Sep 052017
 

William Dampier, English explorer and navigator who became the first Englishman to explore parts of what is today Australia, and the first person to circumnavigate the world three times was baptized on this date in 1651. He has also been described as one of the most important British explorers between Sir Walter Raleigh and James Cook, although I imagine few people in England would recognize his name these days. At the end of this post I’ll detail some of his acts that you might know without necessarily knowing he was involved.

Dampier was born at Hymerford House in East Coker, Somerset, in 1651. His precise date of birth is not recorded. He was educated at King’s School, Bruton. Dampier sailed on two merchant voyages to Newfoundland and Java before joining the Royal Navy in 1673. He took part in the two Battles of Schooneveld in June of that year. Dampier’s service was cut short by a catastrophic illness, and he returned to England for several months of recuperation. For the next several years he tried his hand at various careers, including plantation management in Jamaica and logging in Mexico, before he eventually joined another sailing expedition. Returning to England, he married around 1679, only to leave for the sea a few months later.

In 1679, Dampier joined the crew of the buccaneer (or pirate) Captain Bartholomew Sharp on the Spanish Main of Central America, twice visiting the Bay of Campeche, or “Campeachy” as it was then known, on the north coast of Mexico. This led to his first circumnavigation, during which he accompanied a raid across the Isthmus of Darién in Panama and took part in the capture of Spanish ships on the Pacific coast of that isthmus. The pirates then raided Spanish settlements in Peru before returning to the Caribbean. Dampier made his way to Virginia, where in 1683 he was engaged by the privateer John Cooke. Cooke entered the Pacific via Cape Horn and spent a year raiding Spanish possessions in Peru, the Galápagos Islands, and Mexico. This expedition collected buccaneers and ships as it went along, at one time having a fleet of ten vessels. Cooke died in Mexico, and a new leader, Edward Davis, was elected captain by the crew, taking the ship Batchelor’s Delight, with future Captain George Raynor in the crew.

Dampier transferred to the privateer Charles Swan’s ship, Cygnet, and on 31 March 1686 they set out across the Pacific to raid the East Indies, calling at Guam and Mindanao. Spanish witnesses saw the predominantly English crew as not only pirates and heretics but also cannibals. Leaving Swan and 36 others behind on Mindanao, the rest of the privateers sailed on to Manila, Poulo Condor, China, the Spice Islands, and New Holland. Contrary to Dampier’s later claim that he had not actively participated in actual piratical attacks during this voyage, he was in fact selected in 1687 to command one of the Spanish ships captured by Cygnet‘s crew off Manila.

On 5 January 1688, Cygnet “anchored two miles from shore in 29 fathoms” on the northwest coast of Australia, near King Sound. Dampier and his ship remained there until March 12, and while the ship was being careened (turned on its side for cleaning and repair) Dampier made notes on the fauna and flora and the indigenous peoples he found there. Among his fellows were a significant number of Spanish sailors, most notably Alonso Ramírez, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Later that year, by agreement, Dampier and two shipmates were marooned on one of the Nicobar Islands. They obtained a small canoe which they modified after first capsizing and then, after surviving a great storm at sea, called at “Acheen” (Aceh) in Sumatra.

Dampier returned to England in 1691 via the Cape of Good Hope, penniless but in possession of his journals. He also had as a source of income a slave known as Prince Jeoly (or Giolo), from Miangas (now Indonesia), who became famous for his tattoos (or “paintings” as they were known at the time). Dampier exhibited Jeoly in London, thereby also generating publicity for a book based on his diaries.

The publication of the book, A New Voyage Round the World, in 1697 was a popular sensation, creating interest at the Admiralty. In 1699, Dampier was given command of the 26-gun warship HMS Roebuck, with a commission from King William III. His mission was to explore the east coast of New Holland (Australia) and Dampier’s intention was to travel there via Cape Horn.

The expedition set out on 14 January 1699, too late in the season to attempt the Horn, so it headed to New Holland via the Cape of Good Hope instead. Following the Dutch route to the Indies, Dampier passed between Dirk Hartog Island and the Western Australian mainland into what he called Shark Bay on 6 August 1699. He landed and began producing the first known detailed record of Australian flora and fauna. The botanical drawings that were made are believed to be by his clerk, James Brand. Dampier then followed the coast north-east, reaching the Dampier Archipelago and Lagrange Bay, just south of what is now called Roebuck Bay, all the while recording and collecting specimens, including many shells. From there he bore northward for Timor. Then he sailed east and on 3rd December 1699 rounded New Guinea, which he passed to the north. He traced the south-eastern coasts of New Hanover, New Ireland and New Britain, charting the Dampier Strait between these islands (now the Bismarck Archipelago) and New Guinea. En route, he paused to collect specimens such as giant clams.

By this time, Roebuck was in such bad condition that Dampier was forced to abandon his plan to examine the east coast of New Holland while less than a hundred miles from it. In danger of sinking, he attempted to make the return voyage to England, but the ship foundered at Ascension Island on 21 February 1701. While anchored offshore the ship began to take on more water and the carpenter could do nothing with the worm-eaten planking. As a result, the vessel had to be run aground. Dampier’s crew was marooned there for five weeks before being picked up on 3 April by an East Indiaman and returned home in August 1701.

Although many papers were lost with Roebuck, Dampier was able to save some new charts of coastlines, and his record of trade winds and currents in the seas around Australia and New Guinea. He also preserved a few of his specimens. In 2001, the Roebuck wreck was located in Clarence Bay, Ascension Island, by a team from the Western Australian Maritime Museum. Because of his widespread influence, and also because so little exists that can now be linked to him, it has been argued that the remains of his ship and the objects still at the site on Ascension Island – while the property of Britain and subject to the island government’s management – are actually the shared maritime heritage of those parts of the world first visited or described by him. His account of the expedition was published as A Voyage to New Holland in 1703.

On his return from the Roebuck expedition, Dampier was court martialed for cruelty. On the outward voyage, Dampier had his lieutenant, George Fisher, removed from the ship and jailed in Brazil. Fisher returned to England and complained about his treatment to the Admiralty. Dampier aggressively defended his conduct, but he was found guilty. His pay for the voyage was docked, and he was dismissed from the Royal Navy.

The War of the Spanish Succession had broken out in 1701, and English privateers were being readied to act against French and Spanish interests. Dampier was appointed commander of the 26-gun ship St George, with a crew of 120 men. They were joined by the 16-gun Cinque Ports with 63 men, and sailed on 11 September 1703 from Kinsale, Ireland. The two ships made a storm-tossed passage round Cape Horn, arriving at the Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile in February 1704. While watering and provisioning there, they sighted a heavily armed French merchantman, which they engaged in a seven-hour battle but were driven off.

Dampier succeeded in capturing a number of small Spanish ships along the coast of Peru, but released them after removing only a fraction of their cargoes because he believed they “would be a hindrance to his greater designs.” The greater design he had in mind was a raid on Santa María, a town on the Gulf of Panama rumored to hold stockpiles of gold from nearby mines. When the force of seamen he led against the town met with unexpectedly strong resistance, however, he withdrew. In May 1704, Cinque Ports separated from St George and, after putting Alexander Selkirk ashore alone on an island for complaining about the vessel’s seaworthiness, sank off the coast of what is today Colombia. Some of its crew survived being shipwrecked but were made prisoners of the Spanish.

It was now left to St George to make an attempt on the Manila galleon, the main object of the expedition. The ship was sighted on 6 December 1704, probably Nuestra Señora del Rosario. It was caught unprepared and had not run out its guns. But while Dampier and his officers argued over the best way to mount an attack, the galleon got its guns loaded and the battle was joined. St George soon found itself out-sized by the galleon’s 18- and 24-pounders, and, suffering serious damage, they were forced to break off the attack.

The failure to capture the Spanish galleon completed the break-up of the expedition. Dampier, with about thirty men, stayed in St George, while the rest of the crew took a captured barque across the Pacific to Amboyna in the Dutch settlements. The undermanned and worm-damaged St George had to be abandoned on the coast of Peru. He and his remaining men embarked in a Spanish prize for the East Indies, where they were thrown into prison as pirates by their supposed allies the Dutch but later released. Now without a ship, Dampier made his way back to England at the end of 1707.

In 1708, Dampier was engaged to serve on the privateer Duke, not as captain but as sailing master. Duke beat its way into the South Pacific Ocean round Cape Horn in consort with a second ship, Duchess. Commanded by Woodes Rogers, this voyage was more successful: Selkirk was rescued on 2 February 1709, and the expedition amassed £147,975 (equivalent to £19.9 million today) worth of plundered goods. Most of that came from the capture of a Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación y Desengaño, along the coast of Mexico in December 1709.

