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 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).

 

Jun 112018
 

Today is the feast day of St Barnabas, an early Christian who was one of the most prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem in the 1st century, although he is not all that well known these days, probably because his work was overshadowed by Paul’s. Barnabas, who was a Hellenized Cypriot Jew, undertook missionary journeys with Paul and participated with him in the Council of Jerusalem (c. 50). Barnabas and Paul successfully evangelized Gentiles who attended synagogues in various Hellenized cities of Anatolia. Barnabas’ story appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul mentions him in some of his epistles. Tertullian named him as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, but this and other attributions are flimsy conjecture. Clement of Alexandria and some scholars have ascribed the Epistle of Barnabas to him, but this authorship is also disputed. General consensus is that if Barnabas wrote anything, it does not survive. Although the date, place, and circumstances of his death are historically unverifiable, Christian tradition holds that Barnabas was martyred at Salamis on Cyprus in 61. He is traditionally identified as the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Whatever his status as an early Christian, his activities are well attested historically. We are not now talking about shadowy apostles mentioned in the gospels written well after the events they narrate by people who were not eye witnesses, but a real, live, flesh-and-blood man, written about contemporaneously by Paul in his letters, who knew him and traveled with him. The historicity of the Acts of the Apostles can be called into question; Paul’s epistles cannot.

Barnabas was known as Ιὠσης (Iōsēs), a Greek variant of ‘Joseph’, but when he sold all his goods and gave the money to the apostles in Jerusalem, they gave him a new name: Barnabas. This name appears to be from the Aramaic בר נחמה, bar neḥmā, meaning ‘son of consolation’ ultimately, although the Greek text of the Acts 4:36 explains the name in Greek as υἱὸς παρακλήσεως, hyios paraklēseōs, meaning “son of consolation” or “son of encouragement”.

Barnabas was a native of Cyprus and a Levite, and is first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as a member of the early Christian community in Jerusalem, who sold some land that he owned and gave the proceeds to the community (Acts 4:36-37). When the future apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion, Barnabas introduced him to the apostles (Acts 9:27). This suggests that they were previously acquainted. The successful preaching of Christianity at Antioch to non-Jews led the church at Jerusalem to send Barnabas there to oversee the movement (Acts 11:20–22). He found the work so extensive and weighty that he went to Tarsus in search of Paul (still referred to as Saul), “an admirable colleague”, to assist him. Paul returned with him to Antioch and worked with him for a whole year (Acts 11:25–26). At the end of this period, the two were sent up to Jerusalem (in 44 CE) with contributions from the church at Antioch for the relief of the poorer Christians in Judea.

They returned to Antioch taking John Mark with them, a relative (possibly the cousin or nephew) of Barnabas. Later, they went to Cyprus and some of the principal cities of Pamphylia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia (Acts 13:14). After recounting what the governor of Cyprus Sergius Paulus believed, Acts 13:9 speaks of Barnabas’ companion no longer as Saul, but as Paul, his Roman name, and generally refers to the two no longer as “Barnabas and Saul” as previously (11:30; 12:25; 13:2, 7), but as “Paul and Barnabas” (13:43, 46, 50; 14:20; 15:2, 22, 35). Only in 14:14 and 15:12-25 does Barnabas again occupy the first place, in the first passage with recollection of 14:12, in the last 2, because Barnabas stood in closer relation to the Jerusalem church than Paul. Paul appears as the more eloquent missionary (13:16; 14:8-9; 19-20), hence the Lystrans regarded him as Hermes and Barnabas as Zeus.

Returning from this first missionary journey to Antioch, they were again sent up to Jerusalem to consult with the church there regarding the relation of Gentiles to the church (Acts 15:2; Galatians 2:1). According to Galatians 2:9-10, Barnabas was included with Paul in the agreement made between them, on the one hand, and James, Peter, and John, on the other, that Paul and Barnabas should in the future preach to the pagans in Asia Minor and Europe, while James, Peter, and John would continue their work in Jerusalem. This was probably the most critical decision in the 1st century for the survival of the Christian church because the sack of Jerusalem destroyed the Jerusalem church, but the churches outside of Israel created by Paul and Barnabas, not only survived, but flourished. Without them, Christianity would have died in 70.

