Apr 212019
 

Today is the feast day of Anselm of Canterbury, also called Anselm of Aosta (Anselmo d’Aosta) after his birthplace and Anselm of Bec (Anselme du Bec) after his monastery. He was a Benedictine monk, abbot, philosopher and theologian of the Catholic church, who held the office of archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109 after serving in other capacities in monasteries in continental Europe. Beginning in Bec, Anselm composed dialogues and treatises with a rational and philosophical approach, sometimes causing him to be credited as the founder of Scholasticism (a dubious claim). Despite his lack of recognition in this field in his own time, Anselm is now famed as the originator of the ontological argument for the existence of God and of the satisfaction theory of atonement. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by a bull of Pope Clement XI in 1720.

As archbishop of Canterbury, he defended the church’s interests in England amid the Investiture Controversy (a long, involved wrangle between Anselm and English kings about his ability to be archbishop). For his resistance to the English kings William II and Henry I, he was exiled twice: once from 1097 to 1100 and then from 1105 to 1107. While in exile, he helped guide the Greek bishops of southern Italy to adopt Roman rites at the Council of Bari. He worked for the primacy of Canterbury over the bishops of York and Wales but, though at his death he appeared to have been successful, Pope Paschal II later reversed himself and restored York’s independence.

Anselm’s works are considered philosophical as well as theological since they endeavor to render Christian tenets of faith, traditionally taken as a revealed truth, as a rational system. Anselm also studiously analyzed the language used in his subjects, carefully distinguishing the meaning of the terms employed from the verbal forms, which he found at times wholly inadequate. His worldview was broadly Neoplatonic, as it was reconciled with Christianity in the works of St Augustine and Pseudo-Dionysius, with his understanding of Aristotelian logic gathered from the works of Boethius. He or the thinkers in northern France who followed him—including Abelard, William of Conches, and Gilbert of Poitiers—inaugurated one of the most brilliant periods of Western philosophy, innovating logic, semantics, ethics, metaphysics, and other areas of philosophical theology.

Anselm held that faith necessarily precedes reason, but that reason can expand upon faith: “And I do not seek to understand that I may believe but believe that I might understand. For this too I believe since, unless I first believe, I shall not understand”. This is possibly drawn from Tractate XXIX of St Augustine’s Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John. Regarding John 7:14–18, Augustine counseled “Do not seek to understand in order to believe but believe that thou may understand”. Anselm rephrased the idea repeatedly and his aptest motto might come from the original title of the Proslogion, “faith seeking understanding”, which broadened to “an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of God”. Once faith is acquired and held fast, however, he argued an attempt must be made to demonstrate its truth by means of reason. I’ll say amen to that

I recently read a blog about making a three course meal to celebrate the feast of Anselm, the first course an Italian antipasto celebrating his birth in Italy, the second course, a French roast to celebrate his time as abbot in Normandy, and the third, an English apple cake for his Canterbury days. This is ludicrously anachronistic (not to mention the fact that the antipasto had ingredients indigenous to North America). Italian, French, and English cuisines were not bounded categories in the Middle Ages. It is quite likely that Anselm ate much the same food in his birthplace as in the places he traveled. This would have been especially true of Normandy and England in the days when England was a province of Normandy, where Anselm served under the same king in both places. Rather, I will speak of lampreys (a sardonic choice given that Anselm’s second nemesis, Henry I, is reputed to have died from eating too many lampreys, against his doctor’s advice).

Lampreys are fish that superficially resemble eels in that they have scaleless, elongated bodies, and can range from 13 to 100 cm (5 to 40 inches) in length. They were eaten throughout Europe in Roman times through the Middle Ages, and were highly prized, especially in Lent, because their flesh has a meaty texture. Here is a Norman recipe from Le Viandier from around 1300 for grilled lamprey in sauce:

¶ Lemproye frite a la saulce chaulde soyt seignee par la gueulle / & ostes la langue faictes bien seigner boutes en broche & gardes le sang car cest la gresse & la fault eschaulder comme vne anguille en broche. puis affines gingembre canelle graine de paradis: noix muscade: & vng peu de pain halle trempe en vinaigre & le sang deffaictes tout ensemble faictez bouillir vne once puis mettes dedans vostre lemproye toute entiere & ne soit pas trop noire la saulce.

The basics of the recipe are that you should bleed the lamprey and keep the blood. Thread the lamprey on a spit and roast it. Make a sauce by boiling together ginger, cinnamon, grains of paradise, nutmeg and a little bread soaked in vinegar and the blood. Make sure that the sauce does not darken. Serve the grilled lampreys whole in the sauce.

Apr 182019
 

Today is the anniversary of Paul Revere’s “midnight” ride in 1775. It has mythic status in contemporary US popular consciousness largely because of the boost it was given by Longfellow’s poem, which is full of factual errors (yet is treated as real history). Propaganda displacing truth is nothing new. Note that the ride occurred in 1775, not the legendary year of 1776, and marked the real beginning of the Revolutionary War – over a year prior to the Declaration of Independence.

Revere was born in the North End of Boston on December 21st, 1734, according to the Old Style calendar then in use, or January 1, 1735, in the modern calendar. His father, a French Huguenot, born Apollos Rivoire, came to Boston at the age of 13 and was apprenticed to the silversmith John Coney. By the time he married Deborah Hitchborn, a member of a long-standing Boston family that owned a small shipping wharf, in 1729, Rivoire had anglicized his name to Paul Revere. Their son, Paul Revere, was the third of 12 children and eventually the eldest surviving son. At 13 he left school and became an apprentice to his father. The silversmith trade afforded him connections with a cross-section of Boston society, which would serve him well when he became active in the American Revolution. Although his father attended Puritan services, Revere was drawn to the Church of England. Revere eventually began attending the services of the political and provocative Jonathan Mayhew at the West Church. His father did not approve, and as a result father and son came to blows on one occasion. Revere relented and returned to his father’s church, although he did become friends with Mayhew, and returned to the West Church in the late 1760s.

Revere’s father died in 1754, when Paul was legally too young to officially be the master of the family silver shop. In February 1756, during the French and Indian War (the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War), he enlisted in the provincial army. Possibly he made this decision because of the weak economy, since army service promised consistent pay. Commissioned a second lieutenant in a provincial artillery regiment, he spent the summer at Fort William Henry at the southern end of Lake George in New York as part of an abortive plan for the capture of Fort St. Frédéric. He did not stay long in the army, but returned to Boston and assumed control of the silver shop in his own name. On August 4th, 1757, he married Sarah Orne (1736–1773). They had eight children, but two died young, and only one, Mary, survived her father.

When British Army activity on April 7th, 1775, suggested the possibility of troop movements, Joseph Warren sent Revere to warn the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, then sitting in Concord, the site of one of the larger caches of Patriot military supplies. After receiving the warning, Concord residents began moving the military supplies away from the town. One week later, on April 14th, general Gage received instructions from secretary of state William Legge, earl of Dartmouth (dispatched on January 27th), to disarm the rebels, who were known to have hidden weapons in Concord, among other locations, and to imprison the rebellion’s leaders, especially Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Dartmouth gave Gage considerable discretion in his commands. Gage issued orders to lieutenant colonel Francis Smith to proceed from Boston “with utmost expedition and secrecy to Concord, where you will seize and destroy… all Military stores…. But you will take care that the soldiers do not plunder the inhabitants or hurt private property.” Gage did not issue written orders for the arrest of rebel leaders, as he feared doing so might spark an uprising.

