Aug 182018
 

Today is the birthday (1911) of Klára (Klari) Dán, usually called Klára Dán von Neumann, but I want to correct that usage straightaway as part of the problem this post is largely about. Yes, she was married to John von Neumann, and, yes, her married name was Klára Dán von Neumann, but she was a major figure in mathematics and computing in her own right, and deserves to be recognized as such. She was married 4 times. Why should we recognize her by her married name when she was married to von Neumann? Why not use her birth name and recognize her as an individual and not as a woman who gained her identity and importance from the man she married (who also happens to be more famous)? I will call her simply Klára Dán or Dán in this post. Unfortunately, biographical material is in short supply, but I will do my best.

Klára Dán was born in Budapest to Károly Dán and Camila Dán (née Stadler), wealthy Hungarian Jews. Her father served in the Austro-Hungarian Army as an officer during the Great war, and the family moved to Vienna after the war to escape Béla Kun’s short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic. When the regime was overthrown in August 1919, the family moved back to Budapest.  At 14, Klára Dán became a national champion in figure skating. She attended Veres Pálné Gimnázium in Budapest and graduated in 1929. She married Ferenc Engel in 1931 and Andor Rapoch in 1936.

Klara had previously met John von Neumann (also a Hungarian Jew) http://www.bookofdaystales.com/john-von-neumann/  during one of his return trips to Budapest from the U.S. prior to the outbreak of World War II. When von Neumann’s first marriage ended in a divorce, Klára Dán divorced Rapoch, married von Neumann in 1938 and emigrated to the United States. She became head of the Statistical Computing Group at Princeton University in 1943, and moved to Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1946 to program the MANIAC I machine designed by von Neumann and Julian Bigelow.

The MANIAC I (Mathematical Analyzer, Numerical Integrator, and Computer, or, Mathematical Analyzer, Numerator, Integrator, and Computer) was built under the direction of Nicholas Metropolis at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. It was based on the von Neumann architecture developed by John von Neumann. You can see (below) that the architecture is close to modern digital computers with input and output devices, a central processing unit (CPU) and a memory storage device. It did, however have a bottleneck in that input and processing could not be done simultaneously.

It was said that Metropolis (perhaps on the advice of von Neumann), chose the acronym to make fun of silly computer acronyms in the hope they would stop, but it stuck. Early digital computers were hard wired to perform their operations, much like a modern hand-held calculator, although a lot more complicated. To reprogram them took days or weeks to change the wiring and debug the programming. Even booting up was a major operation, so they were always left running. The von Neumann architecture allowed for reprogramming which was where Klára Dán came in. As with all computers of its era, MANIAC I was a one-of-a-kind machine that could not exchange programs with other computers (even other IAS machines). Programmers had to generate unique code for the specific architecture. Klára Dán was the principal programmer of MANIAC I. The first task assigned to MANIAC was to perform more exact and extensive calculations of the thermonuclear process. The MANIAC ran successfully in March 1952 and was shut down on July 15, 1958. It was succeeded by MANIAC II in 1957.

Klára Dán was also involved in the design of new controls for ENIAC (originally used to calculate artillery trajectories) and was one of its primary programmers. Even on the 50th anniversary of ENIAC in 1995, the role of women as programmers went largely unrecognized. All of the first 6 programmers of ENIAC were women: Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Meltzer, Fran Bilas, and Ruth Lichterman. Klára Dán was involved in later modifications. She had a major role in reprogramming ENIAC to make weather predictions. Historians believed for decades that women posing by ENIAC were “refrigerator ladies,” that is, models who made the computer more attractive, but were not involved in its operation. They were not eye candy, they were the key programmers.

After his death in 1957, Klára Dán wrote the preface to John von Neumann’s posthumously published Silliman Lectures, later edited and published by Yale University Press as The Computer and the Brain. She married physicist Carl Eckart in 1958 and moved with him to La Jolla, California. She died in 1963 when she drove from her home in La Jolla to the beach and walked into the surf and drowned. The San Diego coroner’s office listed her death as a suicide.

Maybe some historian or Ph.D. candidate is assiduously researching Klára Dán’s life for a book or dissertation. I don’t know. Her story is largely untold. I don’t have any trouble asserting that John von Neumann was the love of her life, and I expect he valued her for her mathematical abilities, along with other qualities. Why, though, was she married 4 times (the first 2 in quick succession), and why did she remarry soon after von Neumann’s death? Furthermore, why did she commit suicide? If she suffered from clinical depression or was bipolar, her devotion to complex work and suicide would be explicable. But there is so little to go on. She was not necessarily a private person. It is known that she was gregarious in Budapest when her parents entertained, and she and von Neumann held celebrated parties at their house in Princeton. Of course, being overtly gregarious is no sign of anything concerning inner turmoil. If there is more research on her life, I’d like to know about it. Meanwhile spread the word about the undervalued work of women in the early days of computing.

A Hungarian recipe is called for today, and if you think about paprika when you think about Hungarian cuisine, you are not far wrong: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/st-stephen-of-hungary/ You have a hard job finding a Hungarian meat recipe without some paprika in it, and most of them are swimming in it. First task in cooking any Hungarian dish is to find proper Hungarian paprika, not the red powder that passes for paprika in many supermarkets. Then you have to decide on the grade and spiciness. Csípős Csemege, Pikáns (Pungent Exquisite Delicate) is my favorite, but it is hard to find outside of Hungary. You can probably find a hot or mild Szeged paprika if you hunt. You can find good Hungarian paprika online.

Here is Hungarian Pacal Pörkölt to feed my tripe fetish. It is a great favorite of mine. You can skin the tomatoes easily by scalding them briefly in boiling water. To skin the peppers, sear them over a gas burner briefly. Lard is the traditional fat for frying, but you can use olive oil if you wish.

Pacal Pörkölt

Ingredients

2 lb parboiled tripe, cut in thick strips, ½ inch wide, 2 inches long
5 oz smoked bacon, diced
5 oz diced onion
5 oz tomatoes skinned and diced
5 oz Hungarian peppers skinned and sliced in stripsM
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
lard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tsp marjoram
2 bay leaves

Instructions:

Mix the peppers, garlic, cumin and paprika with the tomatoes in a bowl.

Heat a small amount of lard in a deep skillet over medium-high heat and fry the bacon until it is lightly brown. Scoop out the bacon bits with a slotted spoon. The bacon can be set aside or a little cook’s treat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Add the tomato mix, ¼ cup of water and the bay leaves. Cover and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the tripe, marjoram, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and ½ cup of water. Cover and simmer until the tripe is tender. Cooking tripe to the right consistency takes experience. It must be al dente – not chewy, not mushy.

Serve hot with csipetke or galuska (Hungarian noodles) on the side. Sour cream can also be served as a side.

Aug 152018
 

Today is Independence Day in several countries: North Korea, South Korea, India, and Congo. That marks this date as of major significance in what has come to be called post-colonialism, the time of liberation of colonial nations from their imperial overlords. The Second World War was the great watershed event. After the war, Britain, reluctantly, started divesting itself of its imperial holdings, and Japan did so forcibly. Japan gave up Korea on this date, because this is the date Japan surrendered to the allies (or yesterday depending on your time zone). Today is called V-J (victory over Japan) Day in Britain, similar to V-E Day earlier in the year when Germany surrendered. V-J Day was very important because British and Commonwealth forces were still fighting in the Pacific after Germany surrendered, but the celebrations were more muted in Britain because the nation was not under imminent threat from Japan in the way it had been from Germany.

The National Liberation Day of Korea is celebrated annually on August 15th in both North and South Korea (the only shared national holiday). It commemorates the day when U.S. and Soviet forces ended the decades-long Japanese occupation of Korea. In South Korea it is known as Gwangbokjeol (광복절; literally, “the day the light returned”), and in North Korea it is known as Chogukhaebangŭi nal (조국해방의 날; literally, “Liberation of the Fatherland Day”).

After the Korean Peninsula was liberated by the Allies in 1945, independent Korean governments were created three years later, on August 15, 1948, when the pro-U.S. Syngman Rhee was elected first President of South Korea and pro-Soviet Kim Il-sung was made first Leader of North Korea.

In South Korea, many activities and events happen during the day, including an official ceremony with the president in attendance that takes place at the Independence Hall of Korea in Cheonan or at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. All buildings and homes are encouraged to display the South Korean national flag Taegukgi. Not only are most public museums and places open free of charge to the descendants of independence activists on the holiday, but they can also travel on both public transport and intercity trains for free. The official “Gwangbokjeol song” (광복절 노래) is sung at official ceremonies. The song’s lyrics were written by Jeong Inbo (정인보) and the melody by Yoon Yongha (윤용하). The lyrics speak of “to touch the earth again” and how “the sea dances”, how “this day is the remaining trace of 40 years of passionate blood solidified” and to “guard this forever and ever.” The government traditionally issues special pardons on Gwangbokjeol.

Independence Day is annually celebrated on 15th August, as a national holiday in India commemorating the nation’s independence from the United Kingdom on 15th August 1947, the UK Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act 1947 transferring legislative sovereignty to the Indian Constituent Assembly. India still retained King George VI as head of state until its transition to a full republican constitution. India attained independence following the Independence Movement noted for largely non-violent resistance and civil disobedience led by the Indian National Congress (INC). Independence coincided with the partition of India, in which the British India was divided along religious lines into the Dominions of India and Pakistan. The partition was accompanied by violent riots and mass casualties, and the displacement of nearly 15 million people due to religious violence. Millions of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu refugees trekked the newly drawn borders in the months surrounding independence. In Punjab, where the borders divided the Sikh regions in halves, massive bloodshed followed; in Bengal and Bihar, where Mahatma Gandhi’s presence assuaged communal tempers, the violence was mitigated. In all, between 250,000 and 1,000,000 people on both sides of the new borders died in the violence. While the entire nation was celebrating Independence Day, Gandhi stayed in Calcutta in an attempt to stem the carnage. On 14th August 1947, the Independence Day of Pakistan, the new Dominion of Pakistan came into being; Muhammad Ali Jinnah was sworn in as its first Governor General in Karachi.

On 15th August 1947, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru raised the Indian national flag above the Lahori Gate of the Red Fort in Delhi. Independence Day is one of the three national holidays in India and is observed in all Indian states and union territories, as well as the Indian diaspora. On the eve of Independence Day, the President of India delivers the “Address to the Nation.” On 15th August, the Prime Minister hoists the Indian flag on the ramparts of the historical site of Red Fort in Delhi. A 21 gun salute is fired in honor of the occasion. In his speech, the Prime Minister highlights the past year’s achievements, raises important issues and calls for further development. He also pays tribute to the leaders of the Indian independence movement. The Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana”, is sung. The speech is followed by march past of divisions of the Indian Armed Forces and paramilitary forces. Parades and pageants showcase scenes from the independence struggle and India’s diverse cultural traditions. Similar events take place in state capitals where the Chief Ministers of individual states unfurl the national flag, followed by parades and pageants.

Flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural programs take place in governmental and non-governmental institutions throughout the country. Schools and colleges conduct flag hoisting ceremonies and cultural events. Major government buildings are often adorned with strings of lights. In Delhi and some other cities, kite flying adds to the occasion. National flags of different sizes are used abundantly to symbolize allegiance to the country. Citizens adorn their clothing, wristbands, cars, household accessories with replicas of the tricolor. Over time, the celebration has changed emphasis from nationalism to a broader celebration of all things Indian.

Today is Independence Day in the Republic of Congo, marking independence from France on 15th August 1960. The Republic of Congo is also informally called Congo or Congo-Brazzaville. It is located on both sides of the equator, and its neighbors are Gabon , Cameroon , the Central African Republic , the Democratic Republic of Congo (from which it is separated, in part, by the Congo River and the Ubangi), and Cabinda ( Angola ). The Republic of Congo is often called “Congo-Brazzaville” to distinguish it from the other Congo, officially named “Democratic Republic of Congo,” informally called “Congo-Kinshasa”.

French involvement in Congo began in the 1870s with Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza. He reached the Congo in 1879 going up the course of the Ogoué, to the mouth of the present island of Mbamou. In 1880, he signed a treaty of sovereignty with Makoko, the king, Tékés in Mbé (100 km north of Brazzaville), and founded the post of Mfoa, named after the river that serves the city. Later it was renamed Brazzaville . At the same time, Lieutenant Cordier explored the region of Kouilou and Niari, and signed a treaty with king Maloango that recognized the sovereignty of France over the Kingdom of Loango, and he, in turn, founded Pointe-Noire in 1883. In 1885, Congo became one of the four states of French Equatorial Africa, with Brazzaville as the capital. The colony of French Congo was created in 1891, with the current Gabonese territory part of it until 1904.

From 1899, the territory was ceded to concession companies, which paid tax to the French administration. These companies mainly exploited rubber on thirty-years contracts for huge tracts ranging between 200,000 and 14 million hectares. These companies paid 15% of their profits as taxes to the French government. Apart from rubber, the companies exploited sugar, ivory, and precious woods. The main defender of this economic system was Eugène Étienne, then Under-Secretary of State for Colonies. Another Under-Secretary of State for the colonies, Théophile Delcassé , secretly granted, without official publication of the contracts, a concession of 11 million hectares (that is one-fifth the area  of France), located in Haut-Ogooué . Then, from March to July 1899 , the Colonial Minister Guillain granted, by decree, 40 more concessions. Many dealer companies were in the hands of numerous shareholders, including Leopold II of Belgium who bought shares under a false name. This fact, discovered after the death of the king, shocked the French authorities of the time, who did not realize that their colony was being exploited by a foreign country. It’s a general rule: mobsters don’t like other mobsters horning in on their turf.

Matsoua

In 1926 , André Matsoua founded a “friendly” group to help skirmishers (veterans who participated alongside the French army in the First World War) in their fight for independence from France. Because of the harsh conditions of exploitation of the colony, nationalism had rapidly spread in the Congo. This friendly group soon developed into a protest movement. The colonial administration was concerned, and incarcerated Matsoua, who died in prison in 1942, under suspicious circumstances. The movement then turned into a church that recruited members from indigenous people.

Congolese nationalism took firmer shape after the Second World War. On October 21st, 1945 Congolese elected the first Congolese deputy, Jean-Félix Tchicaya, to the Constituent Assembly in Paris. In 1946, he founded the Congolese Progressive Party (PPC), the Congolese section of the African Democratic Rally (GDR). Tchicaya was opposed by Jacques Opangault, but both were challenged by Father Fulbert Youlou, founder of the Democratic Union for the Defense of African Interests (UDDIA). Youlou won in the municipal elections of 1956. In 1958 a referendum on the French Community got a 99% “yes” vote for independence in the Middle Congo. The Congo became an autonomous republic, with Youlou as prime minister. In 1959, unrest erupted in Brazzaville and the French army intervened. Then on August 15th, 1960 Congo gained independence from France as the Republic of Congo, with Youlou elected as the first president.

For a recipe for today you could choose Korean, Indian, or Congolese. Within Indian cuisine alone you have a mountain of choices; Korean also. Because I have been a bit light on African recipes I will give you Congolese saka-saka (boiled cassava leaves), and to express my independence from the tyranny of conventional recipes, I’ll talk you through it. Start with enough cassava leaves to fill a big pot. Remove the stems and cut or tear them into pieces. Traditionally the leaves would be mashed and crushed in a large mortar. You can improvise with a rolling pin or a wooden mallet, but do not use a food processor. Place the greens in a large pot, top with water, and bring to a rolling boil. Cook for at least an hour, preferably two. Meanwhile prepare the other ingredients. Peel and chop an onion and a clove of garlic. Deseed and chop a green bell pepper. Peel and eggplant, remove the seeds, dice, and cover with salt in a ceramic bowl. You will also need a piece of dried or smoked fish, and a few tablespoons of oil. Palm oil is traditional, but if you cannot find palm oil from sustainable sources, use vegetable oil. Add all the remaining ingredients to the greens and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for several hours. Do not stir. Simmer until the water is mostly gone and the greens are cooked to a pulp. Serve with rice, and a meat dish if you wish.

Aug 142018
 

Today is the birthday (1502) of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, a Flemish painter, sculptor, architect, author and designer of woodcuts, goldsmith’s work, stained glass and tapestries who was influential in his day, but is largely forgotten nowadays. He worked in Antwerp and Brussels and was appointed court painter to Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. He was also a polyglot, and published translations of ancient Roman and modern Italian architectural treatises into Dutch, French and German. These publications played a pivotal role in the dissemination of Renaissance ideas in Northern Europe, and contributed to the transition in Northern Europe from the late Gothic style, then prevalent, towards a modern Classical architecture.

Coecke van Aelst was the son of the Deputy Mayor of Aalst. Most of his biography is filled with “probablies” because there is little hard documentation. He probably first studied art under Bernard van Orley, a leading Renaissance painter based in Brussels. There are no documents that prove this apprenticeship but there are strong stylistic similarities between the styles of the two artists. He may have later studied in Italy where he would have made drawings of classical sculpture and architecture. His Italian influence could, however, also be attributed to the fact that Raphael’s tapestry cartoons were available in Brussels, where they were used for the manufacture of tapestries around 1516. However, as Coecke van Aelst clearly was familiar with Raphael’s fresco of the Triumph of Galatea located in the Villa Farnesina in Rome, it seems likely he did in fact travel to Italy.

Coecke van Aelst married twice. He married his first wife Anna van Dornicke in 1525 shortly after his move to Antwerp. Anna was the daughter of Jan Mertens van Dornicke, one of the most successful painters working in Antwerp. His father in law was possibly his teacher. Coecke van Aelst took over his father-in-law’s workshop after the latter’s death in 1527. There were two children from this first marriage, Michiel and Pieter (the Younger). The latter was also a painter. After the death of his first wife (before 1529), Coecke van Aelst had an affair with Anthonette van der Sandt (also known as Antonia van der Sant). The pair never married but had a daughter, Antonette, and at least one son, Pauwel who also became a painter.

Coecke van Aelst is recorded joining the local Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp in 1527. In 1533, he traveled to Constantinople where he stayed for one year during which he tried to convince the Turkish sultan to give him commissions for tapestries, but failed. He made numerous drawings during his stay in Turkey including of the buildings, people and the indigenous flora. He seems to have retained from this trip an abiding interest in the accurate rendering of nature that gave his tapestries an added dimension. The drawings which he made during his stay in Turkey were posthumously published by his widow under the title Ces moeurs et fachons de faire de Turcz avecq les regions y appertenantes ont este au vif contrefaictez (Antwerp,1553).

Upon his return to Antwerp in 1534, Coecke van Aelst produced designs for a large-scale figure, called ‘Druon Antigoon’ or the ‘Giant of Antwerp’ of which the head in papier-maché possibly still survives (Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp). The giant made its premiere many years later in 1549 at the occasion of the Joyous entry into Antwerp of Prince Philip (the future Philip II). The giant became a regular fixture in public processions in Antwerp until the 20th century. In the year 1537 Coecke van Aelst was elected a dean of the Antwerp Guild of Saint Luke. He also received a stipend from the Antwerp city government. Around this time he received major commissions for the design of stained-glass windows including for the Antwerp Cathedral.

Around 1538–1539 Coecke van Aelst married for the second time. His second wife Mayken Verhulst was originally from Mechelen and a painter of miniatures. The couple had three children, two daughters called Katelijne and Maria and a son named Pauwel (even though he had another son with this name). Pieter Brueghel the Elder married Coecke van Aelst’s daughter Maria (called ‘Mayken’). It is possible that Coecke van Aelst’s second wife was the first teacher of her grandchildren, Pieter Brueghel the Younger and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Coecke van Aelst was appointed court painter to Charles V only a few months prior to his death. He was in Brussels in 1550 where he died in December. As his two youngest children died at the same time, it is possible that all three family members were victims of a contagious epidemic.

Pieter Coecke van Aelst was a versatile artist and a master designer who devised projects across a wide range of different media, including panel paintings, sculptures, prints, tapestries, stained glass and goldsmith’s work. No signed, and few reliably documented, paintings by Coecke van Aelst have survived. His drawings are an important witness to his skills as they are the only body of works by the artist, which are signed. Approximately 40 drawings are regarded as autographs, in addition to cartoons and cartoon fragments on which he likely worked with assistants. The majority of his drawings are related to his tapestry designs.

Coecke van Aelst’s composition of the Last Supper became extremely popular in the 16th century and many versions were produced. The version dated 1527 in the collection of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland in Belvoir Castle in  Grantham, is believed to be the original from which all the other ones were derived. The composition was popularized via a print of it made by Hendrik Goltzius. His painting of the subject was freely inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper (1498, Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan) and Marcantonio Raimondi’s engraving of about 1515–1516 based on a lost drawing by Raphael. The gestures of the apostles are derived from Dürer’s print of the Last Supper dated 1523. There exist about 45 versions of this composition, which were executed with the assistance of workshop assistants. A great number of the versions are dated, and of these 6 or 7 are dated 1528. Van Aelst likely produced the original drawing for the Last Supper, which was subsequently copied on to a panel by means of intermediary cartoons. The composition could be ordered in two formats: 50 x 60 cm and 60 x 80 cm. The large version was more popular than the smaller one.

Small Biblical scenes in the background of the composition place the Last Supper in its theological context. Through the window it is possible to discern a scene depicting the Entry into Jerusalem, the principal event preceding the Last Supper according to Christian literature. Scenes of the Fall and the Expulsion from Paradise can be discerned in the ornaments of the upper panes of the window. The medals on the wall depict the biblical stories of the Slaying of Cain and David and Goliath. The scene representing the slaying of Cain is based on a print by the prominent Romanist artist Jan Gossaert. The whole iconography accentuates the Christian preoccupation with original sin and the belief that mankind’s salvation solely relies on Christ’s sacrifice. The original version of 1527 expresses in some of its details an iconography, which shows a close link to the Protestant Reformation. In the other versions this meaning is less pronounced.