This matter having been settled, they returned again to Antioch, bringing the agreement of the council that Gentiles were to be admitted into the church without having to adopt all Jewish practices, most notably circumcision. After they had returned to Antioch from the Jerusalem council, they spent some time there (Acts 15:35). Peter came and associated freely there with the Gentiles, eating with them, until criticized for this by some disciples of James, as against Mosaic law. Upon their remonstrances, Peter yielded apparently through fear of displeasing them, and refused to eat any longer with the Gentiles. Barnabas followed his example. Paul considered that they “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” and upbraided them before the whole church (Galatians 2:11-15). Paul then asked Barnabas to accompany him on another journey (Acts 15:36). Barnabas wished to take John Mark along, but Paul did not (Acts 15:37-38). Paul and Barnabas ended up taking separate routes. Paul took Silas as his companion, and journeyed through Syria and Cilicia; while Barnabas took John Mark to visit Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).

Barnabas is not mentioned again in the Acts of the Apostles. However, Galatians 2:11-13 says, “And when Kephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong. For, until some people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised. And the rest of the Jews also acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” In these early days of the Christian church the split between Paul, who wanted to convert everyone and anyone, and the Jerusalem church, represented by Peter, James and John, saw Christianity as an offshoot of Judaism for Jews only. Peter could waver on his travels, but ultimately sided with the apostles in Jerusalem, and it seems that Barnabas was deeply torn as well.

Barnabas is also mentioned in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, in which Paul talks about how they funded their missions, and implies that they had foregone having wives (out of choice).

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me.  Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas[Peter]?  Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living? (1 Cor. 9:3-6)

In this chapter he makes it clear that he and Barnabas have every right to expect to be paid by the churches they had founded, but they do not ask them for anything – not even food and drink. They preach for free, and are proud to do so. It is recorded that Paul was a tent maker, but there is no indication of Barnabas’ occupation. It is not just the “prosperity gospel” preachers who ought to pay more attention to this original state of affairs. All preachers and churches ought to pay attention. Do you preach because it is a good thing to do, or do you preach to make money??????

Antioch, the third-most important city of the Roman Empire, then the capital city of Syria province, today Antakya in Turkey, was where Christians were first called Christians. Before that they were referred to as followers of The Way. Some of those who had been scattered by the persecution that arose because of Stephen’s martyrdom went to Antioch, which became the site of an early Christian community. A considerable minority of the Antioch church of Barnabas’ time belonged to the merchant class, and they provided support to the poorer Jerusalem church.

Church tradition, developed outside of the canon of the Greek Bible, describes the martyrdom of many saints, including the legend of the martyrdom of Barnabas. It relates that certain Jews coming to Syria and Salamis, where Barnabas was then preaching the gospel became highly exasperated at his extraordinary success and fell upon him as he was disputing in the synagogue, dragged him out, tortured him, and stoned him to death. His kinsman, John Mark, who was a spectator, privately interred his body.

According to the History of the Cyprus Church, in 478 Barnabas appeared in a dream to the Archbishop of Constantia (Salamis, Cyprus), Anthemios, and revealed to him the place of his sepulchre beneath a carob-tree. The following day Anthemios found the tomb and inside it the remains of Barnabas with a manuscript of Matthew’s Gospel on his breast. Anthemios presented the Gospel to Emperor Zeno at Constantinople and received from him the privileges of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, that is, the purple cloak which the Greek Archbishop of Cyprus wears at festivals of the church, the imperial sceptre and the red ink with which he affixes his signature. Anthemios then placed the venerable remains of Barnabas in a church which he founded near the tomb. Excavations near the site of a present-day church and monastery, have revealed an early church with two empty tombs, which some claim to be that of St. Barnabas and Anthemios.

