May 212018
 

Today is the birthday (1780) of Elizabeth Fry (née Gurney), an English prison reformer, social reformer and philanthropist. Fry was a major driving force behind new legislation to make the treatment of prisoners more humane, and she was supported in her efforts by Queen Victoria.

Elizabeth Fry was born in Norwich in Norfolk, England into a prominent Quaker family, the Gurneys. Her childhood family home was Earlham Hall, which is now part of the University of East Anglia. Her father, John Gurney (1749–1809), was a partner in Gurney’s Bank. Her mother, Catherine, was a member of the Barclay family who were among the founders of Barclays Bank. Her mother died when Elizabeth was 12 years old. As one of the oldest girls in the family, Elizabeth was partly responsible for the care and education of the younger children, including her brother Joseph John Gurney, a philanthropist.

She met Joseph Fry (1777–1861), a banker whose uncle founded the Fry’s chocolate company, who was also a Quaker, when she was 20 years old. They married on 19th August 1800 at the Norwich Goat Lane Friends Meeting House and moved to St Mildred’s Court in the City of London. Elizabeth Fry was recorded as a minister of the Religious Society of Friends in 1811. Joseph and Elizabeth Fry lived in Plashet House in East Ham between 1809 and 1829, then moved to The Cedars on Portway in Forest Gate, where they lived until 1844. They had eleven children, five sons and six daughters.

Prompted by a family friend, Stephen Grellet, Fry visited Newgate Prison in 1813. The conditions she saw there horrified her. The women’s section was overcrowded with women and children, some of whom had not even received a trial. The prisoners did their own cooking and washing in the small cells in which they slept on straw. She returned the following day with food and clothes for some prisoners. She was unable to personally further her work for nearly 4 years because of difficulties within the Fry family, including financial difficulties at the Fry bank, which Elizabeth helped extricate her husband from. Put simply, she had a strong sense of business, and her husband had hardly any. Fry returned to Newgate in 1816 and was eventually able to fund a prison school for the children who were imprisoned with their mothers. Rather than attempt to impose discipline on the women, she suggested rules and then asked the prisoners to vote on them. In 1817 she helped found the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate. This association provided materials for women so that they could learn to sew and knit and then once they were out of prison they could earn money for themselves. This led to the eventual creation of the British Ladies’ Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners in 1821 She also promoted the idea of rehabilitation instead of harsh punishment which was taken on by the city authorities in London as well as many other authorities and prisons.

Elizabeth Fry also campaigned for the rights and welfare of prisoners who were being transported. The women of Newgate Prison were taken through the streets of London in open carts, often in chains, huddled together with their few possessions. They were pelted with rotten food and filth by the people of the city. The fear was often enough to make women condemned to transportation riot on the evening before. Fry’s first action was to persuade the governor of Newgate prison to send the women in closed carriages and spare them this last indignity before transportation. She visited prison ships and persuaded captains to implement systems to ensure each woman and child would at least get a share of food and water on the long journey. Later she arranged each woman to be given scraps of material and sewing tools so that they could use the long journey to make quilts and have something to sell as well as useful skills when they reached their destination. She also included a Bible and useful items such as string and knives and forks in this vital care package. Elizabeth Fry visited 106 transport ships and saw 12,000 convicts. Her work helped to start a movement for the abolition of transportation. Transportation was officially abolished in 1837, however Elizabeth Fry was still visiting transportation ships until 1843.

Elizabeth Fry wrote in her book Prisons in Scotland and the North of England that she stayed the night in some of the prisons and invited nobility to come and stay and see for themselves the conditions prisoners lived in. Her kindness helped her gain the friendship of the prisoners and they began to try to improve their conditions for themselves. Thomas Fowell Buxton, Fry’s brother-in-law, was elected to Parliament for Weymouth and began to promote her work among his fellow MPs. In 1818 Fry gave evidence to a House of Commons committee on the conditions prevalent in British prisons, becoming the first woman to present evidence in Parliament.

Elizabeth Fry also helped the homeless, establishing a “nightly shelter” in London after seeing the dead body of a young boy in the winter of 1819/1820 on the streets. In 1824, during a visit to Brighton, she instituted the Brighton District Visiting Society. The society arranged for volunteers to visit the homes of the poor and provide help and comfort to them. The plan was successful and was duplicated in other districts and towns across Britain. Elizabeth Fry also used her influential network and worked with other prominent Quakers to campaign for the abolition of the slave trade.

After her husband went bankrupt in 1828, Fry’s brother became her business manager and benefactor. Thanks to him, her work expanded. In 1838 the Friends sent a party to France: Fry and her husband, Lydia Irving, and abolitionists Josiah Forster and William Allen. They were there on other business but despite the language barrier Fry and Lydia Irving visited French prisons.

In 1840 Fry opened a training school for nurses. Her program inspired Florence Nightingale, who took a team of Fry’s nurses to assist wounded soldiers in the Crimean War.

In 1842, Frederick William IV of Prussia went to see Fry in Newgate Prison during an official visit to Great Britain. The king, who had met Fry during her previous tours of the continent promoting welfare change and humanitarianism, was so impressed by her work that he told his reluctant courtiers that he would personally visit the gaol when he was in London.

Queen Victoria admired Fry’s work and granted her an audience a few times before she became queen, and contributed money to her cause after she ascended the throne. Robert Peel was also an admirer, and passed several acts to further her cause including the Gaols Act 1823. The act was largely ineffective, because there were no inspectors to make sure that it was being followed.

Fry died from a stroke in Ramsgate, England, on 12th October 1845. Her remains were buried in the Friends’ burial ground at Barking. More than a thousand people stood in silence during the burial at the Ramsgate memorial. Following her death, a meeting chaired by the Lord Mayor of London, resolved that it would be fitting “to found an asylum to perpetuate the memory of Mrs Fry and further the benevolent objects to which her life had been devoted.” An 18th-century town house was purchased at 195 Mare Street, in the London Borough of Hackney and the first Elizabeth Fry refuge opened its doors in 1849. Funding came via subscriptions from various city companies and private individuals, supplemented by income from the inmates’ laundry and needlework. Such training was an important part of the refuge’s work. In 1924, the refuge merged with the Manor House Refuge for the Destitute, in Dalston in Hackney, becoming a hostel for girls on probation for minor offences. The hostel soon moved to larger premises in Highbury, Islington and then, in 1958, to Reading, where it remains today.

I searched Mrs Beeton and found this anecdote on prisons and punishment, rather typical of Victorian humor, followed by her recipe for baked ham, which I think would make a fine dish in honor of Elizabeth Fry (although I would love to sneak in a bar of Fry’s Turkish Delight in honor of her husband’s uncle).

  

HOG NOT BACON. ANECDOTE OF LORD BACON.—As Lord Bacon, on one occasion, was about to pass sentence of death upon a man of the name of Hogg, who had just been tried for a long career of crime, the prisoner suddenly claimed to be heard in arrest of judgment, saying, with an expression of arch confidence as he addressed the bench, “I claim indulgence, my lord, on the plea of relationship; for I am convinced your lordship will never be unnatural enough to hang one of your own family.”

“Indeed, replied the judge, with some amazement,” I was not aware that I had the honour of your alliance; perhaps you will be good enough to name the degree of our mutual affinity.”

“I am sorry, my lord,” returned the impudent thief, “I cannot trace the links of consanguinity; but the moral evidence is sufficiently pertinent. My name, my lord, is Hogg, your lordship’s is Bacon; and all the world will allow that bacon and hog are very closely allied.”

“I am sorry,” replied his lordship, “I cannot admit the truth of your instance: hog cannot be bacon till it is hanged; and so, before I can admit your plea, or acknowledge the family compact, Hogg must be hanged to-morrow morning.”

TO BAKE A HAM.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—Ham; a common crust.

Mode.—As a ham for baking should be well soaked, let it remain in water for at least 12 hours. Wipe it dry, trim away any rusty places underneath, and cover it with a common crust, taking care that this is of sufficient thickness all over to keep the gravy in. Place it in a moderately-heated oven, and bake for nearly 4 hours. Take off the crust, and skin, and cover with raspings, the same as for boiled ham, and garnish the knuckle with a paper frill. This method of cooking a ham is, by many persons, considered far superior to boiling it, as it cuts fuller of gravy and has a finer flavour, besides keeping a much longer time good.

Time.—A medium-sized ham, 4 hours.

Average cost, from 8d. to 10d. per lb. by the whole ham.

Seasonable all the year.

May 202018
 

Today is called the Day of Remembrance in Cambodia, formerly called (in English) the National Day of Hatred, which is a mistranslation of the Khmer name ទិវាចងកំហឹង – Ti Veer Jrong Komhuoeng  — which literally means “Day of Tying Anger” but is perhaps better translated as “Day of Maintaining Rage” that is, a day for maintaining the sense of anger at the genocide against Cambodians perpetrated by Pol Pot. The day has changed names, and fluctuated in importance over the years since Pol Pot was formally defeated by communist Vietnamese, because the Khmer Rouge has maintained a continuous presence in Cambodia, with waxing and waning fortunes. The Day of Remembrance (as I shall refer to it), was first launched in the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) on May 20th  1984. The commemoration was initiated by a September 12, 1983 conference in Phnom Penh of around 300 intellectuals and clergymen. The date was selected since it marked the initiation of mass killings in Democratic Kampuchea on May 20th 1976. It was also the date that the Khmer Rouge had initiated forced collectivization in southern Takéo in 1973.

Under the PRK, the full title of the event in English was ‘Day of Hatred against the genocidal Pol Pot-Ieng Sary-Khieu Samphan clique and the Sihanouk-Son Sann reactionary groups’. The Day was an important holiday in the PRK, and the Kampuchean United Front for National Construction and Defense mobilized Kampuchean mass organizations to ensure popular participation. Under the PRK, the policies of the United States (dubbed as imperialist) and the People’s Republic of China (dubbed as expansionist) were also targets of dislike during the Day of Hatred. The 1983 conference had made as the objective of the National Day of Hatred the mobilization of international public opinion against the Khmer Rouge, their allies and their foreign backers. In particular, the issue of the representation of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea in the United Nations was highlighted.

(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

The Cambodian genocide killed somewhere between 1.5 and 3 million Cambodian people from 1975 to 1979. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge changed the name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea. In order to fulfill their goals, which were a particular blend of nationalism, Stalinism, and Maoism that was designed to create a monoethnic and deliberately uneducated agrarian society, the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced Cambodians to relocate to labor camps in the countryside, where mass executions, forced labor, physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease were prevalent. This resulted in the death of approximately 25% of Cambodia’s total population. People perceived as the opposition were taken to the Killing Fields, where they were executed and buried in mass graves. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia ended the genocide by defeating the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Things did not end there, however, because the Khmer Rouge remained an active presence for many years, and were recognized internationally as the legitimate ruling party, while the world turned a blind eye to the genocide.

The Vietnamese were especially troubled by the Khmer Rouge because their genocide targeted ethnic Vietnamese living in Cambodia. The border between the two countries has always been fluid – especially around the Mekong Delta because control of that region is critical for trade and defense. On December 3, 1978, Radio Hanoi announced the formation of the Kampuchean National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS). This was a heterogeneous group of communist and noncommunist exiles who shared an antipathy to the Pol Pot regime and a virtually total dependence on Vietnamese backing and protection. The KNUFNS provided the semblance, if not the reality, of legitimacy for Vietnam’s invasion of Democratic Kampuchea and for its subsequent establishment of a satellite regime in Phnom Penh.

In the meantime, as 1978 wore on, Cambodian bellicosity in the border areas surpassed Hanoi’s threshold of tolerance. Vietnamese policy makers opted for a military solution and, on December 22nd, Vietnam launched its offensive with the intent of overthrowing Democratic Kampuchea. A force of 120,000, consisting of combined armor and infantry units with strong artillery support, drove west into the level countryside of Cambodia’s southeastern provinces. Together, the Vietnamese army and the National Salvation Front struck at the KR on December 25th. After a 17-day campaign, Phnom Penh fell to the advancing Vietnamese on January 7th, 1979. Pol Pot and the main leaders initially took refuge near the border with Thailand. After making deals with several governments, they were able to use Thailand as a safe staging area for the construction and operation of new redoubts in the mountain and jungle fastness of Cambodia’s periphery, Pol Pot and other Khmer Rouge leaders regrouped their units, issued a new call to arms, and reignited a stubborn insurgency against the regime in power as they had done in the late 1960s.