Another popular and widely distributed work was the composition St. Jerome in his Study of which Coecke van Aelst and his workshop produced multiple versions. Saint Jerome is noted for his translation into Latin of the Bible, http://www.bookofdaystales.com/international-translation-dayst-jerome/  which he produced whilst living in a monastery in Palestine. In the version of the subject in the Walters Museum, Coecke van Aelst suggests the Oriental setting by the view visible through the window which shows a landscape with camels. To the wall is affixed an admonition, “Cogita Mori” (Think upon death), a vanitas motif that is reiterated by the skull (which Jerome supposedly always had with him as he wrote). Further reminders of the motifs of the passage of time and the imminence of death are the image of the Last Judgment visible in the saint’s Bible, the candle and the hourglass. Another version of this subject was sold at Christie’s (28 January 2015, New York, lot 104). This version reprises similar iconographic elements, which stress Christian beliefs regarding the transience of human life and the importance of the sacrifice of Christ for people to find salvation at the time of the Last Judgement.

Coecke van Aelst was renowned for his tapestry designs which were executed by the Brussels tapestry workshops. These designs were typically small-scale drawings in black-and-white. His cartoon for the Martyrdom of St. Peter (Brussels Town Hall) is in grisaille with touches of green and red while the names of the other colors, such as gold or blue, are written in. The patrons for the tapestries included Emperor Charles V, Francis I of France, Henry VIII of England, and Cosimo de’ Medici. His reputation as a tapestry designer was established through his popular series of the Story of Saint Paul, the Seven Deadly Sins, the Story of Abraham, the Story of Vertumnus and Pomona, the Story of Joshua, the Creation, Poesia, the Conquest of Tunis and Julius Caesar.

Coecke van Aelst is noted for his translation of Vitruvius’ De architectura into Flemish (Dutch). He, and after his death his widow, Mayken Verhulst, published the five books of Sebastiano Serlio’s architectural treatise Architettura in Flemish, French and High German (the German translation was done by another translator). Coecke van Aelst’s translation of Vitruvius was hailed by the humanist Dominicus Lampsonius as the only Dutch-language book to discuss the building styles of other countries. In line with Italian translations of Vitruvius published earlier in the 16th century, his translation gave prominence to woodcut illustrations of the text and used columns to indicate the difference between three kinds of architectural representation: plan, elevation, and view. This was a clear break with the few treatises on architecture published earlier in the Low Countries which generally did not provide any visual exegesis. Coecke van Aelst’s 1539 Flemish translation of Serlio provided to the Low Countries a relatively affordable translation of one of the first illustrated architectural treatises in Europe.

For today’s recipe I have chosen potjevleesch, a traditional Flemish dish, which was certainly well known in Coecke van Aelst’s time. The recipe below is translated from a 1302 version by William Tirel. It is still a popular dish in Belgium. The name can be translated into English as “potted meat,” although in appearance it is more like a terrine. It is traditionally made in a ceramic dish—such as a marmite—from three or four different types of meat and held together either with gelatin or natural fats coming from the meats used. The meat (along with sliced onions, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaves) is covered in water or water and vinegar and then cooked either on a low heat in the oven or on a low flame on top of the stove for 3 hours. After cooking the dish is chilled in the refrigerator and served cold. Nowadays the Flemish serve the dish – as they do everything – with fried potatoes (which they do not call French fries). It is customary to serve the dish with Dutch gin.

Here is my edited version of the original 14th century recipe in translation:

Make a jelly by boiling calves’ feet in 1 liter of white wine, with 20 fresh juniper berries. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Desalt a pork shoulder. Debone a chicken and rabbit. Cut the pork, chicken, rabbit, veal, and calf’s foot into pieces about the size of half a quail. Place them in a pot with juniper berries and grated ginger, a little must and an abundance of saffron. Salt. Pour over the broth, a cup of gin and sour grapes. Cover with a lid sealed with a flour and egg white paste. Simmer slowly for 3 to 4 hours without boiling. Then lift the lid and bring to a rolling boil. Store in the cellar.

Here is a modernized version of the recipe. Note that Tirel does not mention onions, but they are usual nowadays. You can vary the proportions of meats as you wish. I have included gelatin here, because it is more practical than boiling bones and feet.

Potjevleesch

Ingredients

300 gm deboned chicken, cut in chunks
300 gm deboned rabbit, cut in chunks
300 gm flank of veal, cut in chunks
300 gm pork belly, cut in chunks
2 onions, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper,
20 juniper berries
1 sachet powdered saffron
white wine or wine vinegar
2 sachets gelatin

Instructions

Arrange in the bottom of the pot a layer of sliced onions. Add a sprinkling of salt, pepper, juniper berries and saffron. Then make layers with chicken, rabbit, veal and pork, alternating with onions and aromatics. Pour white wine (or wine vinegar) mixed with water evenly over the meat so that it is completely covered. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer, add the gelatin mixed with ½ cup of boiling water, and cook, tightly covered, over low heat for 3 to 4 hours. Allow to cool slowly and then refrigerate for at least 12 hours, preferably overnight, so that the gelatin sets up. Serve with fried or boiled potatoes, and a green salad.

Aug 132018
 

Today is the birthday (1666) of William Wotton, an English theologian, classical scholar and linguist, who is largely forgotten nowadays, but in his day was known for his involvement in what became called the Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns. I’ll get to that in a minute. In Wales he is remembered as the collector and first translator of the ancient Welsh laws.

William Wotton was the second son of the Rev. Henry Wotton, rector of Wrentham, Suffolk. He was a child prodigy who could read verses from the Bible in English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew before he was 6 years old. In April 1676, when he was not yet 10 years old, he was sent to Catharine Hall, Cambridge, and sat for his B.A. in 1679 (13 years old). By this time Wotton had learned Arabic, Syriac, and Chaldee, as well as a knowledge of logic, philosophy, mathematics, geography, chronology, and history. His parents died whilst he was still at Cambridge, and as a teenager he was taken into the household of Gilbert Burnet, later bishop of Salisbury. He was awarded a fellowship at St John’s College, where he received his M.A. in 1683 and earned a B.D. in 1691. In 1686 he was appointed curate of Brimpton in Berkshire and the following year he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In January 1689 he was appointed vicar of Lacock in Wiltshire, which he held until his resignation in 1693. Soon after ordination he was also appointed chaplain to Daniel Finch, Earl of Nottingham, and tutor to his family. Finch presented him with the rectory of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, in 1693.

Wotton began his scholarly career as the translator of Louis Dupin’s A new history of ecclesiastical writers, (13 vols. 1692–99). However, he is chiefly remembered for his share in the controversy about the respective merits of ancient and modern learning. In his Reflections upon Ancient and Modern Learning (1694, and again 1697) he took the part of the moderns, although in a fair and judicial spirit.  The “ancients versus moderns” debate began in France in the early 16th century with a number of “moderns” claiming that the renewed interest in Classical arts and philosophy during the Renaissance, should not be slavish imitation of the ancients, but should be tempered with an awareness of the accomplishments of modern times. The “ancients” championed ancient learning over the modern. The “quarrel” got erudite and pedantic, and I am not going to dissect it for you. Do your own research. Simplistically, it can be boiled down to the importance of “authority.” Should we admire ancient authors as sacred (i.e. authorities), or should we move on? Medieval scholasticism got mired in authority. To be a scholar you had to first read all the authorities on a subject, learn them inside-out, and then add your own bits of wisdom without contradicting any of the authorities. The orthodox rabbinical tradition works this way, and my education at Oxford in the 1970s was not so very different. Every week I was given an essay topic, for example, “Was the author of Mark’s gospel Paul’s traveling companion, John Mark?” or “When was John’s gospel written?” My job for the week was to distill out all the arguments from the authorities, divide them into camps, and conclude with my decision as to which of the camps (authorities) was correct. This was not quite Medieval scholasticism in that the authorities were allowed to disagree with one another, but I was not allowed to disagree with them. You can guess what I think of this as a method of education.

Swift attacked Wotton for pedantry in The Battle of the Books and A Tale of a Tub, but that Wotton was far from being a pedant. He had a thorough command of the arguments, and was fair in his assessments. Wotton responded calling Swift’s Tale “one of the profanest banters upon the religion of Jesus Christ, as such, that ever yet appeared.”

Wotton wrote a History of Rome in 1701 at the request of Bishop Burnet, which was later used by the historian Edward Gibbon. In recognition, Burnet appointed him as a prebend of Salisbury from 1705. In 1707 Wotton was awarded a Lambeth degree of Doctor of Divinity by Archbishop Thomas Tenison in recognition of his writings in support of the established Church of England against the Deists. Around 1713 Wotton also developed ideas concerning the relationship between languages introducing the concept of an early proto-language by relating Icelandic, the Romance languages, and Greek. This pre-dated Sir William Jones’ famous lecture comparing Sanskrit with the Classical languages, by more than 70 years. These theories were later published after Wotton’s death, as A discourse concerning the confusion of languages at Babel (1730).

Throughout his adult life, Wotton was said to be “a most excellent preacher, but a drunken whoring soul”. He was also very extravagant, transforming his rectory into a 32-room mansion. He was, however, able to borrow money against future expectations of ecclesiastical preferment as a result of his close friendship with William Wake, then bishop of Lincoln. Between the summer of 1711 and the Spring of 1712, Wotton appears to have experienced a mid-life crisis, and he scandalized the neighborhood on many occasions by being found drunk in public, or else was known to have spent prolonged periods in local brothels. As a result, he was initially warned about his behavior by Wake, who later broke off their friendship and rescinded his promise of providing an additional living in Buckinghamshire. As soon as it became known that the rector’s expectations had been dashed, local businesses began to press for the payment of their debts. In May 1714, Wotton was forced to abandon his rectory at Milton Keynes to avoid his creditors, and for 7 years he lived in Carmarthen in south-west Wales under the assumed name of Dr. William Edwards.

Whilst in Carmarthen, Wotton turned his life around and returned to his studies. He was also able to re-establish his friendship with Wake, who had become Archbishop of Canterbury in December 1715. Wotton began to study Welsh, and produced an important bilingual parallel text edition of the Welsh and Latin texts of the medieval Welsh laws traditionally attributed to Hywel Dda. To do this he had first to identify and obtain transcripts of around 15 known manuscripts in either Latin or Medieval Welsh, and establish an authoritative text, and then begin the difficult task of translating the Mediaeval Welsh terminology which appeared in both the Latin and Welsh versions, but the meaning of which had been lost by the 18th century. From 1721 Wotton was assisted by the Welsh scholar Moses Williams. Wotton lived to complete the translation but was working on an accompanying glossary when he died. This was completed by Williams, and the whole work was published in 1730 by his son-in-law William Clarke in a large folio edition under the title Leges Wallicae.