Afelia, pork braised in red wine and coriander, is a Cypriot dish that is pretty much timeless, so can work for the celebration of Barnabas. It is traditional to use belly pork or pork neck, but any boneless pork will work.

Afelia

Ingredients

1 kg pork belly, cut in cubes
1 glass dry red wine
olive oil
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp crushed coriander seeds
½ tsp cinnamon (or cumin)
salt and pepper

Instructions

Mix the wine, coriander and bay leaves and use them as a marinade for the pork. Some cooks put everything in a bowl to marinate for an hour, others let the meat marinate overnight. Go to the HINTS tab for suggestions on marinating.

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain the meat and reserve the marinade. Quickly brown the meat on all sides.

Pour the reserved marinade over the pork, and add the cinnamon (or cumin), along with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slow simmer, cover, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the pork is tender. For the last 10 minutes of cooking, uncover to allow the sauce to reduce if it has not already done so.

Serve with a rice or bulgar wheat pilaf.

Jun 102018
 

Today is Portugal Day (Dia de Portugal, de Camões o das Comunidades Portuguesas), Portugal’s National Day celebrated annually. Although officially observed only in Portugal, Portuguese citizens and emigrants throughout the world celebrate this holiday. The date commemorates the death of national literary icon Luís de Camões on 10th  June 1580. Camões wrote Os Lusíadas (usually translated as The Lusiads), Portugal’s national epic poem celebrating Portuguese history and achievements. The poem focuses mainly on the 15th-century Portuguese explorations, which brought fame and fortune to the country. The poem, considered one of the finest and most important works in Portuguese literature, became a symbol for the great feats of the Portuguese Empire.

Camões was an adventurer who lost one eye fighting in Ceuta, wrote his epic while traveling, and survived a shipwreck in Cochinchina (a region of present-day Vietnam). According to popular folklore, Camões saved his epic poem by swimming with one arm while keeping the other arm above water. Since his date of birth is unknown, his date of death is celebrated as Portugal’s National Day.

Although Camões became a symbol for Portugal nationalism on his own, his date of death coincided with the Portuguese succession crisis of 1580 that eventually resulted in Philip II of Spain claiming the Portuguese throne, thus cementing the date as symbolic of Portuguese nationalism. Portugal was subsequently ruled by three generations of Spanish kings during the Iberian Union (1580–1640). On 1st December 1640, the country regained its independence once again by expelling the Spanish during the Portuguese Restoration War and making John of Bragança, king John IV of Portugal.

During the authoritarian Estado Novo regime in the 20th century, Camões was used as a symbol for the Portuguese nation. In 1944, at the dedication ceremony of the National Stadium in Oeiras (near Lisbon), Prime Minister of Portugal, António de Oliveira Salazar, referred to 10th June as Dia da Raça (Day of the (Portuguese) Race). The notion of a Portuguese “race” served his nationalist purposes. Talk of race and nationalism together make my blood curdle. Independently they are bad notions; together they are downright evil. At bare minimum they have led to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany and Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, not to mention endless ethnic strife in eastern Europe, Iberia, the Middle East . . . you name it. Despite endless claims to the contrary, and general popular belief (aided and abetted by dubious DNA studies), race is not a demonstrable biological fact.  Nations are political facts, and every nation – every nation – is pluralistic. There is always a dominant group, but minorities exist in every single nation on earth.

Portugal Day celebrations were officially suspended during the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Celebrations resumed after 1974 and were expanded to include the Comunidades Portuguesas, Portuguese emigrants and their descendants living in communities all around the world. I am perfectly happy to celebrate a culture’s heritage – especially with food – as long as regionalism, diversity, and pluralism are accepted as realities to be celebrated as well.

Here’s a small batch of quotes from Camões to help get in the mood of the day:

Once you experience love, I’m persuaded
you’ll know what I’m on about in my verses.

Love is a fire that burns unseen,
A wound that aches yet isn’t felt,
An always discontent contentment,
A pain that rages without hurting

Since it gives me so much bliss
to give you everything I can
The more I pay you, the more I owe.