For the moment, however, the Vietnamese invasion had accomplished its purpose of deposing an unlamented and particularly violent dictatorship. A new administration of ex-Khmer Rouge fighters under the control of Hanoi was quickly established, and it set about competing, both domestically and internationally, with the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia. Peace still eluded the nation, however, and although the insurgency set in motion by the Khmer Rouge proved unable to topple the new Vietnamese-controlled regime in Phnom Penh, it did nonetheless keep the country in a permanent state of insecurity. The new administration was propped up by a substantial Vietnamese military force and civilian advisory effort.

As events in the 1980s progressed, the main preoccupations of the new regime were survival, restoring the economy, and combating the Khmer Rouge insurgency by military and by political means. The UN General Assembly voted by a margin of 71 to 35 for the Khmer Rouge to retain their seat at the UN, with 34 abstentions and 12 absentees. The seat was occupied by Thiounn Prasith, an old colleague of Pol Pot from their student days in Paris and one of the 21 attendees at the 1960 KPRP Second Congress. The seat was retained under the name ‘Democratic Kampuchea’ until 1982 and then ‘Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea’ until 1993. Pol Pot continued as nominal ruler of Cambodia until 1997, and died in 1998.

On 2 January 2001, the Cambodian government established the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, to try the members of the Khmer Rouge leadership responsible for the Cambodian genocide. Trials began on 17th February 2009. On 7th August 2014, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan were convicted and received life sentences for crimes against humanity during the genocide. As of 2009, the Cambodian NGO Documentation Center of Cambodia has mapped some 23,745 mass graves containing approximately 1.3 million suspected victims of execution. Direct execution is believed to account for roughly 60% of the full death toll during the genocide, with other victims succumbing to starvation or disease.

The effects of Pol Pot’s policies, including, but not limited to, genocide cannot be overstated, and have left an enduring legacy in Cambodia. Virtually the entire urban population was displaced, educational and religious institutions were ravaged, and the whole culture was turned upside down. On the surface, Cambodia seems like other SE Asian cultures to the casual visitor, but if you live there for any length of time it is obvious that the culture is far from “normal.” There is still a general undercurrent of suspicion of strangers, particularly foreigners, and key institutions, such as universities and temples, are still essentially rudderless and ill staffed.  It will take at least a generation before Cambodia can be said to be a stable nation.

All that said, Cambodian cuisine marches on regardless. I’ve talked about Cambodian dishes several times already, and given my usual caution that for authentic dishes you need to travel to the country. As the chameleon cook, I routinely cook Cambodian dishes at home because the ingredients are readily available and I know the basic principles. Sour and spicy/hot are the most common elements along with sweet/fruity, salty, and bitter (not unlike the Chinese ideal, although the flavors are different.

Kuy teav (គុយទាវ) is one of my favorite morning dishes whether I make it at home, or get it from a market stall. It’s better at market stalls because they have constantly simmering vats of broth that are enriched over the morning with the ingredients that are cooked in them. Kuy teav  is a noodle soup consisting of rice noodles with pork stock and toppings that is generally assumed to be of Chinese origin. In Khmer, kuy teav is formally pronounced IPA: [kuj t̪ieʋ] but is often elided to IPA: [kə t̪ieʋ] (Romanized as k’tieu, katieu, kateav, etc.) due to the sesquisyllabic nature of the Khmer language. It is impossible to learn Khmer pronunciation from books. When I learn a new phrase and then practice it on the streets, all I get are puzzled looks, because I am putting too many syllables and consonants in. You almost never hear a final consonant, even though it is there in the written text and complex vowel sounds and diphthongs are drastically simplified from what books teach.

Kuy teav is prepared with partially dry thin squarish rice noodles cooked by quickly immersing the noodles in boiling water. The noodles are then strained, placed into a bowl, and moistened with a nutty, caramelized garlic oil. After dressing with a sticky brown liquid made of oyster sauce, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar, the bowl is then filled with a clear broth made from pork bones, dried squid, and sugar, and seasoned with a bit of fish sauce. Then the meat toppings are added, which may include a variety of different types of meat, such as pork loaf, minced pork, pork belly, duck, seafood or offal. When I order from a market stall I just ask for a little of everything on offer. It usually varies from day to day. Only once in a while will I ask for one ingredient only. This is not unheard of, but is not normal.

When the dish is served, you have a wide choice of garnishes and aromatics to customize the dish. The pork broth is tasty and complex, but also subtle, so you add what you want to adjust it to your taste. I usually add the Cambodian trinity of garlic, fresh lime juice, and hot peppers. Garnishes can include lettuce leaves, bean sprouts, fresh herbs (sawtooth coriander and holy basil), crushed black kampot pepper, and chopped green onion.

May 192018
 

Today is the birthday (1925) of Malcolm Little who became known to the world as Malcolm X when he became a member of the Nation of Islam, but also took the name el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz after he went to Mecca for the Hajj in 1964, but was, and still is, best known as Malcolm X. For most of his public career he was known as the public voice of the Nation of Islam which, under leader Elijah Muhammad, preached radical racism and separatism, along with violent rebellion when necessary. This is the persona that many people in the United States remember him for. Both his criminal background before the Nation of Islam, and his fundamental change of heart after his break with the Nation of Islam have largely been forgotten, although there are several movies concerning his life that accentuate this period. The best reference point is The Autobiography of Malcolm X which was actually written by Alex Haley based on numerous taped interviews with Malcolm between 1963 and his death in 1965, and published posthumously. It was one of the first books I taught as a brand-new assistant professor in a Freshman Studies program in 1980, and I found it completely mesmerizing. Back in the 1960s (when I was living in Australia), the images we got of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States were limited and extremely one sided. Malcolm’s murder in 1965 seemed like yet another political murder in a bloody decade that included two Kennedys and Martin Luther King along with Malcolm. I had not the remotest idea what it was all about. Reading the Autobiography set me straight in so many ways.

My simple suggestion is that if you want to understand Malcolm X you should read the autobiography. It is crafted, of course. All autobiographies are. In this case it is crafted as much by Haley as by Malcolm himself, but Haley does use Malcolm’s own words and does follow the general thread of his life through his development as a criminal in Boston and New York, after being more or less orphaned in Michigan, how he had something of an awakening in his 6 ½ years in prison which crystallized when he came under the tutelage of Elijah Muhammad, but which he then put behind him when he converted to Sunni Islam and embarked on a much more universalistic call for human rights that set aside the violent separatism of the Nation of Islam. This final period was tragically short, cut short because he was murdered by members of the Nation of Islam, most likely under direct orders from Elijah Muhammad, although the details may always remain shrouded in obscurity. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of the murder, but only one, Talmadge Hayer, admitted guilt. The other two protested innocence and Hayer also refused to point the finger at them. He claimed that other members of the Nation of Islam were involved but initially he would not name them. The police did not re-open the case, when Hayer in the late 1970s filed sworn affidavits naming four men – not those convicted – of being complicit in the murder; nor did the FBI even though they had undercover agents working with the Nation of Islam. It has even been suggested that the FBI was aware of the Nation of Islam’s intent to kill Malcolm but did nothing to prevent it, nor to warn him.

The inherent problem with assessing Malcolm’s philosophy is that it changed dramatically after his journey to Mecca when he became aware of what traditional Islam was about, as opposed to the heavily politicized and contorted version that Elijah Muhammad had created. For most of Malcolm’s public career he was little more than the charismatic mouthpiece (he called himself, the “ventriloquist’s dummy”) for the doctrines of the Nation of Islam. These doctrines included the belief that black people were the original people of the world, and that white people were a race of devils who were created by an evil scientist named Yakub. The Nation of Islam believed that black people were superior to white people, and that the demise of the white race was imminent. When questioned concerning his statements that white people were devils, Malcolm said: “history proves the white man is a devil. Anybody who rapes, and plunders, and enslaves, and steals, and drops hell bombs on people … anybody who does these things is nothing but a devil.”

Malcolm called Islam the “true religion of black mankind” and that Christianity was “the white man’s religion” that had been imposed upon African Americans by their slave-masters. He said that the Nation of Islam followed Islam as it was practiced around the world, but the Nation’s teachings varied from those of other Muslims because they were adapted to the “uniquely pitiful” condition of black people in the United States. He taught that Wallace Fard Muhammad, the founder of the Nation, was Allah incarnate, and that Elijah Muhammad was his Messenger, or Prophet.

While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm advocated the complete separation of blacks from whites. The Nation of Islam proposed the establishment of a separate country for African Americans in the southern or southwestern United States as an interim measure until African Americans could return to Africa. He also suggested the United States government owed reparations to African Americans for the unpaid labor of their ancestors. He also rejected the civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolence, advocating instead that black people should defend themselves. In these days he was a vocal opponent of Martin Luther King and his non-violent protests.

In the early 1960s tensions between Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad arose, almost certainly because Elijah Muhammad perceived Malcolm as a threat to his leadership, but also because Malcolm became disillusioned with Elijah Muhammad. In the 1950s Malcolm was by far the most important force for recruitment for the Nation of Islam – by one estimate increasing its membership from 500 to 25,000 in a matter of years. He was responsible, for example, for the conversion of the boxer Cassius Clay, who became Muhammad Ali on conversion, which, in turn inspired more converts. Malcolm’s increased public prominence in relation to his own certainly sparked jealousy in Elijah Muhammad, but Malcolm also began to question Elijah Muhammad’s authority. For one thing, Elijah Muhammad was suspected of improper sexual relations with a number of his secretaries which he ultimately admitted and justified by pointing to the habits of the patriarchs. This did not sit well with Malcolm’s strict ethical code, nor did Elijah Muhammad’s efforts to be conciliatory to Martin Luther King’s movement. After Malcolm made imprudent remarks about the assassination of JFK and was ordered silenced for 90 days by Elijah Muhammad, he split from the Nation of Islam and became an orthodox Sunni Muslim.

In keeping with standard Islamic tradition, in April 1964, with financial help from his half-sister Ella Little-Collins, Malcolm flew to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, as the start of his Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca obligatory for every Muslim who is able to do so. He was delayed in Jeddah when his U.S. citizenship and inability to speak Arabic caused his status as a Muslim to be questioned. He had received Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam’s book The Eternal Message of Muhammad with his visa approval, and he contacted the author. Azzam’s son arranged for his release and lent him his personal hotel suite. The next morning Malcolm learned that Prince Faisal had designated him as a state guest. Several days later, after completing the Hajj rituals, Malcolm had an audience with the prince. Malcolm later said that seeing Muslims of “all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans,” interacting as equals led him to see Islam as a means by which racial problems could be overcome.

This transformed Malcolm was not the man that many people came to know. He was perceived as a traitor by the Nation of Islam, and the mainstream press continued to characterize him as a violent black supremacist. Throughout 1964, as his conflict with the Nation of Islam intensified, Malcolm was repeatedly threatened. In February, a leader of Temple Number Seven ordered the bombing of his car. In March, Elijah Muhammad told Boston minister Louis X (later known as Louis Farrakhan) that “hypocrites like Malcolm should have their heads cut off”; the April 10 edition of Muhammad Speaks featured a cartoon depicting Malcolm’s bouncing, severed head.

On June 8, FBI surveillance recorded a telephone call in which Betty Shabazz was told that her husband was “as good as dead”. Four days later, an FBI informant received a tip that “Malcolm X is going to be bumped off.” (That same month the Nation of Islam sued to reclaim Malcolm’s residence in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York. His family was ordered to vacate but on February 14, 1965‍—‌the night before a hearing on postponing the eviction‍—‌the house was destroyed by fire.) On July 9 Elijah Muhammad aide John Ali (suspected of being an undercover FBI agent) referred to Malcolm X by saying, “Anyone who opposes the Honorable Elijah Muhammad puts their life in jeopardy.” In the December 4 issue of Muhammad Speaks, Louis X wrote that “such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death”. The September 1964 issue of Ebony dramatized Malcolm’s defiance of these threats by publishing a photograph of him holding an M1 carbine while peering out a window.

What might have become of his nascent new movement that was true to Sunni Islam, and opposed to the violent, separatist rhetoric of the Nation of Islam is anyone’s guess. It was cut short by his murder, although certainly its seeds can be seen in the Autobiography which, again, I highly recommend (despite its own limitations).

Malcolm was true to standard Islamic dietary practices in avoiding pork, and was generally opposed to Soul Food, not only because it is rich in pork fat, but because he thought of it as generally unhealthy. By all accounts, his favorite dish was roast chicken, steamed kale, and rice. I scarcely need to remind you that when I roast a chicken I cook it on the highest heat possible – 500˚F/260˚C. I usually cook kale by washing it thoroughly in several changes of water, and then placing it in a pot with only the residual water from washing, and steaming on medium-high heat for about 30 minutes.

