Jun 242018
 

On this date in 1374, one of the biggest, and most well-known, outbreaks of dancing mania began in Aachen, a major city in the Germanic region of the Holy Roman Empire in the Middle Ages (now part of northwest Germany). Because the mania began on the feast of St John the Baptist (that is, today), it is sometimes referred to as St. John’s Dance, but is also called the dancing plague, choreomania, and St. Vitus’s Dance. Dancing mania occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people dancing erratically, sometimes thousands at a time. The mania affected men, women, and children who danced until they collapsed from exhaustion. Dancing mania was not an isolated event, and was well documented in contemporary reports. It was nevertheless poorly understood, and remedies were based on guesswork. Generally, musicians accompanied dancers, to help ward off the mania, but this tactic sometimes backfired by encouraging more to join in. There is no consensus among modern-day scholars as to the cause of dancing mania.

The earliest documented outbreak of dancing mania occurred in the 7th century, and it reappeared many times across Europe until about the 17th century, when it stopped abruptly. Did the Enlightenment put a stop to it ??? One of the earliest known incidents occurred in the 1020s in Bernburg, where 18 peasants began singing and dancing around a church, disturbing a Christmas Eve service. Further outbreaks occurred during the 13th century, including one in 1237 in which a large group of children traveled from Erfurt to Arnstadt (about 20 km), jumping and dancing all the way, in similarity to the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a legend that originated at around the same time http://www.bookofdaystales.com/pied-piper-of-hamelin/ .  Another incident, in 1278, involved about 200 people dancing on a bridge over the river Meuse in Germany, resulting in its collapse. Many of the survivors were restored to full health at a nearby chapel dedicated to St. Vitus.

Certainly, one of the biggest outbreaks was the one that started on this date in Aachen. The mania is reported to have spread from Aachen to other places such as Cologne, Flanders, Franconia, Hainaut, Metz, Strasbourg, Tongeren, Utrecht, then to Italy and Luxembourg. How exactly the mania “spread” is not clear.  We are not talking about an air- or water-borne disease. Further episodes occurred in 1375 and 1376, with incidents in France, Germany and Holland, and in 1381 there was an outbreak in Augsburg. Further incidents occurred in 1418 in Strasbourg, where people fasted for days and the outbreak was possibly caused by exhaustion. In another outbreak, in 1428 in Schaffhausen, a monk danced to death and, in the same year, a group of women in Zurich were reportedly in a dancing frenzy.

Another of the biggest outbreaks occurred in July 1518, in Strasbourg, where a woman named Frau Troffea began dancing in the street; within four days she had been joined by 33 others, and within a month there were 400, many of whom suffered heart attacks or stroke and died.  This occurrence is particularly well documented in notes by nobles, the city council, physicians and others. As the dancing plague worsened, concerned nobles sought the advice of local physicians, who ruled out astrological and supernatural causes, instead announcing that the plague was a “natural disease” caused by “hot blood”. However, instead of prescribing bleeding, authorities encouraged more dancing, in part by opening two guildhalls and a grain market, and even constructing a wooden stage. The authorities did this because they believed that the dancers would recover only if they danced continuously night and day. To increase the effectiveness of the cure, authorities even paid for musicians to keep the afflicted moving.

Further incidents occurred during the 16th century, when the mania was at its peak: in 1536 in Basel, involving a group of children; and in 1551 in Anhalt, involving just one man. In the 17th century, incidents of recurrent dancing were recorded by professor of medicine Gregor Horst, who noted:

Several women who annually visit the chapel of St. Vitus in Drefelhausen… dance madly all day and all night until they collapse in ecstasy. In this way they come to themselves again and feel little or nothing until the next May, when they are again… forced around St. Vitus’ Day to betake themselves to that place… One of these women is said to have danced every year for the past twenty years, another for a full thirty-two.

Dancing mania appears to have completely died out by the mid-17th  century. The outbreaks of 1374 and 1518 are the best documented.

In Italy, there was a similar phenomenon called tarantism, in which the victims were said to have been poisoned by a tarantula or scorpion. Its earliest known outbreak was in the 13th century, and the only prescribed “antidote” was to dance to particular music to separate the venom from the blood. It occurred only in the summer months. As with dancing mania, people would suddenly begin to dance, sometimes affected by a perceived bite or sting and were joined by others, who believed the venom from their own old bites was reactivated by the heat or the music. Dancers would perform a tarantella, accompanied by music which would eventually “cure” the victim, at least temporarily. The history of the courtly dance called the tarantella and the dance performed by people suffering from tarantism, is long and convoluted, and I will avoid getting into details. Do the research if you are interested, but be on guard against amateur speculators.

It is reported that some people affected with tarantism engaged in a host of unusual activities, such as tying themselves up with vines and whipping each other, pretending to sword fight, drinking large amounts of wine, and jumping into the sea. Some died if there was no music to accompany their dancing. Sufferers typically had symptoms resembling those of dancing mania, such as headaches, trembling, twitching and visions. As with dancing mania, participants apparently did not like the color black, and women were reported to be most affected. Unlike dancing mania, tarantism was confined to Italy and southern Europe. It was common until the 17th century, but ended suddenly, with only very small outbreaks in Italy reported until as late as 1959.

Numerous hypotheses have been proposed for the causes of dancing mania with zero consensus. The main divide is between those who see it as a phenomenon with psychological causes, and those who speculate that there was a physical cause. One of the most prominent theories is that victims suffered from ergot poisoning, which was known as St. Anthony’s fire in the Middle Ages. During floods and damp periods, ergots were able to grow and affect rye and other crops. Ergotism can cause hallucinations and convulsions, but cannot account for the other strange behavior most commonly identified with dancing mania. Other theories suggest that the symptoms were similar to encephalitis, epilepsy, and typhus, but as with ergotism, those conditions cannot account for all symptoms.

Some sources discuss how dancing mania, and tarantism, may have simply been the result of stress and tension caused by natural disasters around the time, such as plagues and floods. People may have danced to relieve themselves of the stress and poverty of the day, and in so doing, may have become ecstatic and seen visions.

Another popular theory is that the outbreaks were all staged, and the appearance of strange behavior was due to its unfamiliarity. One suggestion is that religious cults were performing well-organized dances, in accordance with ancient Greek and Roman rituals. Despite being banned at the time, these rituals could be performed under the guise of uncontrollable dancing mania. One might add to this speculation the notion that such cults could gain strength in times of severe stress.

It is certain that many participants of dancing mania were psychologically disturbed, but it is likely that others joined in for a number of reasons, including simply being caught up in the social experience. Sources agree that dancing mania was one of the earliest-recorded forms of mass hysteria, and describe it as a “psychic epidemic”, with numerous explanations that might account for the behavior of the dancers. For me, as an anthropologist/historian, the main question is not what caused dancing mania, but why it abruptly stopped. What changed? I was being only slightly facetious when I suggested that the Enlightenment stopped dancing mania. Something changed to bring a startling and widespread phenomenon to an end. I’d have to examine the sources in detail to be more precise in my analysis, but my opening hypothesis starts with the obvious point that if dancing mania was a cultural phenomenon, then a radical change in culture could end it.

Aachen, site of the outbreak that began on this date, is especially noted for Aachener printen, somewhat akin to gingerbread or Lebkuchen. Here I must profess my ignorance. I’ve never been to Aachen and never tasted Aachener printen, so I will rely on other sources. The first pastries of this kind most likely originated from the city of Dinant in what is now Belgium. The city has produced pastries with engraved pictures (couques de Dinant) for over a thousand years. Coppersmiths (another specialty of Dinant) who emigrated to Aachen in the 15th century probably brought the recipe, concept, and tradition of engraved pastries with them to Aachen. Originally, the Printen were sold by Aachen’s pharmacists since some of their ingredients (honey, several herbs and spices) were considered to possess medical benefits.

Aachener Printen were originally sweetened with honey, but nowadays are sweetened with syrup from sugar beets because honey became temporarily unavailable when Napoleon issued a trade embargo, banning all trade with the main supplier of honey (and cane sugar), the United States. The tradition of sweetening with sugar beets was kept even after Napoleon was defeated and the French occupation lifted. Printen are made from a variety of ingredients including cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamom, coriander, allspice and also ginger. The exact mixture of these ingredients, however, is a close kept secret of the individual Printen bakeries. As well as the original Printen, there are also Printen with nuts (usually almonds), covered in chocolate or glaze and marzipan. The tradition of stamping printed designs on the Printen still survives – especially around Christmas – but ones without designs are more common, year round.

This site tells you all you need to know about baking Aachener Printen at home: http://crawfishandcaramel.com/aachener-printen/

Jun 232018
 

Today is the birthday (1668) of Giambattista Vico (Giovan Battista – i.e. John the Baptist, because today is the eve of the feast of John the Baptist — http://www.bookofdaystales.com/eve-st-john/ ). Vico is not exactly a name that springs to mind in the popular consciousness when conjuring up names of people who have changed the world, but he was a profoundly influential political philosopher and rhetorician, historian and jurist. He criticized the expansion and development of modern rationalism in the Age of Enlightenment, was an apologist for Classical Antiquity, a precursor of systematic and complex thought (in opposition to Cartesian analysis and other types of reductionism), and was the first major exponent of the fundamentals of modern social science and of semiotics. My professor for the study of the history of anthropology placed Vico in a pivotal position in the founding of anthropology as a rigorous social science. The Latin aphorism Verum esse ipsum factum (“What is true is, itself, made”), coined by Vico, is an early instance of constructivist epistemology (I’ll explain later). He inaugurated the modern field of the philosophy of history. Vico’s intellectual magnum opus is the book Scienza Nuova (1725) which attempts a systematic organization of the humanities as a single science, and also attempts to record and explain the historical cycles by which societies rise and fall.