I gave you cozido à portuguesa here, http://www.bookofdaystales.com/miracle-sun/  and this should also be a strong contender for Portugal Day. Or you could make caldo verde (green soup), made with onions, potatoes, and kale. It is a favorite of mine (when I can get kale). It is customary to serve the soup with Portuguese sausage and crusty bread to dip in. In different parts of the world, cooks use other greens (such as collards) in place of kale, and they may dice or mash the potatoes in the soup. They may also add chunks of sausage directly in the soup. My recipe is rather precise and specialized (i.e. refined). You do not have to be quite so refined. It is a peasant dish, after all. That also means that you can add as much garlic as you wish (Portuguese cooks are not shy about garlic) and you can deal with the kale and potatoes any way you want.

Caldo Verde

Ingredients

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 oz chouriço or linguiça, sliced thin
1 onion, peeled and diced
salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves (or more), peeled and sliced
2 ½ lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups chicken stock
1 lb kale, thick middle stem removed, and leaves cut into very fine strips

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the sausage slices and cook them until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon remove the sausage to a plate. Leave all the fat to flavor the soup.

Put the onions in the pot and sauté them until they are soft. Sprinkle in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add the potatoes, cover everything with stock, and bring the soup to a boil. Lower the heat so the soup gently simmers. Cook until the potatoes are almost done, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the soup cool a little.

When the caldo verde is cool enough to work with, purée it using a wand blender.

Add the kale to the soup, bring everything back to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

At this point, it’s not a bad idea to cool the soup and refrigerate it overnight. This step always enhances flavor.

When you have the soup heated, serve it in deep bowls garnished with a single slice of chouriço, with the rest of the slices on the side with some crusty bread.

Jun 092018
 

Today is the birthday (1891) of Cole Albert Porter one of the great composers and songwriters for the stage in the Jazz Age. Porter was born into a wealthy family in Indiana. His grandfather J. O. Cole (called at the time “The Richest Man in Indiana”) wanted his grandson to become a lawyer, and with that career in mind, he sent him to Worcester Academy in Massachusetts in 1905. Porter took an upright piano with him to school and found that music, and his ability to entertain, made it easy for him to make friends. Porter did well in school and rarely came home to visit. He became class valedictorian and was rewarded by his grandfather with a tour of France, Switzerland, and Germany. Porter entered Yale University in 1909, with a major in English and a minor in music, and also studied French. He was a member of Scroll and Key and Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and contributed to campus humor magazine The Yale Record. He was an early member of the Whiffenpoofs a cappella singing group and participated in several other music clubs. In his senior year, he was elected president of the Yale Glee Club and was its principal soloist.

After graduating from Yale, Porter enrolled in Harvard Law School in 1913. He soon felt that he was not destined to be a lawyer, and, at the suggestion of the dean of the law school, switched to Harvard’s music faculty, where he studied harmony and counterpoint with Pietro Yon.In 1915, Porter’s first song on Broadway, “Esmeralda”, appeared in the revue Hands Up. The quick success was immediately followed by failure: his first Broadway production, in 1916, See America First, a “patriotic comic opera” modeled on Gilbert and Sullivan, with a book by T. Lawrason Riggs, was a flop, closing after two weeks. Porter spent the next year in New York City before going overseas during World War I.

In 1917, when the United States entered World War I, Porter moved to Paris to work with the Duryea Relief organization. Some historians have been skeptical about Porter’s claim to have served in the French Foreign Legion, although the Legion lists Porter as one of its soldiers and displays his portrait at its museum in Aubagne. By some accounts, he served in North Africa and was transferred to the French Officers School at Fontainebleau, teaching gunnery to US soldiers. An obituary notice in The New York Times said that, while in the Legion, “he had a specially constructed portable piano made for him so that he could carry it on his back and entertain the troops in their bivouacs.”

