Jun 212018
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Jun 202018
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Jun 192018
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Jun 182018
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 172018
 

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

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

Stravinsky and Rimsky-Korsakov

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

Diaghilev and Stravinsky

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jun 162018
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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

 

 

 

Jun 152018
 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Drob de Miel

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

Jun 142018
 

The first Henley regatta was staged on this date in 1839 and proved so successful that it was expanded the next year from one day to two. As the regatta’s popularity has grown it has further expanded: to three days in 1886, four days in 1906 and five days in 1986. The regatta has been known as Henley Royal Regatta since 1851, when Prince Albert became the first royal patron. Since his death, every reigning monarch has agreed to be the patron.

At a public meeting in Henley town hall on 26 March 1839, Captain Edmund Gardiner proposed “that from the lively interest which had been manifested at the various boat races which have taken place on the Henley reach during the last few years, and the great influx of visitors on such occasions, this meeting is of the opinion that the establishing of an annual regatta, under judicious and respectable management, would not only be productive of the most beneficial results to the town of Henley, but from its peculiar attractions would also be a source of amusement and gratification to the neighbourhood, and the public in general.” The “various boat races” included the first Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in 1829, which by 1839 had officially moved to London’s Tideway, where it remains.

At the regatta’s inception it was intended for amateurs rather than those who rowed professionally. In 1879 Henley produced its first formal definition of an amateur:

No person shall be considered an amateur oarsman or sculler, or coxswain:

    Who has ever competed in any open competition for a stake, money, or entrance fee. (Not to apply to foreign crews.)

    Who has ever competed with or against a professional for any prize.

    Who has ever taught, pursued or assisted in the practice of athletic exercises of any kind as a means of gaining a livelihood.

    Who has been employed in or about boats for money or wages.

    Who is or has been by trade or employment for wages a mechanic, artisan or labourer.

You can tell that the last rule has class implications of a rather unsavory kind. Put in a crude paraphrase, “We don’t want our high-born men competing with manual laborers because they have bigger muscles because they do physical labor every day, and our chaps are much more refined, and so not as beefy.” That is, being muscular was a negative class marker. Henley was for the gentry, not the masses. To a degree the event still has that aura – among spectators. The regatta began in the high Victorian era, but the image conveyed on the banks is Edwardian. In the Steward’s Enclosure, for example, there is a strict dress code for men and women. Men must wear jacket and tie, which normally means boat club blazer, club tie, flannels, and a straw boater. Women must wear skirts or dresses with hemlines below the knee, but many of them look like refugees from the royal family.

In 1884, amateur status for overseas competitors was put on the same basis as for home oarsmen, thus ending the concession on racing for money prizes. By 1886 a phrase had also been added debarring any person “engaged in any menial activity.”These rules would become the cause of growing controversy as international entries to Henley increased; most foreign countries having a different definition of amateur. The adoption of Henley’s definition of amateur by the Amateur Rowing Association of Great Britain would also cause a 66-year schism in British rowing, when in 1890 a rival National Amateur Rowing Association was set up, with a much more inclusive definition of amateurism.

One well-known incident was the exclusion of future Olympic champion John B. Kelly Sr., from the 1920 regatta because he had served an apprenticeship as a bricklayer. According to the minutes of the regatta’s Committee of Management, Kelly was excluded both because he was not eligible under the manual labor rules and because he was a member of Vesper Boat Club, which was banned in 1906 because members of its 1905 Henley crew had raised money to pay for their trip through public donations – making them professionals in the eyes of the Henley Stewards. Kelly’s exclusion was widely reported in newspapers in both the UK and USA, with many seeing it as an attempt to prevent an American from winning the Diamonds. Kelly’s son John B. Kelly Jr. would dramatically win the 1947 Diamond Sculls, and his daughter would become the famous Academy Award-winning actress turned Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly, keeping the incident in the public eye for years afterwards.