May 182018
 

According to pre-Conquest tradition from Winchester, today is the feast of Saint Ælfgifu of Shaftesbury, also known as Saint Elgiva (d. 944). She was the first wife of Edmund I (r. 939–946), and bore two future kings, Eadwig (r. 955–959) and Edgar (r. 959–975). I’d like to honor her today as much because of her name as anything else. In Anglo-Saxon Ælfgifu means “elf gift.” Admittedly, Anglo-Saxon names were quite often given without special regard for their meaning, but their meanings were at least clear and straightforward to speakers of Anglo-Saxon.

Her mother, Wynnflæd, appears to have been closely connected with Shaftesbury although her identity is not entirely clear. The clue comes from a charter of King Edgar, in which he confirmed the grant of an estate at Uppidelen (Piddletrenthide, Dorset) made by his grandmother, Wynflæd, to Shaftesbury. She may well be the nun or vowess (religiosa femina) of this name in a charter dated 942 and preserved in the abbey’s chartulary. It records that she received and retrieved from King Edmund a handful of estates in Dorset, namely Cheselbourne and Winterbourne Tomson, which somehow ended up in the possession of the community.

Her father and siblings are not known directly from primary sources, so further speculation on Ælfgifu’s background has largely depended on the identity of her mother, whose relatively uncommon name has invited further guesswork. Some historians suggest that she was the Wynflæd who drew up a will, supposedly some time in the mid-10th century, after Ælfgifu’s death. This lady held many estates scattered across Wessex (in Somerset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Hampshire) and was well connected with the nunneries at Wilton and Shaftesbury, both of which were royal foundations. On that basis, a number of relatives have been proposed for Ælfgifu, including a sister called Æthelflæd, a brother called Eadmær, and a grandmother called Brihtwyn. Much of the issue of this identification hangs on the number of years by which Wynflæd can plausibly have outlived her daughter. In this light, it is significant that on palaeographical grounds, David Dumville has rejected the conventional date of c. 950 for the will, which he considers “speculative and too early.”

The sources do not record the date of Ælfgifu’s marriage to Edmund. The eldest son Eadwig, who had barely reached majority on his accession in 955, may have been born around 940, which gives us only a very rough terminus ante quem for the betrothal. Although as the mother of two future kings, Ælfgifu proved to be an important royal consort, there is no strictly contemporary evidence that she was ever consecrated as queen. In a charter of doubtful authenticity dated 942-946, she attests as the king’s concubine (concubina regis). but later in the century Æthelweard the Chronicler styles her queen (regina).

Much of Ælfgifu’s claim to fame derives from her association with Shaftesbury. Her patronage of the community is suggested by a charter of Æthelred, dated 984, according to which the abbey exchanged with king Edmund the large estate at Tisbury (Wiltshire) for Butticanlea (which is unidentified). Ælfgifu received it from her husband and intended to bequeath it back to the nunnery, but this did not happen (her son Eadwig demanded that Butticanlea was returned to the royal family first). Ælfgifu died before her husband in 944. In the early 12th century, William of Malmesbury wrote that she suffered from an illness during the last few years of her life, but there may have been some confusion with details of Æthelgifu’s life as recorded in a forged foundation charter of the late 11th or 12th century. Her body was buried and enshrined at the nunnery at Shaftesbury.

Ælfgifu was venerated as a saint soon after her burial at Shaftesbury. Æthelweard reports that many miracles had taken place at her tomb up to his day, and these were apparently attracting some local attention. Lantfred of Winchester, who wrote in the 970’s and so can be called the earliest known witness of her cult, tells of a young man from Collingbourne (possibly Collingbourne Kingston, Wiltshire), who in the hope of being cured of blindness traveled to Shaftesbury and kept vigil. What led him there was the reputation of “the venerable St Ælfgifu […] at whose tomb many bodies of sick people receive medication through the omnipotence of God.” Despite the new prominence of Edward the Martyr as a saint interred at Shaftesbury, her cult continued to flourish in later Anglo-Saxon England, as evidenced by her inclusion in a list of saints’ resting places, at least 8 pre-Conquest calendars, and 3 or 4 litanies from Winchester.

Ælfgifu is styled a saint (Sancte Ælfgife) in the D-text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (mid-11th century) at the point where it specifies Eadwig’s and Edgar’s royal parentage. The text attributes her healing power both to her own merits and those of her son Edgar. It may have been due to her association that in 979 the supposed body of her murdered grandson Edward the Martyr was exhumed and in a spectacular ceremony, received at the nunnery of Shaftesbury, under the supervision of ealdorman Ælfhere.

Ælfgifu’s fame at Shaftesbury seems to have eclipsed that of its first abbess, king Alfred’s daughter Æthelgifu, so much so perhaps that William of Malmesbury wrote contradictory reports on the abbey’s early history. In the Gesta regum, he correctly identifies the first abbess as Alfred’s daughter, following Asser, although he gives her the name of Ælfgifu (Elfgiva), while in his Gesta pontificum, he credits Edmund’s wife Ælfgifu with the foundation. Either William encountered conflicting information, or he meant to say that Ælfgifu refounded the nunnery. In any event, William would have had access to local traditions at Shaftesbury, since he probably wrote a now lost metrical Life for the community, a fragment of which he included in his Gesta pontificum:

Nam nonnullis passa annis morborum molestiam,
defecatam et excoctam Deo dedit animam.
Functas ergo uitae fato beatas exuuias
infinitis clemens signis illustrabat Deitas.
Inops uisus et auditus si adorant tumulum,
sanitati restituti probant sanctae meritum.
Rectum gressum refert domum qui accessit loripes,
mente captus redit sanus, boni sensus locuples

For some years she suffered from illness,
And gave to God a soul that it had purged and purified
When she died, God brought lustre to her blessed remains
In his clemency with countless miracles.
If a blind man or a deaf worship at her tomb,
They are restored to health and prove the saint’s merits.
He who went there lame comes home firm of step,
The madman returns sane, rich in good sense.

It is minimally possible that William confused the names Æthelgifu (Alfred’s daughter) and Ælfgifu, but the two names would have been much more distinguishable to him than to a modern English speaker. Æthelgifu means “noble gift” in Anglo-Saxon; quite different from “elf gift.”

In Anglo-Saxon times in Dorset, noble households would have feasted primarily on roast meats served with bread and washed down with ale or mead.  You can certainly replicate this at home to celebrate Ælfgifu’s feast if you want. Otherwise, you can search this blog for the numerous Dorset recipes I have given. For today I want to suggest something new, using one of my favorite cheeses, Dorsetshire Blue Vinny. Before railways were built from London to Dorset, milk could not be transported to the city before it spoiled. So, Dorset farmers made butter from local milk which fetched premium prices in London. They then used the skimmed milk to make a soft crumbly blue cheese: Blue Vinny. Production of Blue Vinny continued into the 20th century, but died during the Second World War. When I was a boy, my father regaled me of tales of Blue Vinny he used to enjoy in the 1930s when he was a midshipman in the Royal Navy stationed on the South Coast, but lamented that it was no more. I was, therefore, delighted to discover that along with the general revival of interest in British regional foods, Dorset Blue Vinny was being produced again. It is now quite readily available in the UK, and via web groceries internationally. It is a good melting cheese, so melted Blue Vinny on toast would be a fine celebratory dish for Ælfgifu. However, I recommend a heartier dish – Blue Vinny Rarebit – like Welsh Rarebit but with the Dorset cheese rather than Cheddar.  I also recommend using a hearty country cottage loaf for the bread slices.

Blue Vinny Rarebit

Ingredients

225g crumbled Blue Vinny
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp flour
pepper
4 tbsp milk
4 slices crusty bread

Instructions

Put the cheese, butter, flour and pepper to taste in a saucepan, add the milk and mix well. Stir continuously over low heat until the cheese has melted and formed a rather thick sauce. Let the sauce cool slightly.

Toast the bread on one side only.

Spread the rarebit over the untoasted side and brown it under a hot grill.

Serve immediately.

 Posted by at 9:32 pm
May 102018
 

Today is the 5th birthday of this blog. Time certainly does seem to fly by. Each year it seems I am in a different country. 1st was Argentina, 2nd was China, 3rd was Italy, and 4th I was leaving Italy for Myanmar. This year I am in Nepal, although I actually live in Cambodia. It’s amusing to me to look back at each birthday. Last year I posted an omnibus album http://www.bookofdaystales.com/4th-birthday/ and promised more of the same this year. Well . . . I am going to cheat a little and post only a few birthdays because I want to focus on Marcel Mauss this year. He is certainly an important figure in the history of social and cultural anthropology, and I am an anthropologist, after all.

Karl Barth was born on this date in 1886. He was a Swiss Reformed theologian whose influence expanded well beyond the academic realm to mainstream culture, leading him to be featured on the cover of Time on April 20, 1962. Barth’s work had a profound impact on twentieth century theology and figures such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer – who supported the Confessing Church – Thomas F. Torrance, Reinhold Niebuhr, Jacques Ellul, Stanley Hauerwas, Hans Küng, Jürgen Moltmann, and novelists such as John Updike and Miklós Szentkuthy. Barth’s unease with the dominant theology which characterized Europe led him to become a leader in the Confessing Church in Germany, which actively opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. In particular, Barth and other members of the movement vigorously attempted to prevent the Nazis from taking over the existing church and establishing a state church controlled by the regime. This culminated in Barth’s authorship of the Barmen Declaration, which fiercely criticized Christians who supported the Nazis.

Ariel Durant was born on this date in 1898. She was a Russian-born US researcher and writer, and the coauthor of The Story of Civilization with her husband Will Durant. She met her future husband when she was a student at Ferrer Modern School in New York City. He was then a teacher at the school, but resigned his post to marry Ariel, who was 15 at the time of the wedding, on October 31, 1913. The wedding took place at New York’s City Hall, to which she roller-skated from her family’s home in Harlem. The couple had one daughter, Ethel Benvenuta, and adopted a son, Louis. The Durants were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 1968 for Rousseau and Revolution, the tenth volume of The Story of Civilization. In 1977 they were presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Gerald Ford, and Ariel was named “Woman of the Year” by the city of Los Angeles. The Durants died within two weeks of each other in 1981 and are buried at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Ariel told Ethel’s daughter, Monica Mehill, that it was their differences that made them grow.

Marcel Mauss was born on this date in 1872. First, let’s talk about the pronunciation of his name. He was from Lorraine which, with Alsace, is culturally torn between France and Germany, as well as politically for the better part of two centuries. In 1871 it was ceded by France to Germany after the Franco-German War. It was then returned to to France in 1919 after World War I. It became part of Germany again in 1940 during World War II, and was given back to France in 1945 after the war. Many residents of Lorraine have family names of German origin, but prefer to pronounce them in a French manner to show their allegiance to France, not Germany. So Mauss should be pronounced /mohs/ (like “most” without the /t/) and not like “mouse.” Mauss straddled the contemporary border between sociology and anthropology, as did his uncle Émile Durkheim, who has been considerably more influential in the general development of the social sciences. Mauss is more often cited in anthropology than in sociology these days, particularly with respect to his analyses of topics such as magic, sacrifice, and gift exchange in different cultures around the world. Mauss had a significant influence upon Claude Lévi-Strauss (also pronounced in the French manner), the founder of structural anthropology.

Mauss was born in Épinal, Vosges, to a Jewish family, and studied philosophy at Bordeaux, where Durkheim was teaching at the time. He passed the agrégation in 1893. He was also first cousin of the much younger Claudette (née Raphael) Bloch, a marine biologist and mother of Maurice Bloch, who became a noted anthropologist. Instead of taking the usual route of teaching at a lycée following college, Mauss moved to Paris and took up the study of comparative religion and Sanskrit. His first publication in 1896 marked the beginning of a prolific career that produced several landmarks in the sociological literature. In 1901 Mauss took a chair in the ‘history of religion and uncivilized peoples’ at the École pratique des hautes études (EPHE), one of the grandes écoles in Paris. It was at this time that he began drawing more on ethnography, and his work began to develop characteristics now associated with formal anthropology. In 1931 Mauss took the chair of Sociology at the Collège de France. He actively fought against anti-Semitism and racial politics both before and after World War II. He died in 1950.