In January 1710, Dampier crossed the Pacific in Duke, accompanied by Duchess and two prizes. They stopped at Guam before arriving in Batavia. Following a refit at Horn Island (near Batavia) and the sale of one of their prize ships, they sailed for the Cape of Good Hope where they remained for more than three months awaiting a convoy. They left the Cape in company with 25 Dutch and English ships, with Dampier now serving as sailing master of Encarnación.[36] After a further delay at the Texel, they dropped anchor on the Thames in London on 14 October 1711.

Dampier may not have lived to receive all of his share of the expedition’s gains. He died in the Parish of St Stephen Coleman Street, London. The exact date and circumstances of his death, and his final resting place, are all unknown. His will was proven on 23 March 1715, and it is generally assumed he died earlier that month, but this is not known with any certainty. His estate was almost £2,000 in debt.

Dampier influenced several people in a variety of fields who are now better known than he is:

He made important contributions to navigation, collecting for the first time data on currents, winds and tides across all the world’s oceans that were used by James Cook and Horatio Nelson.

His travel journals depicting Panama may have influenced the undertaking of the ill-fated Darien Scheme, leading to the Act of Union of 1707.

Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was likely inspired by accounts of real-life castaway Alexander Selkirk, whom Dampier rescued.

Jonathan Swift explicitly mentions Dampier in his Gulliver’s Travels as a mariner comparable to Lemuel Gulliver.

His notes on the fauna and flora of north-western Australia were studied by naturalist and scientist Joseph Banks, who made further studies during the first voyage with James Cook.

His reports on breadfruit led to William Bligh’s ill-fated voyage in HMS Bounty.

Another storied crew mate of Dampier’s, Simon Hatley, who is best remembered for shooting an albatross while his ship battled storms off Cape Horn, influenced the writing of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

His observations and analysis of natural history helped Alexander von Humboldt and Charles Darwin develop their scientific theories.[44]

His observations (and those of Mr William Funnell) during his expeditions are mentioned several times by Alfred Russel Wallace in his book The Malay Archipelago, and compared to his own observations made on his 19th-century voyages.

Here’s a sufficiently crazy and exotic 17th century recipe to celebrate Dampier. It comes from a cookbook usually called The English and French Cook whose full title is, The English and French cook: describing the best and newest ways of ordering and dressing all sorts of flesh, fish and fowl, whether boiled, baked, stewed, roasted, broiled, frigassied, fryed, souc’d, marrinated, or pickled; with their proper sauces and garnishes: together with all manner of the most approved soops and potages used, either in England or France. By T. P. J. P. R. C. N. B. and several other approved cooks of London and Westminster.  London : printed for Simon Miller at the Star, at the west-end of St. Pauls, 1674.

I’m not sure what to make of the name of the dish. As in 17th century usage, “herbs” means any annual greens. Why are they out of sight? This is a wonderful collection of edible leaves.  The only one needing explanation is “succory” which is chicory. Sippets are slices of toast.

Potage without the sight of Herbs.

Having minced several sorts of sweet Herbs very small, stamp them with your Oatmeal, then strain them through a strainer with some of the broth of the Pot, boil your Herbs and Oatmeal with your Mutton, and some Salt, let your Herbs be Violet-leaves, Strawberry-leaves, Succory, Spinage, Scallions, Parsley and Marry-gold-flowers; having boiled them enough, serve them on Sippets.

 

Jul 282017
 

Today is the birthday (1902) of Albert Namatjira (born Elea Namatjira), a Western Arrernte-speaking Aboriginal artist from the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia, who was, without question, the most famous indigenous Australian of his generation, although then and now his name is probably little known outside Australia. His was a household name was I was a boy in South Australia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Namatjira was born and raised at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission outside Alice Springs and showed interest in art from an early age. It was not until he was 32, however, when he met Australian landscape artist Rex Battarbee, whose work was displayed at the Mission, that he began to paint seriously in Western style under Battarbee’s guidance. Namatjira’s watercolors of the outback gained popularity with Euro-Australians, perhaps because they were more easily assimilated into popular Western conceptions of art than traditional Aboriginal designs, and reproductions of his works hung in many homes throughout Australia. His success was a two-edged sword in so many ways. At the time, Northern Territory Aboriginal Australians were wards of State without the right to own property, vote, or buy alcohol. Namatjira was seen as a “success” story of assimilation into majority White culture, and towards the end of his life in 1957, he became the first Northern Territory Aboriginal Australian to be granted restricted Australian citizenship.

Namatjira’s family were traditional Aranda (Arunta), but they converted to Christianity, upon which they baptized their son and changed his name from Elea to Albert. After a Western-style schooling at the Mission, Namatjira, at the age of 13, went into the bush for initiation and was exposed to traditional culture as a member of the Arrernte community (in which he was to eventually become an elder). After he returned to the Mission, he married his wife Rubina at the age of 18. His wife, like his father’s wife, was outside the classificatory kinship system into which Namatjira should have married traditionally, and so he was ostracized by his clan for several years, during which he worked as a camel driver and saw much of Central Australia, which he was later to depict in his paintings.

Namatjira was introduced to Western-style painting of the outback via an exhibition at his Mission in 1934 by Battarbee and John Gardner, both landscape painters from Melbourne who were touring Central Australia in a Model-T Ford converted to a camper. Battarbee, returned to the area in the winter of 1936 to paint the landscape and Namatjira acted as a guide to show him local scenic areas. In return Battarbee taught Namatjira how to paint with watercolors.

Namatjira began painting in his own style which quickly became recognizable as distinctive. His landscapes normally highlighted both the rugged geological features of the land in the background, and the Australian flora in the foreground with very old, stately and majestic white gum trees surrounded by twisted scrub. His work had a high quality of illumination showing the gashes of the land and the twists in the trees. His colors were similar to the ochres that his ancestral kin had used to depict the same landscape, but his style was squarely within the norms of Western art aesthetics. Almost from the start his art was appreciated popularly in Australia, but always had a mixed reception from the art critics. These were the days when the Western modern art world was (ironically) more attracted to “primitive” or indigenous art styles and classic watercolor landscapes were out of vogue.

In 1938 Namatjira held his first exhibition in Melbourne, and subsequent exhibitions in Sydney and Adelaide quickly sold out. For the next ten years Namatjira painted ceaselessly, his works continuing to sell quickly, and his popularity continuing to rise. Queen Elizabeth II became one of his more notable fans and he was awarded the Queen’s Coronation Medal in 1953 and met her in Canberra in 1954. Not only did his own art become widely recognized, but a painting of him by William Dargie won the Archibald Prize in 1956. Apart from becoming popular and critically acclaimed, he also earned a lot of money.

Due to his financial success, Namatjira became the subject of “humbugging” among his kin – a ritualized form of begging (associated with the nomadic, forager lifeways of the indigenous peoples). Arrernte are expected to share everything they own, and as Namatjira’s income grew, so did his extended family. At one time he was singlehandedly providing for over 600 people.To ease the burden on his strained resources, Namatjira sought to lease a cattle station to benefit his extended family. He was originally granted the lease but it was subsequently rejected because the land was part of a returned servicemen’s ballot, and also because he had no ancestral claim on the property. He then tried to build a house in Alice Springs, but was cheated in his land dealings. The land he was sold was on a flood plain and was unsuitable for building. The Minister for Territories, Paul Hasluck, offered him free land in a reserve on the outskirts of Alice Springs, but this was also rejected, and Namatjira and his family took up residence in a shanty at Morris Soak—a dry creek bed some distance from Alice Springs. Despite the fact that he was held as one of Australia’s greatest artists, Namatjira was living in poverty. His plight became a media cause célèbre, resulting in a wave of public outrage.

In 1957 the government exempted Namatjira and his wife from the restrictive legislation that applied to Australian Aborigines in the Northern Territory. This entitled them to vote, own land, build a house and buy alcohol. Although Albert and Rubina were legally allowed to drink alcohol, his Aboriginal family and friends were not. When an Aboriginal woman, Fay Iowa, was killed at Morris Soak, Namatjira was held responsible by Jim Lemaire, the Stipendiary Magistrate, for bringing alcohol into the camp. He was reprimanded at the coronial inquest. Namatjira was charged with leaving a bottle of rum in a place, (on a car seat), where a clan brother and fellow Hermannsburg artist Henoch Raberaba, could get access to it. Namatjira was sentenced to six months in prison for supplying an Aboriginal with liquor. After a public uproar, Hasluck intervened and the sentence was served at Papunya Native Reserve. He was released after serving only two months for medical and humanitarian reasons.

After his incarceration, Namatjira continued to live with Rubina in a cottage at Papunya, where he suffered a heart attack. There is some evidence that Namatjira believed that he had had the bone pointed at him by a member of Fay Iowa’s family (a ritualized curse and death sentence). After being transferred to Alice Springs hospital he died of heart disease complicated by pneumonia on 8 August 1959.