Whilst in Carmarthen he also conducted surveys of the cathedrals of St David’s and Llandaff which were published by his friend Browne Willis in 1717 and 1718. He published Miscellaneous Discourses relating to the Traditions and Usages of the Scribes and Pharisees which included a translation of part of the Mishnah in 1718. Wotton had repaid his creditors and was able to return to Bath by October 1721 and London by June 1722 but was in very poor health. He was still working on his Leges Wallicae, when he died of dropsy in Buxted in Sussex, on 13th February 1727.

In the spirit of the quarrel of ancients and moderns we can put an ancient and modern recipe side by side. You would be forgiven for thinking that the modern recipe is superior. What you are not taking into account is that ALL recipes make assumptions about what the reader can be expected to know. If you read a modern recipe for a cake that begins “cream the butter and sugar” You probably know what “cream” means in this context, that is, if you have any baking experience. Someone reading the recipe 2,000 years from now might have no idea what it means, and think that 21st century recipes are incomplete. So, it’s not a question of saying that modern recipes are better than ancient ones, but, rather, that we know the implicit assumptions in modern recipes, but not in ancient ones.

Apicius gives this recipe for mussels in De re coquinaria (c. 1st century CE) and I have mentioned it before. Here’s the original Latin:

X. in metulis: liquamen porrum concisum cuminum passum satureiam, uinum; mixtum facies aquatius et ibi mitulos quoques.

Roughly translated:

10. For mussels: liquamen (fermented anchovy sauce), cut up leeks, cumin, passum (very sweet wine), savory, and wine. Mix these ingredients with water and add mussels.

On the surface this recipe does not seem much to go on, and a modern cook would normally want more detail, particularly as concerns quantities. The instructions are also pretty slim by modern standards. I could give a modern recipe thus:

Mussels

Ingredients

2 lb fresh mussels
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 leek, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp chopped fresh savory
½ cup sweet sherry
½ cup dry white wine

Instructions

Make sure the mussels are thoroughly cleaned and beards removed. Discard any that are not tightly shut.

Place the ingredients, except the mussels, in a large saucepan. Add around 2 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, add the mussels and cover. Cook for several minutes and check to see that all the mussels have opened.

Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon, and place them in a serving bowl. Carefully pour the cooking juices over the mussels, but make sure not to pour out the last part, because it may contain grit.

You might think that my recipe is better than the ancient one. Really there is not much difference between the two. Apicius does not say you have to boil the mussels, he assumes that you know this. He is making a number of assumptions. But my modern recipe makes many assumptions also. Apicius actually gives you a lot more freedom than I do. Sure, you can vary my quantities at will, but most cooks will try the quantities as given first, and then adjust them later. With Apicius, you have to make decisions about quantities from the start.  I’d be happy, for example, to use 3 or 4 leeks, and serve the mussels on a bed of them, with or without the sauce. This idea would not occur to you with the modern recipe because you are thinking of a watery sauce for the mussels.

 

Aug 122018
 

On this date in 1851 Isaac Merritt Singer (October 27, 1811 – July 23, 1875) filed a patent for an improved sewing machine. Many people had patented sewing machines before Singer, but his success was based on the practicality of his machine, the ease with which it could be adapted to home use, and its availability on an installment payment basis.

In 1839, Singer obtained his first patent, for a machine to drill rock, selling it for $2,000 (or over $50,000 in 2018 dollars) to the I & M Canal Building Company. With this financial success, he opted to return to his career as an actor. He went on tour, forming a troupe known as the “Merritt Players”, appearing onstage under the name “Isaac Merritt.” The tour lasted about five years. Later, he developed a “machine for carving wood and metal” which he patented on April 10th, 1849.

At 38, with his wife, Mary Ann, and eight children, he packed up his family and moved to New York City, hoping to market his wood-block cutting machine there. He obtained an advance to build a working prototype, and constructed one in the shop of A. B. Taylor & Co. Here he met G. B. Zieber, who became Singer’s financier and partner. However, not long after the machine was built, the steam boiler blew up at the shop, destroying the prototype. Zieber persuaded Singer to make a new start in Boston, a center of the printing trade. Singer went to Boston in 1850 to display his invention at the machine shop of Orson C. Phelps. Orders for Singer’s wood cutting machine were not, however, forthcoming.

Lerow & Blodgett sewing machines were also being constructed and repaired in Phelps’s shop. Phelps asked Singer to look at the sewing machines, which were difficult to use and produce. Singer concluded that the sewing machine would be more reliable if the shuttle moved in a straight line rather than a circle, with a straight rather than a curved needle. Singer was able to obtain US Patent number 8294 for his improvements on August 12th, 1851. Singer’s prototype sewing machine became the first to work in a practical way. It could sew 900 stitches per minute, far better than the 40 of an accomplished seamstress on simple work.

In 1856, manufacturers Grover & Baker, Singer, Wheeler & Wilson, all accusing each other of patent infringement, met in Albany, New York to pursue their suits. Orlando B. Potter, a lawyer and president of the Grover and Baker Company, proposed that, rather than squander their profits on litigation, they pool their patents. This was the first patent pool, a process which enables the production of complicated machines without legal battles over patent rights. They agreed to form the Sewing Machine Combination, but for this to be of any use, they had to secure the cooperation of Elias Howe, who still held certain vital uncontested patents. Terms were arranged, and Howe received a royalty on every sewing machine manufactured.

Thenceforth, sewing machines began to be mass-produced. I. M. Singer & Co manufactured 2,564 machines in 1856, and 13,000 in 1860 at a new plant on Mott Street in New York. Later, a massive plant was built near Elizabeth, New Jersey. Until that point, sewing machines had been industrial machines, made for garments, shoes, bridles and for tailors, but in 1856, smaller machines began to be marketed for home use. However, at the then enormous price of over $100 ($2,800 in 2018 dollars), few sold. Singer invested heavily in mass production using the concept of interchangeable parts developed by Samuel Colt and Eli Whitney for their firearms. He was able to cut the price in half, while at the same time increasing his profit margin by 530%. Singer was the first who put a family machine, “the turtle back”, on the market. Eventually, the price came down to $10 ($280 in 2018 dollars). His partner, Edward Cabot Clark, pioneered installment purchasing plans and accepted trade-ins, causing sales to skyrocket. Singer expanded into the European market, establishing a factory in Clydebank, near Glasgow, controlled by the parent company, becoming one of the first US-based multinational corporations, with agencies in Paris and Rio de Janeiro. In the 1950s my mother learned dressmaking in Buenos Aires, and bought a Singer sewing machine there that was a foot treadle model, that had been converted to electricity with the addition of an electric motor. This was a fixture in my household when I was a boy, and both my sisters learned to sew on it. Singer sewing machine always conjures up for me a black machine with gold poker work. That machine traveled the world with us.

Financial success allowed Singer to buy a mansion on Fifth Avenue, into which he moved his second family. He continued to live with Mary Ann, until she spotted him driving down Fifth Avenue seated beside Mary McGonigal, an employee, about whom Mary Ann already had suspicions. By this time, McGonigal had borne Singer five children, who used the surname Matthews; Florence L., Mary, Charles A., and two others who died at birth. Mary Ann, still calling herself Mrs. I. M. Singer, had her husband arrested for bigamy. Singer was let out on bond and, disgraced, fled to London in 1862, taking Mary McGonigal with him.

In the aftermath, another of Isaac’s families was discovered: he had a “wife,” Mary Eastwood Walters, and daughter, Alice Eastwood Walters, in Lower Manhattan, who had adopted the surname “Merritt.” By 1860, Isaac had fathered and acknowledged eighteen children, sixteen of them still then living, by four women.

With Isaac in London, Mary Ann began setting about securing a financial claim to his assets by filing documents detailing his infidelities, claiming that, though she had never been formally married to Isaac, they were wed under Common Law by living together for seven months after Isaac had been divorced from his first wife Catherine. Eventually a settlement was made, but no divorce was granted. However, she asserted that she was free to marry, and, indeed, married John E. Foster.

Isaac, meanwhile, had renewed acquaintance with Isabella Eugenie Boyer, a Frenchwoman he had lived with in Paris when he was staying there in 1860. She left her husband and married Isaac under the name of Isabella Eugenie Sommerville, on June 13th, 1863, while she was pregnant. They had six children. In 1863, I. M. Singer & Co. was dissolved by mutual consent; the business continued as “The Singer Manufacturing Company,” in 1887.

In 1871, Singer purchased an estate, in Paignton (now a part of the borough of Torbay) in Devon in England. He commissioned Oldway Manor as his private residence, which was rebuilt by Paris Singer, his third son with Isabella, in the style of the Palace of Versailles. He died in Devon on July 23, 1875, and was buried in Torquay.

I am going to pick a recipe based on Singer’s final days in Devon, because it gives me a chance to vaunt English food – yet again. The Torbay sole (Glyptocephalus cynoglossus) should not be confused with true soles such as the Dover sole (Solea solea) nor with Lemon sole (Microstomus kitt). They are from three different genuses even though they all look somewhat similar to the untrained eye. Both Dover sole and Lemon sole have a fine flavor and delicate flesh, but can get exorbitantly expensive. Torbay sole, also known as witch founder, tends to be much more moderate in price because it lacks the delicacy of the other two. Its lack of distinction is to the Torbay sole’s advantage, however, in that you can afford to be extravagant with saucing it. A sauce of lemon and capers is nice, but a bit ordinary (even though sole meunière bewitched the young Julia Child on her first day in Paris). I like Torbay sole with a cream sorrel sauce. I used to grow my own sorrel and pick the leaves when they were quite young, so that their sourness was lively, rather than overbearing. It’s a perennial that is really easy to grow, and a useful addition to the herb garden. Sorrel makes a nice addition to green salads, can be made into soup, or poached as a vegetable.

Torbay Sole with Sorrel Sauce

Ingredients

4 Torbay sole fillets, skin attached
2 tbsp butter
125ml white wine
2 tbsp crème fraîche
1 bunch sorrel, washed and shredded
salt and pepper

Instructions

Heat the oven to 200˚C/390˚F.

Lay the fish, skin side down, in an ovenproof dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste, dot with butter, and pour over the wine. Bake the fish for 10 mins, or until just cooked. Carefully lift the fish on to a warmed plate, and keep on a warming rack (not in the oven).

Pour the juices from the oven dish into a small saucepan with the crème fraîche, boil until slightly thickened, then stir through the sorrel until just wilted. Spoon over the sauce over the fish and serve with boiled new potatoes.