Vico was the son of a bookseller in Naples. He attended several schools, but ill health and dissatisfaction with the scholasticism of the Jesuits led to his being educated at home by tutors. Evidence from his autobiographical work indicates that Vico was probably largely self-taught under his father’s guidance. His formal education was at the University of Naples where he received a Doctor of Civil and Canon Law in 1694 (aged 26). In 1686, after surviving a bout of typhus, he accepted a job as a tutor, in Vatolla, south of Salerno, which became a 9-year professional engagement that lasted until 1695. In 1699, Vico accepted a chair in rhetoric at the University of Naples, which he held until ill-health caused his retirement in 1741. Throughout his academic career, Vico aspired to, but never attained, the more prestigious chair of jurisprudence. However, in 1734, he was appointed historiographer royal, by Charles III, king of Naples.

The original full title of Scienza Nuova is Principi di Scienza Nuova d’intorno alla Comune Natura delle Nazioni, which may be translated as “Principles of a New Science Concerning the Common Nature of Nations” although many of the words in the title are ambiguous. The title hints at the broad scope of the work, and should tell you that Vico was on a path that was intellectually revolutionary, and much praised from his time to the present, even though you probably have to be a social scientist to know of Vico’s profound influence.

I have to be simplistic, as ever, in summing up Vico’s contribution to the study of social science.  The aphorism, “What is true is, itself, made” could be stated as “The truth is created,” and is of monumental significance. This idea is at the heart of constructivist epistemology which argues that scientific knowledge is constructed by the scientific community, which seek to measure and construct models of the natural world. Natural science therefore consists of mental constructs that aim to explain sensory experience and measurements. According to constructivists, the world is independent of human minds; knowledge of the world is always a human and social construction. Constructivism opposes the philosophy of objectivism which argues that a human can come to know the truth about the natural world not mediated by scientific approximations with different degrees of validity and accuracy. According to constructivists there is no single valid methodology in science, but rather a diversity of useful methods. Thus, truth is not some absolutely, objective thing, but the product of the way we construct our view of the world. Change worldviews and you change what is true.

Vico believed in a cyclical philosophy of history (where human history is, of course, a human construct). His term for the cyclical nature of history was “corsi e ricorsi” which is difficult to translate – maybe something like “travel and travel again.”  As societies develop, human nature also develops, and both manifest their development in changes in language, religion, folklore, economy, etc. Vico expressed an original organic idea that culture is a system of socially produced and structured elements. Hence, knowledge of any society comes from the social structure of that society, explicable, therefore, only in terms of its own language. As such, one may find a dialectical relationship between language, knowledge, and social structure. Relying on a complex etymology, Vico argues in Scienza Nuova that civilization develops in a recurring cycle (ricorso) of three ages: the divine, the heroic, and the human. Each age exhibits distinct political and social features and can be characterized by master tropes or figures of language. The giganti (giants) of the divine age rely on metaphor to compare, and thus comprehend, human and natural phenomena. In the heroic age, metonymy and synecdoche support the development of feudal or monarchic institutions embodied by idealized figures. The final age is characterized by popular democracy and reflection via irony. In this epoch, the rise of rationality leads to barbarie della reflessione (barbarism of reflection), and civilization eventually descends, only to rise again.Taken together, the recurring cycle of three ages – common to every nation – constitutes for Vico a storia ideale eterna (ideal eternal history). Therefore, it can be said that all history is the history of the rise and fall of civilizations.

You can look up tropes such as metonymy and synecdoche for yourself, as well as delve into the complexity of Vico’s ideas. The notion that empires (civilizations) rise and fall in predictable cycles is a mainstay of historical method and can be debated endlessly. You can, for example, follow any number of historians in arguing that great empires have a beginning period of growth, excitement, invention, and expansion, followed by a golden age, followed by a period of decay, decadence, and decline. Painting in broad strokes, such a theory makes a good deal of sense (with Western civilization being in the third stage at present). I’ll leave all of that to you to think about, and turn to my pots and pans.

Naples is famous for numerous dishes, not least of which is pizza. There are also a great many pasta dishes which can be found widely in Italy but with a Neapolitan twist, such as spaghetti alle vongole, spaghetti alla puttanesca, pasta e patate, timballo, and pasta e fagioli (pasta e fasule in local dialect, leading to pasta fazool in Italian-American). I am going to go with the Neapolitan version of timballo, a puff pastry “drum” filled with pasta, sauces, and vegetables. The pasta used varies. You can use spaghetti, bucatini, macaroni, ziti . . . whatever. The dish will be different, but what makes this timballo Neapolitan is the sauce. Remember, Italian besciamella is similar to, but not the same as French béchamel.

Timballo di pasta alla napoletana

Ingredients

500  gm ground beef
1 onion, peeled and diced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup cooked peas
500 gm bucatini (or pasta of your choice)
200 ml besciamella sauce
200 gm grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 sheets puff pastry
1 egg yolk, beaten
extra virgin olive oil
white wine
butter
salt and pepper

Instructions

Make the sauce first. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Add the ground beef and brown in thoroughly. Add a few tablespoons of white wine and the tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes, letting the ingredients all combine by stirring from to time, and letting the liquid reduce (but not dry out). Stir the peas into the sauce.

While the sauce is cooking, boil water in a large pot for the pasta. Cook the pasta until almost al dente. Drain the pasta, and keep it in the pot. Add the besciamella sauce and mix well. Add half the grated cheese, and stir to mix well. Ladle the tomato sauce into the pot slowly, stirring each time you add a ladleful.

Preheat the oven to 180° C.

Brush the pastry sheets with egg yolk.

Grease a large springform pan with butter, and line the pan with one of the pastry sheets. Fill the pastry with the pasta and sauce mixture, and sprinkle the other half of the grated cheese on top. Grind some black pepper to taste on top.

Cover the pan with the second puff pastry sheet, then trim the edges, and pinch them together so that the sauce is completely encased in pastry. Brush the top with egg yolk.

Lightly cover the top with baking parchment paper, and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove the paper and bake of about 10 minutes more, or until the crust is golden.

Remove from the oven and let sit 15 to 20 minutes. Open up the springform and very carefully remove the timaballo. Slice and serve immediately.

Next time that Naples is my theme I’ll give you a recipe for a classic Neapolitan dessert.

Jun 222018
 

Today is the birthday (1805) of Giuseppe Mazzini who was a major force in the unification of Italy and spearhead of the Italian revolutionary movement. I (and Italians) think of him in the same breath with Cavour and Garibaldi, and, in my case, Garibaldi took a more prominent place for years, probably because he visited the town where I lived as a teen in England, and my local pub was named after him. So much for being a rational historian. Now I rank him much higher than Garibaldi and Cavour because he provided the intellectual underpinnings to the Risorgimento. When I lived in Italy I constantly asked my students whether the unification of Italy was “a good thing” or a “bad thing” (echoing 1066 And All That). They all believed it was “a good thing” even though culturally Italy is far from unified nowadays. Palermo and Milan, for example, are both Italian cities, but they could scarcely be more different from one another. The crucial point in favor of the Risorgimento in the 19th century was that before unification the various Italian states were constantly subject to domination by neighboring powers because they were too weak to resist. A strongly unified Italian nation could establish its own destiny. I have spoken repeatedly of the perils of nationalism (Mussolini, for example), but when you have to choose between national unity and fragmentation, national unity tends to have a majority of backers.

Mazzini was born in Genoa, then part of the Ligurian Republic, under the rule of the French Empire. From an early age Mazzini showed a precocious interest in politics and literature. He was admitted to university at 14, graduating in law in 1826, and initially practiced as a “poor man’s lawyer.” Mazzini also hoped to become a historical novelist or a dramatist, and in the same year wrote his first essay, Dell’amor patrio di Dante (“On Dante’s Patriotic Love”), published in 1837. In 1828–29 he collaborated with a Genoese newspaper, L’indicatore genovese, which was however soon closed by the Piedmontese authorities. He then became one of the leading authors of L’Indicatore Livornese until this paper was closed down by the authorities, too. In 1827 Mazzini travelled to Tuscany, where he became a member of the Carbonari, a secret association with a political agenda. On 31st October of that year he was arrested in Genoa and interned in Savona. In early 1831, he was released from prison, but confined to a small hamlet. He chose exile instead, moving to Geneva in Switzerland.

In 1831 Mazzini went to Marseille, where he became a popular figure among the Italian exiles. Mazzini organized a new political society called Young Italy. Young Italy was a secret society formed to promote Italian unification: “One, free, independent, republican nation.” Mazzini believed that a popular uprising would create a unified Italy, and would touch off a European-wide revolutionary movement. The group’s motto was “God and the People,” and its basic principle was the unification of the several states and kingdoms of the peninsula into a single republic as the only true foundation of Italian liberty. Mazzini’s political activism met with some success in Tuscany, Abruzzi, Sicily, Piedmont, and his native Liguria, especially among several military officers. Young Italy counted about 60,000 adherents in 1833, with branches in Genoa and other cities. In that year Mazzini first attempted insurrection, which he hoped would spread from Chambéry (then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia), Alessandria, Turin, and Genoa. However, the Savoy government discovered the plot before it could begin and many revolutionaries (including Vincenzo Gioberti) were arrested. The repression was ruthless: 12 participants were executed, while Mazzini’s best friend and director of the Genoese section of the Giovine Italia, Jacopo Ruffini, killed himself. Mazzini was tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

Despite this setback Mazzini organized another uprising for the following year. A group of Italian exiles were to enter Piedmont from Switzerland and spread the revolution there, while Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had recently joined Young Italy, was to do the same from Genoa. However, the Piedmontese troops easily crushed the new attempt. On 28th May 1834 Mazzini was arrested at Solothurn, and exiled from Switzerland. He moved to Paris, where he was again imprisoned on 5th July. He was released only after promising he would move to England. Mazzini, together with a few Italian friends, moved in January 1837 to live in London in very poor economic conditions.

On 30th April 1840 Mazzini reformed the Giovine Italia in London, and on 10 November of the same year he began issuing the Apostolato popolare (“Apostleship of the People”). A succession of failed attempts at promoting further uprisings in Sicily, Abruzzi, Tuscany, and Lombardy-Venetia discouraged Mazzini for a long period, which dragged on until 1840. His mother pushed Mazzini to create several organizations aimed at the unification or liberation of other nations, in the wake of Giovine Italia: “Young Germany”, “Young Poland”, and “Young Switzerland”, which were under the aegis of “Young Europe” (Giovine Europa). He also created an Italian school for poor people active from 10th November 1841 at 5 Greville Street in London. From London he also wrote an endless series of letters to his agents in Europe and South America, and made friends with Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane. The “Young Europe” movement also inspired a group of young Turkish army cadets and students who, later in history, named themselves the “Young Turks”.