In his classic work The Gift, Mauss argued that gifts are never truly free. Rather, human history is full of examples of gifts bringing about reciprocal exchange. The famous question that drove his inquiry into the anthropology of the gift was: “What power resides in the object given that causes its recipient to pay it back?” The answer is that a gift is a “total prestation” imbued with “spiritual mechanisms” engaging the honor of both giver and receiver (the term “total prestation” or “total social fact” (fait social total) was coined by his student Maurice Leenhardt after Durkheim’s “social fact”). Such transactions transcend the divisions between the spiritual and the material in a way that, according to Mauss, is almost “magical”. The giver does not merely give an object but also part of himself, for the object is indissolubly tied to the giver: “the objects are never completely separated from the people who exchange them”. Because of this bond between giver and gift, the act of giving creates a social bond with an obligation to reciprocate on the part of the recipient. Not to reciprocate means to lose honor and status, but the spiritual implications can be even worse: in Polynesia, failure to reciprocate means to lose mana, one’s spiritual source of authority and wealth. Mauss distinguished between three obligations: giving, the necessary initial step for the creation and maintenance of social relationships; receiving, because to refuse to receive is to reject the social bond; and reciprocating in order to demonstrate one’s own liberality, honor, and wealth.

An important notion in Mauss’ conceptualisation of gift exchange is “inalienability”. In a commodity economy (such as ours), there is a strong distinction between objects and persons through the notion of private property. Objects are sold, meaning that the ownership rights are fully transferred to the new owner. The object has thereby become “alienated” from its original owner. In a gift economy, however, the objects that are given are inalienable from the givers; they are loaned rather than sold and ceded. It is the fact that the identity of the giver is invariably bound up with the object given that causes the gift to have a power which compels the recipient to reciprocate. Because gifts are inalienable they must be returned; the act of giving creates a gift-debt that has to be repaid. Because of this, the notion of an expected return of the gift creates a relationship over time between two individuals. In other words, through gift-giving, a social bond evolves that is assumed to continue through space and time until the future moment of exchange. Gift exchange therefore leads to a mutual interdependence between giver and receiver. According to Mauss, the “free” gift that is not returned is a contradiction because it cannot create social ties. Following the Durkheimian quest for understanding social cohesion through the concept of solidarity, Mauss’s argument is that solidarity is achieved through the social bonds created by gift exchange. Mauss emphasizes that exchanging gifts resulted from the will of attaching other people “to put people under obligations,” because “in theory such gifts are voluntary, but in fact they are given and repaid under obligation”.

While Mauss is best known for several of his own works – most notably The Gift – much of his best work was done in collaboration with members of the Année Sociologique, including Durkheim (Primitive Classification), Henri Hubert (Outline of a General Theory of Magic and Essay on the Nature and Function of Sacrifice), Paul Fauconnet (Sociology) and others.

Lorraine is home to a wealth of great dishes, including quiche Lorraine, which I have made mention of before. There are also renowned cheeses, such as, Carré de l’Est, Brouère, Munster-géromé, and Tourrée de l’Aubier. Lorraine was one of the first regions of Europe to start cooking with potatoes in the 17th century and there are several characteristic dishes using potatoes. The Mirabelle plum is the emblematic fruit of the region used in pies, desserts, and liqueurs. A treat for the would-be forager is dandelion salad with hot bacon dressing, which is immensely popular in the region. Some cooks in Lorraine add halved boiled eggs to this salad. If you want to do this, boil the eggs right before serving, and peel them and add them, whilst they are warm. First a note about dandelion greens. Chances are that if you have a big lawn you also have dandelions. They are delicious but there are a few cautions. Don’t use dandelion greens from a lawn that has been sprayed or treated with fertilizer or pesticides. Choose only the youngest of leaves. Old, large leaves are tough and bitter. Remove all stems before washing the leaves in several changes of water, and patting them dry. You can refrigerate them before making the salad. The essence of this dish is that it combines hot and cold ingredients.

Dandelion Salad with Warm Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1 lb tender, young dandelion greens
5 bacon slices
3 boiled eggs, warm
1 ½ tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Place the dandelion greens in a large serving bowl.

Cook bacon in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving the fat in the skillet. Finely chop the bacon.

Whisk together the shallot, vinegar, and salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Pour the mix into the hot bacon fat and whisk vigorously to form a warm emulsion. Toss the greens with enough of the warm dressing to coat. Added halved, warm boiled eggs (if using), sprinkle with the bacon, and serve immediately.

May 092018
 

The figure who later became Mr. Punch made his first recorded appearance in England on this date in 1662, which is traditionally reckoned as Mr Punch’s UK birthday. The diarist Samuel Pepys observed a marionette show featuring an early version of the Punch character in Covent Garden in London. It was performed by Italian puppet showman Pietro Gimonde, a.k.a. “Signor Bologna.” Pepys described the event in his diary as “an Italian puppet play, that is within the rails there, which is very pretty.” The Punch and Judy show has roots in the 16th-century Italian commedia dell’arte.

The figure of Punch is derived from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella, which was anglicized to Punchinello. Punch’s wife was originally called “Joan.”

In the British Punch and Judy show, Punch wears a brightly colored jester’s motley and sugarloaf hat with a tassel. He is a hunchback whose hooked nose almost meets his curved, jutting chin. He carries a stick (called a slapstick) as large as himself, which he uses upon most of the other characters in the show. He speaks in a distinctive squawking voice, produced by a gadget known as a swazzle or swatchel which the professor (puppeteer) holds in his mouth. This gives Punch a vocal quality as though he were speaking through a kazoo. Other characters do not use the swazzle, so the professor has to switch back and forth while still holding the device in his mouth.

In the early 18th century, the marionette theater starring Punch was at its height, with showman Martin Powell attracting large crowds to both his Punch’s Theatre at Covent Garden in London and earlier in provincial Bath. Powell has been credited with being largely responsible for the form taken by the drama of Punch and Judy.

Mr Punch was extremely popular in Paris and, by the end of the 18th century, he was also playing in Britain’s North American colonies, where even George Washington bought tickets for a show. However, marionette productions were expensive and cumbersome to mount and transport, presented in the back rooms of taverns, or in large tents at England’s yearly agricultural event. In the latter half of the 18th century, marionette companies began to give way to glove-puppet shows, performed from within a narrow, lightweight booth by one puppeteer, usually with an assistant, or “bottler,” to gather a crowd and collect money. These shows might travel through country towns or move from corner to corner along busy London streets, giving many performances in a single day. The character of Punch adapted to the new format, going from a marionette who said outrageous things to a more aggressive glove-puppet who could do outrageous—and often violent—things to the other characters. About this time, Punch’s wife’s name changed from Joan to Judy.

The mobile puppet booth of the late 18th and early 19th century Punch and Judy glove-puppet show was originally covered in checked bed ticking or other inexpensive cloth. Later Victorian booths were gaudier, particularly those used for Christmas parties and other indoor performances. In the 20th century, however, red-and-white-striped puppet booths became iconic features on the beaches of many English seaside and summer holiday resorts. Such striped cloth is the most common covering today.

A more substantial change came over time to the show’s target audience. The show was originally intended for adults, but it changed into primarily a children’s entertainment in the late Victorian era. Former members of the show’s cast ceased to be included, such as the Devil and Punch’s mistress “Pretty Polly,” when they came to be seen as inappropriate for young audiences. Modern British performances of Punch and Judy are no longer exclusively the traditional seaside children’s entertainments which they had become. They can now be seen at carnivals, festivals, birthday parties, and other celebratory occasions.

Here is a modern performance in Brighton:

Two manifestations of Punch and Judy are of particular interest to me. First is the use of Mr Punch as the central character in Punch magazine which first appeared in 1841 at the height of the Punch and Judy show’s popularity with adults. Mr Punch was, for decades, a central figure in the magazine’s cartoons lampooning social behavior.

Second is the movie, The Punch and Judy Man (1963) written by and starring Tony Hancock (http://www.bookofdaystales.com/tony-hancock/ ). The movie was Hancock’s second, and last, movie after The Rebel, and did not garner great reviews (as The Rebel had done) because audiences were used to Hancock as a cantankerous bachelor, and in The Punch and Judy Man he is married, although equally discontented. I have always ranked The Punch and Judy Man high on my list of favorite movies because of its social commentary and satire pertinent to English culture of the early 1960s.

Since the Punch and Judy show was, and still is, a fixture at English seaside resorts, a seaside recipe is in order. I always have at least one fish and chip dinner when I am on the South Coast and usually get cockles, whelks and/or mussels in vinegar as well as a snack. The days are long gone when I could get an Orange Maid ice lolly that I used to enjoy as a little boy, so now I usually settle for an ice cream – honeycomb if I can find it. Deviled whitebait with fresh tartare sauce is also a fav. Here’s a recipe for you to make it at home (if you can find whitebait – a collective term for the immature fry of fish, typically between 1 and 2 inches long, which can find more easily in Europe than elsewhere).

Deviled Whitebait

Ingredients

For the tartare sauce

300 gm mayonnaise
80 gm shallot, peeled and finely diced
60 gm capers, finely diced
60 gm cornichons, finely diced
25 gm parsley, finely chopped
25 gm tarragon, finely chopped
25 gm chervil, finely chopped
salt and white pepper

For the fish

1 kg fresh whitebait
250 gm plain white flour
1½ tbsp hot smoked paprika
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp salt
vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 or 2 lemons

Instructions

Place all the sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until they are well combined. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.

Place the flour, paprika, cayenne, mustard powder and salt in a large, heavy brown paper bag. Add the whitebait, tightly roll the top of the bag, trapping some air inside, and shake vigorously to coat the fish with the flour mixture.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 180˚C/350˚F and fry the fish in batches until golden brown. Remove the fish from the oil when cooked and drain on wire racks.

Serve warm with lemon wedges and pots of tartare sauce for dipping. I like to serve some sliced wholewheat bread as well.

May 062018
 

Today is the birthday (1856) of Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Schlomo Freud. I was rather surprised to discover that I had not commemorated Freud in a post previously, even though I have posted numerous things about him and his (erstwhile) followers. Freud is rather like Marx in my mind in that (a) he was not a Freudian (any more than Marx was a Marxist), (b) his ideas were complex and changeable over his lifetime, and (c) he was and is misunderstood by the general public. I lectured on Freud for decades, and I always prefaced my lectures with: “You probably all think that Freud was all wrong and his theories are outdated. Well, think again. He was wrong about a lot of things, but he was also right about a lot of things, and I expect that many of his theories that were new in his day, you take for granted as obvious without attributing them to Freud.” Many of his theories, such as the psychosexual stages of development, are patently the result of his own self analysis and are rooted in his culture, and are, therefore, not generalizable to all cultures. Anthropologists were on that path of criticism early on while Freud was still alive, and, one way or another, put serious dents in his theory. But we use the term “Freudian slip” as a matter of course, perhaps not as trenchantly as Freud, but still with a sense that a slip of the tongue is revealing. More to the point, we accept the existence of thoughts and motivations that lie below the surface of what is conscious to us. The common term is “subconscious” although Freud used the term “unconscious.” Before Freud such an idea did not exist. He saw dreams and slips as avenues into the unconscious, which is not a normal part of modern therapies, but it is not a trivial insight. He pioneered the “talking cure” – using various methods, such as free association, to get patients to talk through their issues (under guidance from a trained therapist). Unfortunately, the question that has never fully been answered is whether the talking cure actually works.

Freud was born to Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austrian Empire (later Příbor, Czech Republic), the first of eight children. Both of his parents were from Galicia, in modern-day Ukraine. His father, Jakob Freud (1815–1896), a wool merchant, had two sons, Emanuel (1833–1914) and Philipp (1836–1911), by his first marriage. Jakob’s family were Hasidic Jews, and although Jakob himself had moved away from the tradition, he came to be known for his Torah study. He and Freud’s mother, Amalia Nathansohn, who was 20 years younger and his third wife, were struggling financially and living in a rented room, in a locksmith’s house at Schlossergasse 117 when their son Sigmund was born.

In 1859, the Freud family left Freiberg. Freud’s half brothers emigrated to Manchester in England, parting him from the “inseparable” playmate of his early childhood, Emanuel’s son, John. Jakob Freud took his wife and two children (Freud’s sister, Anna, was born in 1858; a brother, Julius born in 1857, had died in infancy) first to Leipzig and then in 1860 to Vienna where four sisters and a brother were born. In 1865, the 9-year-old Freud entered the Leopoldstädter Kommunal-Realgymnasium, a prominent high school. He proved an outstanding pupil and graduated from the Matura in 1873 with honors. He loved literature and was proficient in German, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Hebrew, Latin and Greek. Freud entered the University of Vienna at age 17. He had planned to study law, but entered the medical department at the university, where his studies included philosophy under Franz Brentano, physiology under Ernst Brücke, and zoology under Darwinist professor Carl Claus. He graduated with a medical degree in 1881.