Between 9 and 10 p.m. on the night of April 18, 1775, Joseph Warren told Revere and William Dawes that the king’s troops were about to embark in boats from Boston bound for Cambridge and the road to Lexington and Concord. Warren’s intelligence suggested that the most likely objectives of the regulars’ movements later that night would be the capture of Adams and Hancock. They did not worry about the possibility of regulars marching to Concord, since the supplies at Concord were safe, but they did think their leaders in Lexington were unaware of the potential danger that night. Revere and Dawes were sent out to warn them and to alert colonial militias in nearby towns.

In the days before April 18th, Revere had instructed Robert Newman, the sexton of the North Church, to send a signal by lantern to alert colonists in Charlestown as to the movements of the troops when the information became known. In what is well known today by the phrase “one if by land, two if by sea”, one lantern in the steeple would signal the army’s choice of the land route while two lanterns would signal the route “by water” across the Charles River (the movements would ultimately take the water route, and therefore two lanterns were placed in the steeple). Revere first gave instructions to send the signal to Charlestown. He then crossed the Charles River by rowboat, slipping past the British warship HMS Somerset at anchor. Crossings were banned at that hour, but Revere safely landed in Charlestown and rode to Lexington, avoiding a British patrol and later warning almost every house along the route. The Charlestown colonists dispatched additional riders to the north.

Riding through present-day Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, Revere warned patriots along his route, many of whom set out on horseback to deliver warnings of their own. By the end of the night there were probably as many as 40 riders throughout Middlesex County carrying the news of the army’s advance. Revere did not shout the phrase later attributed to him (“The British are coming!”): his mission depended on secrecy, the countryside was filled with British army patrols, and most of the Massachusetts colonists (who were predominantly English in ethnic origin) still considered themselves British. Revere’s warning, according to eyewitness accounts of the ride and Revere’s own descriptions, was “The Regulars are coming out.” Revere arrived in Lexington around midnight, with Dawes arriving about a half-hour later. They met with Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were spending the night with Hancock’s relatives (in what is now called the Hancock–Clarke House), and they spent a great deal of time discussing plans of action upon receiving the news. They believed that the forces leaving the city were too large for the sole task of arresting two men and that Concord was the main target. The Lexington men dispatched riders to the surrounding towns, and Revere and Dawes continued along the road to Concord accompanied by Samuel Prescott, a doctor who happened to be in Lexington “returning from a lady friend’s house at the awkward hour of 1 a.m.”[Ahem!!!]

Revere, Dawes, and Prescott were detained by a British Army patrol in Lincoln at a roadblock on the way to Concord. Prescott jumped his horse over a wall and escaped into the woods; he eventually reached Concord. Dawes also escaped, though he fell off his horse not long after and did not complete the ride. Revere was captured and questioned by the British soldiers at gunpoint. He told them of the army’s movement from Boston, and that British army troops would be in some danger if they approached Lexington, because of the large number of hostile militia gathered there. He and other captives taken by the patrol were still escorted east toward Lexington, until about a half mile from Lexington they heard a gunshot. The British major demanded Revere explain the gunfire, and Revere replied it was a signal to “alarm the country”. As the group drew closer to Lexington, the town bell began to clang rapidly, upon which one of the captives proclaimed to the British soldiers “The bell’s a’ringing! The town’s alarmed, and you’re all dead men!” The British soldiers gathered and decided not to press further towards Lexington but instead to free the prisoners and head back to warn their commanders. The British confiscated Revere’s horse and rode off to warn the approaching army column. Revere walked to Rev. Jonas Clarke’s house, where Hancock and Adams were staying. As the battle on Lexington Green unfolded, Revere assisted Hancock and his family in their escape from Lexington, helping to carry a trunk of Hancock’s papers.

In 1861, over 40 years after Revere’s death, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow made the midnight ride the subject of his poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” which opens:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year

Longfellow’s poem is not historically accurate, but the inaccuracies were deliberate. Longfellow had researched the historical event, using such works as George Bancroft’s History of the United States, but he changed the facts for poetic effect. The poem was one of a series in which he sought to create American legends including The Song of Hiawatha (1855) and The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858). Longfellow was successful in creating a legend: Revere’s stature rose significantly in the years following the poem’s publication. In the process, however, Longfellow seriously undervalued and underrated the complex early warning system that the New England militias had in place (of which Revere was one part), and made it seem that Revere single-handedly aroused the countryside. My rule is always: CHECK YOUR FACTS!!!

In my post on the battles of Lexington and Concord that followed from Revere’s ride, http://www.bookofdaystales.com/lexington-and-concord/ I noted that colonial cooks in New England typically used British cookbooks, but by the late 18th century, strictly North American books were gaining in popularity. In particular, American Cookery, Or The Art Of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry And Vegetables, And The Best Modes Of Making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards And Preserves, And All Kinds Of Cakes, From The Imperial Plumb To Plain Cake. Adapted To This Country, And All Grades Of Life, by Amelia Simmons (1796) was an important resource because its recipes used North American ingredients. She is described as “an American orphan,” and it is noted that the book was “published according to act of congress.” Most of the recipes are gargantuan, but can be cut down to modern household size.

This recipe for poultry seems reasonable enough:

To smother a Fowl in Oysters.

Fill the bird with dry Oysters, and sew up and boil in water just sufficient to cover the bird, salt and season to your taste—when done tender, put into a deep dish and pour over it a pint of stewed oysters, well buttered and peppered, garnish a turkey with sprigs of parsley or leaves of cellery: a fowl is best with a parsley sauce.

This chicken pie seems impossible, however. SIX chickens (not to mention a pound and a half of butter)?

A Chicken Pie.

Pick and clean six chickens, (without scalding) take out their inwards and wash the birds while whole, then joint the birds, salt and pepper the pieces and inwards. Roll one inch thick paste No. 8 and cover a deep dish, and double at the rim or edge of the dish, put thereto a layer of chickens and a layer of thin slices of butter, till the chickens and one and a half pound butter are expended, which cover with a thick paste; bake one and a half hour.

Or if your oven be poor, parboil, the chickens with half a pound of butter, and put the pieces with the remaining one pound of butter, and half the gravy into the paste, and while boiling, thicken the residue of the gravy, and when the pie is drawn, open the crust, and add the gravy.

Apr 142019
 

Today is the birthday (1629) of Christiaan Huygens FRS, a Dutch physicist, mathematician, astronomer and inventor, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest scientists of all time and a major figure in the scientific revolution, even though his name is not a household word these days. In physics, Huygens made groundbreaking contributions in optics and mechanics, while as an astronomer he is chiefly known for his studies of the rings of Saturn and the discovery of its moon Titan. As an inventor, he improved the design of the telescope with the invention of the Huygenian eyepiece. His most famous invention, however, was the pendulum clock in 1656, which was a breakthrough in timekeeping and became the most accurate timekeeper for almost 300 years. Because he was the first to use mathematical formulae to describe the laws of physics, Huygens has been called the first theoretical physicist and the founder of mathematical physics. Huygens is one of the giants whose shoulders Newton stood on to be able to see so far.

In 1659, Huygens was the first to derive the now standard formula for the centripetal force in his work De vi centrifuga. The formula played a central role in classical mechanics and became known as the second of Newton’s laws of motion. Huygens was also the first to formulate the correct laws of elastic collision in his work De motu corporum ex percussione, but his findings were not published until 1703, after his death. In the field of optics, he is best known for his wave theory of light, which he proposed in 1678 and described in 1690 in his Treatise on Light, which is regarded as the first mathematical theory of light. His theory was initially rejected in favor of Isaac Newton’s corpuscular theory of light, until Augustin-Jean Fresnel adopted Huygens’ principle in 1818 and showed that it could explain the rectilinear propagation and diffraction effects of light. Today this principle is known as the Huygens–Fresnel principle.