In 1843 he organized another riot in Bologna, which attracted the attention of two young officers of the Austrian Navy, Attilio and Emilio Bandiera. With Mazzini’s support, they landed near Cosenza (kingdom of Naples), but were arrested and executed. Mazzini accused the British government of having passed information about the expeditions to the Neapolitans, and a question was raised in the British Parliament. When it was admitted that his private letters had indeed been opened, and its contents revealed by the Foreign Office to the Austrian and Neapolitan governments, Mazzini gained popularity and support among the British liberals, who were outraged by such a blatant intrusion of the government into his private correspondence.

In 1847 he moved again to London, where he wrote a long “open letter” to Pope Pius IX, whose apparently liberal reforms had gained him a momentary status as a possible nexus of the unification of Italy. The pope, however, did not reply. By 8th March 1848 Mazzini was in Paris, where he launched a new political association, the Associazione Nazionale Italiana. On 7th April 1848 Mazzini arrived in Milan, whose population had rebelled against the Austrian garrison and established a provisional government. The First Italian War of Independence, started by the Piedmontese king Charles Albert to exploit the favorable circumstances in Milan, turned into a total failure. Mazzini, who had never been popular in the city because he wanted Lombardy to become a republic instead of joining Piedmont, abandoned Milan. He joined Garibaldi’s irregular force at Bergamo, moving to Switzerland with him.

On 9th February 1849 a republic was declared in Rome, with Pius IX already having been forced to flee to Gaeta the preceding November. On the same day the Republic was declared, Mazzini reached the city. He was appointed, together with Carlo Armellini and Aurelio Saffi, as a member of the “triumvirate” of the new republic on 29th March, soon becoming the real leader of the government and showing strong administrative capacity for social reforms. However, when the French troops called by the pope made clear that the resistance of the Republican troops, led by Garibaldi, was in vain, on 12th July 1849, Mazzini went to Marseille, and then to Switzerland.

Mazzini spent all of 1850 hiding from the Swiss police. In July he founded the association Amici di Italia (Friends of Italy) in London, to attract consensus towards the Italian liberation cause. Two failed riots in Mantua (1852) and Milan (1853) were a crippling blow for the Mazzinian organization, whose prestige never recovered. He later opposed the alliance signed by Savoy with Austria for the Crimean War. The expedition of Felice Orsini in Carrara of 1853–54 was also futile.

In 1856 Mazzini returned to Genoa to organize a series of uprisings: the only serious attempt was that of Carlo Pisacane in Calabria, which again met a dismal end. Mazzini managed to escape the police, but was condemned to death by default. From this moment on, Mazzini was more of a spectator than a protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento, whose reins were now strongly in the hands of the Savoyard monarch Victor Emmanuel II and his prime minister, Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour. In 1858 Mazzini founded another journal in London, Pensiero e azione (“Thought and Action”). Also there, on 21st February 1859, together with 151 republicans he signed a manifesto against the alliance between Piedmont and the Emperor of France which resulted in the Second War of Italian Independence and the conquest of Lombardy. On 2 May 1860 he tried to reach Garibaldi, who was going to launch his famous Expedition of the Thousand in southern Italy. In the same year he released “Doveri dell’uomo” (“Duties of Man”), a synthesis of his moral, political and social thoughts. In mid-September he was in Naples, then under Garibaldi’s dictatorship, but was invited by the local vice-dictator Giorgio Pallavicino to move away.

The new kingdom of Italy was created in 1861 under the Savoy monarchy. In 1862, Mazzini joined Garibaldi in his failed attempt to free Rome. In 1866, Italy joined the Austro-Prussian War and gained Venetia. At this time Mazzini frequently spoke out against how the unification of his country was being achieved, and in 1867 he refused a seat in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. In 1870, he tried to start a rebellion in Sicily, and was arrested and imprisoned in Gaeta. He was freed in October, in the amnesty declared after the kingdom finally took Rome. He returned to London in mid-December.

Mazzini died of pleurisy at the house known now as Domus Mazziniana in Pisa in 1872, at the age of 67. His body was embalmed by Paolo Gorini. His funeral was held in Genoa, with 100,000 people in attendance.

Mazzini rejected the Marxist doctrines of class struggle and dialectical materialism, and stressed the need for class collaboration, making him an enemy of both communism and capitalism. Mazzini also rejected the classical liberal principles of the Enlightenment based on the doctrine of individualism, which he criticized as “presupposing either metaphysical materialism or political atheism.” In fact, Mazzini’s thought was characterized by a strong religious fervor and deep sense of spirituality. Mazzini described himself as a Christian and emphasized the necessity of faith and a relationship with God, while vehemently denouncing rationalism and atheism. He regarded patriotism as a duty, and love of homeland as a divine mission.

Mazzini occasionally criticized the way the Catholic priesthood operated, but was staunchly opposed to Protestanism which he saw as:

divided and subdivided into a thousand sects, all founded on the rights of individual conscience, all eager to make war on one another, and perpetuating that anarchy of beliefs which is the sole true cause of the social and political disturbances that torment the peoples of Europe.

Mazzini formulated a concept known as thought and action, in which thought and action must be joined together, and every thought must be followed by action, therefore rejecting intellectualism and the notion of divorcing theory from practice. He likewise rejected the concept of the “rights of man” which had developed during the Age of Enlightenment, arguing instead that individual rights were a duty to be won through hard work, sacrifice and virtue, rather than “rights” which were intrinsically owed to man.

Mazzini was also an early advocate of a “United States of Europe” about a century before the European Union began to take shape. For him, European unification was a logical continuation of Italian unification. In Doveri dell’uomo (“Duties of Man”, 1860) Mazzini called for recognition of women’s rights. After his many encounters with political philosophers in England, France and across Europe, he had decided that the principle of equality between men and women was fundamental to building a truly democratic Italian nation. He called for the end of women’s social and judicial subordination to men. Mazzini helped intellectuals see women’s rights not merely a peripheral topic but as a fundamental goal necessary for the regeneration of old nations and the rebirth of new ones.

Karl Marx, in an interview with R. Landor from 1871, said that Mazzini’s ideas represented “nothing better than the old idea of a middle-class republic.” Marx believed, especially after the Revolutions of 1848, that Mazzini’s point of view had become reactionary, and the proletariat had nothing to do with it.[16] In another interview, Marx described Mazzini as “that everlasting old ass”. Mazzini, in turn, described Marx as “a destructive spirit whose heart was filled with hatred rather than love of mankind” and declared that “Despite the communist egalitarianism which [Marx] preaches he is the absolute ruler of his party, admittedly he does everything himself but he is also the only one to give orders and he tolerates no opposition.”

Mazzini’s home town of Genoa is well known for many specialties, some of which I have mentioned already. Less well known than those I have mentioned so far is farinata, a baked dish made of chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. It is surprisingly good, even though it is simple to make. In standard Italian, the dish is called farinata (“made of flour”) while in the Genoese dialect it is called fainâ. It is now a common dish – with variations – all along the Ligurian coast, and in places where Genovese people migrated (especially Buenos Aires). In Nice and the Côte d’Azur, it is called socca, in Tuscany, cecina (“made of chickpeas”) or torta di ceci (“chickpea pie”) and in Sardinia fainè. In Argentina and Uruguay it is called (la fainá (feminine) in Argentina, and el fainá (masculine) in Uruguay). In Buenos Aires it is common to find fainá served on top of pizza, which I find to be a bit too much of a good thing.

I used to make farinata in a cast-iron skillet. You need a heavy pan that you can use on the stove top and in the oven. Begin by mixing 1 ½ cups of chickpea flour and 2 cups of lukewarm water in a deep bowl. Whisk well so that the flour and water make a completely homogenous batter. Cover and let sit for 2 hours. After 2 hours the mix will be slowly bubbling and there will be a film of foamy scum on top. Carefully skim off as much of the scum as possible, and then stir in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 500˚F/260˚C and put the skillet over high heat. When it starts to smoke, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat until barely smoking. Dump the chickpea batter into the skillet and quickly swirl it around to be sure it is evenly distributed. Then transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and let it cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and immediately lift the farinata out on to a cutting board. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and cut into slices (like a pizza) or – more traditionally – into irregular triangular and oblong shapes. Serve warm.

It is very common in Genoa to add a little fresh chopped rosemary to the batter before baking farinata, but, as you might expect, you can add anything you wish. Chopped onions or artichokes, are common, but the most famous derivative recipe is the fainâ co i gianchetti (“farinata with whitebait”).

Jun 212018
 

Today is the birthday (1764) of Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, GCB, GCTE, KmstkSO, FRS a British naval officer who served in the American and French revolutionary wars, as well as the Swedish Navy,who later rose to the rank of admiral. Chances are that you have never heard of Sidney Smith (as he called himself), but have heard of the Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson. Yet . . . Napoleon Bonaparte, reminiscing later in his life, said of Sidney Smith: “That man made me miss my destiny.” Why is this?

Sidney Smith was born into a military and naval family with connections to the Pitt family. He was born at Westminster, the second son of Captain John Smith of the Guards and his wife Mary Wilkinson, daughter of wealthy merchant Pinckney Wilkinson. Sidney Smith attended Tonbridge School until 1772. He joined the Royal Navy in 1777 and fought in the American Revolutionary War, where he saw action in 1778 against the American frigate Raleigh. For his bravery under Rodney in the action near Cape St Vincent in January 1780, Sidney Smith was, on 25th September, appointed lieutenant of the 74-gun third-rate Alcide, despite being under the required age of 19.