In 1936, there was a further controversy when the Australian national eight, preparing for the Berlin Olympics, was excluded from the Grand Challenge Cup because the crew was composed of policemen, deemed to be ‘manual workers’. The resulting embarrassment persuaded the Amateur Rowing Association and the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta of the need for change. On 9 June 1937, the offending references to manual laborers, mechanics, artisans and menial duties were deleted from the ARA rules. Henley’s rules were changed the following day, coming into effect from the 1938 regatta.

The first ‘overseas’ entry to the regatta was in 1870 when Trinity College, Dublin entered the Grand, Ladies’, Visitors’ and Wyfold. As Dublin was at that time within the United Kingdom, this was not a foreign entry. Trinity won the Visitors’ and reached the final of the Ladies’. The first international competitors came in 1878 when G.W. Lee of New Jersey and G. Lee of Boston entered the Diamonds, Shoe-wae-cae-mette BC of Monroe, Michigan, a crew of French Canadian watermen, entered the Stewards’, and Columbia College entered the Stewards’ and Visitors’. Lee of Boston made little progress but Lee of New Jersey lost his heat in a very close race against T.C. Edwards-Moss, the eventual winner. Shoe-wae-cae-mette, rowing with then-unusual swivel rowlocks, reached the final of the Stewards’ but lost to London Rowing Club. Columbia won the Visitors’ Challenge Cup, becoming the first foreign winners of a Henley trophy.Unfortunately, there were accusations that both G.W. Lee and the Shoe-wae-cae-mette crew were not amateurs. This led in 1879 to a new, tighter, definition of amateurism and a requirement that any entries from outside the United Kingdom must be made on or before 1 March and must be ‘accompanied by a declaration made before Notary Public with regard to the profession of each member of the crew’, and this must be certified by the British Consul, the mayor, or the chief authority of the locality. Under these new rules, Shoe-wae-cae-mette were refused entry in 1879 as were Hillsdale Boat Club of Michigan in 1882.

The Germania Ruder Club of Frankfurt became the first entry from continental Europe in 1880, losing in a heat of the Grand to London Rowing Club. Foreign entries grew over the next twenty years, to the consternation of some who felt that the regatta should be restricted to domestic entries only. There were also a number of disputes over amateurism and the two issues were often bound up together, as in this letter to The Times from Edmond Warre, headmaster of Eton College in 1901:

I most earnestly desire that our amateur oarsmanship may be preserved from the deadly inroad of professionalism, which is already making a business of so much that ought only to be pleasure, and threatens to crush the life out of the sports of “merrie England”. Let us restrict our Henley pots to the United Kingdom and set up a proper international regatta elsewhere, if that is thought desirable.

W.H. Grenfell MP proposed a motion for a special meeting of the Stewards that:

This meeting…while fully prepared to promote the establishment of an international regatta upon a proper course and under suitable conditions, is of the opinion that Henley Regatta does not provide either a proper course or suitable conditions for international competitions.

He proposed amendments to the rules restricting entries to the United Kingdom, and for the Goblets and Diamonds to British subjects domiciled in the UK. Warre seconded his proposals. The Amateur Rowing Association canvassed its member clubs on the proposal and the results were decisive: all clubs opposed the proposals save for Oxford University Boat Club which supported them with the caveat ‘Committee decide against foreign entries provided they can row other than Henley’. At a special general meeting of the Stewards late in 1901, a motion moved by Colonel Makins ‘that in the opinion of this meeting it is inexpedient that any alteration in the rules of the regatta be made at present’ was carried by 19 votes to 5.