Huygens invented the pendulum clock in 1656, which he patented the following year. In addition to this invention, his research in horology resulted in an extensive analysis of the pendulum in his 1673 book Horologium Oscillatorium, which is regarded as one of the most important 17th-century works in mechanics. While the first part of the book contains descriptions of clock designs, most of the book is an analysis of pendulum motion and a theory of curves.

In 1655, Huygens began grinding lenses with his brother Constantijn in order to build telescopes to conduct astronomical research. He designed a 50-power refracting telescope with which he discovered that the ring of Saturn was “a thin, flat ring, nowhere touching, and inclined to the ecliptic.” It was with this telescope that he also discovered the first of Saturn’s moons, Titan. He eventually developed in 1662 what is now called the Huygenian eyepiece, a telescope with two lenses, which diminished the amount of light dispersion.

As a mathematician, Huygens was a pioneer on probability and wrote his first treatise on probability theory in 1657 with the work Van Rekeningh in Spelen van Gluck. Frans van Schooten, who was the private tutor of Huygens, translated the work as De ratiociniis in ludo aleae (“On Reasoning in Games of Chance”). The work is a systematic treatise on probability and deals with games of chance and in particular the problem of points (the division of stakes when there is no clear winner). The modern concept of probability grew out of the use of expectation values by Huygens and Blaise Pascal (who encouraged him to write the work).

The last years of Huygens, who never married, were characterized by loneliness and depression. As a rationalist, he refused to believe in an immanent supreme being, and could not accept the Christian faith of his upbringing. Although Huygens did not believe in a supernatural being, he did hypothesize on the possibility of extraterrestrial life in his Cosmotheoros, which was published shortly before his death in 1695. He speculated that extraterrestrial life was possible on planets similar to Earth and wrote that the availability of water in liquid form was a necessity for life.

This recipe for a pie filled with brie, pears, and eggs is a little before Huygens’ time, but it is an interesting challenge and can yield excellent results. Fruit and cheese can make superb combinations. It comes from Eenen nyeuwen coock boeck (A new cookbook), written by Gheeraert Vorselman and published in Antwerp in 1560.  The recipe is more than a little vague, but can be made serviceable.

Een keesgheback
Legget in coppen kese van Brij ende harde eyeren tsamen gestooten met peren ende hier toe neemt men suker ende heel doyeren van eyeren.

A Cheese Pie
Put some Brie cheese and hardboiled eggs, mashed together, with pears in a pie. Add sugar and whole egg yolks.

Not much to go on, I admit. It looks like a version of quiche. That is, take a pie shell and fill it with a mix of sliced pears and hardboiled eggs and Brie mixed together. Beat egg yolks (and sugar), and pour over the pie filling. Bake until the crust is golden and the eggs are set.

Apr 132019
 

Today is the birthday (1743) of Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father of the US who served as the third president from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he had served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. He was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights motivating North American colonists to break from the kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation. He produced a number of formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level that are of fundamental importance to this day. Arguably he made the most critical ideological contributions to the fabric of the nation. He has come up in posts before but today he has the post to himself, but I will be brief.

Jefferson was mainly of English ancestry, born and educated in colonial Virginia. He graduated from the College of William & Mary and briefly practiced law, with the largest number of his cases concerning land ownership claims. During the American Revolution, he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration, drafted the law for religious freedom as a Virginia legislator, and served as the 2nd Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, during the American Revolutionary War. He became the United States Minister to France in May 1785, and subsequently the nation’s first secretary of state under president George Washington from 1790 to 1793. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party during the formation of the First Party System. With Madison, he anonymously wrote the controversial Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 and 1799, which sought to strengthen states’ rights by nullifying the federal Alien and Sedition Acts.

As president, Jefferson pursued the nation’s shipping and trade interests against Barbary pirates and aggressive British trade policies. He also negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, almost doubling the country’s territory. As a result of peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. He was reelected in 1804. Jefferson’s second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the trial of former vice president Aaron Burr. US foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act of 1807, responding to British threats to U.S. shipping. In 1803, Jefferson began the process of relocating Native Americans to the newly organized Louisiana Territory, and he signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in 1807.

Jefferson, while primarily a planter, lawyer and politician, mastered many disciplines, which ranged from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics. He was an architect in the classical tradition. Jefferson’s keen interest in religion and philosophy led to his presidency of the American Philosophical Society. He was also a philologist and was fluent in several languages, including French, Greek, Italian, and German. He was a prolific letter writer and corresponded with many prominent people. His only full-length book, Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), is widely regarded as one of the most important books published in North America before 1800.  In it he not only discusses the history and ecology of Virginia, but also lays out his political and social ideologies. He expressed his beliefs in the separation of church and state, constitutional government, checks and balances, and individual liberty. He wrote extensively about slavery, the “problems” of miscegenation, a justification of white supremacy, and his belief that Whites and Blacks could not live together in a free society.   Given that he had several children by an African-American slave (who was biologically his wife’s half sister), these views are a little hard to understand (or should I say, hypocritical).

After retiring from public office, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and was intimately associated with both its architecture and curriculum. In contrast to other universities of the day, at which one could study in either medicine, law, or divinity, the first students at the University of Virginia could study in one or several of eight independent schools – medicine, law, mathematics, chemistry, ancient languages, modern languages, natural philosophy, and moral philosophy. Another innovation of the new university was that higher education would be separated from religious doctrine. UVA had no divinity school, was established independently of any religious sect, and the grounds were planned and centered upon a library, the Rotunda, rather than a church, distinguishing it from peer universities still primarily functioning as seminaries.

Jefferson was baptized in his youth and became a governing member of his local Episcopal Church in Charlottesville, which he later attended with his daughters. Influenced by Deist authors during his college years, Jefferson abandoned orthodox Christianity after his review of New Testament teachings. In 1803 he asserted, “I am Christian, in the only sense in which [Jesus] wished any one to be.” Jefferson later defined being a Christian as one who followed the simple teachings of Jesus. Jefferson compiled Jesus’ biblical teachings, omitting miraculous or supernatural references into the work, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, known today as the Jefferson Bible. Its basic theology is very much in line with that of 20th century Protestant theologians, but way too radical for the turn of the 19th.

Jefferson was firmly anticlerical, writing in “every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty … they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon.” Jefferson once supported banning clergy from public office but later relented. In 1777, he drafted the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Ratified in 1786, it made compelling attendance or contributions to any state-sanctioned religious establishment illegal and declared that citizens “shall be free to profess … their opinions in matters of religion.” The Statute is one of only three accomplishments he chose to have inscribed in the epitaph on his gravestone. Early in 1802, Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Connecticut Baptist Association, “that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God.” He interpreted the First Amendment as having built “a wall of separation between Church and State.” The phrase ‘Separation of Church and State’ has been cited several times by the Supreme Court in its interpretation of the Establishment Clause.

Jefferson donated to the American Bible Society, saying the Four Evangelists delivered a “pure and sublime system of morality” to humanity. He thought that the US would rationally create “Apiarian” religion, extracting the best traditions of every denomination. And he contributed generously to several local denominations near his home, Monticello. Jefferson knew that organized religion would always be factored into political life for good or ill, but encouraged reason over supernatural revelation to make inquiries into religion. He believed in a creator god and an afterlife, and defined the essence of religion practice as loving God and one’s neighbors. But he also controversially renounced the conventional Christian Trinity, denying Jesus’ divinity as the Son of God. Jefferson’s unorthodox religious beliefs became an important issue in the 1800 presidential election and Federalists attacked him as an atheist. As president, Jefferson countered the accusations by praising religion in his inaugural address and attending services at the Capitol.