In 1882, Freud began his medical career at the Vienna General Hospital. His research work in cerebral anatomy led to the publication of an influential paper on the palliative effects of cocaine in 1884 and his work on aphasia would form the basis of his first book On the Aphasias: a Critical Study, published in 1891. Over a 3-year period, Freud worked in various departments of the hospital. His time spent in Theodor Meynert’s psychiatric clinic and as a locum in a local asylum led to an increased interest in clinical work. His substantial body of published research led to his appointment as a university lecturer or docent in neuropathology in 1885, a non-salaried post but one which entitled him to give lectures at the University of Vienna. In 1886, Freud resigned his hospital post and entered private practice specializing in “nervous disorders”. The same year he married Martha Bernays, the granddaughter of Isaac Bernays, a chief rabbi in Hamburg. The couple had six children: Mathilde (b. 1887), Jean-Martin (b. 1889), Oliver (b. 1891), Ernst (b. 1892), Sophie (b. 1893), and Anna (b. 1895). From 1891 until they left Vienna in 1938, Freud and his family lived in an apartment at Berggasse 19, near Innere Stadt, a historical district of Vienna.

Freud had greatly admired his philosophy tutor, Brentano, who was known for his theories of perception and introspection, as well as Theodor Lipps who was one of the main contemporary theorists of the concepts of the unconscious and empathy. Brentano discussed the possible existence of the unconscious mind in his Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (1874). Although Brentano denied its existence, his discussion of the unconscious probably helped introduce Freud to the concept. Freud owned and made use of Charles Darwin’s major evolutionary writings, and was also influenced by Eduard von Hartmann’s Philosophy of the Unconscious (1869).

Though Freud denied having read Friedrich Nietzsche until late in life, analogies between his work and that of Nietzsche were pointed out almost as soon as he developed a following. One historian concluded, based on Freud’s correspondence with his adolescent friend Eduard Silberstein, that Freud read The Birth of Tragedy and the first two of the Untimely Meditations when he was 17. In 1900, the year of Nietzsche’s death, Freud bought his collected works. He told his friend, Fliess, that he hoped to find in Nietzsche’s works “the words for much that remains mute in me.” Later, he said he had not yet opened them. Freud came to treat Nietzsche’s writings “as texts to be resisted far more than to be studied.” His interest in philosophy declined after he had decided on a career in neurology.

In October 1885, Freud went to Paris on a fellowship to study with Jean-Martin Charcot, who was conducting scientific research into hypnosis. He was later to recall the experience of this stay as catalytic in turning him toward the practice of medical psychopathology and away from a less financially promising career in neurology research. Charcot specialized in the study of hysteria and susceptibility to hypnosis, which he frequently demonstrated with patients on stage in front of an audience. Once he had set up in private practice in 1886, Freud began using hypnosis in his clinical work. He adopted the approach of his friend and collaborator, Josef Breuer, in a use of hypnosis which was different from the French methods he had studied in that it did not use suggestion. The treatment of one particular patient of Breuer’s proved to be transformative for Freud’s clinical practice. Described as Anna O., she was invited to talk about her symptoms while under hypnosis (she coined the phrase “talking cure” for her treatment). In the course of talking in this way these symptoms became reduced in severity as she retrieved memories of traumatic incidents associated with their onset.

Anna O.

Freud’s clinical work eventually led him to the conclusion that more consistent and effective symptom relief, compared to that achieved by using hypnosis, could be obtained by encouraging patients to talk freely, without censorship or inhibition, about whatever ideas or memories occurred to them. In conjunction with this procedure, which he called “free association”, Freud found that patients’ dreams could be fruitfully analyzed to reveal the complex structuring of unconscious material and to demonstrate the psychic action of repression which underlay symptom formation. By 1896, Freud had abandoned hypnosis and was using the term “psychoanalysis” to refer to his new clinical method and the theories on which it was based.

Freud’s development of these new theories took place during a period in which he experienced heart irregularities, disturbing dreams and periods of depression, a “neurasthenia” which he linked to the death of his father in 1896 and which prompted a “self-analysis” of his own dreams and memories of childhood. His explorations of his feelings of hostility to his father and rivalrous jealousy over his mother’s affections led him to fundamentally revise his theory of the origin of the neuroses. On the basis of his early clinical work, Freud had postulated that unconscious memories of sexual molestation in early childhood were a necessary precondition for the psychoneuroses (hysteria and obsessional neurosis), a formulation now known as Freud’s seduction theory. In the light of his self-analysis, Freud abandoned the theory that every neurosis can be traced back to the effects of infantile sexual abuse, now arguing that infantile sexual scenarios still had a causative function, but it did not matter whether they were real or imagined and that in either case they became pathogenic only when acting as repressed memories.

This transition from the theory of infantile sexual trauma as a general explanation of how all neuroses originate to one that presupposes an autonomous infantile sexuality provided the basis for Freud’s subsequent formulation of the theory of the Oedipus complex and the development of the superego. Freud described the evolution of his clinical method and set out his theory of the psychogenetic origins of hysteria, demonstrated in a number of case histories, in Studies on Hysteria published in 1895 (co-authored with Josef Breuer). In 1899 he published The Interpretation of Dreams in which, following a critical review of existing theory, Freud gives detailed interpretations of his own and his patients’ dreams in terms of wish-fulfillments made subject to the repression and censorship of the “dream work”. He then sets out the theoretical model of mental structure (the unconscious, pre-conscious and conscious) on which this account is based. An abridged version, On Dreams, was published in 1901. In works which would win him a more general readership, Freud applied his theories outside the clinical setting in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901) and Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious (1905).[42] In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, published in 1905, Freud elaborates his theory of infantile sexuality, describing its “polymorphous perverse” forms and the functioning of the “drives”, to which it gives rise, in the formation of sexual identity. The same year he published ‘Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Dora)’ which became one of his more famous and controversial case studies.

There is much more, but I will stop there. I taught Freudian theory in anthropology classes related to psychology and anthropology, and I usually used Totem and Taboo (1913) and Civilization and its Discontents (1930), although I ranged much farther afield than these texts in my lectures, and did occasionally assign other readings. One great difficulty with Totem and Taboo is that Freud was using anthropological texts that nowadays have zero value because they were not based on actual fieldwork, but focused on the idea that all cultures evolve in the same ways over time. By this theory, modern cultures that are more primitive than Western civilization are at an earlier stage of cultural evolution. Therefore, they can be studied to investigate how we behaved in past millennia. This theory has been completely debunked, so Freud’s theories are based on worthless conjectures, and therefore are equally worthless. Totem and Taboo is completely mistaken when it comes to understanding what totemism is all about.

In the strict realm of psychoanalysis, Freud started a movement that is now a gigantic business. Freud had 2 principal concepts that he adhered to strictly: (1) Therapy is only for people with serious problems that they wish to be rid of. As far as Freud was concerned, if a person had a condition that he deemed clinical, but that person was coping with it, there was no point in therapy; (2) Therapy should be intensive and finite. Freud saw his patients every day and expected the therapy to result in a cure in a limited period of time. Thus, Freud treated psychoanalysis like physicians in other specialties treated illnesses within their realms. Freud’s ideas have fallen by the wayside completely in this regard. Many people start seeing therapists as teenagers or young adults, and continue their entire lives. Furthermore, therapy has shifted from medical practitioners to a host of allied professionals, including psychologists with M.A.s or Ph.D.s, and social workers. Psychiatrists with M.D.s spend most of their time dispensing medications rather than working in therapy. Approaches to therapy have also diversified enormously, starting with Freud’s own students who diverged from him in different ways almost as soon as they had qualified.

Wolf Man

This state of affairs has caused a great many critics to wonder (out loud) whether therapy actually works. Freud’s own patients could be critical of the efficacy of Freud’s work with them. The Wolf Man (Sergei Pankejeff), for example, ended up in analysis for 6 decades (including with Freud’s students) even though Freud pronounced him cured. It is also the case that many psychological disorders, such as schizophrenia, cannot be cured by psychoanalysis because they do not stem from childhood (or other) traumas (conscious or unconscious), but from biophysical/neurological problems. Freud, like many pioneers, was making up psychoanalysis from scratch, so it is unfair to dwell too long on his shortcomings. He made many missteps, but that is no reason to diminish his stature as an original thinker of great insight.

Freud wrote a fair bit about his home life in private notes as well as publications, and there is a 2000 book Zu Tisch bei Sigmund Freud (At table with Sigmund Freud) that discusses his eating habits. Even though he was married to the granddaughter of a famous rabbi he not only did not keep kosher, he actually believed the diet was harmful to one’s health. Being the (amateur) Freudian for a moment, I suspect that this attitude had a lot to do with his vehement rejection of God and Judaism which in turn stemmed from his conflicts with his father. He also had some seemingly irrational food aversions, the two most well known being chicken and cauliflower. According to his son, Martin, he had an aphorism, “One shouldn’t kill any chickens; let them live and lay eggs.”

You should not be surprised to learn that Freud saw asparagus as an obvious phallic symbol and that eating asparagus (which was conventionally done with the fingers in the late 19th century), was a substitute for masturbation. It may cause you to smile, therefore, to know that he was fond of asparagus. He was also fond of picking wild mushrooms to eat instead of store bought mushrooms. His wife apparently disapproved of this habit, although it is not clear whether she did not trust Freud to distinguish edible from poisonous fungi or whether she thought they were unclean (in the Judaic sense).

My suggestion for today’s recipe, therefore, is to make a wild mushroom omelet with a side dish of asparagus. You can follow this with homemade vanilla ice cream which was Freud’s favorite dessert.

May 052018
 

Today is the Feast of Saint George in Palestine. He is known as Mar Jeries or Jirjis and al-Khader, in Palestinian Arabic which indicates the deeply syncretic nature of the holiday. It is thought to have originally been a local Christian holiday, but both Palestinian Christians and Muslims participate. The main feast is held in the Palestinian town of al-Khader, just south of Bethlehem. St George can no longer be disentangled in Palestinian veneration from al-Khidr (Arabic: الخضر‎ al-Khiḍr; also transcribed as al-Khadir, Khader/Khadr, Khidr, Khizr, Khizir, Khyzer, Qeezr, Qhezr, Qhizyer, Qhezar, Khizar, Xızır, Hızır), a figure in the Quran described as a righteous servant of God possessing great wisdom or mystic knowledge. In various Islamic and non-Islamic traditions, Khidr is described as a messenger, prophet, wali, slave, and angel who guards the sea and teaches secret knowledge.

Palestinian folklore suggests that the feast originated during the Byzantine rule of Palestine. According to one tale,

The feast came and the young men stood together making their vows. One said, ‘I will give a goat,’ another ‘I will give a sheep.’ Then Jirjis (Jeries), the son of a widow, desired to offer something. They had but one cow. Then he said, ‘I will sacrifice a cow,’ and he went and killed the cow.

At evening time his mother called to him and said, ‘Where is the cow?’ He said, ‘I gave it to El Khader. (St. George)’ His mother said, ‘You have cut our lives. Let me not see your face again.’ That night, the young man had a vision. A white haired man appeared to him and said, ‘Fear not, I am El Khader: thou shalt go to Constantinople and to the king’s palace. Only each day thou shalt call a blessing upon me.’

In years past, the feast attracted Arabs from throughout Palestine to the Monastery of Saint George where they traded loaves of bread, made sacrifices concerning vows they wished to fulfill, and gathered for picnics under the olive trees surrounding the monastery. Some of these traditions continue today, with many Christian pilgrims coming to baptize their children, due to the abundance of stories about the healing properties of Saint George. Although the priest accepts sacrificed meat as a gift, the Christian tradition of the monastery itself does not allow the sacrifice of animals by the monks. Traditionally, Muslims guard the entrance of the church and welcome pilgrims. Like the Christians, the Muslims too sacrifice sheep during the feast and offerings are stored in a sheep pen in the garden of the monastery. In Islamic tradition, two sacrifices are offered. The first is the dhabihah, which requires that one-third of the cooked lamb be set aside for consumption by its owner, while the remaining two-thirds are for Allah and given as charity. The second offering is that of a live animal, bequeathed as a gift to Saint George. Muslim signs dot the courtyard of the monastery and traces of the sacrifices are evident in the form of the lamb hides left on the balustrades to dry.

In Sura 18, ayat (verses) 65–82 Al Kahf, Moses meets the Servant of God, referred in the Quran as “one of our slaves whom We had granted mercy from Us and whom We had taught knowledge from Ourselves.” Muslim scholars identify him as al-Khiḍr, although he is not explicitly named in the Quran. These associations come from later scholarship on al-Khiḍr. The Quran states that they meet at the junction of the two seas (which can be a river-tributary) and Moses asks for permission to accompany the Servant of God so Moses can learn “right knowledge of what he has been taught.” The Servant says, “Surely you [Moses] cannot have patience with me. And how canst thou have patience about things about which thy understanding is not complete?” Moses promises to be patient and obey him unquestioningly, and they set out together. After they board a ship, the Servant of God damages the vessel. Forgetting his oath, Moses says, “Have you made a hole in it to drown its inmates? Certainly you have done a grievous thing.” The Servant reminds Moses of his warning, “Did I not say that you will not be able to have patience with me?” and Moses pleads not to be rebuked.