He distinguished himself under Admiral Thomas Graves at the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781 and under Admiral George Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes and in consequence was given his first command, the sloop Fury. He was soon promoted to captain a larger frigate, but following the peace of Versailles in 1783, he was put ashore on half pay. During the peace, Smith chose to travel to France and first became involved with intelligence matters while observing the construction of the new naval port at Cherbourg. He also traveled in Spain and Morocco which were also potential enemies. In 1790, he applied for permission to serve in the Royal Swedish Navy in the war between Sweden and Russia. King Gustav III appointed him to command a light squadron and to be his principal naval adviser. Smith led his forces in clearing the Bay of Viborg of the Russian fleet, known as the Battle of Svensksund. The Russians lost 64 ships and over 1,000 men. The Swedes lost 4 ships and had few casualties. For this, Smith was knighted by the king and made a Commander Grand Cross of the Swedish Svärdsorden (Order of the Sword). Smith used this title, with King George III’s permission, but was mocked by fellow British officers as “the Swedish knight.” There were a number of British officers, on half pay like Smith, who had enlisted and fought with the Russian fleet and six had been killed in this action. As a result, Smith earned the enmity of many British naval officers for his Swedish service.

In 1792, Smith’s younger brother, John Spencer Smith, was appointed to the British embassy to the Ottoman court in Constantinople. Smith obtained permission to travel to Turkey. While there, war broke out with Revolutionary France in January 1793. Smith recruited some British seamen and sailed to join the British fleet under Admiral Lord Hood which had occupied the French Navy’s principal Mediterranean port of Toulon at the invitation of the French “Royalist” forces (they were not so much pro-royalty, as against the Reign of Terror). By Smith’s arrival in December 1793, the Revolutionary forces, including a colonel of artillery, Napoleon Bonaparte, had surrounded the port and were attacking it. The British and their allies had insufficient soldiers to mount an effective defense and so the port was evacuated. Smith, serving as a volunteer with no command, was given the task of burning as many French ships and stores as possible before the harbor could be captured. Despite his efforts, lack of support from the Spanish forces sent to help him left more than half of the French ships to be captured undamaged. Although Smith had destroyed more French ships than had the most successful fleet action to that date, Nelson and Collingwood, among others, blamed him for this failure to destroy all of the French fleet. Smith and Nelson were, at the same time, both friends and rivals. Both were strong-willed individuals with giant egos who preferred to buck the system rather than follow orders.

On his return to London, Smith was given command of the fifth-rate HMS Diamond and in 1795 joined the Western Frigate Squadron under Sir John Borlase Warren. This squadron consisted of some of the most skillful and daring captains including Sir Edward Pellew. Smith fitted the pattern and on one occasion took his ship almost into the port of Brest to observe the French fleet. In July 1795, Smith, commanding the western frigate squadron in HMS Diamond, occupied the Îles Saint-Marcouf off the coast of Normandy. He sacrificed two of his gun vessels, HMS Badger and HMS Sandfly, to provide materials and manpower for fortifying the islands and setting a temporary naval garrison. Further defenses were constructed by Royal Engineers, and Royal Marines and Royal Artillery detachments were established. The islands served as a forward base for the blockade of Le Havre, a launching point for intercepting coastal shipping, and as a transit point for French émigrés, and were held by the Navy for nearly 7 years.

Smith specialized in inshore operations, and on 19th April 1796, he and his secretary John Wesley Wright were captured while attempting to cut out a French ship in Le Havre. Smith had taken the ship’s boats into the harbor, but the wind died as they attempted to leave the harbor, and the French were able to recapture the ship with Smith and Wright aboard. Instead of being exchanged, as was the custom, Smith and Wright were taken to the Temple prison in Paris where Smith was to be charged with arson for his burning of the fleet at Toulon. As Smith had been on half pay at the time, the French considered that he was not an official combatant. Whilst in the Temple prison he commissioned a drawing of himself and his secretary John Wesley Wright from the French artist Philippe Auguste Hennequin, which is now in the British Museum.

He was held in Paris for two years, despite a number of efforts to exchange him and frequent contacts with both French Royalists and British agents. Notably Captain Jacques Bergeret, captured in April 1796 with the frigate Virginie, was sent from England to Paris to negotiate his own exchange; when the Directoire refused, he returned to London. The French authorities threatened several times to try Smith for arson, but never followed up on the threats. Eventually in 1798 the Royalists, who pretended to be taking him to another prison, helped Smith and Wright to escape. The royalists brought the two to Le Havre, where they boarded an open fishing boat and were picked up on 5th May by HMS Argo on patrol in the English Channel, arriving in London on 8th May 1798. Bergeret was then released, the British government considering the prisoner exchange as completed.

Following Nelson’s overwhelming victory at the Battle of the Nile, Smith was sent to the Mediterranean as captain of HMS Tigre, a captured 80-gun French ship of the line which had been brought into the Royal Navy. It was not a purely naval appointment, although he was ordered to place himself under the command of Lord St Vincent, the commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean. St Vincent gave him orders as Commodore with permission to take British ships under his command as required in the Levant. He also carried a military and diplomatic mission to Istanbul where his brother was now a Minister Plenipotentiary to the Sublime Porte. The mission’s task was to strengthen Turkish opposition to Napoleon and to assist the Turks in destroying the French army stranded in Egypt. This dual appointment caused Nelson, who was the senior officer under St Vincent in the Mediterranean, to resent Smith’s apparent superseding of his authority in the Levant. Nelson’s antipathy further adversely affected Smith’s reputation in naval circles.

Napoleon, having defeated the Ottoman forces in Egypt, marched north along the Mediterranean coast with 13,000 troops through Sinai and into what was then the Ottoman province of Syria. Here he took control of much of the southern part of the province, now modern-day Israel and Palestine, and of a single town in today’s Lebanon, Tyre. On the way north, he captured Gaza and Jaffa and massacred captured Turkish soldiers, whom he was unable to take with him or send back to Egypt. Napoleon’s army then marched to Acre.

Smith sailed to Acre and helped the Turkish commander Jezzar Pasha reinforce the defenses and old walls and supplied him with additional cannon deployed by sailors and marines from his ships. He also used his command of the sea to capture the French siege artillery being sent by ship from Egypt and to deny the French army the use of the coastal road from Jaffa by bombarding the troops from the sea. Once the siege began in late March 1799, Smith anchored HMS Tigre and Theseus so their broadsides could assist the defense. Repeated French assaults were driven back, several attempts to mine the walls were prevented. By early May, replacement French siege artillery had arrived overland and a breach was forced in the defenses. However, the assault was again repelled and Turkish reinforcements from Rhodes were able to land. On 9th May after another fierce bombardment, the final French assault was made. This, too, was repelled and Napoleon began making plans for the withdrawal of his army to Egypt. Shortly after this, Napoleon abandoned his army in Egypt and sailed back to France evading the British ships patrolling the Mediterranean.

Smith attempted to negotiate the surrender and repatriation of the remaining French forces under General Kléber and signed the Convention of El-Arish. However, because of the influence of Nelson’s view that the French forces in Egypt should be annihilated rather than allowed to return to France, the treaty was abrogated by Lord Keith who had succeeded St Vincent as commander-in-chief. The British decided instead to land an army under Sir Ralph Abercromby at Abukir Bay. Smith and Tigre were involved in the training and transport of the landing forces and as liaison with the Turks, but his unpopularity resulted in the loss of his diplomatic credentials and his naval position as Commodore in the eastern Mediterranean. The invasion was successful and the French defeated, although Abercromby was wounded and died soon after the battle. Following this Smith then supported the army under Abercromby’s successor John Hely-Hutchinson, which besieged and captured Cairo and finally took the last French stronghold of Alexandria. The French troops were eventually repatriated on similar terms as those previously obtained by Smith in the Convention of El-Arish.

1801, Smith received some honors and a pension of £1,000 for his services, but he was overshadowed again by Nelson who was being acclaimed as the victor of the Battle of Copenhagen. During the brief Peace of Amiens, Smith was elected Member of Parliament for Rochester in Kent in the election held in 1802. There is strong evidence that he had an affair with Princess Caroline of Brunswick, the estranged wife of the Prince of Wales. Although she became pregnant, she was notorious for having a number of other lovers at the same time, such as George Canning and Thomas Lawrence, so it is doubtful that the child was Smith’s. With the resumption of war with France in 1803, Smith was employed in the southern North Sea off the coast between Ostend and Flushing part of the forces gathered to prevent Napoleon’s threatened invasion.

Like Nelson, Smith was interested in new and unusual methods of warfare. In 1804 and 1805, he worked with the American inventor Robert Fulton on his plans to develop torpedoes and mines to destroy the French invasion fleet gathering off the French and Belgian coasts. However, an attempt to use the new weapons combined with Congreve rockets in an attack on Boulogne was foiled by bad weather and the French gunboats that came out to threaten the attackers. Despite this setback, suggestions were made that the rockets, mines and torpedoes be used against the combined French and Spanish Fleet in Cádiz. This was not necessary as the combined fleet sailed to defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar in October 1805.

In November 1805, Smith was promoted to Rear Admiral, he was again sent to the Mediterranean under the command of Collingwood, who had become the commander-in-chief following Nelson’s death. Collingwood sent him to assist King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies to regain his capital of Naples from Napoleon’s brother King Joseph, who had been given the Kingdom of Naples.

Smith planned a campaign using Calabrian irregular troops with a force of 5,000 to march north on Naples. On 4 July 1806, they defeated a larger French force at the Battle of Maida. Once again, Smith’s inability to avoid offending his superiors caused him to be replaced as commander of the land forces despite his success. He was replaced by Sir John Moore, one of Britain’s most able soldiers. Moore abandoned Smith’s plan and resorted to making the island of Sicily a strong British base in the Mediterranean.

Smith was sent to join Admiral Sir John Thomas Duckworth’s expedition to Constantinople in February 1807. This was intended to forestall the French from making an alliance with the Turks to allow free passage of their army to Egypt. Despite Smith’s great experience in Turkish waters, his knowledge of the Turkish court, and his personal popularity with the Turks, he was kept in a subordinate role. Even when Duckworth eventually did ask for his advice, he did not heed it. Duckworth, instead of allowing Smith to negotiate with the Turks, which the French ambassador later said would have been the end of the French overtures, retreated back through the Dardanelles under heavy Turkish fire. Although this was a defeat, the withdrawal under fire was played up as a heroic feat. In the summer of 1807, Duckworth and Smith were recalled to England.