Here’s a sample album:

 

 

Wallaby stew is noted in songs and poems of the Australian bush. As is fitting for today’s anniversary, the dish is a meeting of indigenous Australian and European cooking methods. Wallaby shanks are common for the dish and can be treated much like lamb shanks. Outside of Australia you may have a hard go of it finding the meat.

Wallaby Stew

Ingredients

4 wallaby shanks
plain flour, for dusting
extra virgin olive oil
4 large carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
4 celery sticks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 cups red wine
2 pints beef stock
2 tbspn tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Instructions

Dredge the shanks in flour and brown over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan.

Add the vegetables, thyme, and stock, and bring to a gentle simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper (or pepperleaf if you can find it). Cover and simmer gently for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.

If need be, remove the meat and vegetables and keep them warm whilst you reduce the sauce.

Serve hot with the meat and vegetables covered with sauce.

Serves 4

Oct 052016
 

lmd2

On this date in 1962 “Love Me Do,” the Beatles’ first single (backed by “P.S. I Love You”), was released in Britain, peaking in the charts at No. 17. The song was written several years before it was recorded, and prior to the existence of the Beatles.  It was primarily written by Paul McCartney in 1958–1959 while playing truant from school at age 16 and later credited to Lennon–McCartney; John Lennon contributed the middle eight. Lennon later said,

Paul wrote the main structure of this when he was 16, or even earlier. I think I had something to do with the middle … ‘Love Me Do’ is Paul’s song. He wrote it when he was a teenager. Let me think. I might have helped on the middle eight, but I couldn’t swear to it. I do know he had the song around, in Hamburg, even, way, way before we were songwriters.

McCartney differed somewhat:

‘Love Me Do’ was completely co-written. It might have been my original idea but some of them really were 50-50s, and I think that one was. It was just Lennon and McCartney sitting down without either of us having a particularly original idea. We loved doing it, it was a very interesting thing to try and learn to do, to become songwriters. I think why we eventually got so strong was we wrote so much through our formative period. ‘Love Me Do’ was our first hit, which ironically is one of the two songs that we control, because when we first signed to EMI they had a publishing company called Ardmore and Beechwood which took the two songs, ‘Love Me Do’ and ‘P.S. I Love You’, and in doing a deal somewhere along the way we were able to get them back.

Their practice at the time was to scribble songs in a school notebook, dreaming of stardom, always writing “Another Lennon–McCartney Original” at the top of the page. ‘Love Me Do’ is based on two simple chords: G7 and C, before moving to D for its middle eight. It begins with Lennon playing a bluesy dry “dockside harmonica” riff, then features Lennon and McCartney on joint lead vocals, including Everly Brothers-style harmonizing during the beseeching “please” before McCartney sings the unaccompanied vocal line on the song’s title phrase. Lennon had previously sung the title sections, but this change in arrangement was made in the studio under the direction of producer George Martin when he realized that the harmonica part encroached on the vocal (Lennon needed to begin playing the harmonica again on the same beat as the “do” of “love me do”).

lmd1

‘Love Me Do’ was recorded by the Beatles on three different occasions with three different drummers at EMI Studios at 3 Abbey Road in London:

  1. EMI Artist Test on 6 June 1962 with Pete Best on drums. This version (previously thought to be lost) is available on Anthology 1.
  2. First proper recording session 4 September 1962. In August, Best had been replaced with Ringo Starr. Producer George Martin did not approve of Best’s drumming for studio work. It was the norm at that time to have a specialist studio drummer who knew the ways of studio work. The decision to fire Best was not Martin’s. The Beatles with Starr recorded a version at EMI Studios. They recorded Love Me Do in 15 takes. This version with Starr is available on Past Masters.
  3. Second recording session 11 September 1962. A week later, The Beatles returned to the same studio and they made a recording of ‘Love Me Do’ with session drummer Andy White on drums. Starr was relegated to playing tambourine. As tambourine is not present on the 4 September recording, this is the easiest way to distinguish between the Starr and White recordings.


First issues of the single, released on Parlophone in the UK on 5 October 1962, featured the Ringo Starr version, prompting Mark Lewisohn to later write: “Clearly, the 11 September version was not regarded as having been a significant improvement after all.”

The Andy White version of the track was included on The Beatles’ debut UK album, Please Please Me, The Beatles’ Hits EP, and subsequent album releases on which “Love Me Do” was included (except as noted below), as well as on the first US single release in April 1964. For the 1976 single re-issue and the 1982 “20th Anniversary” re-issue, the Andy White version was again used. The Ringo Starr version was included on the albums Rarities (American version) and Past Masters, Volume One. The CD single issued on 2 October 1992 contains both versions. The Pete Best version remained unreleased until 1995, when it was included on the Anthology 1 album.

‘Love Me Do,’ featuring Starr drumming, was also recorded eight times at the BBC and played on the BBC radio programs Here We Go, Talent Spot, Saturday Club, Side By Side, Pop Go The Beatles, and Easy Beat between October 1962 and October 1963. The version of ‘Love Me Do’ recorded on 10 July 1963 at the BBC and broadcast on the 23 July 1963 Pop Go the Beatles program can be heard on The Beatles’ album Live at the BBC. The Beatles also performed the song live on the 20 February 1963 Parade of the Pops BBC radio broadcast.

lmd3

On 4 September 1962, Brian Epstein paid for the Beatles—with Ringo Starr as new drummer—to fly down from Liverpool to London. After first checking into their Chelsea hotel, they arrived at EMI Studios early in the afternoon where they set up their equipment in Studio 3 and began rehearsing six songs including: “Please Please Me”, “Love Me Do” and a song originally composed for Adam Faith by Mitch Murray called “How Do You Do It?” which George Martin “was insisting, in the apparent absence of any stronger original material, would be the group’s first single.” Lennon and McCartney had yet to impress Martin with their songwriting ability, and the Beatles had been signed as recording artists on the basis of their charismatic appeal: “It wasn’t a question of what they could do as they hadn’t written anything great at that time. But what impressed me most was their personalities. Sparks flew off them when you talked to them.” During the course of an evening session that then followed (7:00 pm to 10:00 pm in Studio 2) they recorded “How Do You Do It” and “Love Me Do.” An attempt at “Please Please Me” was made, but at this stage it was quite different from its eventual treatment and it was dropped by Martin. This was a disappointment for the group as they had hoped it would be the B-side to “Love Me Do.”

lmd6

The Beatles were keen to record their own material, something which was almost unheard of at that time, and it is generally accepted that it is to George Martin’s credit that they were allowed to float their own ideas. But Martin insisted that unless they could write something as commercial as “How Do You Do It?” then the Tin Pan Alley practice of having the group record songs by professional songwriters (which was standard procedure then, and is still common today) would be followed. Ian MacDonald points out, however: “It’s almost certainly true that there was no other producer on either side of the Atlantic then capable of handling the Beatles without damaging them—let alone of cultivating and catering to them with the gracious, open-minded adeptness for which George Martin is universally respected in the British pop industry.” Martin rejects however the view that he was the “genius” behind the group: “I was purely an interpreter. The genius was theirs: no doubt about that.”

Martin came very close to issuing “How Do You Do It?” as the Beatles’ first single (it would also re-appear as a contender for their second single) before settling instead on “Love Me Do”, as a mastered version of it was made ready for release and which still exists in EMI’s archives. Martin commented later: “I looked very hard at ‘How Do You Do It?’, but in the end I went with ‘Love Me Do’, it was quite a good record.” McCartney remarked later, “We knew that the peer pressure back in Liverpool would not allow us to do ‘How Do You Do It’.” This is a reminder that back then the Beatles were very much a Liverpool group with their fan base in their home town. They remained popular favorites at the Cavern for some time before they achieved national recognition in Britain due to relentless radio and concert promotion by Brian Epstein.

lmd5

I was not aware of the Beatles until they surfaced on South Australian television in 1963. By then Epstein was pushing for an international audience and they eventually came to Adelaide in 1964. I had no idea who they were when they first came on television, but my mum and sisters did. I was 12 and not interested in pop music at all. But we all gathered around the telly one evening to see this new pop marvel. The video set was a crude mockup of the Liverpool Cavern and they appeared in their, now legendary, Beatle suits, boots, and haircuts. I can’t say that I was impressed by the music, but I did like the hair style, and next time I went to the barber’s I asked to have mine cut like theirs – a scandal. It’s laughable now to look at them and realize that they were considered to be long-haired hooligans back then. They look so clean cut. But at that time boys of my generation always had a military “short back and sides,” that is, a little outcrop of hair on top (hidden by an army beret or cap) and razored over the rest. I felt very mod, and somewhat rebellious, when I first appeared at school with a “mop top.” Those were the days.