Next, the Servant of God kills a young man. Moses again cries out in astonishment and dismay, and again the Servant reminds Moses of his warning, and Moses promises that he will not violate his oath again, and that if he does he will excuse himself from the Servant’s presence. They then proceed to a town where they are denied hospitality. This time, instead of harming anyone or anything, the Servant of God restores a decrepit wall in the village. Yet again Moses is amazed and violates his oath for the third and last time, asking why the Servant did not at least exact “some recompense for it.”

The Servant of God replies, “This shall be separation between me and you; now I will inform you of the significance of that with which you could not have patience. Many acts which seem to be evil, malicious or somber, actually are merciful. The boat was damaged to prevent its owners from falling into the hands of a king who seized every boat by force. And as for the boy, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should cause disobedience and ingratitude to come upon them from him. God will replace the child with one better in purity, affection and obedience. As for the restored wall, the Servant explained that underneath the wall was a treasure belonging to two helpless orphans whose father was a righteous man. As God’s envoy, the Servant restored the wall, showing God’s kindness by rewarding the piety of the orphans’ father, and so that when the wall becomes weak again and collapses, the orphans will be older and stronger and will take the treasure that belongs to them.” I can think of many more stories in the Buddhist tradition that are clearer than this one, although I get the point that a person’s motive is always key in understanding an act, not the surface appearance of the act.

There are two reports about the life of al-Khiḍr: one narrated by Ahmad ibn Hanbal in Al-Zuhd in which Muhammad is said to have stated that Elijah and al-Khiḍr meet every year and spend the month of Ramadan in Jerusalem; and the other narrated by Ya’qub ibn Sufyan from Umar II in which a man he was seen walking with was actually al-Khiḍr. Ibn Hajar declared both claims to be legitimate in Fath al-Bari. He goes on to cite another supposedly reliable report narrated by Ibn ‘Asakir from Abu Zur’a al-Razi whereby the latter met al-Khiḍr twice, once in his youth, the other in old age, but al-Khiḍr himself had not changed. Islamic scholar Bediuzzaman Said Nursi also contends that Khidr is alive, but that there are five degrees of life. Khidr is at the second degree of life, thus some religious scholars have been doubtful about his existence.

Khidr and Ilyas (May God grant them peace), are free to an extent. That is to say, they can be present in numerous places at the same time. They are not permanently restricted by the requirements of humanity like us. They can eat and drink like us when they want to, but are not compelled to be like we are. The saints are those who uncover and witness the realities of creation, and the reports of their adventures with Khidr are unanimous and elucidate and point to this level of life.

In Arabic-Christian tradition there is one degree of sainthood which is called ‘the degree of Khidr.’ A saint who reaches this degree receives instruction from Khidr and meets with him. Sometimes, it is said, a person who reaches that degree is mistaken to be Khidr himself.

al-Khiḍr is believed to be a man who has the appearance of a young adult but with a long, white beard. According to some authors, such as Abdul Haq Vidhyarthi, al-Khiḍr is Xerxes (a 6th-century Sasanian prince, not to be confused with Xerxes I), who disappeared after being in the lake regions of Sistan that comprise the wetlands of the Iran-Afghan border today, and after finding the fountain of life, sought to live his entire remaining life in service of God and to help those in their path to Him.

Muhammad al-Bukhari reports that al-Khiḍr got his name after he walked over the surface of some ground that became green as a result of his presence there. Because of the linguistic similarities and shared etymology between the name “al-Khiḍr” and the Arabic word for green (“al-akhḍar” or “al-khaḍra” as in Gubbat al-khaḍra or the Green Dome), and the fact that the name “al-Khiḍr” shares exactly the same triliteral root as the word “al-khaḍra” – a root found in multiple Semitic languages meaning “green” or “verdant,” the meaning of the name has traditionally usually been taken colloquially and academically to be “the Green One” or “the Verdant One.” This is probably folk etymology, but it is a common belief.

There are reports from al-Bayhaqi that al-Khiḍr was present at the funeral of Muhammad and was recognized only by Ali from amongst the rest of the companions, and where he came to show his grief and sadness at the death of Muhammad. Al-Khiḍr’s appearance at Muhammad’s funeral is related as follows:

A powerful-looking, fine-featured, handsome man with a white beard came leaping over the backs of the people till he reached where the sacred body lay. Weeping bitterly, he turned toward the Companions and paid his condolences. Ali said that he was Khiḍr.

In another tale, al-Khiḍr met with Ali by the Kaaba and instructed him about a supplication that is very meritorious when recited after the obligatory prayers. It is reported by Imam Muslim that during the time when the false Messiah appears and as he approaches at the outskirts of the city of Medina, a believer would challenge him, whom the false Messiah will slice into two piece and rejoin, making it appear that he caused him to die and be resurrected, to which this man would proclaim the falsehood of the Dajjal who would try again to kill him (or make show of it) but would fail and thus his weakness and inability will be revealed. According to commentators the person who will challenge the Antichrist and humiliate him will be al-Khiḍr.

Palestinian lamb is the obvious dish of choice for today. Here is Mansaf (Lamb in Yogurt Sauce).

Mansaf

Ingredients

1 ½ lb lamb, cut in large cubes
ghee
salt and pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
4 cups whole plain yogurt
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed and ground
lamb broth

Garnish:

¼  cup pine nuts, toasted
fresh parsley

Instructions

Mix the cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl, and toss the lamb in the mix to coat thoroughly.  Heat the ghee over high heat in a heavy skillet, and brown the lamb on all sides.

Pour a cup of lamb broth over the lamb. Add the bay leaves. Simmer gently, covered, until the lamb is tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the yogurt sauce.  Break down your yogurt by running it in a blender or a food processor for two or three minutes.   In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt three tablespoons of butter, and stir in three tablespoons of flour, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.  Slowly add the beaten yogurt, adding in a little and stirring, and letting the mixture come to a boil, and then adding a little more yogurt.  Continue to do this until you have added all of the yogurt. Stir constantly and adjust the heat as needed to avoid burning.  Bring to a quick boil and let the sauce boil for one minute, stirring constantly.  Turn the heat down to low, add the garlic paste and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes.

Take the lamb from the heat.  Arrange sufficient rice on a serving platter. This can be saffron rice, turmeric rice, or plain boiled rice.  Place the cooked lamb on top and pour the yogurt sauce over it. Garnish with toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley. Serve with flatbread. Guests help themselves from the common dish.

May 042018
 

Today is the birthday (1827) of John Hanning Speke, an English explorer and officer in the British Indian Army who made three exploratory expeditions to Africa. He is most associated with the search for the source of the Nile and was the first European to reach Lake Victoria. Speke traveled with Richard Burton on several occasions (  ) and an unpleasant rivalry developed between the two men, mostly spurred by Burton.

Speke was born in Orleigh Court, Buckland Brewer, near Bideford in North Devon. In 1844 he was commissioned into the British Army and posted to India, where he served under Sir Colin Campbell during the First Anglo-Sikh War. He spent his leave exploring the Himalayas and once crossed into Tibet.  In 1854 he made his first voyage to Africa, first arriving in Aden to ask permission of the Political Resident of the British Outpost to cross the Gulf of Aden and collect specimens in Somaliland for his family’s natural history museum in Somerset. This was refused because Somaliland was considered dangerous (as he came to find out). Speke then asked to join an expedition about to leave for Somaliland led by the already famous Richard Burton who had Lt William Stroyan and Lt. Herne recruited to come along, but a recent death left the expedition one person short. Speke was accepted because he had traveled in remote regions alone before, had experience collecting and preserving natural history specimens and had done astronomical surveying. Initially the party split with Burton going to Harrar, Abyssinia, and Speke going to Wadi Nogal in Somaliland . During this trip Speke had trouble with the local guide who cheated him and after they returned to Aden, Burton, who had also returned, saw that the guide was jailed and executed. This incident probably led to larger troubles later on. Now all 4 men traveled to Berbera on the coast of Somaliland where they wanted to trek inland towards the Ogaden. While camped outside Berbera they were attacked at night by 200 spear wielding Somalis. During this raid Speke ducked under the flap of a tent to get a clearer view of the scene and Burton thought he was retreating and called for Speke to stand firm. Speke did so and then charged forward shooting several attackers. The misunderstanding of this incident laid the foundation of the disputes and dislikes between Speke and Burton later on. Stroyan was killed by a spear, Burton was seriously wounded by a spear impaling both cheeks and Speke was wounded, and the only one captured, Herne came away unwounded.

Speke was tied up and stabbed several times with spears, one thrust cutting through his thigh along his femur before exiting. Speke used his bound fists to give his attacker a facial punch which gave him the opportunity to escape, although he was followed by a group of Somalis and he had to dodge spears as he was running for his life. Rejoining Burton and Herne, the trio eventually managed to escape in a boat passing along the coast. The expedition was a severe financial loss and Speke’s natural history specimens from his earlier leg were used to make up for some of it. Speke handed Burton his diaries that Burton used as an appendix in his own book on his travels to Harrar. It seemed unlikely that the two would join up again and Burton believed that he would not lead an expedition to the interior of Africa after this failed journey, even though this was his fervent desire.

Despite the first failure, in 1856, Speke and Burton went to East Africa to find the Great Lakes, which were rumored to exist in the center of the continent. They were hoping that the expedition would locate the source of the Nile. The journey, which started from Zanzibar Island in June 1857, was extremely strenuous and both men fell ill from a variety of tropical diseases once they went inland. By 7th November 1857 they had traveled over 600 miles on foot and donkey and they reached Kazeh (Tabora), where they rested and recuperated among Arab slave traders who had a settlement there. In Kazeh, Burton became gravely ill and Speke went temporarily blind as they travelled further west. After an arduous journey, the two arrived in Ujiji in February 1858 and became the first Europeans to reach Lake Tanganyika (although Speke was partially blind at this point and could not properly see the lake). They decided to explore the lake but it was vast and they could get only small canoes from the locals. Burton was too ill to journey and thus Speke crossed the lake with a small crew and some canoes to try to rent a larger vessel from an Arab who, they were told, had a large boat and lived on the west side of the lake. (Lake Tanganyika is over 400 miles long on the north-south axis but only about 30 miles wide.) During this trip Speke was marooned on an island and suffered severely when he became temporarily deaf after a beetle crawled into his ear and he tried to remove it with a knife. Speke was notable to rent the larger vessel from the Arab and so returned. Because the pair were unable to explore Lake Tanganyika properly, they initially mistakenly thought that a river flowed out of it from the north side. A few weeks later Sidi Mubarak Bombay confirmed via locals that the river flowed into the lake, but because neither man actually saw this river, this remained a source of speculation.

They had also heard of a second lake to the north-east, and in May 1858, they decided to explore it on the way back to the coast. But Burton was too weak to make the trip and thus stayed in base camp when the main caravan halted again at Kazeh. Speke went on a 47-day side trip that was 452 miles up and down in which he took 34 men with Bombay and Mabruki as his captains, and on 30th July 1858 became the first European to see Lake Victoria and the first to map it. It was this lake that eventually proved to be the source of ther Nile. However, much of the expedition’s survey equipment had been lost at this point and thus vital questions about the height and extent of the lake could not be answered easily. Speke’s eyes were still bothering him and he only saw a small part of the southern end of the lake and his view was blocked by islands in the lake so he could not judge the size of the lake well. However, Speke did estimate the elevation of Lake Victoria at 4000 feet by observing the temperature at which water boiled at that level.

From the beginning, the relationship between Speke and Burton was one of opposites. Burton considered Speke to be an inferior linguist and a less experienced traveler in remote regions (which was partially true), but Burton also appears to have been jealous of Speke and far less able to relate to the safari caravan to keep the expedition motivated and moving (a vital factor as they were completely dependent on their safari crew). Speke enjoyed hunting and provided the caravan with meat, while Burton was not much interested in such pursuits. Burton was appointed the head of the expedition and considered Speke the second in command, although the pair seemed to have shared the hardships and labors of the journey pretty much evenly. Once it became clear that Speke might have found the source of the Nile the relationship deteriorated further. Why Burton did not journey back to Lake Victoria with Speke to reconnoiter the Lake better after Speke returned to base camp in Kazeh is unclear. Burton was incapacitated and had to be carried by bearers, but this had been true for a great deal of the trip.