Although regarded as a leading spokesman for democracy and republicanism in the era of the Enlightenment, Jefferson’s historical legacy is mixed. Some modern scholarship has been critical of Jefferson’s private life, pointing out the contradiction between his ownership of the large numbers of slaves that worked his plantations and his famous declaration that “all men are created equal.” Another point of controversy stems from the (now incontrovertible) evidence that after his wife Martha died in 1782, Jefferson fathered children with Martha’s half-sister, Sally Hemings, who was his slave. Sally’s mother had been a slave of Martha’s father, and Sally was the product of a union between her mother and Martha’s father. She, five siblings (all sired by Martha’s father) and her mother entered into Jefferson’s household on his marriage as part of her dowry, and when Martha died, he routinely had sexual relations with her, producing at least five children. What happened to his opposition to miscegenation?

Jefferson’s time in France had culinary outcomes back home in the US. He is frequently credited with inventing ice cream as well as macaroni and cheese, which is utter nonsense. I can produce recipes for both from ancient Roman sources. It is quite correct to say that he learned about these dishes whilst living in France, and brought them back to the US where he made them popular.  He served both at presidential banquets making them instantly the talk of the town. Nowadays, imagining mac and cheese served as the crowning achievement of a White House banquet is perhaps laughable (although under Trump it’s possible, I suppose), but in Jefferson’s day it was a big hit among the guests.

As it happens, Jefferson’s handwritten recipe for vanilla ice cream survives. It’s a perfectly serviceable recipe although you might want to scale back the quantities. Ice cream makers of the time did not have internal paddles, hence the need to open the container during the freezing process and scrape down the sides and break up the ice crystals.

Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream

2. bottles of good cream.
6. yolks of eggs.
1/2 lb. sugar

mix the yolks & sugar
put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla.
when near boiling take it off & pour it gently into the mixture of eggs & sugar.
stir it well.
put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it’s sticking to the casserole.
when near boiling take it off and strain it thro’ a towel.
put it in the Sabottiere [inner container of the ice cream freezer]
then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served. put into the ice a handful of salt.
put salt on the coverlid of the Sabotiere & cover the whole with ice.
leave it still half a quarter of an hour.
then turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes
open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the Sabotiere.
shut it & replace it in the ice
open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides
when well taken (prise) stir it well with the Spatula.
put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee.
then put the mould into the same bucket of ice.
leave it there to the moment of serving it.
to withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out & turn it into a plate.

Apr 052019
 

Today (or close to it) is the traditional Chinese Cold Food or Hanshi Festival which developed from the local commemoration of the death of the Jin nobleman Jie Zitui in the 7th century BCE. Its name derives from the tradition of avoiding the lighting of any kind of fire, even for the preparation of food. Cold Food Festival is not an official holiday in any country or region, but it continues to see some observance in China, Korea, and Vietnam generally as part of Tomb-Sweeping Festivals (http://www.bookofdaystales.com/qingming-festival/ ).

The usual story for the origin of the Cold Food and Tomb-Sweeping Festivals concerns the 7th-century-BC Jin nobleman Jie Zhitui, a model of self-sacrificing loyalty. During the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history, the Zhou Kingdom began to break up into its constituent parts and their lords gained more and more freedom from central control. One of these states was Jin, around modern Shanxi. As was common among wealthy Chinese at the time, its lord had many wives. One of them, Li Ji, was of lower status and came from the Rong tribes who lived to China’s west, but successfully schemed to become a full wife and to establish her son as the lord’s successor. Her older stepson Ji Chong’er was framed for revolting against the lord in 655 BCE, forcing the prince to flee for his life to his mother’s family among the Di tribes north of China. Only 15 of his men followed him into exile. These included Jie Zhitui, who entertained the prince with his poems and music. He was so considerate of his lord that once, when their supplies were stolen while traveling through Wey, he used meat from his own thigh to make soup to relieve the prince’s hunger.

In 636 BC, the duke of Qin finally invaded Jin on Chong’er’s behalf and installed him as its duke. (Posthumously, he became known as the “Wen” or “Civilized Duke” of Jin.) In 635 BCE, the new duke was generous to those who had helped him in adversity but overlooked Jie, who sadly withdrew into poor obscurity in the forests near Mt Mian. The duke sent repeated envoys to lure Jie back to court, but he felt no ambition for political power. Too loyal to directly criticize his master but too principled to accept a place in a corrupt administration, he opted to simply remain in seclusion. Annoyed, the duke ordered a forest fire to be started around three sides of the mountain to smoke Jie and his mother out of hiding.

Instead of coming out, they were burnt alive. Jie’s charred corpse was found still standing, embracing or tightly bound to a tree. In his remorse, the duke renamed the mountain Mt. Jie, established the town still known as Jiexiu (“Jie’s Rest”), and inaugurated the Cold Food Festival as a memorial period for Jie. In addition to the festival, the story also occasioned the Chinese proverb: “while some can burn off an entire mountain, others are kept from even lighting up to eat their rice”.

The Cold Food Festival is first mentioned in Huan Tan’s New Discussions, composed around the beginning of the 1st century CE. It records that the commoners of Taiyuan Commandery avoided using fire in preparing their food for five days around midwinter, upholding this taboo even when they are gravely ill. This was done in Jie Zhitui’s honor. A biography in the Book of the Later Han relates how the magistrate for Bingzhou (i.e., Taiyuan) found people rich and poor observing a “dragon taboo” against lighting a fire during the month of Jie’s death in midwinter, lest they anger his spirit. Many of the old and young died every year because of the hardship this brought. The magistrate Zhou Ju (周舉) wrote an oration around 130 CE praising Jie but admonishing the people for a tradition that harmed so many that it could not have been what the sage intended. He then had the oration displayed at Jie’s temple and distributed among the poor. This did not end the Cold Food Festival, but the biography notes that local superstitions did improve “to a certain extent”.

At some point over the next century,  moved from the festival moved from the middle of winter to late spring, 105 days after the dongzhi solar term. Since it also spread from Taiyuan to the surrounding commanderies of Shangdang, Xihe, and Yanmen and was still causing some hardship, The Han warlord Cao Cao attempted to outlaw the Cold Food Festival in 206 CE. The heads of offending families were liable for 6 months’ hard labor, their local official was liable for one month himself, and their magistrate was to lose one month’s salary. Cao Cao’s effort was a failure, with observance of the Cold Food Festival on Qingming and for up to a month around it being reported by the mid-3rd century. Shi Le, the Jie emperor of the Later Zhao in the early 4th century, again tried to forbid it. The next year a massive hailstorm devastated crops and forests throughout Shanxi. On the advice of his ministers, he again approved the festival in the region around Taiyuan. The Northern Wei similarly banned the festival in 478 and 496, but were also compelled to approve its observance around Mt Mian. These prohibitions failed to such an extent that, by the time of Jia Sixie’s c. 540 Qimin Yaoshu, a day-long Cold Food Festival had spread across most of China, moved to the day before the Qingming solar term.

The Cold Food Festival grew to a three-day period and began to incorporate ancestral veneration under the Tang and remained more important than celebrations of the Qingming solar term as late as the Song. The present Tomb-Sweeping Festival on Qingming grew by incorporating the Cold Food observances along with the separate holiday of Shangsi. The Cold Food Festival had almost completely disappeared by the end of the Qing.