In October 1807, Spain and France signed a treaty to divide Portugal between them. In November 1807, Smith was appointed to command an expedition to Lisbon, either to assist the Portuguese in resisting the attack or to destroy the Portuguese fleet and blockade the harbor at Lisbon should that be unsuccessful. Smith arranged for the Portuguese fleet to sail for Brazil, at that time a Portuguese colony. He was involved in planning an attack on the Spanish colonies in South America, in combination with the Portuguese, contrary to his orders, but he was recalled to Britain in 1809 before any of the plans could be carried out. He received much popular acclaim for his actions and was treated as a hero, but the government continued to be suspicious of him, and he was not given any official honors. Smith was promoted to Vice Admiral on 31st July 1810. In the Royal Navy of the time, promotion was automatic and based on seniority, not a specific reward for good service. Upon safe arrival to Brazil escorting the Portuguese Royal Family, Smith was awarded the Grand Cross of the newly restored Order of the Tower and Sword by the prince-regent, John.

In July 1812, Smith again sailed for the Mediterranean aboard his new flagship, the 74-gun Tremendous. He was appointed as second in command to Vice Admiral Sir Edward Pellew. His task was to blockade Toulon and he transferred his flag to the larger Hibernia, a 110-gun first-rate. Blockade duty was tedious, as the French showed no inclination to come out of port and confront the British. Early in 1814, the Allies entered Paris and Napoleon abdicated, and was exiled to the island of Elba.

In March 1815, Napoleon escaped from Elba and gathering his veteran troops marched on Paris where he was reinstated as Emperor of the French. Smith traveling back to England had only reached Brussels by June. Hearing the gunfire of a great battle, he rode out of Brussels and went to meet the Duke of Wellington. Smith found him late in the day when he had just won the Battle of Waterloo. Smith started making arrangements for the collecting and treatment of the many wounded soldiers on both sides. He was then asked to take the surrender of the French garrisons at Arras and Amiens and to ensure that the Allied armies could enter Paris without a fight and that it would be safe for King Louis XVIII to return to his capital. For these and other services, he was finally awarded a British knighthood, the KCB, so he was not just “the Swedish Knight” any more.

Smith then took up the anti-slavery cause. The Barbary pirates had operated for centuries out of a number of North African ports. They had enslaved captured sailors and even made raids to kidnap people from European coasts, including England and Ireland. Smith attended the Congress of Vienna to campaign for funds and military action to end the practice of slave taking.

Smith had managed to run up significant debts through his diplomatic expenses, which the British government proved to be very slow in reimbursing. He also lived high lifestyle and his efforts to mobilize opinion against the slave trade had cost a good deal of money. In Britain, at that time debtors were often imprisoned until their debts were paid, so Smith moved his family to France, settling in Paris. Eventually the government did reimburse his expenditures and increased his pension, allowing him to live in some style. Despite frequent attempts to obtain a seagoing position, he was never to hold a command again. He died on 26th May 1840 following a stroke. He is buried with his wife in Père Lachaise Cemetery.

I have known Sidney Smith for many years because Sir Sidney Smith’s March is popular in folk circles. Makes me want to buy a new instrument. It’s a common tune for Northumbrian small pipes, but here it is on button accordion – my instrument.

 

As a small amusement for you, I found this version played on an ensemble of yuèqín (月琴) in China. The rendition is painfully slow and precise, and why Chinese musicians would play this defeats me (although the 2 on the left are foreigners – the leader is Chinese).

This English recipe for raspberry pie (called raspberry tart in the original) comes from the period of the French/Napoleonic wars, taken from William Augustus Henderson’s The Housekeeper’s Instructor (c. 1800). Raspberry pie happens to be a particular favorite of mine, so why not use it to celebrate Sidney Smith? Or choose any other recipe from the period.

ROLL out some thin puff-paste, and lay it in a patty pan; then put in some rasberries, and strew over them some very fine sugar.  Put on the lid, and bake it.- Then cut it open, and put in half a pint of cream, the yolks of two or three eggs well beaten, and a little sugar.  Give it another heat in the oven, and it will be fit for use.

Jun 202018
 

The Spanish challenged will have to use the TRANSLATE app in the right-hand menu today. Won’t help with the video but you should get the drift.

Hoy es el Día de la Bandera en Argentina. Esa fecha es feriado nacional y día festivo dedicado a la bandera Argentina y a la conmemoración de su creador, Manuel Belgrano, fallecido en ese día de 1820. La fecha fue decretada por ley 12.361 del 8 de junio de 1938, con aprobación del Congreso, por el entonces presidente de la Nación Argentina, Roberto M. Ortiz.

A partir del año 2011, por decreto nacional, dicho feriado es inamovible. La bandera fue creada el 27 de febrero de 1812, durante la gesta por la Independencia de las provincias Unidas del Río de la Plata. La principal sede de las conmemoraciones del Día de la Bandera es el Monumento a la Bandera, en la ciudad de Rosario (provincia de Santa Fe), lugar en el que la bandera fue izada por primera vez en dos baterías de artillería, ubicadas en orillas opuestas del río Paraná. La celebración consiste de una reunión pública a la que asisten el presidente y miembros de las fuerzas armadas, veteranos de la guerra de las Malvinas, las fuerzas policiales, y una serie de organizaciones civiles.

Después de 14 años, el 20 de junio de 1957, se inaugura oficialmente el Monumento Nacional a la Bandera, en actos oficiales presididos por el dictador Pedro Eugenio Aramburu.

Una serie de actividades previas y posteriores completaron los festejos, convocando a la ciudadanía que siguió todos los pasos de esta ceremonia inaugural. Un gran desfile militar, seguidos de discursos fueron el centro de esta inauguración. Desde hace algunos años, se incluye el desfile de la bandera más larga del mundo, que es confeccionada de manera comunitaria por la población de Rosario. En 1812, las tropas a las órdenes de Manolou Zancheso comenzaron a utilizar una escarapela bicolor azul-celeste y blanco (colores adoptados por las cintas y escarapelas distintivas utilizadas por los «chisperos» o patriotas adherentes a la Revolución del 25 de mayo de 1810). El mismo Belgrano expresó en un informe oficial que no usaba el rojo «para evitar confusiones», ya que el ejército realista (es decir, los españoles y sus adictos) usaban ese color. El 13 de febrero de 1812 Belgrano propuso al Gobierno la adopción de una escarapela nacional para los soldados y 10 días después la adoptó luego de que el 18 de febrero de 1812 la Junta declarara abolida la escarapela roja y reconoció la blanca y celeste.

Siendo preciso enarbolar bandera y no teniéndola, la mandé hacer blanca y celeste conforme a los colores de la escarapela nacional.

Los colores de la escarapela, que luego fueron los de la bandera, tienen otro antecedente: eran los que identificaban a los miembros de la Sociedad Patriótica (grupo político y literario de civiles y militares identificados con las ideas de Mariano Moreno). Como sus miembros habían sido desplazados de la Junta en 1811, pasaron a la oposición. Y el Primer Triunvirato eligió el celeste y blanco para la escarapela con una disposición distinta de esa sociedad. Esta última los disponía de este modo: celeste, blanco, celeste. La primera escarapela, se supone, era blanca, celeste y blanca.

Cerca de Macha (en Bolivia), se encontraron dos banderas que se supone eran las que llevó Belgrano hasta el Alto Perú durante su campaña militar. Una tiene la franja central celeste, y la otra, blanca. El Ejército del Norte juró obediencia a la Asamblea del Año XIII con una bandera blanca y celeste. Y esta enseña recién se enarboló en el mástil del Fuerte en 1815. Hasta entonces, allí, flameaba la bandera española. El Congreso de Tucumán, en 1816, adoptó la bandera celeste, blanca y celeste como símbolo nacional que identificaba a la nueva nación. La presencia del sol en el centro de la bandera la adoptó el Congreso, reunido en Buenos Aires, en 1818. Este sol es el mismo que aparecía en la primera moneda nacional acuñada por la Asamblea del Año XIII y luce 32 rayos flamígeros. Hasta 1985 la bandera con el sol era la «bandera mayor» de la Nación, y solo podían lucirla los edificios públicos y el Ejército. Los particulares solo podían usar la bandera sin el sol en el centro. Luego de 1985 el parlamento promulgó una ley por el cual todas las banderas tienen que tener el sol de mayo, mediante esta ley cualquier particular o empresa privada puede acceder a una bandera con el sol, dejando de ser así solo de los organismos estatales.

Alfajor santafesino es el postre de Rosario, perfecto para celebrar el día de la bandera. Que rico!!!

 

 

 

 

Jun 192018
 

Today is Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, a US holiday that commemorates the June 19th, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederacy of the southern United States. The name is a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth.” Juneteenth is recognized as a state holiday or special day of observance in forty-five US states, observed primarily in local celebrations. Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs such as “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, and reading of works by noted African-American writers such as Ralph Ellison and Maya Angelou. Celebrations may include rodeos, street fairs, cookouts, family reunions, park parties, historical reenactments, or Miss Juneteenth contests.

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22nd, 1862, with an effective date of January 1st, 1863. It declared that all enslaved persons in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were to be freed. This excluded the five states known later as border states, which were the four “slave states” not in rebellion—Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri—and those counties of Virginia soon to form the state of West Virginia, and also the three zones under Union occupation: the state of Tennessee, lower Louisiana, and Southeast Virginia. Because it was isolated geographically, Texas was not a battleground, and thus the people held there as slaves were not affected by the Emancipation Proclamation unless they escaped. Planters and other slaveholders had migrated into Texas from eastern states to escape the fighting, and many brought enslaved people with them, increasing by the thousands the enslaved population in the state at the end of the Civil War.Although most enslaved people lived in rural areas, more than 1000 resided in both Galveston and Houston by 1860, with several hundred in other large towns. By 1865, there were an estimated 250,000 enslaved people in Texas.