While Speke and Burton were instrumental in bringing the source of the Nile to the wider world and were the first to record and map this section of Africa, the efforts and labors of Sidi Mubarak Bombay and Mabruki were instrumental in discovering the lake. Bombay was captured as a child near Lake Nyasa by slave traders and was sold to Indian merchants on the coast of Africa who took him to Sindh. Thus, he spoke Hindustani and after his master’s death he sailed back to Zanzibar where Speke and Burton met and hired him. Both spoke Hindustani, which greatly facilitated the travel in the interior as Bombay spoke several native languages beside Swahili. Speke was much attached to Bombay and spoke highly of his honesty and conscientiousness. Bombay’s efforts in dealing with hostile peoples, interpreting and keeping the safari crew on track was a great help to the expedition.[6] Less is known of Mabruki, the other caravan leader, but he was later known as Mabruki Speke, and like Bombay became one of East Africa’s great caravan leaders and was also a Yao, like Bombay. Because of Speke’s recommendations both Bombay and Mabruki served on Henry Stanley’s 1871 expedition to find Livingstone.

On 26th September 1859 they began the return journey from Kazeh because the military leaves for both men were coming to an end. Again, Speke and Burton suffered from severe illnesses and had to be carried in litters by the porters some of the way. Once Speke and Burton were back on the coast they went by ship to Zanzibar and then traveled to Aden. When back at the coast Burton wrote a letter to Norton Shaw of the Royal Geographical Society (which had partially sponsored the journey) in which Burton enclosed a map of Lake Victoria made by Speke and wrote “there are grave reasons for believing it to be the source of the principal feeder of the White Nile.” Once in Aden, Burton was not granted a medical certificate to travel and thus Speke left on HMS Furious and arrived in England on 8th May 1859. Burton arrived on 21st May 1859.

New disagreements arose in England. Burton maintained that they had promised each other in Aden not to make public announcements until they were both back in England and Burton accused Speke of a breach of promise by publicly claiming they found the source of the Nile on their trip. Burton now turned against the theory that Lake Victoria was the source of the Nile (and now said the river flowing out of the north side of Lake Tanganyika was the source) and thus also reversing himself from the position he took in the letter to Norton Shaw. In that same letter to Shaw, Burton had also stated that Speke would present his findings to the RGS as he was prevented from traveling as he was in poor health and would be in England a short time after Speke. The jealousies and accusations between the two men increased, further inflamed by their respective circles of friends and people who stood to gain from the feud such as book publishers and newspapers. Burton was still extremely weak and once he appeared in front of a committee of the RGS he was not able to make a convincing case for his leading a second expedition to settle the outstanding matters about the Nile. The rift widened, and perhaps became irreversible, when Speke was chosen to lead a subsequent expedition instead of Burton. The two presented joint papers concerning the expedition to the RGS on 13th June 1859.

Together with James Augustus Grant, Speke left Portsmouth on 27th April 1860 and departed from Zanzibar in October 1860. The expedition approached the lake from the southwest, but Grant was often sick and was not able to travel with Speke much of the time. In this period of African history, Arab slave traders had created an atmosphere of great distrust towards any foreigners entering central Africa, and most African groups either fled or fought when encountering them, assuming all outsiders to be potential slavers. Lacking much in the way of guns and soldiers, the only thing the expedition could do was to make peace offerings to locals, and both men were severely delayed, and their supplies depleted by demands for gifts and fees of passage. After numerous months of delays Speke reached Lake Victoria on 28th July 1862, and then travelled on the west side around Lake Victoria but only seeing it from time to time. On the north side of the lake, Speke found the Nile flowing out of it and discovered the Ripon Falls. Whilst at the court of Muteesa I, the Kabaka (king) of Buganda, the local kingdom, who treated Speke with kindness, Speke was given two girls of about 12 and 18 out of the entourage of the Queen Mother. Speke took a serious liking to the elder, Meri, whom he fell in love with, according to his diaries (which were redacted when they were published as books later). While Meri proved loyal to Speke and fulfilled her task of being a “wife” as commanded by the Queen Mother, she showed no emotional attachment to Speke. Speke spent several months at the court of Mutesa and when he had given up winning Mere’s heart, tried to arrange a better relationship for Mere with another man, without success. Finally, given permission by Mutesa in June 1862 to leave, Speke then travelled down the Nile, now reunited with Grant.

Because of travel restrictions placed by the local chieftains, slave raiding parties, tribal wars and the difficulty of the terrain, Speke was not able to map the entire flow of the Nile from Lake Victoria north.  By January 1863 Speke and Grant reached Gondokoro in Southern Sudan, where he met Samuel Baker and his “wife”. (Her name was Florence von Sass and she had been rescued by Baker from a slave market in Vidin during a hunting trip in Bulgaria.) Speke had expected to meet John Petherick and his wife Katherine at Gondokoro, as they had been sent by the RGS south along the Nile to meet Speke and Grant. However, the Pethericks were not there but on a side expedition to trade ivory, as they had run out of funds for their expedition. This caused some hard feelings between Pethrick and Speke, and Baker played into this so he could assume a greater role as an explorer and co-discoverer of the Nile. Speke, via Baker’s ship, then continued to Khartoum where he sent a celebrated telegram to London: “The Nile is settled.” Speke’s expedition did not resolve the issue, however. Burton claimed that because Speke had not followed the Nile from the place it flowed out of Lake Victoria to Gondokoro, he could not be sure they were the same river. Baker and Florence, meanwhile, stayed in Gondokoro and tried to settle the issue of the flow of the river from there to Lake Victoria by travelling south. They eventually, after tremendous hardships including being racked by fevers and held up by rulers for months on end, found Lake Albert and the Murchison Falls.

Speke and Grant now returned to England where they arrived in June 1863 and were welcomed as genuine heroes. This did not last long in Speke’s case however. Disputes with Burton, who was relentless in his criticisms and a very compelling public speaker and strong writer, left Speke’s discoveries in less than an ideal light. Speke had also committed to write a book for John Blackwood which he found difficult. He failed to give a good and full report to the RGS for many months and thus, in effect, failed to defend his positions concerning the Nile. In addition Speke had a public dispute with the Pethericks who had by and large acted according to their RGS instructions but Speke had felt they had not. All this led Roderick Murchison, president of the RGS, to take a dislike to Speke and was not inclined to fund a third expedition led by Speke. Just as Burton had overplayed his hand after the first trip Speke now did the same. The RGS asked that a public debate be held between Speke and Burton to try to settle questions concerning the source of the Nile.

The debate was planned between Speke and Burton before the geographical section of the British Association in Bath on 16th September 1864, but Speke died the previous afternoon from a self-inflicted gunshot wound while shooting at Neston Park in Wiltshire. A contemporary account of the events surrounding his death appeared in The Times:

Speke set out from his uncle’s house in company with his cousin, George Fuller, and a gamekeeper, Daniel Davis, for an afternoon’s shooting in Neston Park. He fired both barrels in the course of the afternoon and about 4 p.m. Davis was marking birds for the two guns who were about 60 yards apart. Speke was seen to climb on to a stone wall about 2 feet high: for the moment he was without his gun. A few seconds later there was a report and when George Fuller rushed up Speke’s gun was found behind the wall in the field into which Speke had jumped. The right barrel was at half-cock: only the left barrel was discharged. Speke who was bleeding seriously was sensible for a few minutes and said feebly, “Don’t move me.” George Fuller went for assistance leaving Davis to attend him; but Speke survived for only about 15 minutes, and when Mr. Snow, surgeon of Box, arrived he was already dead. There was a single wound in his left side such as would be made by a cartridge if the muzzle of the gun—a Lancaster breech-loader without a safety guard—were close to the body; the charge had passed upwards through the lungs dividing all the large blood vessels over the heart, though missing the heart itself.

An inquest concluded that the death was accidental, though the idea of suicide appealed to some. Given that the fatal wound was just below Speke’s armpit, suicide seems unlikely. Burton, however, could not set aside his own strong dislike of Speke and was vocal in spreading the idea of a suicide, claiming that Speke feared the debate. Speke was buried in Dowlish Wake, Somerset, five miles from the ancestral home of the Speke family.

Given that Speke, a noble Victorian, was deathly ill much of his time in central Africa, here is what Mrs Beeton would have prescribed. You can substitute gazelle or antelope for the mutton.

THE INVALID’S CUTLET.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—1 nice cutlet from a loin or neck of mutton, 2 teacupfuls of water, 1 very small stick of celery, pepper and salt to taste.

Mode.—Have the cutlet cut from a very nice loin or neck of mutton; take off all the fat; put it into a stewpan, with the other ingredients; stew very gently indeed for nearly 2 hours, and skim off every particle of fat that may rise to the surface from time to time. The celery should be cut into thin slices before it is added to the meat, and care must be taken not to put in too much of this ingredient, or the dish will not be good. If the water is allowed to boil fast, the cutlet will be hard.

Time.—2 hours’ very gentle stewing. Average cost, 6d.

Sufficient for 1 person. Seasonable at any time.

 

 

 

 

May 032018
 

On this date in 1957, Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, announced he was moving the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. Many, many New Yorkers, not just those living in Brooklyn, lamented the move, which brought great changes to Brooklyn and to baseball. Hard on the heels of this move, the Giants moved from Manhattan to San Francisco, leaving New York without a National League team until the Mets were created. If you are not a baseball fan you won’t understand. It’s not just that a sizeable percentage of New Yorkers hate the Yankees, it’s also that there is a world of difference between the American League and the National League. The National League follows the longstanding rule of having all 9 players, including the pitcher, come to bat, whereas the American League replaced the pitcher’s spot at bat with the designated hitter (DH). If you don’t know baseball you will not understand what a profound difference the DH rule makes to the game. Suppose you are in a tight game and it’s in the late innings. You have a couple of men on base, but you have 2 outs, and the pitcher (who is pitching well, but is a terrible hitter) is next up to bat. Do you replace him with a pinch hitter (meaning you have to bring in a new pitcher who might blow the game), or do you let him hit knowing that he is likely to strike out and waste the runners on base? Those decisions are the stuff good managers are made of. In the American League you have no such decisions. Boring.

Walter O’Malley was so hated by Dodgers’ fans for the move that they came up with this joke:

Q:  If you had a gun with only two bullets in it and were in a room with Hitler, Stalin and O’Malley, who would you shoot?

A: O’Malley, twice!

Brooklyn was home to numerous baseball clubs in the mid-1850s. Eight of 16 participants in the first convention were from Brooklyn, including the Atlantic, Eckford, and Excelsior clubs that combined to dominate play for most of the 1860s. Brooklyn helped make baseball commercial, as the locale of the first paid admission games, a series of three all star contests matching New York and Brooklyn in 1858. Brooklyn also featured the first two enclosed baseball grounds (as opposed to “fields”), the Union Grounds and the Capitoline Grounds. Enclosed, dedicated ballparks accelerated the evolution from amateurism to professionalism.

Despite the early success of Brooklyn clubs in the National Association of Base Ball Players, officially amateur until 1869, they fielded weak teams in the succeeding National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, the first professional league formed in 1871. The Excelsiors no longer challenged for the amateur championship after the Civil War and never entered the professional NA. The Eckfords and Atlantics declined to join until 1872 and thereby lost their best players. The Eckfords survived only one season and the Atlantics four, with losing teams.

The National League replaced the NA in 1876 and granted exclusive territories to its eight members, excluding the Atlantics in favor of the New York Mutuals who had shared home grounds with the Atlantics. When the Mutuals were expelled by the league, the Hartford Dark Blues club moved in, changed its name to The Brooklyn Hartfords, and played its home games at Union Grounds in 1877 before disbanding.

The team currently known as the Dodgers was formed as the Brooklyn Grays in 1883 by real estate magnate and baseball enthusiast Charles Byrne, who convinced his brother-in-law Joseph Doyle and casino operator Ferdinand Abell to start the team with him. Byrne arranged to build a grandstand on a lot bounded by Third Street, Fourth Avenue, Fifth Street, and Fifth Avenue, and named it Washington Park in honor of George Washington. The Grays played in the minor Inter-State Association of Professional Baseball Clubs that first season. Doyle became the first team manager, and they drew 6,431 fans to their first home game on May 12, 1883 against the Trenton team. The Grays won the league title after the Camden Merritt club disbanded on July 20 and Brooklyn picked up some of its better players. The Grays were invited to join the American Association for the 1884 season. After winning the American Association league championship in 1889, the Grays (by then nicknamed the Bridegrooms) moved to the National League and won the 1890 NL Championship, the only Major League team to win consecutive championships in both professional “base ball” leagues. They lost the 1889 World Series to the New York Giants and tied the 1890 World Series with the Louisville Colonels. Their success during this period was partly attributed to their having absorbed skilled players from the defunct New York Metropolitans and Brooklyn Ward’s Wonders. In 1899, most of the original Baltimore Orioles stars moved to the Grays (Bridegrooms) along with Orioles manager Ned Hanlon who became the club’s new manager under Charles Ebbets, who had by now accumulated an 80% share of the club. The new combined team was called the “Superbas” by the press and would become the champions of the National League in 1899 and again in 1900.