The obvious choice for a recipe today is lobscouse, or simply scouse, because the dish is a perennial favorite in Liverpool to the point that people from Liverpool are still known as “scousers.” Nineteenth-century sailors made lobscouse by boiling salted meat, onions and pepper, with ship’s biscuit used to thicken the dish, and it became common as a cheap dish in ports such as Liverpool. The shore version of scouse is a stew that is not especially distinctive, and quite similar to Lancashire hotpot and Irish stew, usually of mutton, lamb (often neck) or beef with vegetables, typically potatoes, carrots and onions. In Liverpool it is often served with pickles of some sort, onions, beetroot, or cabbage, and bread. This version is a mix of beef and mutton which is quite common. This is my own version, and since I am not from Liverpool I cannot claim that it is truly authentic. But I am sure my scouser friends will approve. Note that there are 6 pounds of vegetables to 1 pound of meat. This is meant to be a very cheap meal. I have no doubt that the Beatles ate a ton of it as growing lads.

lmd7

Scouse

Ingredients

½ lb stewing steak, cut into large cubes
½lb lamb breast (or neck), cut into large cubes
1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
4 lb of potatoes, peeled and cubed
beef stock
vegetable oil
Worcester sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Heat some vegetable oil over high heat in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot and brown the meat. Add enough beef stock to cover and simmer gently, covered, for an hour or more. Keep simmering until the meat is tender.

Add the vegetables and more stock as needed so that the stew is fully covered. Add Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Timing here is dependent on how soft you want the vegetables. I err on the al dente side.

Serve in deep bowls with pickled onions and beetroot, and crusty bread.

Aug 022016
 

glassjr6

Today is the birthday (1865) of John Radecki (also known as Johann and Jan Radecki) who was a master stained glass artist who was born in Poland but spent most of his professional life working in Australia. He is considered one of the finest stained glass artists of his era. Rather than dwelling exclusively on Radecki, I’m going to take a peek at stained glass manufacture in general, although this will just be a peek.

Colored glass has been produced since ancient times. Both the Egyptians and the Romans excelled at the manufacture of small colored glass objects. Phoenicia was also important in glass manufacture with its chief centers in Sidon, Tyre and Antioch. In early Christian churches of the 4th and 5th centuries, there are a few remaining windows which are filled with ornate patterns of thinly-sliced alabaster set into wooden frames, giving a stained glass like effect. Evidence of stained glass windows in churches and monasteries in Britain can be found as early as the 7th century. The earliest known reference dates from 675 when Benedict Biscop imported workmen from France to glaze the windows of the monastery of St Peter which he was building at Monkwearmouth. Hundreds of pieces of colored glass and lead, dating back to the late 7th century, have been discovered here and at Jarrow.

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In the Middle East, the glass industry of Syria continued during the Islamic period with major centers of manufacture at Ar-Raqqah, Aleppo and Damascus and the most important products being highly transparent colourless glass and gilded glass, rather than colored glass. The production of colored glass in Southwest Asia existed by the 8th century, at which time the alchemist Jābir ibn Hayyān, in Kitab al-Durra al-Maknuna, gave 46 recipes for producing colored glass and described the technique of cutting glass into artificial gemstones.

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Stained glass, as an art form, reached its height in the Middle Ages when it became a major pictorial form used to illustrate the narratives of the Bible. In the Romanesque and Early Gothic period, from about 950 to 1240, the untraceried windows demanded large expanses of glass which of necessity were supported by robust iron frames, such as may be seen at Chartres Cathedral and at the eastern end of Canterbury Cathedral. As Gothic architecture developed into a more ornate form, windows grew larger, affording greater illumination to the interiors, but were divided into sections by vertical shafts and tracery of stone. This elaboration of form reached its height of complexity in the Flamboyant style in Europe, and windows grew still larger with the development of the Perpendicular style in England.

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During the Renaissance stained glass work flourished, beginning with the windows in Florence Cathedral. The stained glass includes three ocular windows for the dome and three for the facade which were designed from 1405-1445 by several of the most renowned artists of this period: Ghiberti, Donatello, Uccello and Andrea del Castagno. Each major ocular window contains a single picture drawn from the Life of Christ or the Life of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by a wide floral border, with two smaller facade windows by Ghiberti showing the martyred deacons, St Stephen and St Lawrence. One of the cupola windows has since been lost, and that by Donatello has lost nearly all of its painted details.

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In Europe, stained glass continued to be produced with the style evolving from the Gothic to the Classical, which is well represented in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, despite the rise of Protestantism. In France, much glass of this period was produced at the Limoges factory, and in Italy at Murano, where stained glass and faceted lead crystal are often coupled together in the same window. Ultimately, the French Revolution brought about the neglect or destruction of many windows in France. During the Reformation, in England large numbers of Medieval and Renaissance windows were smashed and replaced with plain glass. The Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII and the injunctions of Thomas Cromwell against “abused images” (that is, veneration), resulted in the loss of thousands of windows. Few remain undamaged. With this wave of destruction the traditional methods of working with stained glass died and were not to be rediscovered in England until the early 19th century.

Some Medieval and Renaissance stained glass techniques (and glass making techniques in general) have, in fact, been completely lost despite continued efforts to re-create them. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw its own renaissance, of which John Radecki was a major contributor.

Radecki was born 2 August 1865 in Łódź in Poland, son of Pavel Radecki, a coal miner, and his wife Victoria, née Bednarkiewicz. Jan trained at a German art school at Poznań. With his parents and four siblings he migrated to Australia, reaching Sydney in January 1882. The family settled in Wollongong in New South Wales, where he and his father in the coalmines. His parents had two more children in Australia. Jan moved to Sydney in 1883 where he attended art classes. He boarded with the Saunders family from England and on 17 May 1888 married their daughter Emma. He became a naturalized Australian citizen under the name John in November 1904 (aged 39).

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From 1885 Radecki had been employed by Frederick Ashwin, who taught him to work with glass. In the 1890s the two men had crafted stained glass windows entitled ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (St Paul’s Church, Cobbitty) and `Nativity’ (St Jude’s, Randwick). Other works included a window at Yanco Agricultural College, produced in 1902 by F. Ashwin & Co. reputedly to Radecki’s design, and the chancel window (1903) in St Clement’s, Mosman. His first, major independent work was the ‘Te Deum’ window in Christ Church St Laurence, Sydney, in 1906. Ashwin and Radecki also collaborated on windows in St James’s, Forest Lodge, and St John’s, Campbelltown.

After Ashwin’s death in 1909, Radecki became chief designer for J. Ashwin & Co, in partnership with Frederick’s brother John; he was proprietor of the company from John Ashwin’s death in 1920 until 1954. The firm was the largest glassmaking establishment in Sydney, with a high reputation. Radecki’s work included windows in such churches as St John the Evangelist’s, Campbelltown, St Patrick’s, Kogarah, St Joseph’s, Rockdale, St Matthew’s, Manly, and Our Lady of Dolours’, North Goulburn, Scots Kirk, Hamilton, Newcastle, and the Presbyterian Church, Wollongong.

Here’s a small gallery.

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Certainly Radecki spent most of his life in Australia, but I guarantee that like most European immigrants he retained his Polish roots all of his life despite assimilating in to Australian culture. So, I am going to give a recipe for a classic Polish dish, golonka, or pork knuckle. Central Polish cuisine is a mix of Slavic and German traditions, and classic golonka is much the same as the German Schweinehaxe. I’ll give you a recipe although there’s really not much need. The main difficulty is finding the pork knuckle. You’ll need a good pork butcher. Also, you need a fresh one, not smoked or pickled. That’s the real challenge.

Pork knuckle is classic poor food which has since been elevated to gourmet status. Knuckle is actually quite delicious is cooked properly, but you have to take time. If you go whole hog (sorry !), it’s a three day process – 1. Marinating 2. Poaching 3. Roasting. Two works for me.

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Golonka

Ingredients

1 large fresh pork hock per person
light stock
salt
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2 juniper berries
1 large carrot
1 large onion, quartered
1 parsnip
1 rib celery
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp caraway seeds

Glaze:

10 oz Polish beer
4 tbsp honey

Instructions

Put the hocks in a large, heavy pot, cover with water or light stock, add the vegetables and flavorings (including salt to taste), and gently simmer on low heat for at least 2 hours, or until the meat is falling from the bone. This might take 3 hours or longer depending on the meat.

Remove the hocks from the stock with a slotted spoon and reserve the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.

Place the hocks in a deep baking pan.

Mix the beer and honey together in a small saucepan and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking broth. (The rest you should use for soup or stock). Heat the glaze to dissolve the honey, then pour it over the hocks.

Bake the hocks for about 40 minutes, or until the glaze is golden.

Serve with boiled potatoes. If you want you can make a gravy with the reserved cooking liquid, by adding a roux or cornstarch as thickener.