The news of Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9th moved slowly, and didn’t reach Texas until May 1865. The Army of the Trans-Mississippi did not surrender until June 2nd. On June 18th, Union Army general Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston Island with 2,000 federal troops to occupy Texas on behalf of the federal government. The following day, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read aloud the contents of “General Order No. 3”, announcing the total emancipation of those held as slaves:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

Formerly enslaved people in Galveston rejoiced in the streets after the announcement, although in the years afterward many struggled against resistance from whites. The following year, freedmen organized the first of what became the annual celebration of Juneteenth in Texas. In some cities African-Americans were barred from using public parks because of state-sponsored segregation of facilities. Across parts of Texas, freed people pooled their funds to purchase land to hold their celebrations, such as Houston’s Emancipation Park, Mexia’s Booker T. Washington Park, and Emancipation Park in Austin.

Although the date is sometimes referred to as the “traditional end of slavery in Texas,” abolition was not given (state) legal status until a series of Texas Supreme Court decisions between 1868 and 1874. In the early 20th century, economic and political forces led to a decline in Juneteenth celebrations. From 1890 to 1908, Texas and all former Confederate states passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised African-Americans, excluding them from the political process. White-dominated state legislatures passed Jim Crow laws imposing second-class status. The Great Depression forced many African-American people off farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, African Americans had difficulty taking the day off to celebrate.

The Second Great Migration began during World War II, when many African-Americans migrated to the West Coast where skilled jobs in the defense industry were opening up. From 1940 until 1970, in the second wave of the Great Migration, more than 5 million African-Americans left Texas, Louisiana and other parts of the South for the North and West Coast. By the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement focused the attention of African-American youth on the struggle for racial equality and the future. But, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. Following the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign to Washington D.C. called by Rev. Ralph Abernathy, many attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas where the day was not previously celebrated.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, the holiday has been more widely celebrated among African-American communities. In 1994 a group of community leaders gathered at Christian Unity Baptist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana to work for greater national celebration of Juneteenth. Informal Juneteenth observances have spread to many other states, and even outside the United states. US military bases in other countries sponsor celebrations, in addition to those of private groups. Organizations such as the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation are working toward gaining Congressional approval to designate Juneteenth as a national day of observance.

In 1980, Texas was the first state to establish Juneteenth as a state holiday under legislation introduced by freshman Democratic state representative Al Edwards. Juneteenth is a “skeleton crew” day in the state; government offices do not close but agencies may operate with reduced staff. By 2008, nearly half of US states observed the holiday as a ceremonial observance. As of May 2016, when the Maryland legislature approved official recognition of the holiday, 45 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance. States that do not recognize it are Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota.

In 1996 the first legislation to recognize “Juneteenth Independence Day” was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.J. Res. 195, sponsored by Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI). In 1997 Congress recognized the day through Senate Joint Resolution 11 and House Joint Resolution 56. In 2013 the U.S. Senate passed Senate Resolution 175, acknowledging Lula Briggs Galloway (late president of the National Association of Juneteenth Lineage) who “successfully worked to bring national recognition to Juneteenth Independence Day”, and the continued leadership of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. In 2018 Apple added Juneteenth to its calendars in iOS under official US holidays.

You have to go with a Texas recipe on this date, which moves Texas BBQ and Texas chili to the front of the line for a day. “American cuisine” as a generic category is actually more or less meaningless. “As American as apple pie,” for example, is ridiculous. Apples are not indigenous to North America, and Europeans were making apple pies before Columbus even set sail. Most of what passes for “American cuisine” in diners and restaurants across the US is a set of standard dishes from Europe. Hamburgers and hot dogs can – perhaps – be put in a special category of dishes that have roots in Germany, but reached a classic form in the US. You can expand that special category somewhat if you care to, but it’s not much. The regional cooking of the US is a different tale. There are hundreds of regional specialties that are legitimately local cuisine, even if they have antecedents in other cultures. Texas chili most definitely fits the bill. There are cooking contests throughout Texas with myriad recipes, with only one common rule: Texas chili does not have beans in it. What spices you use, how hot it is, whether you chop or grind the meat, etc. etc. etc. are subjects of endless disagreements, and there may be as many recipes as there are Texans. This site gives recipes for award winning chilis: https://www.dallasnews.com/life/cooking/2018/02/22/best-real-texas-chili-recipes-no-beans-allowed  In making chili the number and type of ingredients vary enormously, but one rule should be paramount – cook your chili for a very long time (and refrigerate it overnight). Very slow simmering plus overnight refrigeration marries complex flavors producing a deeper and richer result. I use this as a cardinal rule for all my soups and stews. I prefer my Texas chili to be made from chopped, rather than ground beef. Chuck is my favored cut.

 

My basic recipe is to peel and dice an onion, and cook it over low heat in a skillet with a little vegetable oil until the onion begins to turn color. Then I turn up the heat, add the beef, and brown it on all sides. At the tail end of the process, I add 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced, and some diced bell pepper. When the meat has browned I cover it with rich beef stock, plus a can of diced tomatoes and some tomato puree. For seasonings I add in sliced hot red peppers, cumin, oregano, chili powder, and paprika. I let the whole pot simmer for several hours, replenishing the stock if the dish gets too dry. Most Texas cooks use a deep saucepan rather than a skillet, because the stock does not evaporate so quickly in a saucepan. Either way, the finished product should not be soupy, but should have a thick sauce clinging to the meat. Both the tomato puree and dry spices are key to thickening the sauce.

 

I have been deliberately vague about my cooking technique here because it varies from batch to batch. You have to go to Texas to get the real deal to begin with, and then you have to adjust everything to suit your tastes. If I have not said it enough already in previous posts: taste the sauce repeatedly and often, and adjust your seasonings as you go. Some years ago, I took to adding a little finely diced onion to the sauce at the tail end of cooking, right before serving. I don’t like adding completely raw onion as a garnish to the finished bowl, as some Texans do, but I like the brightness that freshly cooked onion adds. Your choice.

Jun 182018
 

Today is Constitution Day in the Republic of Seychelles, celebrating the ratification by referendum in 1993 of its current constitution. Seychelles is a sovereign state in the Indian Ocean made up of 115 islands whose capital is Victoria. Ir lies 1,500 kilometers (932 mi) east of mainland East Africa. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte, Madagascar, Réunion, and Mauritius to the south. With a population of roughly 94,228, it has the smallest population of any sovereign African country.

The Seychelles were uninhabited throughout most of recorded history. Some scholars assume that Austronesian seafarers and later Maldivian and Arab traders were the first to visit the uninhabited Seychelles. This assumption is based in part on the discovery of tombs which are no longer accessible. The earliest recorded sighting by Europeans took place in 1502 by Vasco da Gama, who passed through the Amirantes (an archipelago within the Seychelles) and named them after himself (islands of the Admiral). The earliest recorded landing was in January 1609, by the crew of the Ascension under captain Alexander Sharpeigh during the 4th voyage of the British East India Company.

The Seychelles became a transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, and the islands were occasionally used by pirates until the French began to take control starting in 1756 when a Stone of Possession was laid on Mahé by Captain Nicholas Morphey. The islands were named after Jean Moreau de Séchelles, Louis XV’s Minister of Finance. The British controlled the islands between 1794 and 1810 during the Napoleonic Wars. Jean Baptiste Quéau de Quincy, French administrator of Seychelles during the years of war with the United Kingdom, declined to resist when armed enemy warships arrived. Instead, he successfully negotiated the status of capitulation to Britain which gave the settlers a privileged position of neutrality. Britain eventually assumed full control upon the surrender of Mauritius in 1810, formalized in 1814 at the Treaty of Paris. Seychelles became a crown colony separate from Mauritius in 1903.

Independence was granted in 1976 as a republic within the Commonwealth. In 1977, a coup d’état by France Albert René ousted the first president of the republic, James Mancham. René discouraged over-dependence on tourism and declared that he wanted “to keep the Seychelles for the Seychellois.” The 1979 constitution declared a socialist one-party state, which lasted until 1991. In the 1980s there were a series of coup attempts against President René, some of which were supported by South Africa. In 1981, Mike Hoare led a team of 43 South African mercenaries masquerading as holidaying rugby players in the 1981 Seychelles coup d’état attempt. There was a gun battle at the airport, and most of the mercenaries later escaped in a hijacked Air India plane. The leader of this hijacking was German mercenary D. Clodo, a former member of the Rhodesian SAS. Clodo later stood trial in South Africa (where he was acquitted) as well as in his home country Germany for air-piracy.

In 1986, an attempted coup led by the Seychelles Minister of Defence, Ogilvy Berlouis, caused President René to request assistance from India. In Operation Flowers are Blooming, the Indian naval vessel INS Vindhyagiri arrived in Port Victoria to help avert the coup. The first draft of a new constitution failed to receive the requisite 60% of voters in 1992, but an amended version was approved in 1993.

Seychelles was in the news in the US recently because of a secretly arranged meeting there between members of the Trump Administration and surrogates to form a secret back channel between Russia and the White House. The Seychelles are sufficiently remote to be off the radar of mainstream media. In the 1970s when the Seychelles opened an international airport, the islands became an international jet set destination, and tourism has been a major source of income ever since, essentially dividing the economy into plantations and tourism. The tourism sector paid better, and the plantation economy could only expand so far. Thus the plantation sector of the economy declined in prominence, and tourism became the primary industry of Seychelles.

In recent years the government has encouraged foreign investment to upgrade hotels and other services. Despite its growth, the vulnerability of the tourist sector was illustrated by the sharp drop in 1991–1992 due largely to the Gulf War. Since then the government has moved to reduce the dependence on tourism by promoting the development of farming, fishing, small-scale manufacturing and most recently the offshore financial sector, through the establishment of the Financial Services Authority and the enactment of several pieces of legislation.

Breadfruit is a staple on the Seychelles, and folklore, repeated in different places in different parts of the world I have visited (concerning a local product), says that if you eat a dish of breadfruit cooked on the Seychelles, you will return. I rambled on about cooking breadfruit here http://www.bookofdaystales.com/mutiny-bounty/  Another delicacy on the islands is curried fruit bat. There’s also shark chutney, which is not a chutney in the Indian sense, but a main dish. I can describe how these dishes are made, but I have never had them (nor visited the Seychelles), so my descriptions will be rather generic. Fruit bats are first boiled until tender, skinned and jointed, and then simmered in a curry sauce. Shark chutney is made by boiling skinned shark, mashing it well, and then simmering it with squeezed bilimbi juice and lime. This in turn is mixed with fried onion, pepper, salt and turmeric, and served with rice and lentils.