In 1906, Royal Club Nautique de Gand of Belgium became the first foreign crew to win the Grand Challenge Cup. A different Ghent Club, Sport Nautique de Gand took the Grand in 1907. In advance of 1908, with the Olympic Regatta to be held on the Henley course in mid-July, the Stewards announced a temporary rule change excluding overseas entries from the 1908 regatta (which would take place two weeks before the Olympics). This led to criticism of the Stewards in the British and American press, particularly since it would not permit the Belgians to defend the Grand. The Stewards pointed out in a letter to The Times that the decision had been taken before the 1907 regatta and after consultation with the Belgians. A letter from Oscar Gregoire, President of the Belgian Rowing Federation was quoted:

In a year like 1908, which will see the Olympic Regatta take place at Henley…it is not reasonable to hold an international regatta 15 days previously…the Belgian holders of the Grand Challenge Cup would not have any objection in going to defend it in 1908…

Overseas entries and wins at the regatta have continued to multiply. Since the 1960s, the open events in particular have almost exclusively become the province of national squad crews. Up to 2007, the Grand Challenge Cup had been won by overseas crews 46 times: 12 times by crews from Germany, 11 from the USA, 9 from the USSR, 4 from Canada, 3 each from Belgium and Australia, 2 from the Netherlands, and 1 each from Switzerland, France, Bulgaria and Croatia.

If you are a Brit you will hear echoes of so many jingoist and class privilege arguments that you are familiar with that have resonated throughout the 20th and into the 21st century in this summary. Personally, I don’t care one way or another about how Henley conducts its business. I rowed for my college at Oxford and paid a certain amount of attention to rowing at the time – a tiny amount. I did wear a blazer and boater on occasion and attended rowing events now and again. You can get caught up in the drama if you also participate, and a club you are affiliated with is involved. But nowadays I find the whole Edwardian dress up, with accompanying attempts to act the part (think Three Men in a Boat) perfectly silly. I expect a number of younger people who take part do so with a touch of parody, but old gits my age who still attend are perfectly serious. I find the whole Victorian and Edwardian ethos of England unpalatable in the extreme these days. Why we should want to celebrate people who got rich by oppressing the poor in their own country and trampling over countries worldwide is inexplicable to me. I have attended traditional boat races in different parts of Asia – many of which are older than Henley – and enjoy them much more because they are all inclusive, without the trappings of privilege.

It’s conventional to drink Pimm’s (now only available as No.1), or champagne at English rowing events, accompanied with strawberries. That could work for your celebratory “meal” of the day. Or, you could pack a traditional English picnic, which I have given directions for already. I’m going to be a trifle more democratic (commonplace if you like), and note that Berkshire, Henley’s county, is noted for its pork production. The Berkshire hog is now classified as a heritage breed, which is much in demand by gourmets worldwide, especially in Japan. It was first noted by Cromwell’s troops stationed in Reading, and by Victorian times was the subject of intensive breeding programs. Queen Victoria herself was a fan, and Isabella Beeton sings its praises as the finest breed of hog in England. I’m, therefore, going to go with roast pork (whether you can get Berkshire pork or have to settle for a lesser breed).

I roast pork the same way that I roast every other meat – turn the oven as high as it will go, let it heat, and then roast the meat until it is cooked. Most recipes will tell you to turn the oven to 220˚C or so, cook the pork for 25 minutes, then lower the temperature to 190˚C and cook for 35 minutes per pound. The “theory” behind this practice is that the initial high heat sears the meat (maybe also crisps the skin), and then the lower heat lets the meat cook all the way through. But . . . for centuries cooks did not have ovens that they could adjust. They spit roast over coals, and the coals were hot. Contrary to what you may think (or intuit), lower temperatures dry out the meat. I keep the heat high for the entire cooking process. Admittedly you often get a really smoky kitchen roasting this way, but that’s what windows are for.