 

Aug 012016
 

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Picnic Day is a public holiday in the Northern Territory of Australia which takes place every year on the first Monday of August, making this a three-day weekend which can be used for a variety of events – not just picnics. Nominal Picnic Day events in the Northern Territory date back to the late 19th century. They were held in a variety of locations such as Adelaide River, Brunette Downs Station and Glencoe Paddock at different times of the year. A regular annual Union Picnic Day or Trade Picnic Day was observed at Adelaide River by railway employees working on the North Australia Railway. The date of the first event is not known. The event included Public Works employees on some occasions.

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Between 1926 and 1935 a railway Picnic Day event was not held. An attempt was made to revive the holiday in 1933, but it was not officially observed again until three years later. On Monday 5 October 1936, a train transported people from Darwin to Adelaide River, leaving at 7am returning at 11pm. The hotel at Adelaide River recorded record sales and the train was “forced to stop often as a number of male Darwin passengers fell off at various points along the line.” Hmmm.

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The Harts Range Races in Central Australia are held each Picnic Day long weekend. The races began in 1946, when three brothers Bennett, Qinton and Kil Webb from Mount Riddock Station raced stockman Jack Schaber and the regional policeman Senior Constable Bob Darken over a distance of about a mile to the Ulgarna Yards to determine who had the fastest horse. The event inspired the first formal racing meet at Harts Range in November 1947 and it became an annual event thereafter.

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Nowadays the Harts Range Races cover the whole three-day weekend and include rodeo, gymkhana, and sports events along with the races, as well as picnics and formal dances. Takes me back. I used to go to picnics in an open area in Sandy Creek, South Australia, in the 1950s and 60s that looked a lot like photos of Picnic Day in the Northern Territory, although at a different time of year. August is cold and damp in South Australia, but in the Northern Territory today should be a decent day to be outdoors. It’s supposed to be sunny with temperatures in the 70s Fahrenheit – very comfortable compared with the 90s and 100s of January.

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Picnic lunches in Australia always involved a barbie (barbecue), and still do from what I gather. In my boyhood a barbie was nothing more than a wood fire with a wire grating placed over it balanced on rocks. For my money, that arrangement still can’t be beaten. Of course, where I lived there was plenty of open space with abundant dry wood available from fallen branches and trees. Someone brought the wire grate and an axe, and in very little time a fire was going and a barbie built.  There would always be snags – Australian sausages made from beef or lamb. The snags came from the local butcher, made from meat trimmings and fat with some filler added. The snags were not especially fancy, but they were cheap. That was the point. Sometimes we would have lamb chops along with the snags. At best you’d get ONE if you were lucky. The chops were not very big, so there was not much meat on them. But they were delicious and I can still remember gnawing on the bones to get every last morsel of meat and fat off, then wiping my greasy fingers on a hunk of bread that I used as a plate for the snags and chops before eating it.  It all sounds very basic, I know. It was. So what? I have very fond memories of those days, especially when I first started getting interested in girls. At school we were fiercely segregated at play time, but at barbies we could all hang out together. Good times.

Jan 262016
 

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On this date in 1808 the governor of New South Wales, William Bligh, was deposed by the New South Wales Corps under the command of Major George Johnston, working closely with John Macarthur, 20 years to the day after Arthur Phillip founded European settlement in Australia (celebrated now as Australia Day http://www.bookofdaystales.com/australia-day/ ). Afterwards, the colony was ruled by the military, with the senior military officer stationed in Sydney acting as the Lieutenant-Governor of the colony until the arrival from Britain of Major-General Lachlan Macquarie as the new Governor at the beginning of 1810.

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William Bligh, well known for his overthrow in the mutiny on the Bounty (http://www.bookofdaystales.com/mutiny-bounty/ ), was the fourth Governor of New South Wales. He succeeded Governor Philip Gidley King in 1805, having been offered the position by Sir Joseph Banks. It is likely that he was selected by the British Government as governor because of his reputation as a hard man. He stood a good chance of reining in the maverick New South Wales Corps, something which his predecessors had not been able to do. Bligh left for Sydney with his daughter, Mary Putland, and her husband while Bligh’s wife remained in England.

Even before his arrival, Bligh’s style of governance led to problems with his subordinates. The Admiralty gave command of the store ship Porpoise and the convoy to the lower ranked Captain Joseph Short and Bligh took command of a transport ship. This led to quarrels which eventually resulted in Captain Short firing across Bligh’s bow in order to force Bligh to obey his signals. When this failed, Short tried to give an order to Lieutenant Putland, Bligh’s son-in-law, to stand by to fire on Bligh’s ship. Bligh boarded the Porpoise and seized control of the convoy.

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When they arrived in Sydney, Bligh, backed up by statements from two of Short’s officers, had Short stripped of the captaincy of the Porpoise – which he gave to his son-in-law – cancelled the 240-hectare (600-acre) land grant Short had been promised as payment for the voyage and shipped him back to England for court martial, at which Short was acquitted. The president of the court, Sir Isaac Coffin, wrote to the Admiralty and made several serious accusations against Bligh, including that he had influenced the officers to testify against Short. Bligh’s wife obtained a statement from one of the officers denying this and Banks and other supporters of Bligh lobbied successfully against his recall as Governor.

Soon after his arrival at Sydney, in August 1806, Bligh was given an address of welcome signed by Major Johnston for the military, by Richard Atkins for the civilian officers, and by John Macarthur for the free settlers. However, not long after, he also received addresses from the free and freed settlers of Sydney and the Hawkesbury River region, with a total of 369 signatures, many made only with a cross, complaining that Macarthur did not represent them, as they blamed him for controlling the market in sheep so as to raise the price of mutton.

John Macarthur

John Macarthur

One of Bligh’s first actions was to use the colony’s stores and herds to provide relief to farmers who had been severely affected by flooding on the Hawkesbury River, a situation which had disrupted the barter economy in the colony. Supplies were divided up according to those most in need and provisions were made for loans to be drawn from the store based on capacity to repay. This earned Bligh the gratitude of the farmers but the enmity of traders in the Corps who had been profiting greatly from the situation.

Bligh, under instructions from the Colonial Office, attempted to normalize trading conditions in the colony by prohibiting the use of spirits as payment for commodities. Bligh communicated his policy to the Colonial Office in 1807, with the advice that his policy would be met with resistance. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State for War and the Colonies wrote back to Bligh, his instructions being received on 31 December 1807. The instructions were to stop the barter of spirits. It is likely that the enmity of the monopolists within the colony stemmed from this and other policies which counteracted the power of the rich and promoted the welfare of the poor settlers. Bligh ceased the practice of handing out large land grants to the powerful in the colony; during his term he granted just over 1,600 hectares of land, half of it to his daughter Mary Putland and himself.

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Bligh also upset some people by allowing a group of Irish convicts to be tried for revolt, by a court that included their accusers, and then when six out of the eight were acquitted, he kept them under arrest anyway. He dismissed D’Arcy Wentworth from his position of Assistant Surgeon to the Colony without explanation, and sentenced three merchants to a month’s imprisonment and a fine for writing a letter which he considered offensive. Bligh also dismissed Thomas Jamison from the magistracy, describing him in 1807 as being “inimical” to good government. Jamison was the highly capable (though devious) Surgeon-General of New South Wales. He had accumulated significant personal wealth as a maritime trader and was a friend and business partner of Macarthur’s. Jamison never forgave Bligh for sacking him as a magistrate and interfering with his private business activities, and he supported Bligh’s later deposition.

In October 1807 Major George Johnston wrote a formal letter of complaint to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, stating that Bligh was abusive and interfering with the troops of the New South Wales Corps. It is clear that Bligh had made enemies of some of the most influential people in the colony. He also antagonized some of the less wealthy when he ordered those who had leases on government land within Sydney to remove their houses.

Macarthur had arrived with the New South Wales Corps in 1790 as a lieutenant, and by 1805 he had substantial farming and commercial interests in the colony. He had quarreled with Bligh’s predecessor governors and had fought three duels. Bligh and MacArthur’s interests clashed in a number of ways. Bligh stopped Macarthur from cheaply distributing large quantities of rum into the Corps. He also halted Macarthur’s allegedly illegal importation of stills. Macarthur’s interest in an area of land granted to him by Governor King conflicted with Bligh’s town-planning interests. Macarthur and Bligh were also engaged in other disagreements, including a conflict over landing regulations. In June 1807, a convict had stowed away and escaped Sydney on one of Macarthur’s vessels, and in December 1807, when that vessel returned to Sydney, the bond held to ensure compliance by shipping was deemed to be forfeited.

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Bligh had the Judge-Advocate, Richard Atkins, issue an order for John Macarthur to appear on the matter of the bond on 15 December 1807. Macarthur disobeyed the order and was arrested and bailed to appear for trial at the next sitting of the Sydney Criminal Court on 25 January 1808. The court was constituted of Atkins and six officers of the NSW Corps. Macarthur objected to Atkins being fit to sit in judgment of him because he was his debtor and inveterate enemy. Atkins rejected this, but “Macarthur’s protest had the support of the other six members of the court, all officers of the Corps. Without the Judge-Advocate, the trial could not take place and the court dissolved.”