The Cold Food Festival involves a strict taboo against using fire, usually under the superstitious belief that violations led to violent weather. Up to the 6th century, there was a patch of blackened trees on Mt Mian that were used for local worship of Jie Zhitui and had a reputation for miracles. Traditional cold foods included lǐlào (醴酪), a kind of congee flavored with apricot pits and malt sugar. Later activities included visiting ancestral tombs, cock fighting, playing on swings, beating blankets, and tug-of-war games. Nowadays there are only pockets of celebration of the Cold Food Festival although it has influenced some of the activities and traditional foods for the Tomb-Sweeping Festival. In the city of Jiexiu in Shanxi Province, near where Jie died, locals still commemorate the festival, but even there the tradition of eating cold food is no longer practiced.

It is not all that difficult to make lǐlào but getting the ingredients outside of China may be a challenge.  If you can speak Chinese you might be able to get them from a Chinese market. You need to be careful because recipes in English call for “almonds” but this is a mistranslation of the Chinese. The recipe calls for the pits of various species of apricot which look and taste something like bitter almonds, but are not almonds at all. You may be able to find maltose in health food stores. Here is a modern Chinese recipe followed by my loose translation (done with assistance since my Chinese language skills are limited). I could not find a video as an aid, unfortunately.

醴酪

  1. 准备大麦仁30克,新疆巴旦木也就是大杏仁50克,麦芽糖
  2. 大麦仁用清水浸泡一夜,大杏仁剥壳,用温水浸泡一夜
  3. 泡好的杏仁剥掉外衣,留下洁白的杏仁备用
  4. 麦仁和杏仁一起放入料理机的果浆杯内,加入材料2倍的凉白开磨成杏仁浆
  5. 磨好的杏仁浆用细筛过滤,浓浆流入锅里
  6. 开中小火,一边熬煮一边搅拌
  7. 煮到杏仁浆烧开,再继续煮5分钟至杏仁浆浓稠即可
  8. 煮好的杏仁浆盛入碗里,调入麦芽糖即可食用,也可以调入蜂蜜

lǐlào

  1. You need 30 grams of barley kernel, 50 grams of apricot pits, maltose
  2. Soak the barley kernels and apricot pits in warm water overnight.
  3. Peel the skins off the apricot pits to reveal the white nut.
  4. [Not entirely sure of this translation] Put the kernels and pits into a food processor with an equal quantity of water and grind to a pulp.
  5. Filter the pulp through a fine sieve and let a thick slurry flow into a pan.
  6. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  7. Bring the mix to a slow boil and cook for 5 minutes until the almond pulp is thick.
  8. Put the pulp in a bowl and add maltose to taste (or honey).
Apr 042019
 

Today is the birthday (1572) of William Strachey, an English writer whose works are among the primary sources for the early history of the English colonization of North America. He is best remembered today as the eye-witness reporter of the 1609 shipwreck on the uninhabited island of Bermuda of the colonial ship Sea Venture, which was caught in a hurricane while sailing to Virginia.

Strachey was born in Saffron Walden, Essex, the grandson of William Strachey (died 1587),[1] and the eldest son of William Strachey (died 1598) and Mary Cooke (died 1587), the daughter of Henry Cooke, Merchant Taylor of London. Strachey was brought up on an estate purchased by his grandfather in the 1560s. In 1588, at the age of 16, he entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge, but did not take a degree. In 1605 he was at Gray’s Inn, but there is no evidence that he made the law his profession. In 1602 he inherited his father’s estate following a legal dispute with Elizabeth Brocket, his stepmother.

Strachey wrote a sonnet, “Upon Sejanus”, which was published in the 1605 edition of the 1603 play Sejanus His Fall by Ben Jonson. Strachey also kept a residence in London, where he regularly attended plays. He was a shareholder in the Children of the Revels, a troupe of boy actors who performed ‘in a converted room in the former Blackfriars monastery’, as evidenced by his deposition in a lawsuit in 1606. Strachey became friends with the city’s poets and playwrights, including Thomas Campion, John Donne, Ben Jonson, Hugh Holland, John Marston, George Chapman, and Matthew Roydon, many of them members of the “Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen” who met at the Mermaid Tavern.

By 1605 Strachey was in precarious financial circumstances from which he spent the rest of his life trying to recover. In 1606 he used a family connection to obtain the position of secretary to Thomas Glover, the English ambassador to Turkey. He traveled to Constantinople, but quarreled with the ambassador and was dismissed in March 1607 and returned to England in June 1608. He then decided to mend his fortunes in the New World, and in 1609 purchased two shares in the Virginia Company and sailed to Virginia on the Sea Venture with Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers in the summer of that year.

The ship was blown off course by a hurricane. Leaking, and with its foundering imminent, the ship was run aground off the coast of Bermuda, accidentally beginning England’s colonization of the archipelago. The group was stranded on the island for almost a year, during which they constructed two small boats in which they eventually completed the voyage to Virginia.

Strachey wrote an eloquent letter dated 15 July 1610, to an unnamed “Excellent Lady” in England about the Sea Venture disaster, including an account of the precarious state of the Jamestown colony. Being critical of the management of the colony, it was suppressed by the Virginia Company. After the dissolution of the company it was published in 1625 by Samuel Purchas as “A true reportory of the wracke, and redemption of Sir THOMAS GATES Knight”. It is generally thought to be one of the sources for Shakespeare’s The Tempest because of certain verbal, plot and thematic similarities. Strachey’s writings are among the few first-hand descriptions of Virginia in the period. His glossary of words of Powhatan is one of only two records of the language (the other being Captain John Smith’s)

Strachey remained at Jamestown for less than a year, but during that time he became the Secretary of the Colony after the drowning death of Matthew Scrivener in 1609. He returned to England probably in late 1611 and published a compilation of the colonial laws put in place by the governors. He then produced an extended manuscript about the Virginia colony, The Historie of Travaile Into Virginia Britannia, dedicating the first version to Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland, in 1612. The manuscript included his eyewitness account of life in early Virginia, but borrowed heavily from the earlier work of Richard Willes, James Rosier, John Smith, and others. Strachey produced two more versions during the next six years, dedicating one to Francis Bacon and the other to Sir Allen Apsley. It too was critical of the Virginia Company management of the colony, and Strachey failed to find a patron to publish his work, which was finally first published in 1849 by the Hakluyt Society.

Strachey died of unknown causes in June 1621. The parish register of St. Giles, Camberwell, in Southwark records his burial on 21st June 1621. He died in poverty, leaving this verse:

Hark! Twas the trump of death that blew
My hour has come. False world adieu
Thy pleasures have betrayed me so
That I to death untimely go.

In 1996, Strachey’s signet ring was discovered in the ruins of Jamestown, identified by the family seal, an eagle.

Because Strachey was born in Saffron Walden, a recipe involving saffron is called for. Saffron Walden used to be called simply Walden, then Chepyng (i.e. Market) Walden when a market was moved there in the 13th century. It became Saffron Walden in the 16th century when it became the center for growing saffron crocuses, and saffron became a favored ingredient in many dishes – rivaling spices from the East.

Saffron is one of my favorite spices and I use it a lot when it is easy to get. Right now it isn’t, but when I lived in Italy it was really abundant and not dreadfully expensive, so I always had plenty to hand. For a celebration of the day I recommend you use saffron in your favorite way.  Meanwhile here is a period recipe from The English Huswife: Containing the inward and outward Vertues which ought to be in a Compleat Woman… by G. Markham (1615).  I do not recommend the recipe, partly because of the sheer quantity, partly because I am not a fan of bread pudding, although it might be all right because it seems more like a classic suet pudding (i.e. boiled) rather than a baked dish like modern bread pudding.