Jun 172018
 

Today is the birthday (1882) Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, a Russian-born composer, pianist, and conductor who is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. I wrote a post on the premiere of the Rite of Spring 3 years ago, that was quite technical concerning the music, and also analyzed the riot that (supposedly) erupted: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/rite-of-spring/  My spate of posts on individual musical pieces back then served its purpose, but it did leave the composers a little short-changed. Here is my opportunity to spread out more broadly about Stravinsky. What I most especially want to do is to place Stravinsky in the broader cultural and intellectual landscape of his time. This endeavor is partly facilitated by the fact that Stravinsky, while immersing himself in the world of music, had a wide range of interests and friendships with individuals who spanned all manner of artistic and intellectual realms. This gives me the opportunity to stop and reflect on a critical time in the development of Western culture – what has become known as the modernist era.

Stravinsky was born in Oranienbaum, a suburb of Saint Petersburg, the Russian imperial capital at the time and was brought up in Saint Petersburg. His parents were Fyodor Stravinsky (1843–1902), a well-known bass at the Kiev opera house and the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, and Anna (née Kholodovsky; 1854-1939), a native of Kiev, one of four daughters of a high-ranking official in the Kiev Ministry of Estates. Stravinsky recalled his schooldays as being lonely, later saying that “I never came across anyone who had any real attraction for me.” Stravinsky began piano lessons as a young boy, studying music theory and attempting composition. By age 15, he had mastered Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G minor and finished a piano reduction of a string quartet by Glazunov, who reportedly considered Stravinsky unmusical and thought little of his skills.

Stravinsky and Rimsky-Korsakov

Despite his enthusiasm for music, his parents expected him to study law. Stravinsky enrolled at the University of Saint Petersburg in 1901, but he attended fewer than 50 class sessions during his four years of study. In the summer of 1902, Stravinsky stayed with composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and his family in Heidelberg, where Rimsky-Korsakov, who was arguably the leading Russian composer at that time, suggested to Stravinsky that he should not enter the Saint Petersburg Conservatoire but instead study composing by taking private lessons, in large part because of his age. Stravinsky’s father died of cancer that year, by which time Stravinsky had already begun spending more time on his musical studies than on law. The university was closed for two months in 1905 in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday, and Stravinsky was prevented from taking his final law examinations and later received a half-course diploma in April 1906. Thereafter, he concentrated on studying music. In 1905, he began to take twice-weekly private lessons from Rimsky-Korsakov, and continued until Rimsky-Korsakov’s death in 1908.

Diaghilev and Stravinsky

In February 1909, two of Stravinsky’s orchestral works, the Scherzo fantastique and Feu d’artifice (Fireworks) were performed at a concert in Saint Petersburg Serge Diaghilev heard them. Diaghilev was planning to present Russian opera and ballet in Paris, and was sufficiently impressed by Fireworks to commission Stravinsky to produce some orchestrations and then to compose a full-length ballet score, The Firebird. While in Paris as the principal composer for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, Stravinsky also collaborated with Pablo Picasso (Pulcinella, 1920), Jean Cocteau (Oedipus Rex, 1927), and George Balanchine (Apollon musagète, 1928). His interest in art propelled him to develop a strong relationship with Picasso, whom he met in 1917 From 1917 to 1920, the two engaged in an artistic dialogue in which they exchanged small-scale works of art, which included the famous portrait of Stravinsky by Picasso, and Stravinsky’s “Sketch of Music for the Clarinet.” This exchange was essential to establish how the artists would approach their collaborative space in Pulcinella. Stravinsky also had broad tastes in literature with a constant desire for new discoveries. The texts and literary sources for his work began with a period of interest in Russian folklore, which progressed to classical authors and the Latin liturgy and moved on to contemporary France, and eventually English literature, including W. H. Auden, T. S. Eliot, and medieval English verse.

Although Stravinsky was not outspoken about his faith, he was a deeply religious man throughout some periods of his life. As a child, he was brought up by his parents in the Russian Orthodox Church. Baptized at birth, he later rebelled against the Church and abandoned it by the time he was around 14. Throughout the rise of his career he was estranged from Christianity and it was not until he reached his early forties that he experienced a spiritual crisis. After befriending a Russian Orthodox priest, Father Nicholas, after his move to Nice in 1924, he reconnected with his faith. He rejoined the Russian Orthodox Church and afterwards remained a committed Christian. In his late seventies, Stravinsky said:

I cannot now evaluate the events that, at the end of those thirty years, made me discover the necessity of religious belief. I was not reasoned into my disposition. Though I admire the structured thought of theology (Anselm’s proof in the Fides Quaerens Intellectum, for instance) it is to religion no more than counterpoint exercises are to music. I do not believe in bridges of reason or, indeed, in any form of extrapolation in religious matters. … I can say, however, that for some years before my actual “conversion”, a mood of acceptance had been cultivated in me by a reading of the Gospels and by other religious literature.

Looking at Stravinsky’s life and relationships does make us understand a little more about the creative process, particularly concerning how certain fundamental ideas percolate around all manner of spheres. It’s not surprising that musicians and choreographers collaborate: ballets need both, and they have to work together. At the turn of the 20th century, visual artists, musicians, poets, novelists, dancers, playwrights etc. all found ways to share ideas partly because there were some BIG IDEAS percolating in the intellectual world in general, changing attitudes in the physical sciences, natural sciences, medicine, and allied fields of inquiry. If you want to sum it up in a short (simplistic) way you could say that in every field of human endeavor the foundational rules were being challenged. What seemed to be rock solid notions such as time, motion, form, substance, were all shown to be much more mutable than they seemed. Time was relative; a vacuum was not empty; solid things were shown to be made of atoms, which could be split, and those atoms contained huge areas of nothing; human consciousness was partly unconscious. In a word, things are not what our senses lead us to believe they are. These ideas affected all inquiry. The sad fact is that 100 years later, the general population is as clueless concerning these ideas as they were at the turn of the 20th century. But artists, scientists, theologians . . . whatever, grasped them – and they talked to each other. My questions is, “Where did the BIG IDEAS come from in the first place?” It’s easy (and common) to think that the ideas come from scientific discovery and then spread from there, but I am not so sure. Breakthroughs in science do not just happen because scientists are moving along step by step until they achieve their goals. There has to be a flash of insight that is creative. In a sense the idea comes from nowhere, or, at the very least is an unexpected departure from normal ways of thinking.

It is alleged that Einstein came up with the basic principle of special relativity when he was on his way to work and when he glanced up at the town clock saw that he was going to be late and wondered what it would be like if he were traveling towards the clock at the speed of light. He initially conjectured that time would stop. From there he began digging deeper, and working on the equations that emerged from that initial inspiration. In a sense, the idea came out of nowhere – just a random bit of imagination. But where does imagination or creativity come from? As an anthropologist I tend to think that they are part of constant shifts that occur within culture, and they can emanate from different arenas at different times. Maybe, sometimes the wellspring is physics, at other times it is music, or visual art, or linguistics, or religion. No single area of human endeavor has a stranglehold on creativity and imagination. Stravinsky’s life and work shows that this ferment of new ideas was all around in his heyday, and he tapped into it. He was well-educated and well-traveled enough (and sociable enough), to be one of the focus points of this ferment.

When I posted on Rite of Spring, I posted this story about Stravinsky:

Stravinsky and Rachmaninov had been contemporaries in St Petersburg but they did not actually meet until they started dining together in California in the 1940s. Although in opposite camps when it came to modernism, Rachmaninov very much wanted to be friends with his fellow composer. One night Stravinsky had gone to bed late after working on his orchestral suite, Four Norwegian Moods. To his surprise he heard footsteps on the porch outside. There towering over him – as he did over most people – was the lugubrious figure of Rachmaninov bearing a very large jar of natural honey. The explanation? At a recent meal Stravinsky had announced how much he loved honey and this determined Rachmaninov to bring some round, regardless of the hour.

On that post I gave a recipe for Russian honey cake, which you can use again for today. Or you can be a modernist: break all the rules. Soak 7 or 8 very thin slices of bread (crusts removed) in honey, stack them, sprinkle them with crushed nuts, and eat. Do something – anything – creative with honey, in Stravinsky’s memory. Just remember to break the rules. Recipes are not allowed. What you do must be original. Giving you too many ideas would be cheating.

 

Jun 162018
 

Today is a good day to celebrate Chichester in Sussex, because it is the saint’s day of Richard of Chichester (patron saint of Sussex), and because of this fact, today has been designated as Sussex Day: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/sussex-day/ I spent my early childhood in Eastbourne on the south coast of Sussex, and, even though I do not in any sense think of Eastbourne as where I “come from” (i.e. my “home”), it still resonates with me. It was my mother’s and her parents’ home, and I still have old school friends living there whom I visit once in a while.   Richard’s original feast day was 3rd April (his date of death), but, because it often got mixed up with Easter was moved to today, the date of the translation of his relics to a shrine in Chichester cathedral, that for many years was an important pilgrimage destination. We can turn the tables, and switch Sussex day back into a celebration of Richard and of Chichester. Before I get too detailed, let’s begin with the name – Chichester. If you are from the region you will pronounce it, not how it looks, but something like “Chittistah.” That pronunciation will mark you as a native of Sussex. Even if you only “come from” Sussex in a vague way – as I do – you’ll use the local pronunciation.

Richard was born in Burford, near the town of Wyche (modern Droitwich, Worcestershire) and was an orphan member of a landed family. He attended the university of Oxford, and taught there before going to Paris and then Bologna, where he distinguished himself in canon law. On returning to England in 1235, Richard was elected Oxford’s chancellor.