Bligh accused the six officers of what amounted to mutiny and summoned Major George Johnston to come and deal with the matter. Johnston replied that he was ill, as he had wrecked his gig on the evening of the 24th on his way back home to Annandale after dining with officers of the Corps.

On the morning of 26 January 1808, Bligh again ordered that Macarthur be arrested and also ordered the return of court papers, which were now in the hands of officers of the Corps. The Corps responded with a request for a new Judge-Advocate and the release of Macarthur on bail. Bligh summoned the officers to Government House to answer charges made by the judge and he informed Major Johnston that he considered the action of the officers of the Corps to be treasonable.

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Johnston, instead, had gone to the jail and issued an order releasing Macarthur, who then drafted a petition calling for Johnston to arrest Bligh and take charge of the colony. This petition was signed by the officers of the Corps and other prominent citizens but, according to Evatt, most signatures had probably been added only after Bligh was safely under house arrest. Johnston then consulted with the officers and issued an order stating that Bligh was “charged by the respectable inhabitants of crimes that render you unfit to exercise the supreme authority another moment in this colony; and in that charge all officers under my command have joined.” Johnston went on to call for Bligh to resign and submit to arrest.

At 6:00 pm, the Corps, with full band and colors, marched to Government House to arrest Bligh. They were hindered by Bligh’s daughter but Captain Thomas Laycock finally found Bligh, in full dress uniform, behind his bed where he claimed he was hiding papers. During 1808 Bligh and his daughter, Mary Putland, were confined to Government House, under house arrest. Bligh refused to leave for England until lawfully relieved of his duty.

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Johnston appointed Charles Grimes, the Surveyor-General, as Judge-Advocate and ordered Macarthur and the six officers be tried; they were found not guilty. Macarthur was then appointed as Colonial Secretary and effectively ran the business affairs of the colony. Another prominent opponent of Bligh, Macarthur’s ally Thomas Jamison, was made the colony’s Naval Officer (the equivalent of Collector of Customs and Excise). Jamison was also reinstated as a magistrate, which enabled him and his fellow legal officers to scrutinize Bligh’s personal papers for evidence of wrongdoing. In June 1809 Jamison sailed to London to bolster his business interests and give evidence against Bligh in any legal prosecutions that might be brought against the mutineers. Jamison died in London at the beginning of 1811, however, so he did not have an opportunity to testify at Johnston’s court martial, which was not conducted until June of that year.

Following Bligh’s overthrow Johnston had notified his superior officer, Colonel William Paterson, who was in Tasmania establishing a settlement at Port Dalrymple (now Launceston), of events. Paterson was reluctant to get involved until clear orders arrived from England. When he learned in March that Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Foveaux was returning to Sydney with orders to become acting Lieutenant-Governor, Paterson left Foveaux to deal with the prevailing situation.

Joseph Foveaux

Joseph Foveaux

Foveaux arrived in July and took over the colony, which annoyed Macarthur. Since a decision was expected from England, and feeling that Bligh’s behavior had been insufferable, Foveaux left Bligh under house arrest and turned his attention to improving the colony’s roads, bridges and public buildings, which he felt had been badly neglected. When there was still no word from England, he summoned Paterson to Sydney in January 1809 to sort out matters. Paterson sent Johnston and Macarthur to England for trial, and confined Bligh to the barracks until he signed a contract agreeing to return to England. Paterson, whose health was failing, then retired to Government House at Parramatta and left Foveaux to run the colony.

In January 1809 Bligh was given the control of HMS Porpoise on condition that he return to England. However, Bligh sailed to Hobart in Tasmania, seeking the support of the Tasmanian Lieutenant-Governor David Collins to retake control of the colony. Collins, however, did not support him and on Paterson’s orders Bligh remained cut off on board the Porpoise, moored at the mouth of the River Derwent south of Hobart, until January 1810.

The Colonial Office finally decided that sending naval governors to rule the colony was untenable. Instead the NSW Corps, now known as the 102nd Regiment of Foot, was to be recalled to England and replaced with the 73rd Regiment of Foot, whose commanding officer would take over as Governor. Bligh was to be reinstated for 24 hours, then recalled to England, Johnston sent to England for court martial, and Macarthur tried in Sydney. Major-General Lachlan Macquarie was put in charge of the mission after Major-General Miles Nightingall fell ill before departure. Macquarie took over as Governor with an elaborate ceremony on 1 January 1810.

Lachlan Macquarie

Lachlan Macquarie

Governor Macquarie reinstated all the officials who had been sacked by Johnston and Macarthur and cancelled all land and stock grants that had been made since Bligh’s deposition, though to calm things down he made grants that he thought appropriate and prevented any revenge. When Bligh received the news of Macquarie’s arrival, he sailed to Sydney, arriving on 17 January 1810 to collect evidence for the forthcoming court martial of Major George Johnston. He departed for the trial in England on 12 May, arriving on 25 October 1810 aboard the Hindostan.

Having informally heard arguments from both sides, the government authorities in England were not impressed by either Macarthur and Johnston’s accusations against Bligh, or by Bligh’s ill-tempered letters accusing key figures in the colony of unacceptable conduct. Johnston was court-martialed, found guilty and cashiered, the lowest penalty possible. He was then able to return as a free citizen to his estate, Annandale, in Sydney. Macarthur was not tried but was refused permission to return to NSW until 1817, since he would not admit his wrongdoing.

Bligh’s promotion to rear admiral was held up until the end of Johnston’s trial. Afterward it was backdated to 31 July 1810 and Bligh took up a position that had been kept for him. He continued his naval career in the Admiralty, without command, and died of cancer in 1817.

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The term “Rum Rebellion” is commonly used now, but it was generally known as the “Great Rebellion” for much of the 19th century. Rum imports and taxes were certainly at issue, but they were not the main cause of the revolt. At stake were numerous financial issues that divided factions within the colony. Bligh was clearly unable to keep the peace between headstrong and powerful people. Obviously people are given to wonder from time to time how Bligh could have suffered mutiny on the Bounty, been exonerated, been rebelled against in NSW, exonerated again, then served as rear and vice admiral, but without command. Based on my own reading of primary texts over the years I’d say that Bligh was always technically correct in his actions, and therefore above legal censure, but was petulant, ill tempered, undiplomatic, and vindictive, thus earning the dislike of all who served under him. It seems to me that the Royal Navy treated Bligh more than fairly by refusing to condemn his actions in Australia, but also by never giving him command again.

I gave a recipe for rum baba here, http://www.bookofdaystales.com/prohibition-ends/ and it’s quite possible to give countless recipes for desserts that use rum. But rum is perfectly serviceable in savory dishes too. Here it is as the liquid base for a marinade for chicken based on a Jamaican recipe. I use leg parts in preference for grilling, because they can grill long enough to cook through, yet retain moistness. For this recipe I usually just buy a big pack of thighs.

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Rum Marinated Chicken

Ingredients

8 shallots, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, crushed or pounded
1 medium-sized knob ginger (about half a thumb)
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 limes, juice only
2 lemons, juice only
2 oranges, juice only
1 scotch bonnet pepper, finely chopped
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 handful fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tbsp English mustard
1 tsp ground allspice
½ cup dark rum
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil
10 chicken pieces

Instructions

Put all the ingredients except the chicken in a large bowl and mix well. Divide the chicken between sealable plastic bags so that they can lie flat in one layer. Divide the marinade between the bags, press out all the air, seal, and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, remove the chicken pieces to a platter and pour the marinade into a bowl. Grill the chicken pieces over hot coals, constantly basting with the marinade until the skin is crisp and dark. Serve with rice and a green salad.

Serves 4 to 6

Jun 172015
 

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Today is the birthday (1867) of Henry Archibald Hertzberg Lawson, Australian writer and poet. Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson, Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period and is often called Australia’s “greatest short story writer”. He was the son of the poet, publisher and political activist, Louisa Lawson, subject of one of my very earliest posts here: http://www.bookofdaystales.com/louisa-lawson-and-the-dawn-club/

Henry Lawson was born on the Grenfell goldfields of New South Wales. His father was Niels Hertzberg Larsen, a Norwegian-born miner from Tromøya near Arendal. Niels Larsen went to sea at 21 and arrived in Melbourne in 1855 to join the gold rush, along with partner William Henry John Slee. Lawson’s parents met at the goldfields of Pipeclay (now Eurunderee New South Wales). Niels and Louisa Albury (1848–1920) married on 7 July 1866 when he was 32 and she 18. On Henry’s birth, the family surname was Anglicized and Niels became Peter Lawson. The newly married couple were to have an unhappy marriage. Louisa took a significant part in women’s movements, and edited a women’s paper called The Dawn (published May 1888 to July 1905). She also published her son’s first volume, and around 1904 brought out a volume of her own, Dert and Do, a simple story of 18,000 words. In 1905 she collected and published her own verses, The Lonely Crossing and other Poems. Louisa likely had a strong influence on her son’s literary work in its earliest days

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Lawson attended school at Eurunderee from 2 October 1876 but suffered an ear infection at around this time. It left him with partial deafness and by the age of fourteen he had lost his hearing entirely. However, his master John Tierney was a kindly man and did all he could for Lawson, who was quite shy. Lawson later attended a Catholic school at Mudgee, around 8 km away. The master there, Mr Kevan, taught Lawson about poetry and literature. Lawson was a keen reader, and reading became a major source of his education because, due to his deafness, he had trouble learning in the classroom.