To make bread Puddings

Take the Yelks and Whites of a dozen or fourteen Eggs, and having beat them very well, put unto them the fine powder of Cloves, Mace, Nutmegs, Sugar, Cinnamon, Saffron, and Salt; then take the quantity of two loaves of white grated Bread, Dates very small shred, and great store of Currants, with good plenty either of Sheeps, Hogs or Beef suet beaten and cut small: then when all is mixt, and stirred well together, and hath stood a while to settle, then fill it into the Farms, as hath been before shewed, and in like manner boyl them, cook them, and serve them to the Table.

 

Mar 272019
 

Today is the birthday (1745) of Lindley Murray, a North American born Quaker who moved to England where he became a writer and grammarian. Once in a while I feel a need to salute grammarians who, although sometimes overly pedantic, keep us within reasonable bounds. I have far too many friends and former students who decry precision in writing, and mostly I simply grin and bear it. But sometimes I rebel.

I expect the world has always been filled with people whose writing is poor and shallow, just as there are people who cannot draw or compose music. All of these skills require patience and dedication to master, and many (perhaps most) people have neither. Not a problem. I am not going to look down on someone who has no interest in painting, nor on someone who has no interest in writing. I do object, however, when all too frequently I am told by a terrible writer that writing well is a waste of time and effort. If you want to be ignored, dismissed, ridiculed or misunderstood, then by all means write with bad grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Above all, do not blame the language for your own inabilities. It can perform wonders, but you have to know what you are doing. It is not fair to say, as I have heard way too often, “If it could be written, I would not have to dance/play/paint . . . etc.” Idle rubbish. It is not language that is inadequate; it is either your education, or your lack of attention to the skills and subtleties of writing that is at fault. Murray wanted people to do better.

Lindley Murray was born at Harper Tavern in Pennsylvania. His father, Robert Murray, a member of an old Quaker family, was one of the leading New York merchants. Murray was the eldest of twelve children, all of whom he survived, although he was puny and delicate in childhood. When six years old, he was sent to school in Philadelphia, but soon left to accompany his parents to North Carolina, where they lived until 1753. They then moved to New York, where Murray was sent to a good school, but was put down as a ‘heedless boy’. At 14 years old he was placed in his father’s counting-house. In spite of endeavors to foster in him the commercial spirit, Murray’s interests were mainly concentrated in science and literature. He escaped to Burlington, New Jersey, entered a boarding-school, and started to study French. His retreat was discovered, he was brought back to New York, and allowed a private tutor. His father still wanted him to apply himself to commerce, but he stated arguments in favor of a literary profession so ably in writing that his father’s lawyer advised him to let him study law.

Four years later Murray was called to the bar, and practiced as counsel and attorney in the province of New York. At the age of 22 he married, and in 1770 went to England, but returned in 1771 to New York. Here his practice became both large and lucrative, in spite of his conscientious care to ‘discourage litigation, and to recommend a peaceable settlement of differences.’ On the outbreak of hostilities in the colonies America, Murray went with his wife to Long Island, where he spent four years fishing, sailing, and shooting. On the declaration of independence he returned to New York, and was so successful that he retired in 1783 to a mansion on the Hudson.

Because Murray’s health was failing, he decided to try the English climate (yes, you read that right). In 1784, he left North America and never returned. For the remainder of his life he lived in Holgate, near York, and for the last sixteen years of his life, his physical condition, likely the result of Post-Polio Syndrome, confined him to his house.

His library became noted for its theological and philological treasures. He studied botany, and his garden was said to exceed in variety the Royal Gardens at Kew. The summer house in which he wrote his grammars still remains. Murray’s first published work, The Power of Religion on the Mind,  (1787) went to 20 editions by 1842, and was twice translated into French. To the 8th edition (1795) was added ‘Extracts from the Writings of divers Eminent Men representing the Evils of Stage Plays, &c.,’ published separately 1789 and 1799.

His attention was then drawn to the lack of suitable lesson-books for a Friends’ school for girls in York, and in 1795 he published his English Grammar. The manuscript petition from the teachers requesting him to prepare it has been preserved. The work became rapidly popular; it went through 50 editions, was edited, abridged, simplified, and enlarged in England and the US, and for a long time was used in schools to the exclusion of all other grammar-books. In 1816, an edition corrected by the author was issued in 2 vols.  An ‘Abridgment’ of this version by Murray, issued two years later, went through more than 120 editions of ten thousand each. It was printed at the New England Institution for the Blind in embossed characters, Boston, 1835. English Exercises followed (1797), with A Key (27th ed. London, 1847), and both works were in great demand. Murray’s English Reader, Sequel, and Introduction, issued respectively 1799, 1800, and 1801 (31st edit. 1836), were equally successful, as well as the Lecteur Francais, 1802, and Introduction to the Lecteur Francais, 1807. An English Spelling Book, 1804, reached 44 editions, and was translated into Spanish (Cadiz, 1841). The 150,000th First Book for Children, with portrait and woodcuts, was issued in 1859. He died on 16 January 1826, aged 80.

You can find, The English Reader: or, Pieces in Prose and Poetry, Selected from the Best Writers Designed to Assist Young Persons to Read with Propriety and Effect; to Improve Their Language and Sentiments; and to Inculcate Some of the Most Important Principles of Piety and Virtue. : With a Few Preliminary Observations on the Principles of Good Reading. (1799) here if you are interested: https://books.google.com.kh/books?id=cy4ZAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&redir_esc=y#v=snippet&q=meal%20&f=false .

Mrs Beeton’s prose style would pass muster with Murray, and this segment speaks of another transplant from New York to England:

THE APPLE.—The most useful of all the British fruits is the apple, which is a native of Britain, and may be found in woods and hedges, in the form of the common wild crab, of which all our best apples are merely seminal varieties, produced by culture or particular circumstances. In most temperate climates it is very extensively cultivated, and in England, both as regards variety and quantity, it is excellent and abundant. Immense supplies are also imported from the United States and from France. The apples grown in the vicinity of New York are universally admitted to be the finest of any; but unless selected and packed with great care, they are apt to spoil before reaching England.

BOILED APPLE DUMPLINGS.

  1. INGREDIENTS.—6 apples, 3/4 lb. of suet-crust No. 1215, sugar to taste.

Mode.—Pare and take out the cores of the apples without dividing them; sweeten, and roll each apple in a piece of crust, made by recipe No. 1211; be particular that the paste is nicely joined; put the dumplings into floured cloths, tie them securely, and put them into boiling water. Keep them boiling from 1/2 to 3/4 hour; remove the cloths, and send them hot and quickly to table. Dumplings boiled in knitted cloths have a very pretty appearance when they come to table. The cloths should be made square, just large enough to hold one dumpling, and should be knitted in plain knitting, with very coarse cotton.

Time.—3/4 to 1 hour, or longer should the dumplings be very large.

Average cost, 11/2d. each.

Sufficient for 4 persons.

Seasonable from August to March, but flavourless after the end of January.