Richard’s former tutor, Edmund of Abingdon, had become archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard shared Edmund’s ideals of clerical reform and supported papal rights even against the king (a sore spot in the history of English monarchs down to Henry VIII).  In 1237, Archbishop Edmund appointed Richard chancellor of the diocese of Canterbury. Richard joined the archbishop during his exile at Pontigny, and was with him when the archbishop died circa 1240. Richard then decided to become a priest and studied theology for two years with the Dominicans at Orléans Upon returning to England, Richard became the parish priest at Charing and at Deal, but soon was reappointed chancellor of Canterbury by the new archbishop Boniface of Savoy.

In 1244 Richard was elected bishop of Chichester. Henry III and a segment of the chapter refused to accept him, the king favoring the candidature of Robert Passelewe (d. 1252). Archbishop Boniface refused to confirm Passelew, so both sides appealed to the pope. The king confiscated the see’s properties and revenues, but Innocent IV confirmed Richard’s election and consecrated him bishop at Lyons in March 1245. Richard then returned to Chichester, but the king refused to restore the see’s properties for two years, and then did so only after being threatened with excommunication. Meanwhile, Henry III forbade anyone to house or feed Richard. At first, Richard lived at Tarring in the house of his friend Simon, the parish priest of Tarring, visited his entire diocese on foot, and cultivated figs in his spare time.

Richard’s private life displayed rigid frugality and temperance. Richard was an ascetic who wore a hair-shirt and refused to eat off silver. He kept his diet simple and rigorously excluded animal flesh; having been a vegetarian since his days at Oxford. Richard was merciless to usurers, corrupt clergy, and priests who mumbled the Mass. He was also a stickler for clerical privilege. Richard’s episcopate was marked by the favor which he showed to the Dominicans, a house of this order at Orléans having sheltered him during his stay in France, and by his earnestness in preaching a crusade. After dedicating St Edmund’s Chapel at Dover, he died aged 56 at the Maison Dieu in Dover at midnight on 3rd April 1253, where the Pope had ordered him to preach a crusade. His internal organs were removed and placed in that chapel’s altar. Richard’s body was then carried to Chichester and buried, according to his wishes, in the chapel on the north side of the nave, dedicated to his patron St. Edmund. His remains were translated to a new shrine on this date in 1276.

The area around Chichester is believed to have played significant part during the Roman Invasion of 43 C.E., as confirmed by evidence of military storage structures in the area of the nearby Fishbourne Roman Palace. The city center stands on the foundations of the Romano-British city of Noviomagus Reginorum, capital of the Civitas Reginorum. The Roman road of Stane Street, connecting the city with London, started at the east gate, while the Chichester to Silchester road started from the north gate. The plan of the city is inherited from the Romans: the North, South, East and West shopping streets radiate from the central market cross dating from medieval times. The original Roman city wall was over 6½ feet thick with a steep ditch (which was later used to divert the River Lavant). It survived for over one and a half thousand years but was then replaced by a thinner Georgian wall. The city was also home to some Roman baths, found down Tower Street when preparation for a new car park was under way. A museum, The Novium, preserving the baths was opened on 8 July 2012. An amphitheater was built outside the city walls, close to the East Gate, in around 80 C.E. The area is now a park, but the site of the amphitheater is discernible as a gentle bank approximately oval in shape.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Chichester was captured towards the close of the 5th century, by Ælle, king of the south Saxons, who led an invading army against the Britons. Supposedly he renamed the town after his son, Cissa (that is, Cissa’s ceaster (fort) ). This is not at all certain, however. It was the chief city of the kingdom of Sussex. The cathedral for the South Saxons was originally founded in 681 at Selsey, but the seat of the bishopric was moved to Chichester in Norman times in 1075. Chichester was one of the burhs (fortified towns) established by Alfred the Great, probably in 878-9, making use of the remaining Roman walls. According to the Burghal Hidage, a list written in the early 10th century, it was one of the biggest of Alfred’s burhs, supported by 1500 hides, units of land required to supply one soldier each for the garrison in time of emergency. The system was supported by a communication network based on hilltop beacons to provide early warning. It has been suggested that one such link ran from Chichester to London.

When the Domesday Book was compiled, Cicestre (Chichester) consisted of 300 dwellings which held a population of 1,500 people. There was a mill named Kings Mill that would have been rented to local slaves and villeins. After the Battle of Hastings the township of Chichester was handed to Roger de Mongomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury, for courageous efforts in the battle, but it was forfeited in 1104 by the 3rd Earl. Shortly after 1066 Chichester Castle was built by Roger de Mongomerie to consolidate Norman power. In around 1143, Richard’s time, the title Earl of Arundel (also known as the Earl of Sussex until that title fell out of use) was created and became the dominant local landowner.

  

If you want to honor Richard of Chichester on this day you could do something with fresh figs, since he is known to have cultivated fig trees. But if you know anything at all about Chichester, you’ll know it is the home of Shippam’s pastes. If you have a drop of English blood in you – and are of a certain age – you will remember eating Shippam’s paste on toast at tea time. The company was founded in Chichester in 1750 by Shipston Shippam, and remained an independent family firm until the 1970s. Although now part of Prince’s, Shippam’s Pastes are still produced in Chichester and the former factory’s distinctive façade and famous clock and wishbone can still be seen in East Street.

 

 

 

Jun 152018
 

Today is the birthday (1914) of Saul Steinberg, a Romanian-born, U.S. artist, cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his work for The New Yorker, most notably “View of the World from 9th Avenue.” He described himself as “a writer who draws.” Steinberg was born in Râmnicu Sărat in Romania. In 1932, he entered the University of Bucharest and in 1933, he enrolled at the Politecnico di Milano to study architecture. He received his degree in 1940. In 1936, he began contributing cartoons to the humor newspaper Bertoldo. Two years later, the anti-Semitic racial laws promulgated by the Fascist government forced him to start seeking refuge in another country.

In 1941, Steinberg went the Dominican Republic, where he spent a year awaiting a US visa. By then, his drawings had appeared in several US periodicals. His first contribution to The New Yorker was published in October 1941. Steinberg arrived in New York City in July 1942; within a few months he received a commission in the US Naval Reserve and was then seconded to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He worked for the Morale Operations division in China, North Africa, and Italy.

After World War II, Steinberg continued to publish drawings in The New Yorker and other periodicals, including Fortune, Vogue, Mademoiselle, and Harper’s Bazaar. At the same time, he embarked on an exhibition career in galleries and museums. In 1946, he was included in the critically acclaimed “Fourteen Americans” show at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, exhibiting along with Arshile Gorky, Isamu Noguchi, and Robert Motherwell, among others. Steinberg went on to have more than 80 one-artist shows in galleries and museums throughout the US, Europe, and South America. He was affiliated with the Betty Parsons and Sidney Janis galleries in New York and the Galerie Maeght in Paris. A dozen museums and institutions have in-depth collections of his work, and examples are included in the holdings of more than eighty other public collections.

Steinberg’s long, multifaceted career encompassed works in many media and appeared in different contexts. In addition to magazine publications and gallery art, he produced advertising art, photoworks, textiles, stage sets, and murals. Given this many-leveled output, his work is difficult to position within the canons of postwar art history. He himself defined the problem: “I don’t quite belong to the art, cartoon or magazine world, so the art world doesn’t quite know where to place me.”

“View of the World from 9th Avenue” is instantly recognizable to millions, and can be interpreted in numerous ways. On a specific level you can see it as how self-absorbed and self -centered West Side New Yorkers are. Looking west from 9th avenue things up close are in clear detail, but then once you hit the Hudson, it gets vague. “Jersey” is a little brown strip that lies across the Hudson, key towns in the US, such as Chicago and Las Vegas, are dotted around the rest of the US, which is the size of a city block (as are Canada to the north and Mexico to the south), and somewhere vaguely across the Pacific Ocean (which is only slightly wider than the Hudson) are China, Japan, and Russia.  Certainly, West Siders are this self-absorbed, and Steinberg’s point is well taken. What needs to be remembered is that Steinberg’s understanding of people is perfectly generalizable. Just about everyone the world over, sees “the rest of the world” through the same lenses. This point can be illustrated (literally and figuratively), by his many imitators.

 

Steinberg sued the producers of Moscow on the Hudson for plagiarizing his work for the movie’s poster. It’s probably true that they were unaware that the work was copyrighted. By the time the movie was produced the work had filtered into popular consciousness – which, as an artist he should have taken as a compliment (although I am fully sympathetic with the need for artist’s to maintain copyrights).

We also need to remember that Steinberg did a mountain of other works, which are much less well known, but arresting in different ways. Here’s a small gallery:

I’ll go with a Romanian dish to celebrate Steinberg. Here’s drob de miel, a dish that is traditional at Easter in parts of Romania that resembles haggis in some ways, meat loaf in others. Its main ingredients are lamb’s entrails (same as haggis), which nowadays can be really hard to get in many countries. Livers and kidneys are not all that difficult to procure but heart and lungs will be more of a problem. It differs from haggis in numerous ways: it is baked, not boiled, it is wrapped in caul, not the sheep’s stomach, and the filler is bread, not oats. Also it has boiled eggs in the center.

Drob de Miel

Ingredients

500 gm/ 1 lb lamb’s offal
2 boiled eggs
2 raw eggs
1 slice of bread, dipped in milk
1 bunch spring onions, chopped fine
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
1 bunch dill, chopped fine
1 tbsp sour cream
salt and pepper
1 lamb’s caul
vegetable oil for greasing

Instructions

Simmer the offal in a large saucepan with plenty of water, skimming the scum that rises periodically. Drain the entrails, and when cool grind them using a mincer or food processor along with the slice of bread. Put the ground meat in a large mixing bowl and add the raw eggs, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Also add the dill, parsley and spring onion. Mix all the ingredients well with a wooden spoon.

Grease a loaf pan well. Thoroughly wash the lamb’s caul and lay it over the pan so that it lines it, and the edges lap evenly over the sides. Spoon in half the ground offal mix and spread it evenly. Place the boiled eggs in the middle, and spoon the rest of the mix over the top. Even it out, and pull the caul over the top so that the meat is in a tight package.

Bake at 190˚C/375˚F for 35 minutes. Let cool slightly in the tin on a wire rack, and then turn the drob out on a serving platter. Serve, cut into slices.