Aug 112018
 

Today is the birthday (1833) of Kido Takayoshi (木戸 孝允) (born Wada Kogorō (和田 小五郎), also referred to as Kido Kôin (木戸 こういん), a Japanese samurai who is considered one of the three great architects of the Meiji Restoration. As I noted here http://www.bookofdaystales.com/meiji-restoration/ the Meiji Restoration was not quite what it is portrayed as in Western media. As I also noted here recently http://www.bookofdaystales.com/edo-period-social-structure/ the Meiji Restoration got rid of the old Japanese rigid social structure, not because it was old fashioned, but because it had become unstable, and unable to deal with present realities. Many Westerners lament the loss of Edo Period culture in Japan, but the Japanese (by and large) do not. Think of this in terms of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), a supposedly Medieval re-enactment society (but mostly Renaissance, with many anachronisms of its own). All the members want to be knights and nobles (or perhaps wizards and such). No one wants to be a peasant, yet the bulk of Medieval Europeans were peasants. Likewise, the bulk of Edo Period Japanese people were peasants with no hope of social mobility. Meanwhile, the samurai class had hereditary (high) status – end of story. Obviously, the samurai class did not want to see an end to the system, but the great bulk of the population were happy to see the changes. Forget The Last Samurai, it’s sentimental claptrap (and not historically accurate either). Takayoshi was a samurai, and was one of the architects of the system that ended their hereditary privilege.

Takayoshi was born in Hagi, Chōshū Domain (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture), the youngest son of Wada Masakage (和田 昌景), a samurai physician, and his second wife Seiko. He was later adopted into the Katsura family at age 7 and was known, thereafter, as Katsura Kogorō (桂 小五郎). He was educated at Shoka Sonjuku, the academy of Yoshida Shōin, where he adopted the philosophy of Imperial loyalism. In 1852, he went to Edo to study swordsmanship, established ties with radical samurai from Mito domain, learned artillery techniques with Egawa Tarōzaemon, and (after observing the construction of foreign ships in Nagasaki and Shimoda), returned to Chōshū to supervise the construction of the domain’s first Western-style warship.

After 1858, Takayoshi was based in Edo where he served as liaison between the domain bureaucracy and radical elements among the young, lower-echelon Chōshū samurai who supported the Sonnō jōi movement, which vowed to revere the emperor, expel foreigners, and, in the process, get rid of the Tokugawa shogunate which supported foreign incursion. He came under suspicion by the shogunate for his ties with Mito loyalists after the attempted assassination of Andō Nobumasa, and so was transferred to Kyōto. However, while in Kyōto, he was unable to prevent the 30th September 1863 coup d’état by the forces of the Aizu and Satsuma domains, who drove the Chōshū forces out of the city.

According to his personal diary, Takayoshi was at a loyalist meeting with the Ishin shishi (samurai in favor of Sonnō jōi) at the Ikedaya inn on the evening of July 8th, 1864. He claimed that they had met only to discuss how to protect Shuntaro Furutaka (a shishi leader) from the Shinsengumi (Kyoto police of the shogunate). Shinsengumi troops attacked the inn on that night, which became known as the Ikedaya incident, but Takayoshi says he left early and was not involved. Shuntaro Furutaka was captured and brutally tortured. There were rumors that Takayoshi was tipped off by his geisha lover, Ikumatsu (幾松), that the Shinsengumi were coming for him and chose not show up for the meeting at all, or that he climbed out the window of the upper floor of the inn during the attack by the Shinsengumi and escaped over the roofs. He spent the next five days in hiding under Nijō Bridge along the Kamo River, posing as a beggar. Ikumatsu brought him rice balls from the shop of the Chōshū merchant Imai Tarōemon, and later aided in his escape.

Takayoshi was involved in, but not present at, the Hamaguri Gate Rebellion on 20th August 1864: the unsuccessful attempt to capture the Emperor Kōmei by Chōshū forces at Hamaguri Gate in order to restore the Imperial household to its position of political supremacy. The Chōshū forces clashed with Aizu and Satsuma forces which led to their defense of the Imperial palace. During the attempt, the Chōshū rebels set Kyoto on fire, starting with the residence of the Takatsukasa family, and that of a Chōshū official. The rebellion resulted in casualties of about 400 of the Chōshū forces and only 60 from Aizu and Satsuma forces, with 28,000 houses being burnt down, forcing Katsura into hiding again with his geisha lover. He later used the name Niibori Matsusuke as an alias in 1865 to continue his work against the Tokugawa shogunate.

After radical elements under Takasugi Shinsaku gained control of Chōshū politics, Takayoshi was instrumental in establishing the Satchō Alliance with Saigō Takamori and Ōkubo Toshimichi through the mediation of Sakamoto Ryōma, which proved to be critical in the Boshin War and the subsequent Meiji Restoration. Following the overthrow of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1868, Takayoshi (now using that name), claimed a major role in the establishment of the new Meiji government. As a san’yo (Imperial Advisor) he helped draft the Five Charter Oath, and initiated policies of centralization and modernization. He helped direct the Abolition of the han system (system of domains governed by daimyo). In August 1868, he had Ikumatsu adopted into a samurai family of Okabe Tomitarō, and later married her.

On 23rd December 1871, he accompanied the Iwakura Mission on its round-the-world voyage to the United States and Europe, and was especially interested in Western educational systems and politics. On his return to Japan on 13th September 1873, he became a strong advocate of the establishment of constitutional government. Realizing that Japan was not in any position to challenge the Western powers in its current state, he also returned to Japan just in time to prevent an invasion of Korea (Seikanron). Takayoshi lost his dominant position in the Meiji oligarchy to Ōkubo Toshimichi, and resigned from government in protest of the Taiwan Expedition of 1874, which he had strenuously opposed. Following the Osaka Conference of 1875, he agreed to return to the government, and became chairman of the Assembly of Prefectural Governors that the Ōsaka Conference had created. He was also responsible for the education of the young Emperor Meiji.

During the middle of Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, Takayoshi died of an illness that had been plaguing him for a long time, which consisted of a combination of some form of brain disorder and physical exhaustion, years of excessive alcohol consumption as well as an illness assumed to be tuberculosis or beriberi. He was buried at the Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine, Kyoto, Japan. His widow survived him and died in 1887 at the age of 43. Kido Takayoshi was enshrined as the Shinto deity of scholarship and the martial arts at the Kido Shrine in about 1886 at Kido Park, Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. His diary reveals an intense internal conflict between his loyalty to his home domain, Chōshū, and the greater interest of the country. He wrote often of having to fight rumors at home that he had betrayed his old friends; the idea of a nation was still relatively new in Japan and so the majority of samurai cared more for securing privileges for their own domain.

Together with Saigō Takamori and Ōkubo Toshimichi, he became known as one of the Ishin-no-Sanketsu (維新の三傑), which means, roughly, “Three Great Nobles of the Restoration”. He is still a popular figure showing up in manga and anime, and also in video games.

 

I have mentioned Japanese yōshoku (洋食 western food) before http://www.bookofdaystales.com/commodore-perry/ and I gave a recipe for omurice (omelet rice) there. I’ll repeat a little bit about it for the sake of new readers. In Japanese cuisine, yōshoku originated during the Meiji Restoration. These are primarily Japanese versions of European dishes, often featuring Western names, and usually written in katakana. Jihei Ishii, author of the 1898 The Complete Japanese Cookbook (日本料理法大全), states unequivocally that: “Yōshoku is Japanese food.” To many foreigners, yōshoku may not seem like Washoku (Japanese traditional dishes), yet there are many yōshoku dishes which have themselves become traditional in the eyes of the Japanese. Some of them are even thought of as traditional comfort food because they are home cooked and bring memories of childhood.

Yōshoku began by altering Western recipes for lack of information about foreign countries’ cuisine, or adaptions to suit local tastes, but over time, yōshoku also evolved dishes that were not at all based on European foods, such as chicken rice and omurice. Elaborate sauces were largely eliminated, replaced with tomato ketchup, demi-glace sauce, and Worcester sauce. Here’s a good video on how to prepare soup curry. You will need to find Japanese curry which is not like Indian curry at all.

Aug 102018
 

On this date in 1519, five ships under the command of Ferdinand Magellan’s command left Seville to begin the first ever circumnavigation of the world. One ship and 18 of the original crew made it back to Spain. Magellan died en route, but he is remembered in numerous place names, most especially the Strait of Magellan, and in modern discoveries such as the Magellanic Clouds (two irregular dwarf galaxies) as well as animal species, such as Magellanic penguins (which I saw when I visited Tierra del Fuego in 2011).

Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the West (1492–1503) had the goal of reaching the Indies and establishing direct commercial relations between Spain and Asian kingdoms. The Spanish soon realized that the lands of the Americas were not a part of Asia, but a new continent. The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas reserved for Portugal the eastern routes that went around Africa, and Vasco da Gama and the Portuguese arrived in India in 1498. Castile urgently needed to find a new commercial route to Asia. After the Junta de Toro conference of 1505, the Spanish Crown commissioned expeditions to discover a route to the west. Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean in 1513 after crossing the Isthmus of Panama, and Juan Díaz de Solís died in Río de la Plata in 1516 while exploring South America in the service of Spain.

In October 1517 in Seville, Magellan (already an experienced sailor, explorer, and soldier), contacted Juan de Aranda, Factor of the Casa de Contratación. Following the arrival of his partner Rui Faleiro, and with the support of Aranda, they presented their project to the Spanish king, Charles I, future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Magellan’s project, if successful, would realize Columbus’ plan of a spice route by sailing west without damaging relations with the Portuguese. The idea was in tune with the times and had already been discussed after Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific. On 22nd March 1518 the king named Magellan and Faleiro captains so that they could travel in search of the Spice Islands in July. He raised them to the rank of Commander of the Order of Santiago, and granted them a number of monopolies on their discoveries. The expedition was funded largely by the Spanish Crown, which provided ships carrying supplies for two years of travel. Expert cartographer Jorge Reinel and Diogo Ribeiro, a Portuguese who had started working for Charles V in 1518 as a cartographer at the Casa de Contratación, took part in the development of the maps to be used in the travel. Several problems arose during the preparation of the trip, including lack of money, the king of Portugal trying to stop them, Magellan and other Portuguese incurring suspicion from the Spanish, and the difficult nature of Faleiro. Finally, thanks to the tenacity of Magellan, the expedition was ready. Through the bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca they obtained the participation of merchant Christopher de Haro, who provided a quarter of the funds and goods to barter.

The flagship Trinidad (110 tons, crew 55), under Magellan’s command

San Antonio (120 tons; crew 60) commanded by Juan de Cartagena

Concepción (90 tons, crew 45) commanded by Gaspar de Quesada

Santiago (75 tons, crew 32) commanded by João Serrão

Victoria (85 tons, crew 43), named after the church of Santa Maria de la Victoria de Triana, where Magellan took an oath of allegiance to Charles V; commanded by Luis Mendoza.