Mar 262019
 

Today is the birthday (1773) of Nathaniel Bowditch, author of The New American Practical Navigator, first published in 1802 and still carried on board every commissioned U.S. Naval vessel. Bowditch was born in Salem, Province of Massachusetts Bay, to Habakkuk Bowditch, a cooper, and Mary (Ingersoll) Bowditch. At the age of 10 he left school to work in his father’s cooperage before becoming indentured at 12 for nine years as a bookkeeping apprentice to a ship chandler. In 1786, (age 14), Bowditch began to study algebra and two years later he taught himself calculus. He also taught himself Latin in 1790 and French in 1792 so he was able to read mathematical works such as Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. He found thousands of errors in John Hamilton Moore’s The New Practical Navigator, and at 18, he copied all the mathematical papers of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Among his many significant scientific contributions later was a translation of Pierre-Simon de Laplace’s Mécanique céleste, a lengthy work on mathematics and theoretical astronomy. This translation was critical to the development of astronomy in the United States.

In 1795, Bowditch went to sea on the first of four voyages as a ship’s clerk and captain’s writer. His fifth voyage was as master and part owner of a ship. During his time at sea, Bowditch became intensely interested in the mathematics involved in celestial navigation. He worked initially with John Hamilton Moore’s London-published “Navigator”, which was known to have errors. To have exact tables to work from, Bowditch recomputed all of Moore’s tables, and rearranged and expanded the work. He contacted the US publisher of the work, Edmund Blunt, who asked him to correct and revise the third edition on his fifth voyage. The task was so extensive that Bowditch decided to write his own book, and to “put down in the book nothing I can’t teach the crew”. On that trip, it is said that every man of the crew of 12, including the ship’s cook, became competent to take and calculate lunar observations and to plot the correct position of the ship.

In 1802 Blunt published the first edition of Bowditch’s American Practical Navigator, which became the western hemisphere shipping industry standard for the next century and a half. The text included several solutions to the spherical triangle problem that were new, as well as extensive formulae and tables for navigation. In 1866, the United States Hydrographic Office purchased the copyright and since that time the book has been in continuous publication, with regular revisions to keep it current. Bowditch’s influence on the American Practical Navigator was so profound that to this day mariners refer to it simply as Bowditch. Student Naval officers prior to the establishment of the Naval Academy referred to the work as “the immaculate Bowditch”.

Following this voyage, he returned to Salem in 1803 to resume his mathematical studies and enter the insurance business. In 1804, Bowditch became North America’s first insurance actuary as president of the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance Company in Salem. Under his direction, the company prospered despite difficult political conditions and the War of 1812. Bowditch’s mathematical and astronomical work during this time earned him a significant standing, including election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1799 and the American Philosophical Society in 1809. He was offered the chair of mathematics and physics at Harvard in 1806, but turned it down. In 1804, an article on his observations of the Moon was published and in 1806 he published naval charts of several harbors, including Salem. More scientific publications followed, including a study of a meteor explosion (1807), three papers on the orbits of comets (1815, 1818, 1820) and a study of the Lissajous figures created by the motion of a pendulum suspended from two points (1815).

As well as Harvard, the United States Military Academy and the University of Virginia offered Bowditch chairs in mathematics. Bowditch again refused these offers, perhaps (in the case of the University of Virginia) because the $2,000 salary offered was two-thirds of the salary he received as president of the insurance company. Bowditch’s translation of the first four volumes of Laplace’s Traité de mécanique céleste was completed by 1818. Publication of the work, however, was delayed for many years, most likely due to cost. Nonetheless, he continued to work on it with the assistance of Benjamin Peirce, adding commentaries that doubled its length. By 1819, Bowditch’s international reputation had grown to the extent that he was elected as a member of the Royal Societies of Edinburgh and London and the Royal Irish Academy.

In 1823, Bowditch left the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance Company to become an actuary for the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company in Boston. There he served as a “money manager” (an investment manager) for wealthy individuals who made their fortunes at sea, directing their wealth toward manufacturing. Towns such as Lowell prospered as a result. Bowditch’s move from Salem to Boston involved the transfer of over 2,500 books, 100 maps and charts and 29 volumes of his own manuscripts.

Bowditch died in Boston in 1838 from stomach cancer. He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, where a monument to him was erected through public collections.

Salem was, of course, a Puritan stronghold in colonial times (think witch trials) and John Josselyn wrote about the region in the 17th century in Two Voyages to New England. Here is a recipe from the book for pumpkin (called “pompion”) boiled to a mush, much like apple sauce, and served as a side dish. Spices are cook’s choice. I used to use allspice and cloves as well as ginger.

The Ancient New England standing dish.

But the Housewives manner is to slice them when ripe, and cut them into dice, and so fill a pot with them of two or three Gallons, and stew them upon a gentle fire a whole day, and as they sink, they fill again with fresh Pompions, not putting any liquor to them; and when it is stew’d enough, it will look like bak’d Apples; this they Dish, putting Butter to it, and a little Vinegar, (with some Spice, as Ginger, &c.) which makes it tart like an Apple, and so serve it up to be eaten with Fish or Flesh: It provokes Urine extreamly and is very windy.”

Mar 162019
 

Today is another coincidence day – the birthdays of two Amsterdam authors of the Dutch Golden Age: Gerbrand Adriaenszoon Bredero (1585) and P. C. Hooft (1581). Not surprisingly, they were friends and collaborated, but there is no record of them ever having a shared birthday party. We will have to make up for the omission.

Bredero was born in Amsterdam in the Dutch Republic, where he lived his whole life. He called himself “G.A. Bredero, Amstelredammer”, and sometimes he is called Breero or Brederode. He was the third child of Marry Gerbrants and Adriaen Cornelisz Bredero, who was a shoemaker and a successful real estate agent. Bredero was born in the Nes, nowadays number 41, and in 1602 he and his family moved to a house on Oudezijds Voorburgwal, now number 244, which his father had bought. Bredero lived in this house for the rest of his life. Both houses are now restaurants in Amsterdam’s famous red light district.

At school Bredero learned French and possibly also some English and Latin. Later he was educated as an artist by the Antwerp painter Francesco Badens, but none of his paintings have survived. In 1611 he became a member of the rederijkerskamer d’Eglantier (“Eglantier rhetoric chamber”), where he was an active member and became friends with Roemer Visscher and P.C.Hooft. Together with Hooft he supported Samuel Coster in the creation of Nederduytsche Academie (First Dutch Academy) which was intended to provide a better environment for the production of plays than the rederijkerskamers. Around this time he wrote the play De Spaanschen Brabander Ierolimo. Between 1611 and 1618, seven of his plays were produced in Amsterdam.

The only public position Bredero achieved was as vaandrig or standard bearer of the civic guard. On 23rd August 1618, at the age of 33, Bredero suddenly died, shortly after he had recovered from pneumonia that he had contracted after falling through ice. He never married.

Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, often abbreviated to P.C. Hooft, was born in Amsterdam as the son of the then mayor, Cornelis Hooft. In 1598, his father sent him to France and Italy in order to get prepared for a career as merchant. However, Pieter was more interested in art. In particular, he was deeply impressed by the Italian renaissance. In 1609, he was appointed bailiff of Muiden and the Gooiland. He founded the Muiderkring, a literary society located at his home, the Muiderslot, the castle of Muiden, in which he got to live due to his appointment as sheriff of Muiden. Among the members were the poets and playwrights Constantijn Huygens, Maria Tesselschade, Bredero and Joost van den Vondel, as well as the Portuguese singer Francisca Duarte.

Hooft was a prolific writer of plays, poems and letters, and his output can be divided into three periods: (1) 1602 – 1611, love poems (2) 1612- 1618, plays (3) 1618 onwards, history. After the death of Bredero, he concentrated on writing his history of the Netherlands (Nederduytsche Historiën), inspired by Roman historian Tacitus. His focus was primarily on the Eighty Years’ War between the Netherlands and Spain. Though his avowed intent in this work was to give a report of the events which was as impartial as possible, he did not really succeed. The first volumes of his massive history were published in 1642, but he died in 1647 before the full oeuvre was in print.