Pork does need a little prep before roasting. Choose a nice joint with the skin on. Score the skin deeply (down to the fat) and rub it well with coarse salt. I score it in diamond patterns, but strips also work. You need to do this so that you can break it up easily when serving, and also so that the fat can escape during cooking. Place the joint, skin side up, in a roasting pan with some quartered potatoes. There is no need to baste pork as it is roasting because it has ample fat. A 5 lb joint on high heat will be cooked through in 2 hours or less. You can use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, or insert a skewer after the first 90 minutes, and stop cooking when the juices run clear – or a tad before. Remove the pork and let it rest under a foil tent on a carving platter for 15 minutes. Keep the potatoes warm. They should be well cooked at this point (crisp on the outside, soft in the center). Pour the roasting juices into a skillet and mix them with an equal quantity of flour. Heat on medium heat, whisking well, to make a roux. Add light stock to make your gravy, and season according to your taste. I usually use rosemary as the primary herb along with parsley and garlic. Apple sauce is, maybe, overdone for accompanying pork, but if you insist on something sweet and fruity then experiment with different jellied fruit, such as cranberry, or cloudberry. I tend to omit the fruity stuff. When it comes time to carve, remove the crackling (skin) first, chop it in large pieces and serve it on a plate separate from the meat.

Jun 132018
 

Today is the birthday (1773) of Thomas Young FRS, an English polymath, called “The Last Man Who Knew Everything” by Andrew Robinson in his biography, subtitled, Thomas Young, the Anonymous Polymath Who Proved Newton Wrong, Explained How We See, Cured the Sick, and Deciphered the Rosetta Stone, Among Other Feats of Genius. Young made notable scientific contributions to the fields of vision, light, solid mechanics, energy, physiology, language, musical harmony, and Egyptology. He was mentioned favorably by, among others, William Herschel, Hermann von Helmholtz, James Clerk Maxwell, and Albert Einstein. It’s also Maxwell’s birthday today, by the way: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/james-clerk-maxwell/

Young was born in Milverton in Somerset, the eldest of 10 children in a Quaker family. By the age of 14 Young had learned Greek and Latin and was acquainted with French, Italian, Hebrew, German, Aramaic, Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Amharic. He began to study medicine in London at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1792, moved to the University of Edinburgh Medical School in 1794, and a year later went to the University of Göttingen in Lower Saxony where he obtained the degree of doctor of medicine in 1796. In 1797 he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge. In the same year he inherited the estate of his grand-uncle, Richard Brocklesby, which made him financially independent, and in 1799 he established himself as a physician at 48 Welbeck Street, London (now recorded with a blue plaque). Young published many of his first academic articles anonymously to protect his reputation as a physician.

In 1801, Young was appointed professor of natural philosophy (mainly physics) at the Royal Institution. In two years, he delivered 91 lectures. In 1802, he was appointed foreign secretary of the Royal Society, of which he had been elected a fellow in 1794. He resigned his professorship in 1803, fearing that its duties would interfere with his medical practice. His lectures were published in 1807 in the Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and contain a number of anticipations of later theories. In 1811, Young became physician to St George’s Hospital, and in 1814 he served on a committee appointed to consider the dangers involved in the general introduction of gas for lighting into London. In 1816 he was secretary of a commission charged with ascertaining the precise length of the seconds pendulum (the length of a pendulum whose period is exactly 2 seconds), and in 1818 he became secretary to the Board of Longitude and superintendent of the HM Nautical Almanac Office.

Young was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1822. A few years before his death he became interested in life insurance, and in 1827 he was chosen one of the eight foreign associates of the French Academy of Sciences. In 1828, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He died in London on 10th May 1829, and was buried in the cemetery of St. Giles Church in Farnborough, Kent, England. Westminster Abbey houses a white marble tablet in memory of Young bearing an extended epitaph by Hudson Gurney:

Sacred to the memory of Thomas Young, M.D., Fellow and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society Member of the National Institute of France; a man alike eminent in almost every department of human learning. Patient of unintermitted labour, endowed with the faculty of intuitive perception, who, bringing an equal mastery to the most abstruse investigations of letters and of science, first established the undulatory theory of light, and first penetrated the obscurity which had veiled for ages the hieroglyphs of Egypt. Endeared to his friends by his domestic virtues, honoured by the World for his unrivalled acquirements, he died in the hopes of the Resurrection of the just. — Born at Milverton, in Somersetshire, 13 June 1773. Died in Park Square, London, 10 May 1829, in the 56th year of his age.