The team name, Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers, was coined in 1895. The nickname was still new enough in September 1895 that a newspaper could report that “‘Trolley Dodgers’ is the new name which eastern baseball cranks (i.e. fans) have given the Brooklyn club.” In 1895, Brooklyn played at Eastern Park, bounded by Eastern Parkway (now Pitkin Avenue), Powell Street, Sutter Avenue, Van Sinderen Street, where they had moved early in the 1891 season when the second Washington Park burned down. Some sources erroneously report that the name “Trolley Dodgers” referred to pedestrians avoiding fast cars on street car tracks that bordered Eastern Park on two sides. However, Eastern Park was not bordered by street-level trolley lines that had to be “dodged” by pedestrians. The name “Trolley Dodgers” implied the dangers posed by trolley cars in Brooklyn generally, which in 1892, began the switch from horse-power to electrical power, which made them much faster, and were hence regarded as more dangerous. The name was later shortened to Brooklyn Dodgers.

The historic and heated rivalry between the Dodgers and the Giants is more than a century old. It began when the Dodgers and Giants faced each other in the 1889 World Series, the ancestor of the Subway Series, and both played in separate cities (the Dodgers in Brooklyn and the Giants in New York City Manhattan). When both franchises moved to California after the 1957 season, the rivalry was transplanted but is hardly the same.

Manager Wilbert Robinson, popularly known as “Uncle Robbie,” was successful at the outset and his teams were known as the “Brooklyn Robins.” They reached the 1916 and 1920 World Series, losing both, but contending perennially for several seasons. Robbie was named president in 1925 while still field manager which meant that his ability to focus on the field declined, and the teams of the late 1920s were often fondly referred to as the “Daffiness Boys” for their distracted, error-ridden play. The signature Dodger play from this era occurred when three players – Dazzy Vance, Chick Fewster, and Herman – ended up at third base at the same time. (The play is often remembered as Herman “tripling into a triple play”, though only two of the three players were declared out and Herman was credited with a double rather than a triple.) The incident led to the popular joke:

“The Dodgers have three men on base!”

“Oh, yeah? Which base?”

When Robinson retired in 1931, he was replaced as manager by Max Carey. Although some suggested renaming the “Robins” the “Brooklyn Canaries”, after Carey, whose last name was originally “Carnarius”, the name “Brooklyn Dodgers” returned to stay. It was during this era that Willard Mullin, a noted sports cartoonist, fixed the Brooklyn team with the nickname of “Dem Bums”. After hearing his cab driver ask, “So how did those bums do today?”, Mullin decided to sketch an exaggerated version of famed circus clown Emmett Kelly to represent the Dodgers in his cartoons in the New York World-Telegram. Both image and nickname caught on, so much so that many a Dodger yearbook cover, from 1951 through 1957, featured a Willard Mullin illustration of the Brooklyn Bum.

The first major-league baseball game to be televised was Brooklyn’s 6–1 victory over Cincinnati at Ebbets Field on August 26, 1939. Batting helmets were introduced to Major League Baseball by the Dodgers in 1941.

For most of the first half of the 20th century, no Major League Baseball team employed an African-American player. A parallel system of Negro Leagues developed, but most of the Negro League players were denied a chance to prove their skill before a national audience. Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play Major League baseball in the 20th century when he played his first major league game on April 15, 1947 as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson’s entry into the league was mainly due to General Manager Branch Rickey’s efforts. The deeply religious Rickey’s motivation appears to have been primarily moral, although business considerations were also an issue. Rickey was a member of the Methodist Church, which was a strong advocate for social justice and active later in the Civil Rights Movement.

Besides selecting Robinson for his exceptional baseball skills, Rickey also considered Robinson’s outstanding personal character, his UCLA education and rank of captain in the U.S. Army in his decision, since he knew that boos, taunts, and criticism were going to be directed at Robinson, and that Robinson had to be tough enough to withstand abuse without attempting to retaliate.The inclusion of Robinson on the team also led the Dodgers to move its spring training site. Prior to 1946, the Dodgers held their spring training in Jacksonville, Florida. However, the city’s stadium refused to host an exhibition game with the Montreal Royals – the Dodgers’ own farm club – on whose roster Robinson appeared at the time, citing segregation laws. Nearby Sanford similarly declined. Ultimately, City Island Ballpark in Daytona Beach agreed to host the game with Robinson on the field. The team traveled to Havana, Cuba for spring training in 1947, this time with Robinson on the big club. Although the Dodgers ultimately built Dodgertown and its Holman Stadium further south in Vero Beach, and played there for 61 spring training seasons from 1948 through 2008, Daytona Beach renamed City Island Ballpark to Jackie Robinson Ballpark in his honor.

This event marked the continuation of the integration of professional sports in the United States, with professional football having led the way in 1946, with the concomitant demise of the Negro Leagues, and is regarded as a key moment in the history of the American civil rights movement. Robinson was an exceptional player, a speedy runner who sparked the team with his intensity. He was the inaugural recipient of the Rookie of the Year award, which is now named the Jackie Robinson award in his honor. The Dodgers’ willingness to integrate, when most other teams refused to, was a key factor in their 1947–1956 success. They won six pennants in those 10 years with the help of Robinson, three-time MVP Roy Campanella, Cy Young Award winner Don Newcombe, Jim Gilliam, and Joe Black. Robinson eventually became the first African-American elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.

After the slow years of the 1920s and 1930s, the Dodgers were rebuilt into a contending club first by general manager Larry MacPhail and then the legendary Branch Rickey. Led by Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, and Gil Hodges in the infield, Duke Snider and Carl Furillo in the outfield, Roy Campanella behind the plate, and Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine, and Preacher Roe on the pitcher’s mound, the Dodgers won pennants in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, and 1953, only to fall to the New York Yankees in all five of the subsequent World Series. The annual ritual of building excitement, followed in the end by disappointment, became a common pattern to the long suffering fans, and “Wait ’til next year!” became an unofficial Dodger slogan.

In 1955, by which time the core of the Dodger team was beginning to age, “next year” finally came. The fabled “Boys of Summer” shot down the “Bronx Bombers” in seven games, led by the first-class pitching of young left-hander Johnny Podres, whose key pitch was a changeup known as “pulling down the lampshade” because of the arm motion used right when the ball was released. Podres won two Series games, including the deciding seventh. The turning point of Game 7 was a spectacular double play that began with left fielder Sandy Amorós running down Yogi Berra’s long fly ball, then throwing to shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who relayed to first baseman Gil Hodges to double up a surprised Gil McDougald to preserve the Dodger lead. Hank Bauer grounded out and the Dodgers won 2–0.

Although the Dodgers lost the World Series to the Yankees in 1956 during which the Yankees pitcher Don Larsen pitched the only World Series perfect game in baseball history and the only post-season no-hitter for the next 54 years, it hardly seemed to matter. Brooklyn fans had their memory of triumph, and soon that was all they were left with – a victory that was remembered decades later in the Billy Joel single “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, which included the line, “Brooklyn’s got a winning team.”

Real estate businessman Walter O’Malley had acquired majority ownership of the Dodgers in 1950, when he bought the shares of team co-owners Branch Rickey and the estate of John L. Smith. Before long, O’Malley was working to buy new land in Brooklyn for a new, more accessible and better ballpark than Ebbets Field. Loved as it was, Ebbets Field had grown old and was not well served by infrastructure, to the point where the Dodgers could not sell out the park to maximum capacity even in the heat of a pennant race, despite dominating the league from 1946 to 1957.

 

New York City Construction Coordinator Robert Moses, however, sought to force O’Malley into using a site in Flushing Meadows, Queens – the eventual location of Shea Stadium, the home of the future New York Mets. Moses’ vision involved a city-built, city-owned park, which was greatly at odds with O’Malley’s real-estate acumen. When O’Malley realized that he was not going to be allowed to buy a suitable parcel of land in Brooklyn, he began thinking of team relocation.

O’Malley was free to purchase land of his own choosing but wanted Robert Moses to condemn one parcel of land along the Atlantic Railroad Yards in downtown Brooklyn under Title I authority, after O’Malley had bought the bulk of the land he had in mind. Title I gave the city municipality power to condemn land for the purpose of building what it calls “public purpose” projects. Moses’ interpretation of “public purpose” included public parks, public housing and public highways and bridges. What O’Malley wanted was for Moses to use Title I authority, rather than to pay market value for the land. With Title I the city via Robert Moses could have sold the land to O’Malley at a below market price. Moses refused to honor O’Malley’s request and responded, “If you want the land so bad, why don’t you purchase it with your own money?”

Meanwhile, non-stop transcontinental airline travel had become routine during the years since the Second World War, and teams were no longer bound by much slower railroad timetables. Because of civil aviation advances, it became possible to locate teams farther apart – as far west as California – while maintaining the same busy game schedules. When Los Angeles officials attended the 1956 World Series looking to entice a team to move there, they were not even thinking of the Dodgers. Their original target had been the Washington Senators franchise, which moved to Bloomington, Minnesota to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961. At the same time, O’Malley was looking for a contingency in case Moses and other New York politicians refused to let him build the Brooklyn stadium he wanted, and sent word to the Los Angeles officials that he was interested in talking. Los Angeles offered him what New York did not: a chance to buy land suitable for building a ballpark, and own that ballpark, giving him complete control over all its revenue streams. At the same time, the National League was not willing to approve the Dodgers’ move unless O’Malley found a second team willing to join them out west, largely out of concern for travel costs.

Meanwhile, Giants owner Horace Stoneham was having similar difficulty finding a replacement for his team’s antiquated home stadium, the Polo Grounds. Stoneham was considering moving the Giants to Minneapolis, but was persuaded instead to move them to San Francisco, ensuring that the Dodgers had a National League rival closer than St. Louis. So, the two arch-rival teams, the Dodgers and Giants, moved out to the West Coast together after the 1957 season. Baseball has never been the same since – nor has New York.

Hotdogs are the dish of choice for any baseball post, but I have covered them extensively already. Here’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake. I have no idea of its origin but the name is perfectly appropriate for what happened to Brooklyn when the Dodgers left.

Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Ingredients

For the cake

140 gm unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100 ml vegetable oil
140 gm buttermilk
100ml coffee, made with 1 tsp espresso powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
250 gm light muscovado sugar
250 gm plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp baking powder
50 gm cocoa powder

For the custard filling and covering

250 gm golden caster sugar
500 ml full-fat milk
140 gm chocolate, 85% cocoa solids, broken into cubes
50 gm cornflour
2 tsp espresso powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Make the custard first because it needs time to chill. Put all the ingredients, except the vanilla, in a large pan and bring gently to the boil, whisking all the time, until the chocolate has melted and you have a silky, thick custard. It will take 5-7 mins from cold. Stir in the vanilla and a generous pinch of salt, then scrape the custard into a wide, shallow bowl. Cover the surface with cling film, cool, then chill for at least 3 hours or until cold and set.

Heat the oven to 180˚C. Grease then line the bases of 2 x 20 cm sandwich tins. Melt the butter in a pan, then remove from the heat and beat in the oil, buttermilk, coffee and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together plus ¼ teaspoon of salt, crushing any resistant lumps of sugar with your fingers. Tip in the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake for 25-30 mins until risen and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins, then transfer to a rack to cool completely, parchment-side down.

Remove the parchment linings from the cakes. If the cakes are domed, trim them flat. Cut each cake across the middle using a large serrated knife. Put your least successful layer and any trimmings into a processor and pulse it to crumbs. Tip them into a large bowl.

Place one layer on a cake plate and spread it with a quarter of the custard. Sandwich the next layer on top, add another quarter of the custard, then top with the final layer of cake. Spoon the remaining custard on top of the cake, then spread it around the top and down the sides until smooth. Chill for 15 mins to firm up the custard again.

Hold the cake over the bowl containing the crumbs, then sprinkle and gently press a layer of crumbs all over the cake. Brush any excess from the plate. Chill for 2 hours, or longer, before serving, and eat it cold. The cake will keep for up to 2 days and is best the longer it is chilled.