The crew of about 270 included men from several nations, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Greece, England and France. Spanish authorities were wary of Magellan, who was Portuguese, so that they almost prevented him from sailing, switching his mostly Portuguese crew to mostly Spaniards. It included about 40 Portuguese, among them Magellan’s brother-in-law Duarte Barbosa, João Serrão, a relative of Francisco Serrão, Estêvão Gomes and Magellan’s indentured servant Enrique of Malacca. Faleiro, who had planned to accompany the voyage, withdrew prior to boarding. Juan Sebastián Elcano, a Spanish merchant ship captain living in Seville, embarked seeking the king’s pardon for previous misdeeds. Antonio Pigafetta, a Venetian scholar and traveler, asked to be on the voyage, accepting the title of “supernumerary” and a modest salary. He became a strict assistant of Magellan and kept an accurate journal. The only other sailor to report the voyage would be Francisco Albo, who kept a formal logbook. Juan de Cartagena was named Inspector General of the expedition, responsible for its financial and trading operations.

The fleet left Seville on this date in 1519 and descended the Guadalquivir River to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, at the mouth of the river. They remained there until 20th September 1519 when they left Spain. King Manuel I ordered a Portuguese naval detachment to pursue Magellan, but he evaded them. After stopping at the Canary Islands, Magellan arrived at Cape Verde, where he set course for Cape St. Augustine in Brazil. On 27th November the expedition crossed the equator; on 6th December the crew sighted South America. On 13th December they anchored near present-day Rio de Janeiro. There the crew was resupplied, but bad conditions caused them to delay. Afterwards, they continued to sail south along South America’s east coast, looking for the strait that Magellan believed would lead to the Spice Islands. The fleet reached Río de la Plata in early February, 1520.

For wintering over, Magellan established a temporary settlement called Puerto San Julian on March 30 [my birthday], 1520. On Easter (April 1 and 2), a mutiny broke out involving three of the five ship captains. Magellan took quick and decisive action. Luis de Mendoza, the captain of Victoria, was killed by a party sent by Magellan, and the ship was recovered. After Concepción’s anchor cable had been secretly cut by his forces, the ship drifted towards the well-armed Trinidad, and Concepcion’s captain de Quesada and his inner circle surrendered. Juan de Cartagena, the head of the mutineers on the San Antonio, subsequently gave up. Antonio Pigafetta reported that Gaspar Quesada, the captain of Concepción, and other mutineers were executed, while Juan de Cartagena, the captain of San Antonio, and a priest named Padre Sanchez de la Reina were marooned on the coast. Most of the men, including Juan Sebastián Elcano, were needed and so pardoned. Reportedly those killed were drawn and quartered and impaled on the coast; years later, their bones were found by Sir Francis Drake.

The journey resumed. The help of Duarte Barbosa was crucial in facing the riot in Puerto San Julian; Magellan appointed him as captain of the Victoria. The Santiago was sent down the coast on a scouting expedition and was wrecked in a sudden storm. All of its crew survived and made it safely to shore. Two of them returned overland to inform Magellan of what had happened, and to bring rescue to their comrades. After this experience, Magellan decided to wait for a few weeks more before resuming the voyage with the four remaining ships.

At 52°S latitude on 21st October 1520, the fleet reached Cape Virgenes and concluded they had found the passage, because the waters were brine and deep inland. Four ships began an arduous trip through the 373-mile (600 km) long passage that Magellan called the Estrecho (Canal) de Todos los Santos, (“All Saints’ Channel”), because the fleet travelled through it on 1st November or All Saints’ Day. The strait is now named the Strait of Magellan. He first assigned Concepcion and San Antonio to explore the strait, but the latter, commanded by Gómez, deserted and headed back to Spain on 20th November. On 28th November, the three remaining ships entered the South Pacific. Magellan named the waters the Mar Pacifico (Pacific Ocean) because of its apparent stillness. Magellan and his crew were the first Europeans to reach Tierra del Fuego just east of the Pacific side of the strait.

Heading northwest, the crew reached the equator on 13th February 1521. On 6th March they reached the Marianas and Guam. Pigafetta described the “lateen sail” used by the inhabitants of Guam, hence the name “Island of Sails” but he also writes the inhabitants “entered the ships and stole whatever they could lay their hands on”, including “the small boat that was fastened to the poop of the flagship.” “Those people are poor, but ingenious and very thievish, on account of which we called those three islands the islands of Ladroni.”

On 16th March Magellan reached the island of Homonhon in the Philippines, with 150 crew left. Members of his expedition became the first Europeans to reach the Philippine archipelago. Magellan relied on Enrique, his Malay servant and interpreter, to communicate with the indigenous peoples. He had been indentured by Magellan in 1511 after the colonization of Malacca, and had accompanied him through later adventures. They traded gifts with Rajah Siaiu of Mazaua who guided them to Cebu on 7th April.

Rajah Humabon of Cebu was friendly towards Magellan and the Spaniards; both he and his queen Hara Amihan were baptized as Christians and were given the image of the Holy Child (later known as Santo Niño de Cebu) which along with a cross (Magellan’s Cross) symbolizes the Christianization of the Philippines. Afterward, Rajah Humabon and his ally Datu Zula convinced Magellan to kill their enemy, Datu Lapu-Lapu, on Mactan. Magellan wanted to convert Lapu-Lapu to Christianity, as he had Humabon, but Lapu-Lapu rejected that. On the morning of 27th April 1521, Magellan sailed to Mactan with a small attack force. During the resulting battle against Lapu-Lapu’s troops, Magellan was struck by a bamboo spear, and later was surrounded and finished off with other weapons.

Pigafetta and Ginés de Mafra provided written documents of the events culminating in Magellan’s death:

When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, [the natives] had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred people. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries… The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly… Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice… A native hurled a bamboo spear into the captain’s face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the native’s body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off.

Magellan provided in his will that Enrique, his interpreter, was to be freed upon his death. But after the battle, the remaining ships’ masters refused to free the Malay. Enrique escaped his indenture on 1 May with the aid of Rajah Humabon, amid the deaths of almost 30 crewmen.

Pigafetta had been jotting down words in both Butuanon and Cebuano languages – which he started at Mazaua on 29 March and his list grew to a total of 145 words. He continued communications with indigenous peoples during the rest of the voyage.

Nothing of Magellan’s body survived. That afternoon the grieving rajah-king, hoping to recover his remains, offered Mactan’s victorious chief a handsome ransom of copper and iron for them but Datu Lapulapu refused. He intended to keep the body as a war trophy. Since his wife and child died in Seville before any member of the expedition could return to Spain, it seemed that every evidence of Ferdinand Magellan’s existence had vanished from the earth.

(click to enlarge)

It took another 16 months after Magellan’s death for the one surviving ship, Victoria, the smallest carrack in the fleet, to make it back to Seville after completing the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Only 18 men out of the original 237 men in the fleet were on board.

There are plenty of original accounts for you to read concerning the rigors and losses on the return. Meanwhile I will turn to the taste buds.

Magellan gin is a blue gin inspired by Magellan’s voyage, particularly the spices that Victoria had on board (notably cloves). Magellan is also the name of a camp cooking equipment company, and I have certainly cooked on stoves such as this one on camping trips (as well as in my first apartment in Buenos Aires).

I could certainly  you numerous pointers on how to turn out a feast using only a 2-burner camp stove, or how to waste an evening drinking blue gin, but instead I will focus on an indigenous Filipino ingredient, the kalamansi, in honor of the place where Magellan met his end. Kalamansi (Citrus microcarpa) is a citrus fruit used mostly for the sourness it gives to a dish. Despite its outer appearance and its aroma, the taste of the fruit itself is quite sour, although the peel is sweet. Kalamansi can be made into marmalade in the same way you make orange marmalade (see http://www.bookofdaystales.com/alice-liddell/  ).

  

The fruit can be frozen whole and used as ice cubes in beverages such as tea, soft drinks, water, and cocktails. The juice can be used in place of that of the common Persian lime. The juice is extracted by crushing the whole fruit, and makes a flavorful drink similar to lemonade. A liqueur can be made from the whole fruits, in combination with vodka and sugar.

 

Aug 092018
 

Today is the birthday (1776) of Amedeo Carlo Avogadro, count of Quaregna and Cerreto a scientist, most noted for his contribution to molecular theory now known as Avogadro’s law, which states that equal volumes of gases under the same conditions of temperature and pressure will contain equal numbers of molecules. In tribute to him, the number of elementary entities (atoms, molecules, ions or other particles) in 1 mole of a substance, 6.022140857×1023, is known as the Avogadro constant, one of the seven SI base units .

Avogadro was born in Turin to a noble family of Piedmont-Sardinia in the year 1776. He graduated in ecclesiastical law at the late age of 20 and began to practice. Soon afterwards, he dedicated himself to physics and mathematics, and in 1809 started teaching them at a liceo in Vercelli, where his family lived and had some property. In 1811, he published “Essai d’une manière de déterminer les masses relatives des molécules élémentaires des corps, et les proportions selon lesquelles elles entrent dans ces combinaisons” (“Essay on Determining the Relative Masses of the Elementary Molecules of Bodies and the Proportions by Which They Enter These Combinations”), which contains Avogadro’s hypothesis concerning gases.

In 1820, he became a professor of physics at the University of Turin. Turin was now the capital of the restored Savoyard Kingdom of Sardinia under Victor Emmanuel I. Avogadro was active in the Risorgimento activities of March 1821. As a result, he lost his chair in 1823 (or, as the university officially declared, it was “very glad to allow this interesting scientist to take a rest from heavy teaching duties, in order to be able to give better attention to his researches”). Eventually, Charles Albert, king of Sardinia, granted a Constitution (Statuto Albertino) in 1848. Well before this, Avogadro had been recalled to the university in Turin in 1833, where he taught for another 20 years.

Little is known about Avogadro’s private life, which appears to have been sober and religious. He married Felicita Mazzé and had as many as eight children. Avogadro held posts dealing with statistics, meteorology, and weights and measures. He introduced the metric system into Piedmont and was a member of the Royal Superior Council on Public Instruction. He died on 9 July 1856, a month shy of his 80th birthday.

In honor of Avogadro’s contributions to molecular theory, the number of molecules in one mole was named Avogadro’s number, also NA, or Avogadro’s constant. It is approximately 6.0221409×1023. Avogadro’s number is used to compute the results of chemical reactions. It allows chemists to determine amounts of substances produced in a given reaction to a high degree of accuracy. In actual fact, Johann Josef Loschmidt first calculated the value of Avogadro’s number, often referred to as the Loschmidt number in German-speaking countries (Loschmidt constant now has another meaning).

Avogadro’s Law states that the relationship between the masses of the same volume of all gases (at the same temperature and pressure) corresponds to the relationship between their respective molecular weights. Hence, the relative molecular mass of a gas can be calculated from the mass of sample of known volume. Avogadro developed this hypothesis after Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac had published in 1808 his law on volumes (and combining gases). The greatest problem Avogadro had to resolve was the confusion at that time regarding atoms and molecules. One of his most important contributions was clearly distinguishing one from the other, stating that gases are composed of molecules, and these molecules are composed of atoms. For instance, John Dalton did not consider this possibility. Avogadro did not actually use the word “atom” as the words “atom” and “molecule” were used almost without difference. He believed that there were three kinds of “molecules,” including an “elementary molecule” (our “atom”). Also, more attention was given to the definition of mass, as distinguished from weight.