In 1883, after working on building jobs with his father in the Blue Mountains, Lawson joined his mother in Sydney at her request. Louisa was then living with Henry’s sister and brother. At this time, Lawson was working during the day and studying at night for his matriculation in the hopes of receiving a university education. However, he failed his exams. At around 20 years of age Lawson went to the eye and ear hospital in Melbourne but nothing could be done for his deafness.

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In 1896, Lawson married Bertha Bredt, daughter of Bertha Bredt, the prominent socialist. The marriage was unhappy due to Lawson’s alcoholism. They had two children, son Jim (Joseph) and daughter Bertha. However, the marriage ended badly and with poor relations between them ever after.

Lawson’s first published poem was ‘A Song of the Republic’ which appeared in The Bulletin, 1 October 1887. His mother’s republican friends were an obvious influence. This was followed by ‘The Wreck of the Derry Castle’ and then ‘Golden Gully.’ Prefixed to the former poem was an editorial ‘note:

In publishing the subjoined verses we take pleasure in stating that the writer is a boy of 17 years, a young Australian, who has as yet had an imperfect education and is earning his living under some difficulties as a housepainter, a youth whose poetic genius here speaks eloquently for itself.       

Lawson was 20 years old, not 17.

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From 1890-1891 Lawson worked in Albany. He then received an offer to write for the Brisbane Boomerang in 1891, but he lasted only around 7–8 months as the Boomerang was soon in trouble. While in Brisbane he contributed to William Lane’s Worker; he later angled for an editorial position with the similarly-named Worker of Sydney, but was unsuccessful. He returned to Sydney and continued to write for the Bulletin which, in 1892, paid for an inland trip where he experienced the harsh realities of drought-affected New South Wales. He also worked as a roustabout (general hand) in the woolshed at Toorale Station. This resulted in his contributions to the Bulletin Debate and became a source for many of his stories in subsequent years. One critic describes the trek Lawson took between Hungerford and Bourke as “the most important trek in Australian literary history” and says that “it confirmed all his prejudices about the Australian bush. Lawson had no romantic illusions about a ‘rural idyll’ such as projected by Banjo Paterson.

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Lawson’s most successful prose collection is While the Billy Boils, published in 1896. Lawson created his own style and defined Australians in a new way: laconic, egalitarian, and humane. Most of his work focuses on the Australian bush, such as the desolate “Past Carin’ ” a starkly realistic of Australian life as it was at the time, or “The Drover’s Wife” a bleak description of loneliness. It is regularly studied in schools and has often been adapted for film and theater. Lawson was a firm believer in the merits of the sketch story, commonly known simply as ‘the sketch,’ claiming that “the sketch story is best of all.”  Lawson’s “On The Edge Of A Plain,” is often cited as one of the most accomplished examples of the sketch.

Like the majority of Australians, Lawson was a city dweller, but he had had plenty of knowledge of outback life, and, in fact, many of his stories reflect his experiences of Australian urban life. In Sydney in 1898 he was a prominent member of the Dawn and Dusk Club, a bohemian club of writer friends who met for drinks and conversation.

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In 1903 he took a room at Mrs Isabel Byers’ Coffee Palace in North Sydney. This marked the beginning of a 20-year friendship between Byers and Lawson. Despite his position as the most celebrated Australian writer of the time, Lawson was deeply depressed and perpetually poor. He lacked money due to unfortunate royalty deals with publishers. His ex-wife repeatedly reported him for non-payment of child maintenance, resulting in jail terms. He was jailed at Darlinghurst Gaol for drunkenness and non-payment of child support, and recorded his experience in the haunting poem “One Hundred and Three” – his prison number – which was published in 1908. He refers to the prison as “Starvinghurst Gaol” because of the meager rations given to the inmates. At this time, Lawson became withdrawn, alcoholic, and unable to carry on the usual routine of life.

Byers was an excellent poet herself and although of modest education, had been writing vivid poetry since her teens in a similar style to Lawson’s. She was long separated from her husband and elderly, and was, at the time she met Lawson, a woman of independent means looking forward to retirement. Byers regarded Lawson as Australia’s greatest living poet, and hoped to sustain him well enough to keep him writing. She negotiated on his behalf with publishers, helped to arrange contact with his children, wrote to friends and supporters to help him financially, and assisted and nursed him through his mental and alcohol problems. She wrote countless letters on his behalf and knocked on any doors that could provide Lawson with financial assistance or a publishing deal.

Lawson died, of cerebral hemorrhage, in Abbotsford, Sydney in 1922. He was given a state funeral. His funeral was attended by the Prime Minister Billy Hughes and the Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang (who was the husband of Lawson’s sister-in-law Hilda Bredt), as well as thousands of citizens. He is interred at Waverley Cemetery. Lawson was the first person to be granted a New South Wales state funeral (traditionally reserved for Governors, Chief Justices, etc.) on the grounds of having been a ‘distinguished citizen’.

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I knew almost nothing about Lawson when I was a schoolboy in South Australia in the 1950s and ‘60s. We studied poetry and short stories in English classes but very little of it was bred in Australia. Most of our poetry diet was the classics of the 19th century, such as Kipling and Newbolt; our set books were Wind in the Willows, Gulliver’s Travels, and Treasure Island. When we did read Australians it was Banjo Paterson, not Lawson – too honest for the education department of the era, I suppose. The only reason I even knew his name was that I was an avid stamp collector and there was a nice sepia image of him on a 1949 stamp. I hope things are different now. In hindsight it seems to me that Australia was ashamed of its homegrown life back then. When television arrived it was all shows from the U.S. and England; history classes favored the English Tudors and Stuarts over Australian explorers. I know more about Australian history, poetry, and art now than when I was 14.Lawson wrote, “We shall never be understood or respected by the English until we carry our individuality to extremes, and by asserting our independence, become of sufficient consequence in their eyes to merit a closer study than they have hitherto accorded us.”

Here’s an epitaph in his own words: “Beer makes you feel the way you ought to feel without beer.”

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The lack of much in the way of Australian indigenous cuisine is also, I believe, a reflection of the Australian heritage of European immigration which fostered a sentimental look back at “the old country.” My mainstay for dinner was my mum’s English cooking. Sundays we always had a Sunday roast, and it was always lamb. Lamb was sometimes called “365” because it was cheap enough to eat every day. Mum put a shoulder of lamb on to cook before we went to church, and it was ready to serve when we got home. There might be leftovers for Monday. Despite it being just about all I ate on Sundays I’m still a huge fan. But you have to do it right. First and foremost, roast lamb should be pink inside. Too many people think it should be uniformly grey inside – why not roast some cardboard instead? And you should serve it with roast potatoes. Mine, I humbly state, were legendary – I had to make bucketloads to satisfy my guests.

A shoulder of lamb can be boned and rolled (makes for easy carving), but I think it is more flavorful on the bone. Bring it to room temperature several hours before cooking, slice several cloves of garlic rather thickly, and insert them under the skin. With the point of a sharp paring knife puncture shallow slits all over the skin of the lamb and push the garlic in as deeply as you can. Don’t be a slacker – make it look like a hedgehog. Roast at 450°-500°F for about 90 minutes, depending on weight. The skin should be crisply golden and the inside pink, not bloody.

You’re on your own with the roasties. I’ve instructed dozens of cooks and they cannot replicate mine. I peel them, cut them in chunks, and put them in a separate baking pan from the joint with a couple of tablespoons of drippings and put them in with the roast on the top shelf. Every 15 minutes or so I shake the pan and flip them around so that they brown evenly. The result is a very crisp outside and a soft floury inside.

I’ve never liked the classic mint sauce with lamb, although you can serve it if you want. I cook a gravy by making a dark roux with pan drippings and flour (equal amounts), then add stock, mashed garlic, and fresh rosemary, and simmer until medium thick (pints of it usually).

I tend to prefer a green vegetable, usually spinach or Brussels sprouts, as an accompaniment.