Young was highly regarded by his friends and colleagues. He was said never to impose his knowledge, but if asked was able to answer even the most difficult scientific question with ease. Although very learned he had a reputation for sometimes having difficulty in communicating his knowledge. It was said by one of his contemporaries that, “His words were not those in familiar use, and the arrangement of his ideas seldom the same as those he conversed with. He was therefore worse calculated than any man I ever knew for the communication of knowledge.” Young is quite well known by scholars in different fields but they usually know him only for his work in their specialties, not as a polymath.

I’ll just list briefly the areas where he made significant contributions – with a small synopsis.

Wave theory of light

In Young’s own judgment, of his many achievements the most important was to establish the wave theory of light. To do so, he had to overcome the view, expressed in the highly esteemed Isaac Newton’s Opticks, that light is a particle. Nevertheless, in the early-19th century Young put forth a number of theoretical reasons supporting the wave theory of light, and he developed two enduring demonstrations to support this viewpoint. With the ripple tank he demonstrated the idea of interference in the context of water waves. With his interference experiment (the now-classic double-slit experiment), he demonstrated interference in the context of light as a wave.

After publishing a paper on interference, he published a paper entitled “Experiments and Calculations Relative to Physical Optics” in 1804. Young describes an experiment in which he placed a narrow card (approximately 1/30th  inch) in a beam of light from a single opening in a window and observed the fringes of color in the shadow and to the sides of the card. He observed that placing another card before or after the narrow strip so as to prevent light from the beam from striking one of its edges caused the fringes to disappear. This supported the contention that light is composed of waves. Young performed and analyzed a number of experiments, including interference of light from reflection off nearby pairs of micrometer grooves, from reflection off thin films of soap and oil, and from Newton’s rings. He also performed two important diffraction experiments using fibers and long narrow strips. In his Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts (1807) he gives Grimaldi credit for first observing the fringes in the shadow of an object placed in a beam of light. Within ten years, much of Young’s work was reproduced and then extended by others.

Young’s modulus

Engineers all know Young’s modulus, which describes the elasticity of materials beyond the limits of Hook’s Law. Hook’s Law describes the direct, proportional correlation between the load on a spring, and the extension of the spring “provided the load is not too great.” The proviso is there because if the load is “too great” all bets are off. Young’s modulus takes care of that. Young described his findings in his Course of Lectures on Natural Philosophy and the Mechanical Arts. However, the first use of the concept of Young’s modulus in experiments was by Giordano Riccati in 1782, predating Young by 25 years. Furthermore, the idea can be traced to a paper by Leonhard Euler published in 1727, 80 years before Young’s 1807 paper on the subject. Nonetheless, Young’s application was the one generally adopted by engineers. Young’s Modulus allowed, for the first time, prediction of the strain in a component subject to a known stress (and vice versa). Prior to Young’s contribution, engineers were required to apply Hooke’s F = kx relationship to identify the deformation (x) of a body subject to a known load (F), where the constant (k) is a function of both the geometry and material under consideration. Finding k required physical testing for any new component, as the F = kx relationship is a function of both geometry and material. Young’s Modulus depends only on the material, not its geometry, thus allowing a revolution in engineering strategies.

Vision and color theory

Young has sometimes been called the founder of physiological optics. In 1793 he explained the mode in which the eye accommodates itself to vision at different distances as depending on change of the curvature of the crystalline lens; in 1801 he was the first to describe astigmatism; and in his lectures he presented the hypothesis, afterwards developed by Hermann von Helmholtz, (the Young–Helmholtz theory), that color perception depends on the presence in the retina of three kinds of nerve fibers. This foreshadowed the modern understanding of color vision, in particular the finding that the eye does indeed have three colour receptors which are sensitive to different wavelength ranges.