In 1815, he published “Mémoire sur les masses relatives des molécules des corps simples, ou densités présumées de leur gaz, et sur la constitution de quelques-uns de leur composes” (“Note on the relative masses of elementary molecules, or suggested densities of their gases, and on the constituents of some of their compounds), as a follow-up to his essay on the same subject, published in 1811. In 1821 he published another paper, “Nouvelles considérations sur la théorie des proportions déterminées dans les combinaisons, et sur la détermination des masses des molécules des corps” (New considerations on the theory of proportions determined in combinations, and on determination of the masses of atoms) and shortly afterwards, “Mémoire sur la manière de ramener les composès organiques aux lois ordinaires des proportions déterminées” (Note on the manner of finding the organic composition by the ordinary laws of determined proportions”).

The scientific community did not give great attention to his theory, so Avogadro’s hypothesis was not immediately accepted. André-Marie Ampère published a very similar theory three years later, but the same indifference was shown to his theory as well. Only through studies by Charles Frédéric Gerhardt and Auguste Laurent on organic chemistry was it possible to demonstrate that Avogadro’s law explained why the same quantities of molecules in a gas have the same volume. Unfortunately, related experiments with some inorganic substances showed seeming exceptions to the law. This was finally resolved by Stanislao Cannizzaro, as announced at Karlsruhe Congress in 1860, four years after Avogadro’s death. He explained that these exceptions were due to molecular dissociations at certain temperatures, and that Avogadro’s law determined not only molecular masses, but atomic masses as well. Now, Avogadro is hailed as one of the founders of atomic-molecular theory.

Turin, and Piedmont in general, is loaded with culinary specialties. Anyone who knows Turin knows that you cannot visit the city with sampling its chocolate: in confections or as a drink. I spent the weekend before Lent 2 years ago in Turin and bathed in chocolate in between Carnevale events. I also had some stupendous dishes. Turin salame is famous, as are bollito misto, agnolotti, and flan di verdure (sometimes served with fresh anchovies). Perhaps the local favorite is bagna caoda, which has been around for centuries, and is typically served as part of Christmas Eve dinner (or any time you want). It is a flavorful sauce served at the table like fondue (over a low flame), and typically diners dip in cardoons which they then eat with bread, allowing some of the sauce to drip on the bread. Cardoons are the blanched stalks of a species of thistle that is hard to find outside of Mediterranean countries. You can use celery, asparagus, or a mix of vegetables as the Piedmontese often do.

Bagna Caoda

Ingredients

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
6 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
12 fresh anchovy fillets
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
cardoons (or assorted vegetables)
1 loaf crusty Italian bread, cut in thick slices

Instructions

Place the olive oil, butter, anchovies and garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer the oil mixture to heavy medium saucepan. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce into fondue pot or any container you can set over a flame at the table. Set the pot over a table burner at the table. Serve the vegetables and bread on large platters so that diners can help themselves.

Aug 072018
 

Today is the birthday (1779) of Carl Ritter, who, along with Alexander von Humboldt http://www.bookofdaystales.com/alexander-von-humboldt/, is considered one of the founders of modern geography. It is also the birthday of Sir Robert Dudley (1574), an English explorer and cartographer who published the first world atlas of maritime maps. I am going to focus on Ritter mainly, but adding Dudley makes today Geography Day, and not just Ritter’s birthday.

Ritter was born in Quedlinburg (130 km northwest of Leipzig) in northern Germany, one of six children of Dr. F. W. Ritter. Ritter’s father died when he was 2. At the age of 5, he was enrolled in the Schnepfenthal Salzmann School, a school focused on the study of nature (apparently influenced by Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s writings on children’s education). This experience influenced Ritter throughout his life, and he retained an interest in new educational modes, including those of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. In fact, much of Ritter’s writing was based on Pestalozzi’s three stages in teaching: the acquisition of the material, the evaluation of material, and the establishment of a general system.

After completion of his schooling, Ritter was introduced to Bethmann Hollweg, a banker in Frankfurt. Hollweg hired Ritter to tutor his children, and arranged for him to study at the University of Halle at Hollweg’s expense. His duties as tutor began in 1798 and continued for 15 years. In the years 1814–1819, when he was continuing to tutor, he began to concentrate on the study of geography, and wrote and published the first two volumes of his Erdkunde.

In 1819 he became professor of history in Frankfurt, and in 1820 he received a teaching appointment in history at the University of Berlin. Ritter received his doctorate there in 1821, and was appointed professor in 1825. He also lectured at a nearby military college. He was particularly interested in the exploration of Africa and kept in constant contact with British scholars and with scientific circles such as the Royal Geographical Society. He was one of the academic teachers of the explorer Heinrich Barth, who traveled in Northern and Western Africa on behalf of the British government to negotiate treaties that were to stop the trans-Saharan slave trade. Carl Ritter himself was a dedicated anti-slavery propagandist in Germany.

Ritter’s impact on geography was especially notable because he brought forth a new conception of the subject. H wrote:

Geography is a kind of physiology and comparative anatomy of the earth: rivers, mountains, glaciers, &c., were so many distinct organs, each with its own appropriate functions; and, as his physical frame is the basis of the man, determinative to a large extent of his life, so the structure of each country is a leading element in the historic progress of the nation. The earth is a cosmic individual with a particular sui generis organization, with a progressive development: the exploration of this individuality of the earth is the task of geography.

In 1822 Ritter was elected to the Prussian Academy of Sciences, and in 1824 he became a corresponding member of the Société Asiatique de Paris. In 1828, he established the Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin (Berlin Geographical Society). He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1849. In 1856, he was appointed curator of the Royal Cartographic Institute of Prussia. He died in Berlin in 1859.

Carl Ritter’s 19 part (21 volume) masterwork, Erdkunde im Verhältnis zur Natur und zur Geschichte des Menschen oder allgemeine, vergleichende Geographie, als sichere Grundlage des Studiums und Unterricts in physicalischen und historischen Wissenschaften,( Geography in relation to nature and the history of man or in general, comparative geography, as a secure basis of study and instruction in physical and historical sciences), is one of the most extensive works of geographical literature written by a single author. The first two volumes were published by G. Reimer in 1817 and 1818 respectively, after which the third would not be published until 1922. He also wrote and published Vorhalle der europäischen Völkergeschichte vor Herodotus um den Kaukasus und um die Gestade des Pontus, eine Abhandlung zur Altertumskunde (Vestibule of the European history of nations before Herodotus around the Caucasus and around the shores of the Pontus, a treatise on antiquity), which marked Ritter’s interest in India. It also served as a transition to a third volume of Erdkunde appearing first in 1835.

In total, Ritter intended to write an all-encompassing geography spanning the entire globe. His work was to consist of three parts:

  1. The solid form or the continents
  2. The fluid form or the elements
  3. The bodies of the three realms of nature

Part one was to undertake the continents of the globe beginning with the “Old World” and work to the “New World”. The dynamic of old and new proposed here does not correspond to contemporary notions, rather refers to the evolution of human activity on the planet as Ritter understood it. Due to the colossal scale of his project, Ritter was never able to complete it.

Part two was to deal with the fluid forms; by this he meant water, air, and fire. These elements correspond approximately to the studies of Hydrography, Meteorology, Climatology, as well as Volcanology. This part, too, was to be examined within the framework of the whole system.

The final part of the proposed work was to be dedicated to the interrelationships of organic life with geography and history. Ritter’s approach to geography was to identify the relationship between the variables at stake. He was particularly interested in the development of these relationships over time and how their constituent components (animals and the earth) contributed to this evolution. Borrowing the concept of “organic unity” used by Alexander von Humboldt, Ritter went further saying a geography is simply not possible without it.

Ritter had produced an astonishing amount of geographical literature contained in his Erdkunde alone. It amounts to 21 volumes comprising 19 parts which can be roughly divided into 6 sections:

  1. Africa (I) 1822
  2. East Asia (II-VI) 1818-1836
  3. West Asia (VII-XI) 1837-1844
  4. Arabia (XII-XIII) 1846-1847
  5. Sinai Peninsula (XIV-XVII) 1847-1848
  6. Asia Minor (XVIII-XIX) 1850-1852

Ritter established the treatment of geography as a study and a science. His treatment was endorsed and adopted by all geographers.

By comparison to Ritter, explorers and cartographers such as Sir Robert Dudley (1574 – 1649) were piecemeal geographers, who were, of course, data gatherers and not theoreticians. But Ritter’s work could not have existed without them as forerunners. Dudley was the illegitimate son of Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, who was treated very well by his father. He inherited the bulk of the Earl’s estate in accordance with his father’s will, including Kenilworth Castle. He also inherited titles from his uncle. In 1603–1605, he tried unsuccessfully to establish his legitimacy in Elizabeth’s court. After that he left England forever, finding a new life in the service of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. There, he worked as an engineer and shipbuilder, and designed and published Dell’Arcano del Mare (1645-1646), the first maritime atlas to cover the whole world. He was also a skilled navigator and mathematician. In Italy, he styled himself Earl of Warwick and Leicester, as well as Duke of Northumberland, titles recognized by Ferdinand II, grand duke of Tuscany.

In 1594, Dudley assembled a fleet of ships, including his flagship, the galleon Beare, as well as the Beare’s Whelpe, and the pinnaces Earwig and Frisking. He intended to use them to harass the Spaniards in the Atlantic, although the queen did not approve because of his youth and inexperience. He did, however, engage in multiple trips across and around the Atlantic.

The most important of Dudley’s works was Dell’Arcano del Mare (Secrets of the Sea). It includes a comprehensive treatise on navigation and shipbuilding and it has become renowned as the first atlas of sea charts of the world. Dell’Arcano del Mare consists of six known volumes that illustrate Dudley’s knowledge of navigation, shipbuilding and astronomy and it includes 130 original maps, all his own creations and not copied from existing maps, which was unusual for the period. Dell’Arcano del Mare was originally published in Florence in 1645 in Italian. It represents a collection of all contemporary naval knowledge. The atlas also includes a proposal for the construction of a fleet of five rates (sizes) of ships, which Dudley had designed and described. Dell’Arcano del Mare was reprinted in Florence in 1661 without the charts of the first edition. The distinctive character of Dudley’s charts was influenced by the Italian baroque engraver Antonio Francesco Lucini. Later mapmakers chose not to copy Dudley’s style and so it became a unique and rare relic in the history of cartography. Lucini recorded that he had spent 12 years and 5,000 pounds of copper to produce the plates.

Leipzig hodgepodge would be a good recipe for today, coming from Ritter’s home region, and taking in all kinds of ingredients. But I have already given it here: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/maria-kirch/ .  Here instead is Kartoffelsuppe mit Krabben, potato soup with shrimp, a Saxon recipe from the major Baltic port of Lübeck. The city was the capital of the Hanseatic League, a powerful medieval trade association of cities and merchants. They needed geographers.

