cooking a brisket slow and low it doesn’t burn off nearly as fast as if you’re boiling up a mess of bratwurst.
Describe your perfect summer late afternoon meal with a beer.
I would have to get the beer very,very cold. And I would sauté some Bratwursts and some other types of German sausage wursts and I would be marinating my sauerkraut. I love sausage, sauerkraut and coleslaw… I think it’s as simple as that. I think of the art of simplicity. That, to me, is a simply elegant meal. Beer goes with it, the meal is infused with it. Don’t forget the caraway seeds in the sauerkraut. That would be it…
Also what is very good with beer is salmon poached in beer…
This is, in particular, how you do your cooking in the galley on the boat?
That would be cooking a Crockpot also marinating a lot of things. And then grilling them my preference is to boil sausages and then slowly grill them...
The time you mentioned your favorite beer memory was while sailing to Martinique?
We had been sailing... we stopped in Martinique. It was a local beer I don’t know what it was but it was just delicious.
That leads me to the question of how the experience of enjoying beer and food has to do with the place that you are at.
If I’m in a noisy crowded restaurant I’m not going to enjoy a beer or the meal with a conversation or anything. To me it’s an aesthetic and sensual appreciation and the most beautiful place I can think of being as at the end of a hot day sailing along with all of the sensuality that only the sea can provide and being with good friends and feeling the warmth and a change in temperature as the sun sets and the moon is rising that would be it for me.
The warmer the better for me, but on a balmy summer night nothing is more beautiful than to experience sunset, moon rise, stars coming out good food and the silence and loveliness of nature at sea.
You sound like you are very much into experiencing the “moment”?
I just had a conversation with a fellow the other day. I was doing a crossword on my boat and he came aboard… he’s a harried dock worker struggling through his second divorce… He was telling me all about it and I told him “The past is gone the future does not exist the only thing we have is a moment.” And I truly truly believe that. If I was to aspire to something, when people ask what I want most in this world it would be able to be totally in the present. Usually I’m not. But when asked if you have of what is important is all about being in the present the essence in the moment. Enjoy it while you have it because it goes so quickly.
What brought you to this type of reasoning?
Yes yes feeling that my life was very cluttered and I had no control over it and I was always thinking about the past and worry about the future and caught in that… that chaotic clash. The cacophony of that collision. I figured it was not healthy for me. I’m fortunate that I don’t worship material things and more involved in natural experiences. I want to cram it all in. The older I get the more I realize that my legacy whatever it is I have to hurry and get it done. So if I can give my grandchildren or great-grandchildren any advice and to you my friend to all my friends is to try to savor the moment that’s all we have.
Was there a particular event in your life that caused you to come to this or was this a gradual thing?
Yes disappointments in my life that are so indigenous to the acting field, being so close to the dream so many times and that brass ring. You can touch it but you just can’t quite reach it. The “almost”, the “maybes” and the “what ifs” and then realizing that life was passing by and if you don’t savor the moment you’re going to miss it. And I carried too much baggage from the past for a future that didn’t exist that I created in my mind. After three months sailing trip on the boat my sail boat from Venezuela all the way to Miami that was when I had a chance to stop into Martinique. I realized life is too serious to take seriously and I better enjoy it now. And that’s what I did. It just changed. I’m not always able to practice that but. It’s part of the journey and part of the challenge.
It seems the way though you’ve been talking about food and beer this fits into the moment because that’s what’s experience.
Absolutely I can remember places where I had as a kid for I had French fries and onion rings a stand in Sarasota Florida called Smacks. I can remember wonderful meals from all over the country. We have a good meal is always has to do with the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages, beer, wine whatever. Alcohol is part of the experience of a good meal.
Were you brought up that way?
I think so to a degree, my mother was not a very good cook. I love the company and the conviviality of friends enjoying all getting together and enjoying a meal together. I did grow up as a very wealthy kid but the most wonderful marvelous thing to share was food and then sharing meals together with friends. Food is always synonymous with good drink.
And that, good friends, is the story behind the most interesting man in the world.