Young–Laplace equation

In 1804, Young developed the theory of capillary action based on the principle of surface tension. He also observed the constancy of the angle of contact of a liquid surface with a solid, and showed how to deduce the phenomenon of capillary action from these two principles. In 1805, Pierre-Simon Laplace, the French philosopher, discovered the significance of meniscus radii with respect to capillary action. In 1830, Carl Friedrich Gauss, the German mathematician, unified the work of these two scientists to derive the Young–Laplace equation, the formula that describes the capillary pressure difference sustained across the interface between two static fluids. Young’s equation describes the contact angle of a liquid drop on a plane solid surface as a function of the surface free energy, the interfacial free energy and the surface tension of the liquid. Young’s equation was developed further some 60 years later by Dupré to account for thermodynamic effects, and this is known as the Young–Dupré equation.

Medicine

In physiology Young made an important contribution to haemodynamics in the Croonian lecture for 1808 on the “Functions of the Heart and Arteries,” where he derived a formula for the wave speed of the pulse and his medical writings included An Introduction to Medical Literature, including a System of Practical Nosology (1813) and A Practical and Historical Treatise on Consumptive Diseases (1815). Young devised a rule of thumb for determining a child’s drug dosage. Young’s Rule states that the child dosage is equal to the adult dosage multiplied by the child’s age in years, divided by the sum of 12 plus the child’s age.

Languages

In an appendix to his Göttingen dissertation (1796; “De corporis hvmani viribvs conservatricibvs. Dissertatio.”) there are four pages added proposing a universal phonetic alphabet (so as ‘not to leave these pages blank’ –  Ne vacuae starent hae paginae, libuit e praelectione ante disputationem habenda tabellam literarum vniuersalem raptim describere”). It includes 16 “pure” vowel symbols, nasal vowels, various consonants, and examples of these, drawn primarily from French and English. In his Encyclopædia Britannica article “Languages”, Young compared the grammar and vocabulary of 400 languages. In a separate work in 1813, he introduced the term “Indo-European” languages, 165 years after the Dutch linguist Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn proposed the grouping to which this term refers in 1647.

Egyptian hieroglyphs

Young made significant contributions in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs. He started his Egyptology work rather late, in 1813, when the work was already in progress among other researchers. He began by using an Egyptian demotic alphabet of 29 letters built up by Johan David Åkerblad in 1802 (14 turned out to be incorrect). Åkerblad was correct in stressing the importance of the demotic text in trying to read the inscriptions, but he wrongly believed that demotic was entirely alphabetic. By 1814 Young had completely translated the “enchorial” text of the Rosetta Stone (using a list with 86 demotic words), and then studied the hieroglyphic alphabet but initially failed to recognize that the demotic and hieroglyphic texts were paraphrases and not simple translations. There was considerable rivalry between Young and Jean-François Champollion while both were working on hieroglyphic decipherment. At first they briefly cooperated in their work, but later, from around 1815, a chill arose between them. For many years they kept details of their work away from each other. Some of Young’s conclusions appeared in the famous article “Egypt” he wrote for the 1818 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. When Champollion finally published a translation of the hieroglyphs and the key to the grammatical system in 1822, Young (and many others) praised his work. Nevertheless, a year later Young published an Account of the Recent Discoveries in Hieroglyphic Literature and Egyptian Antiquities, to have his own work recognized as the basis for Champollion’s system. Young had correctly found the sound value of six hieroglyphic signs, but had not deduced the grammar of the language. Young, himself, acknowledged that he was somewhat at a disadvantage because Champollion’s knowledge of the relevant languages, such as Coptic, was much greater. Several scholars have suggested that Young’s true contribution to Egyptology was his decipherment of the demotic script. He made the first major advances in this area. He also correctly identified demotic as being composed of both ideographic and phonetic signs.