Kartoffelsuppe mit Krabben

Ingredients

6 oz very small raw shrimp, unshelled
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 shallot, peeled and finely minced
1 leek, cleaned, trimmed, and chopped
1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium red potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp dried tarragon
¼ cup light cream

Instructions

Cook the shrimp in boiling water until just pink (2 to 3 minutes). Shell and devein them and reserve. Simmer the shells with 2 cups of water for 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the shallot until translucent. Add the leek and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, carrot, and chicken broth.

Strain the shrimp stock, add it to the soup and stir. Reduce the heat and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Pulse the soup in a blender or food processor a few times so that some of the vegetables are blended and some remain in chunks.

Add the shrimp and reheat the soup thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste, ginger, and tarragon. Stir in the cream and serve at once.

Aug 062018
 

Today is the birthday (1928) of Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola US artist, director and producer who was a leading figure in pop art in the 1960s. Today is also the feast of the Transfiguration in certain Christian sects (not all, although it is a universal feast). Few people realize that Warhol was a devout Ruthenian Catholic, so pairing the two celebrations is appropriate.

Warhol was born on August 6, 1928, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of Ondrej Warhola (Anglicized as Andrew Warhola, Sr., 1889–1942) and Julia (née Zavacká, 1892–1972), whose first child was born in their homeland, now Slovakia, and died before their move to the U.S. His parents were Lemko (eastern Slav) emigrants from Mikó (now called Miková) in the Carpathian mountains, part of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. Warhol’s father emigrated to the United States in 1914, and his mother joined him in 1921. The family was Ruthenian Catholic (aka Byzantine Catholic) and attended St. John Chrysostom Byzantine Catholic Church. Andy Warhol had two older brothers—Pavol (Paul), the oldest, was born before the family emigrated and Ján was born in Pittsburgh.

In third grade, Warhol developed Sydenham’s chorea (also known as St. Vitus’ Dance), a nervous system disease that causes involuntary movements of the extremities, which is believed to be a complication of scarlet fever. He became a hypochondriac, and developed a fear of hospitals and doctors. Warhol was often bedridden as a child, and spent much of the time drawing, listening to the radio, and collecting pictures of movie stars, which he later described as very important in the development of his personality, skill-set and preferences. When Warhol was 13, his father died in an accident.

Warhol graduated from Schenley High School in 1945. After graduating from high school, his intentions were to study art education at the University of Pittsburgh in the hope of becoming an art teacher, but his plans changed and he enrolled in the Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he studied commercial art. During his time there, Warhol joined the campus Modern Dance Club and Beaux Arts Society. He also served as art director of the student art magazine, Cano, illustrating a cover in 1948 and a full-page interior illustration in 1949. These are believed to be his first two published artworks.[18] Warhol earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in pictorial design in 1949. Later that year, he moved to New York City and began a career in magazine illustration and advertising.

Warhol’s early career was dedicated to commercial and advertising art, where his first commission had been to draw shoes for Glamour magazine in the late 1940s. In the 1950s, Warhol worked as a designer for shoe manufacturer Israel Miller. Photographer John Coplans recalled that,

. . . nobody drew shoes the way Andy did. He somehow gave each shoe a temperament of its own, a sort of sly, Toulouse-Lautrec kind of sophistication, but the shape and the style came through accurately and the buckle was always in the right place. The kids in the apartment [which Andy shared in New York – note by Coplans] noticed that the vamps on Andy’s shoe drawings kept getting longer and longer but [Israel] Miller didn’t mind. Miller loved them.

Warhol’s “whimsical” ink drawings of shoe advertisements figured in some of his earliest showings at the Bodley Gallery in New York.

Warhol was an early adopter of the silk screen printmaking process as a technique for making art. He was taught silk screen printmaking techniques by Max Arthur Cohn at his graphic arts business in Manhattan. While working in the shoe industry, Warhol developed his “blotted line” technique, applying ink to paper and then blotting the ink while still wet, which was akin to a printmaking process on the most rudimentary scale. His use of tracing paper and ink allowed him to repeat the basic image and also to create endless variations on the theme, a method that prefigures his 1960s silk-screen canvas. In his book Popism: The Warhol Sixties, Warhol writes: “When you do something exactly wrong, you always turn up something.”

Warhol began exhibiting his work during the 1950s. He held exhibitions at the Hugo Gallery and the Bodley Gallery in New York City; in California, his first West Coast gallery exhibition was on July 9, 1962, in the Ferus Gallery of Los Angeles. The exhibition marked his West Coast debut of pop art. his first New York solo pop art exhibition was hosted at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery November 6–24, 1962. The exhibit included the works Marilyn Diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles, and 100 Dollar Bills.

It was during the 1960s that Warhol began to make paintings of iconic American objects such as dollar bills, mushroom clouds, electric chairs, Campbell’s Soup Cans, Coca-Cola bottles, celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Marlon Brando, Troy Donahue, Muhammad Ali, and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as newspaper headlines or photographs of police dogs attacking African-American protesters during the Birmingham campaign in the civil rights movement. During these years, he founded his studio, “The Factory” and gathered about him a wide range of artists, writers, musicians, and underground celebrities. Warhol said of Coca-Cola:

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca-Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca-Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca-Cola, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art hosted a Symposium on pop art in December 1962 during which artists such as Warhol were attacked for “capitulating” to consumerism. Critics were scandalized by Warhol’s open embrace of market culture. During the 1960s, Warhol also groomed a retinue of bohemian and counterculture eccentrics upon whom he bestowed the designation “Superstars”, including Nico, Joe Dallesandro, Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Ultra Violet, Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis, and Candy Darling. These people all participated in the Factory films, and some—like Berlin—remained friends with Warhol until his death. Important figures in the New York underground art/cinema world, such as writer John Giorno and film-maker Jack Smith, also appear in Warhol films (many premiering at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre and 55th Street Playhouse) of the 1960s, revealing Warhol’s connections to a diverse range of artistic scenes during this time. Less well known was his support and collaboration with several teenagers during this era, who achieved prominence later in life including writer David Dalton, photographer Stephen Shore and artist Bibbe Hansen (mother of pop musician Beck).

On June 3rd, 1968, radical feminist writer Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and Mario Amaya, art critic and curator, at Warhol’s studio. Before the shooting, Solanas had been a marginal figure in the Factory scene. She wrote the S.C.U.M. Manifesto in 1967, a separatist feminist tract that advocated the elimination of men; and appeared in the 1968 Warhol film I, a Man. Earlier on the day of the attack, Solanas had been turned away from the Factory after asking for the return of a script she had given to Warhol. The script had apparently been misplaced. Amaya received only minor injuries and was released from the hospital later the same day. Warhol was seriously wounded by the attack and barely survived: surgeons opened his chest and massaged his heart to help stimulate its movement again. He suffered physical effects for the rest of his life, including being required to wear a surgical corset. The shooting had a profound effect on Warhol’s subsequent life and art.

Solanas was arrested the day after the assault, after turning herself in to police. By way of explanation, she said that Warhol “had too much control over my life.” She was subsequently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and eventually sentenced to three years under the control of the Department of Corrections. After the shooting, the Factory scene heavily increased security, and for many the “Factory 60s” ended. Warhol wrote:

Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television—you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.

 

Warhol was a practicing Ruthenian Catholic all of his life. He regularly volunteered at homeless shelters in New York City, particularly during the busier times of the year, and described himself as a religious person. Many of Warhol’s later works depicted religious subjects, including two series, Details of Renaissance Paintings (1984) and The Last Supper (1986). In addition, a body of religious-themed works was found posthumously in his estate. During his life, Warhol regularly attended Mass, and the priest at Warhol’s church, Saint Vincent Ferrer, said that he went there almost daily, although he was not observed taking Communion or going to Confession and sat or knelt in the pews at the back. The priest thought he was afraid of being recognized. Warhol said he was self-conscious about being seen in a Roman Rite church crossing himself “in the Orthodox way” (right to left instead of the reverse). Warhol’s brother has described him as “really religious, but he didn’t want people to know about that because it was private”. Despite the private nature of his faith, in Warhol’s eulogy John Richardson depicted it as devout: “To my certain knowledge, he was responsible for at least one conversion. He took considerable pride in financing his nephew’s studies for the priesthood”

This brings us to the Transfiguration. The feast comes from the account in the Synoptic gospels (Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36). Here is Mark 9:2-4:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

The feast of the Transfiguration was known in various forms by the 9th century, and in the Western Church was made a universal feast on 6th August by Pope Callixtus III. Many denominations celebrate the Transfiguration, including quite a number of Protestants, but the dates vary. Presbyterians (as well as Methodists and Lutherans) celebrate it on the Sunday immediately preceding Lent. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox churches that follow the Gregorian calendar continue to use August 6th.

Christian theology assigns a great deal of significance to the Transfiguration, based on multiple elements of the narrative. The Transfiguration is a pivotal moment because it unequivocally identifies Jesus as more than human, and takes place on a mountain, a setting in both the Hebrew and Greek Bibles where specially chosen people meet God. Mountains act as a bridge between heaven and earth.

As a committed Ruthenian Catholic, Andy Warhol would have celebrated the Transfiguration annually, but I am not going to speculate on what he ate on that day. He did not simply champion fast food and commercial products in his art, he was a regular consumer of them as well. He wrote:

My favorite restaurant atmosphere has always been the atmosphere of the good, plain American lunchroom or even the good, plain American lunch counter. The old-style Schrafft’s and the old-style Chock Full o’Nuts are absolutely the only things in the world that I’m truly nostalgic for. The days were carefree in the 1940s and 1950s when I could go into a Chocks for my cream cheese sandwich with nuts on date-nut bread and not worry about a thing. No matter what changes or how fast, the one thing we always need is real good food so we can know what the changes are and how fast they’re coming. Progress is very important and exciting in everything but food. When you say you want an orange, you don’t want someone asking you, “An orange what?”

There’s a start for you, cream cheese with nuts on date-nut bread. He is a known to have liked chocolate in a sandwich (which I do too, as it happens, courtesy of a stay in France as a teen), and, in general, his tastes were quite ordinary and plain. He also wrote this:

When I order in a restaurant, I order everything that I don’t want, so I have a lot to play around with while everyone else eats. Then, no matter how chic the restaurant is, I insist that the waiter wrap the entire plate up like a to-go order, and after we leave the restaurant I find a little corner outside in the street to leave the plate in, because there are so many people in New York who live in the streets, with everything they own in shopping bags.

In other words, today is not a day for extravagance, but for simple, good food. The choice is yours. I’m not so sure about a can of Campbell’s tomato soup, although I used to be a big fan of their pepper pot. A ballpark hotdog will work:

When Queen Elizabeth came here and President Eisenhower bought her a hot dog I’m sure he felt confident that she couldn’t have had delivered to Buckingham Palace a better hot dog than that one he bought for her for maybe twenty cents at the ballpark. Because there is no better hot dog than a ballpark hot dog. Not for a dollar, not for ten dollars, not for a hundred thousand dollars could she get a better hot dog.