Porter maintained a luxury apartment in Paris, where he entertained lavishly. His parties were extravagant and scandalous, with “much gay and bisexual activity, Italian nobility, cross-dressing, international musicians and a large surplus of recreational drugs.” In 1918, he met Linda Lee Thomas, a rich, Kentucky-born divorcée eight years his senior.] She was well-connected socially and the couple shared mutual interests, including a love of travel, and she became Porter’s confidant and companion. The couple married the following year. She was in no doubt about Porter’s homosexuality, but it was mutually advantageous for them to marry. For Thomas, it offered continued social status and a partner who was the antithesis of her abusive first husband. For Porter, it brought a respectable heterosexual front in an era when homosexuality was not publicly acknowledged. They were, moreover, genuinely devoted to each other and remained married from December 19th, 1919, until her death in 1954.

Porter enrolled at the Schola Cantorum in Paris where he studied orchestration and counterpoint with Vincent d’Indy. Meanwhile, Porter had his first big hit with the song “Old-Fashioned Garden” from the revue Hitchy-Koo in 1919. In 1920, he contributed the music of several songs to the musical A Night Out. Porter’s time in Paris was only minimally successful in terms of his music, however. At the age of 36, Porter reintroduced himself to Broadway in 1928 with the musical Paris, his first hit. It was commissioned by E. Ray Goetz at the instigation of Goetz’s wife and the show’s star, Irène Bordoni. She had wanted Rodgers and Hart to write the songs, but they were unavailable, and Porter’s agent persuaded Goetz to hire Porter instead.The songs for the show included “Let’s Misbehave” and one of his best-known list songs, “Let’s Do It”, which was introduced by Bordoni and Arthur Margetson. The show opened on Broadway on October 8th, 1928 and was an instant success. From that point on, Porter was a fixture on Broadway and in Hollywood.

You may look upon his musicals as period pieces, but I think his individual hits have stood the test of time. That may just be me, of course, because I am not a big fan of contemporary musicals. At best I find them vaguely irritating – caught between serious drama and opera. I’m also not a huge fan of Porter’s great stars, such as Ethel Merman and Fred Astaire, in their performances of his music. I like his own renditions better:

After a serious horseback riding accident in New York in 1937, Porter was left disabled and in constant pain, but he continued to work, partly because it distracted him from the pain. He had been estranged from his wife at this time because of his increasingly open affairs with men, and because she had disliked Hollywood, she had moved back to Paris. After Porter’s injury, she joined him in a suite of rooms at the Waldorf Hotel where they lived for the remainder of their lives. The Cole Porter Suite at the Waldorf can still be rented by the month.

Porter’s mother died in 1952, and his wife died from emphysema in 1954. By 1958, Porter’s injuries caused a series of ulcers on his right leg. After 34 operations, it had to be amputated and replaced with an artificial limb. His friend Noël Coward visited him in the hospital and wrote in his diary, “The lines of ceaseless pain have been wiped from his face…. I am convinced that his whole life will cheer up and that his work will profit accordingly.” In fact, Porter never wrote another song after the amputation and spent the remaining six years of his life in relative seclusion, seeing only intimate friends. He continued to live in the Waldorf Towers in New York in his memorabilia-filled apartment. On weekends he often visited an estate in the Berkshires, and he stayed in California during the summers. Porter died of kidney failure on October 15, 1964, in Santa Monica, California, at the age of 73. He is interred in Mount Hope Cemetery in his native Peru, Indiana, between his wife and father.

Various chefs at the Waldorf have produced signature dishes that bear the Waldorf name, but none is better known than Waldorf salad. Unfortunately, it has changed beyond recognition from its simple beginnings. Waldorf salad was first created for a charity ball given in honor of the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children on March 14th, 1896 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel, and who developed or inspired many of its signature dishes, is widely credited with creating the recipe. In 1896, the salad appeared in The Cook Book by “Oscar of the Waldorf.” The original recipe was just apples, celery, and mayonnaise. It did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928. Other ingredients, such as chicken, turkey, and dried fruit (e.g. dates or raisins) are sometimes added nowadays. The modern Waldorf salad also may include the zest of oranges and lemons. In truth, the original suits me better than all the later additions.