Music

Young developed two systems of tuning a piano so that it was well tempered (Wohltemperiert), that is, was tuned so as to be able to modulate between all major and minor scales without sounding obviously out of tune in any of them. Discussions of temperaments get really technical really quickly. Young’s first temperament was designed to sound best in the keys that were the commonest, and his second was a kind of inversion of the first. Unless you know the difference between BƄ and A#, and the differences that their major and minor thirds make in chords, this will not make any sense to you. It is a problem in the physics of acoustics, essentially.

Historians and critics vary enormously in their assessment of Young. Without question he was well versed in all the fields above – and more – and was able to expound on them critically (if not always clearly). How original his contributions were to the various fields, is the subject of ongoing debate. The idea than he was the last man to know everything, is obvious (and intentional) hyperbole. But it also highlights the fact that at the beginning of the 19th century it was still possible to gain expert knowledge in widely diverse fields. Furthermore, Young not only knew a lot of stuff, he was able to make contributions to diverse fields. Whether or not he was always entirely original is beside the point as far as I am concerned. We’re talking about a man who made contributions – recognized as significant by experts – in half a dozen specialties, that most of us do not even understand, let alone are capable of mastering.

As I have done quite a number of times with birthdays recently, I’ll celebrate Young with a recipe from his home region, Somerset. Somerset is well known for apples, cider, and dairying, and this recipe for Somerset chicken, which is traditional, combines all three.

Somerset Chicken

Ingredients

6 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
salt and freshly ground black pepper
75 gm/2½ oz butter
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and sliced
4 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 dessert apples, peeled, cored and sliced
110 gm/4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
250 ml/9 fl oz chicken stock
300 ml/10½ fl oz cider
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
250 ml/9 fl oz double cream
300 gm/10½ oz cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Instructions

Heat a large skillet until smoking, then add half of the butter and oil. Fry the chicken breasts in batches, skin-side down first, for 5 minutes on each side, making sure they are golden-brown all over.  Transfer the chicken breasts to a baking dish and keep warm.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining butter and oil. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened but without taking on color. Stir in the flour and the mustard and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Add the apples and mushrooms and cook for a further minute, then pour the chicken stock over ingredients.

Bring the skillet to the boil, add the cider and return to the boil. Cook for 1-2 minutes, then lower the heat, add the sage and stir in the cream. Simmer for a further 5-6 minutes, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the chicken in the baking pan.

Preheat the broiler to high.

Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the chicken and place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, golden-brown and bubbling.

Serve with baked or boiled new potatoes.

Jun 122018
 

Today is the birthday (1920) of Peter Geoffrey Francis Jones, an English actor, screenwriter and broadcaster, known to several generations – mostly in the UK – for iconic roles. Jones was born in Wem in Shropshire and he was educated at Wem Grammar School and Ellesmere College where he performed in school plays. He made his first appearance as an actor in Wolverhampton at the age of 16 where he was fired after his first night. Subsequently he developed his acting chops in repertory in East Anglia.  In 1942 he first acted on the West End stage in Shaw’s The Doctor’s Dilemma and also in 1942 he made an uncredited film appearance in Fanny by Gaslight. His first film credit was for Peter Ustinov’s Vice Versa (1948).

Between 1952 and 1955 Jones starred alongside Peter Ustinov in the BBC radio comedy In All Directions. The show featured Jones and Ustinov as themselves in a car in London perpetually searching for Copthorne Avenue. The comedy derived from the characters they met along the way, often also played by themselves. The show was unusual for the time in that it was largely improvised—with the tape subsequently edited for broadcast by Frank Muir and Denis Norden, who also sometimes took part. Two of the more popular characters were Morris and Dudley Grosvenor, two rather stupid East End spivs whose sketches always ended with the phrase “Run for it Dudley” (or Morry as appropriate). One recording, from October 1952, survives in the BBC Sound Archive. The Grosvenor character was revived for a later radio series We’re in Business. Another notable radio role was as Mervyn Bunter in Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey stories. He was for 29 years a regular contestant on the panel game Just A Minute, becoming much-loved for his dry, acid wit. If you are not a Brit, chances are that you do not know this show, not understand its comic absurdity. Among other things, the show relies on the distinctiveness of the voices of participants to keep your anchor in its chaotic repartee.