The classic cookbook of the Dutch Golden Age is De Verstandige Kok (The Sensible Cook), published in 1669. Despite the fact that the Dutch dominated the spice trade for centuries, their cooking has never been overwhelmingly spicy. The term “bland” more frequently comes to mind, but in the Golden Age there was an emphasis on variety, freshness, and quantity. You may also be familiar with numerous still lifes of tables groaning with attractive raw ingredients. Here is chicken stewed with vegetables which is meatier than the title suggests. The hen is cooked with mutton (for a rich broth) and veal meatballs are added along with the vegetables.

Om een Hoen te stoven met Groen.

Neemt een goet Hoen wel gesuyvert, laet met eenige stucken Schape-vleesch, met weynigh Zout koken, half gaer zijnde, doet daer by in een stoof-panne, wat Sausisen of kleene Frickedil, oock een goede handt vol Endivie, Salaet, Suringh en Sellery, oock Aspargies, en voor al de Boter niet te vergeten.

To stew a hen with greens

Take a good chicken, well cleaned, and boil it with some pieces of mutton with a little salt. When it is half done, add some sausages or small meatballs in a stewing pan, and a large handful of endives, lettuce, sorrel and celery, also asparagus. Especially do not forget the butter.

Om Frickedillen te maken.

Neemt Kalfs-vleesch, met Kalfs-vet ghehackt, doet daer by Foelie, Noten, Zout, Peper, kneet wel onder een, dan kont gy daar van maken soo groot en kleyn als ‘t u belieft, oock heel in de panne braden; veele nemen een weynigh van de uytterste Schilletjes dun afgeschilt, van Orangie-appelen of Lamoenen, en daer heel kleyn onder gekerft, geeft een heel goede geur, en smakelijck.

To make meatballs

Take veal, chopped with veal fat, add mace, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Knead it well together. You can make them as large or small as you like, or fry it [the chopped meat] in one piece in the pan. Some people take a little of the zest of an orange or lime. Chopped small with the meat it gives a very good fragrance, and very tasty.

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 152019
 

Today is the birthday (1851) of Sir William Mitchell Ramsay, FBA, a Scottish archaeologist and Biblical scholar. Although Ramsay was educated in the Tübingen school of thought (founded by F. C. Baur) which doubted the reliability of the Greek Testament, his extensive archaeological and historical studies convinced him of the historical accuracy of the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline epistles. His work, unlike that of Biblical archeologists who worked primarily on the foundations of Israel in his day, is still respected (with qualifications).

Ramsay was born in Glasgow, Scotland, the youngest son of a third-generation lawyer, Thomas Ramsay and his wife Jane Mitchell (daughter of William Mitchell. His father died when he was 6 years old, and the family moved from Glasgow to the family home near Alloa. He studied at the University of Aberdeen, where he achieved high distinction and later became Professor of Humanity. He won a scholarship to St. John’s College, Oxford, where he obtained a first class in classical moderations (1874) and in literae humaniores (1876), that is, Latin and Greek. He also studied Sanskrit under Theodor Benfey at Göttingen. In 1880 Ramsay received an Oxford studentship for travel and research in Greece. At Smyrna, he met Sir C. W. Wilson, then British consul-general in Anatolia, who advised him on inland areas suitable for exploration. Ramsay and Wilson made two long journeys during 1881-1882.

He traveled widely in Asia Minor and rapidly became the recognized authority on all matters relating to the districts associated with Paul’s missionary journeys and on Christianity in the early Roman Empire. Greece and Turkey remained the focus of Ramsay’s research for the remainder of his academic career. In 1883, he discovered the world’s oldest complete piece of music, the Seikilos epitaph. He was known for his expertise in the historic geography and topography of Asia Minor and of its political, social, cultural, and religious history. He was made a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, in 1882. From 1885 to 1886 Ramsay held the newly created Lincoln Chair of Classical Archaeology and Art at Oxford and became a fellow of Lincoln College (honorary fellow 1898). In 1886 Ramsay was appointed Regius Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen. He remained affiliated with Aberdeen until his retirement in 1911.

Ramsay was known for his careful attention to 1st century CE events, particularly the Acts of the Apostles and Pauline Epistles. When he first went to Asia Minor, many of the cities mentioned in Acts had no known location and almost nothing was known of their detailed history or politics. Acts was the only record and Ramsay, skeptical, fully expected his own research to prove the author of Acts hopelessly inaccurate since no one author could possibly know the details of Asia Minor more than a hundred years after the events described therein (the dating of Luke-Acts in Ramsay’s day – since revised earlier). He therefore set out to put the writer of Acts on trial. He devoted his life to unearthing the ancient cities and documents of Asia Minor. After a lifetime of study, however, he concluded:

Further study … showed that the book [Acts] could bear the most minute scrutiny as an authority for the facts of the Aegean world, and that it was written with such judgment, skill, art and perception of truth as to be a model of historical statement. . . . I set out to look for truth on the borderland where Greece and Asia meet, and found it there. You may press the words of Luke in a degree beyond any other historian’s and they stand the keenest scrutiny and the hardest treatment.

When Ramsay turned his attention to Paul’s letters, most of which the critics dismissed as forgeries, he concluded that all thirteen New Testament letters that claim to have been written by Paul were authentic. Contemporary scholars are a good deal more guarded on this point. There is nearly universal consensus in modern scholarship on a core group of authentic Pauline epistles whose authorship is rarely contested: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.  Scholarly opinion is sharply divided on whether or not Colossians and 2 Thessalonians are genuine letters of Paul. The remaining four contested epistles – Ephesians, as well as the three known as the Pastoral epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus) – have been labeled pseudepigraphical (falsely bearing Paul’s name) by most critical scholars. The primary opposition to Pauline authorship for the contested epistles is linguistic: the Greek in them does not accord with Paul’s style, and, in the latter cases, contain numerous anachronisms.

Here is an Anatolian recipe for lamb with purslane and pulses that now uses New World ingredients (such as tomato paste and chiles), which I have eliminated to give something closer to an ancient recipe. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) was a common green in antiquity but is not so easy to find these days outside the Mediterranean, although it is used in Mexican cooking.  It is easy to grow. It has a slightly sour taste. Cooking times here are approximate. You must check the lamb when it is cooking to be sure it is tender before adding other ingredients.

Anatolian Lamb Stew

½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
¾ cup small brown lentils
¼ cup olive oil
5 oz boneless lamb shoulder, cubed
1 onion, peeled and
1 ½ lb purslane, thick stems discarded and leaves coarsely shredded
½ cup coarse bulgur
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
chopped spearmint, leaves
salt and black pepper

chopped green onions and lemon wedges (for serving)

Instructions

In separate pots, cover the chickpeas and lentils with water, bring to the boil and simmer until cooked (about 1 hour). Drain and reserve the cooking liquid.

In a large, cast-iron pot, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the lamb and cook until browned. Stir in the onion, and cook until softened but not browned. Add ½ cup of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes, stirring from time to time and adding liquid if it becomes too dry.

Add the purslane, bulgur and ½ cup each of the reserved chickpea and lentil cooking liquids to the pot. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add the chickpeas, lentils, garlic and enough water to barely cover. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a small skillet, heat the remaining oil. Add the spearmint and ground black pepper to taste. When the oil begins to sizzle, give it a stir and drizzle it over the stew. Stir once and let stand for 30 minutes. Serve the stew at room temperature or let cool, then refrigerate and serve chilled the following day. Serve the scallions and lemon at the table.