Jones was the voice of The Book in the original radio series of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The creators had wanted someone with a “Peter Jonesy sort of voice” and after several rejections asked Jones himself. He reprised the role for the LP and the TV series. Jones narrated Douglas Adams’s later radio series Last Chance to See, in a style similar to the earlier series. Jones begins this first episode:

On television, Jones was best known for his lead role as Mr Fenner in the Classic Comedy series The Rag Trade (BBC TV 1961-63, LWT 1977-78), but he also had acting roles in the British comedy series The Goodies, the courtroom drama Rumpole of the Bailey, Holby City, Whoops Apocalypse, The Bill, Midsomer Murders, Minder and two episodes of The Avengers. Jones appears near the start of this pilot episode of The Rag Trade.

Jones plays the very middle class factory manager as a counterpoint to the working class women on the shop floor, and is normally the butt of their humor and pranks. I watched it because my family did, but the jokes based on the English class structure did not amuse me. (Socio-economic class systems do not amuse me).

From 1969 to 1971, Jones also starred (opposite Sheila Hancock) in a sitcom (for ITV, by Yorkshire Television) called Mr Digby, Darling, lasting 3 series (and 19 episodes). He also co-wrote and starred in the sitcom Mr Big (1977), with Ian Lavender, Prunella Scales and Carol Hawkins.

Jones featured in a raft of films, including Albert R.N. (1953), Private’s Progress (1956), School for Scoundrels (1960, reprising his Dudley Grosvenor character as a used-car salesman with Dennis Price), Just like a Woman (1967) alongside Wendy Craig, The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) and Chariots of Fire (1981).

Jones died of “natural causes,” aged 79, in 2000 in London. His wife, Jeri Sauvinet, a US theatre actor pre-deceased him in 1999. They had three children together; a daughter, Selena (later Carey-Jones and then Doggett-Jones), and two sons Charles Daniel Jones, and Bill Dare Jones.

Jones’s home town of Wem is close to Shrewsbury, and given that I have no information on his food likes I’ll go with Shrewsbury cakes. They are somewhat like shortbread, but are less crumbly and are flavored with rosewater. They used to accompany sweet dishes such as syllabub, but can be eaten plain with a cup of tea. They can keep a very long time in an air-tight tin.

This recipe is from, A daily exercise for ladies and gentlewomen : whereby they may learne and practise the whole art of making pastes, preserues, marmalades, conserues, tartstuffes, gellies, breads, sucket-candies, cordiall waters, conceits in sugar-workes of seuerall kindes : as also to dry lemonds, orenges, or other fruits : newly set forth according to the now approued receipts vsed both by honourable and worshipfull personages, by John Murrell (1617).  You can find modern recipes online, but I like this one because of its simplicity.

Take a quart of very fine flouwer, eight onces of fine sugar beaten and cersed [sieved], twelve ounces sweet butter, nutmeg grated, damaske rosewater- work together with your hands for halfe an houre, then roule in little round cakes about the thickness of three shillings, then take a glasse and cut the cakes, then strow some flower on white papers and bake them in an oven as hotte as for manchet. If the oven be not hotte sett your lid downe until they be baked enough, for they must lokke browne not white. you may keep them halfe a yeare but new baked are best.

You have your necessary proportions here. A quart of flour is about 14 ounces. Using the rosewater you can buy today for culinary purposes, you are going to need to cut it with plain water, otherwise the cakes will be really pungent. I don’t know how thick a shilling was in the 17th century, but modern Shrewsbury cakes are quite thick. Kneading for 30 minutes, seems like a lot, but is necessary with the kind of flour 17th century cooks would have used with a high gluten content. Manchet was a sweet wheat bread, meaning you should be using a hot oven (230°C/450°F).