Always, always, always make shepherd’s pie with the leftovers and Scotch broth with the bone —

http://www.bookofdaystales.com/st-andrew/

Feb 092014
 

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Today is the birthday (1897) of Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith MC, AFC, often called by his nickname Smithy, brilliant Australian aviator. In 1928, he earned global fame when he made the first trans-Pacific flight from the United States to Australia. He also made the first non-stop crossing of the Australian mainland, the first flights between Australia and New Zealand, and the first eastward Pacific crossing from Australia to the United States. He also made a flight from Australia to London, setting a new record of 10.5 days.  All right, I will confess.  I collect Australian stamps and covers.  I have 5 first flight covers carried by Kingsford Smith including one with his autograph.  Treasures.

At 16, Kingsford Smith became an engineering apprentice with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. In 1915, he enlisted for duty in the 1st AIF (Australian Army) and served at Gallipoli. Initially, he performed duty as a motorcycle dispatch rider, before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps, earning his pilot’s wings in 1917.

In August 1917, while serving with No. 23 Squadron, Kingsford Smith was shot down and sustained injuries which required amputation of a large part of his left foot. He was awarded the Military Cross for his gallantry in battle. As his recovery was predicted to be lengthy, Kingsford Smith was permitted to take leave in Australia where he visited his parents. Returning to England, Kingsford Smith was assigned to instructor duties and promoted to Captain.

On 1 April 1918, along with other members of the Royal Flying Corps, Kingsford Smith was transferred to the newly established Royal Air Force. On being demobilized in England, in early 1919, he joined Tasmanian Cyril Maddocks, to form Kingsford Smith, Maddocks Aeros Ltd., flying a joy-riding service mainly in the north of England, during the summer of 1919, initially using surplus DH.6 trainers, then surplus B.E.2s. Later Kingsford Smith worked as a barnstormer in the United States before returning to Australia in 1921. He did the same in Australia and also flew airmail services, and began to plan his record-breaking flight across the Pacific. Applying for a commercial pilot’s license on 2 June 1921 (in which he gave his name as ‘Charles Edward Kingsford-Smith’), he became one of Australia’s first airline pilots when he was chosen by Norman Brearley to fly for the newly formed West Australian Airways.

In 1928, Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm arrived in the United States and began to search for an aircraft. Famed Australian polar explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins sold them a Fokker F.VII/3m monoplane, which they named the Southern Cross. A similar aircraft, the Bird of Paradise, had made the first trans-Pacific flight from California to Hawaii for the United States Army Air Corps the year before.

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At 8:54 a.m. on 31 May 1928, Kingsford Smith and his 4-man crew left Oakland, California, to attempt the first trans-Pacific flight to Australia. The flight was in three stages. The first, from Oakland to Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii was 3,870 kilometers (2,400 mi), taking an uneventful 27 hours 25 minutes (87.54mph). They took off from Barking Sands on Mana, Kauai, since the runway at Wheeler was not long enough. They headed for Suva, Fiji, 5,077 kilometers (3,155 mi) away, taking 34 hours 30 minutes (91.45mph). This was the most demanding portion of the journey, as they flew through a massive lightning storm near the equator. The third leg was the shortest, 2,709 kilometers (1,683 mi) in 20 hours (84.15mph), and crossed the Australian coastline near Ballina before turning north to fly 170 kilometers (110 mi) to Brisbane, where they landed at 10.50 a.m. on 9 June. The total flight distance was approximately 11,566 kilometers (7,187 mi). Kingsford Smith was met by a huge crowd of 26,000 at Eagle Farm Airport, and was welcomed as a hero. Australian aviator Charles Ulm was the relief pilot, and the other crewmen were James Warner, the radio operator, and Captain Harry Lyon, the navigator and engineer.

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Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and co-pilot John Thompson “Tommy” Pethybridge were flying the Lady Southern Cross overnight from Allahabad, India, to Singapore, as part of their attempt to break the England-Australia speed record held by C. W. A. Scott and Tom Campbell Black, when they disappeared over the Andaman Sea in the early hours of 8 November 1935. Despite a brave search for 74 hours over the Bay of Bengal by test pilot Eric Stanley Greenwood OBE, their bodies were never recovered.

I have no idea what Kingsford Smith liked to eat.  So here’s a recipe for kedgeree, an Anglo-Indian dish that I love on Sunday mornings.  I also make it on Fridays when I am camping with my morris dancing buddies.  I’ve pulled this recipe out of my head and tried to give reasonable proportions.  I just wing it.  I use Madras curry powder. Made this today!

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My Kedgeree

Ingredients:

3 ozs basmati rice (or white rice)
1 lb smoked haddock
4 tbsps butter
2 tsps curry powder
2 hard boiled eggs
salt
½ pint béchamel sauce

Instructions:

Cook the rice, drain and keep warm.

Flake the fish while the rice is cooking.

Melt the butter in a large pan. Blend in the curry powder and add the flaked fish.  Sauté gently for a few minutes.  Add the cooked rice and blend it with the fish.  Add the béchamel and mix well.

Serve piping hot garnished with sliced, boiled eggs. You can garnish with tomato slices too if you wish.

Serves 4

Jan 242014
 

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According to John Brand’s Popular Antiquities, 1870 edition, edited by William Hazlitt, January 24th was once celebrated as Paul’s Pitcher Day in Cornwall by the tin miners.  Details are all very sketchy, and Popular Antiquities is not a reliable source.  The best I can piece together is that on January 24th tin miners in some parts of Cornwall would set up an empty pitcher and then pelt it with stones, then fill up a second pitcher with beer, drain it, and then pelt it too. This would continue presumably until everyone was drunk.  Brand also says:

The boys of Bodmin parade the town with broken pitchers, and other earthenware vessels, and into every house, where the door can be opened, or has been inadvertently left so,they hurl a ” Paul’s pitcher,”  exclaiming, “Paul’s Eve, And here’s a heave.” According to custom, the first “heave” cannot be objected to; but upon its repetition the offender, if caught, may be punished”

I assume the shards are from the pitchers the miners had destroyed.

Brand, and subsequent editors, was fond of gathering little oddities like this from archives, newspaper clippings, and so forth, with little effort to verify their validity.  I doubt that this custom was widespread or lasted very long.  It is not recorded in any other edition of Popular Antiquities.

There is a little that can be gleaned though, and I am not inclined to dismiss the custom outright.  The “Paul’s Eve” that is referred to is the eve of the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul (Jan. 25). Prior to his conversion Paul was known for his persecution of Christians, and in the Acts of the Apostles it is noted that he was present at the stoning of St Steven (see Dec 26).  So it is conceivable that the tin miners on the eve of Paul’s conversion were symbolically re-enacting Paul’s life prior to his conversion.  Whatever the truth of the matter, this snippet of folklore gives me the chance to talk about Cornish tin miners, and, of course, Cornish pasties.

Mining in Cornwall and Devon in the south west of England began in the early Bronze Age approximately 2150 BCE and ended with the South Crofty tin mine in Cornwall closing in 1998. Tin and later also copper were the most productive of the metals extracted: some tin mining continued long after mining of other metals had become unprofitable. However it was in the 19th century that mining reached its zenith, before foreign competition depressed the price of copper, and later tin, to a level that made Cornish ore unprofitable. The areas of Cornwall around Gwennap and St Day and on the coast around Porthtowan were among the richest mining areas in the world and at its height the Cornish tin mining industry had around 600 steam engines working to pump out the mines (many mines stretched out under the sea and some went down to great depths).

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By the middle and late 19th century, Cornish mining was in decline, and many Cornish miners emigrated to developing mining districts overseas, where their skills were in great demand: these included South Africa, Australia and North America. Cornish miners became dominant in the 1850s in the iron and copper districts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin in the United States, and later in mining regions across the globe. In the first 6 months of 1875 over 10,000 miners left Cornwall to find work overseas.

During the 20th century various ores became briefly profitable, and mines were reopened, but today none remain. Dolcoath mine, (Cornish for Old Ground), the ‘Queen of Cornish Mines’ was, at a depth of 3500 feet (1067 m), for many years the deepest mine in the world, not to mention one of the oldest before its closure in 1921. Indeed, the last working tin mine in Europe, South Crofty, was to be found near Camborne until its closure in March 1998. An attempt was made to reopen it but the mine was then abandoned. There were local media reports in September 2006 that South Crofty was being considered for re-opening as the price of tin had soared but the site was subject to a Compulsory Purchase Order (October 2006). On the wall outside the gate is some graffiti dating from 1999:

“Cornish lads are fishermen and Cornish lads are miners too. / But when the fish and tin are gone, what are the Cornish boys to do?”

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Cornish tin (and other) mines were at the very center of the Industrial Revolution in England seeing the development of increasingly efficient steam engines for pumping, and also the evolution of mineral railways – train lines running into the mines to haul ore out – which were well advanced before the idea was translated into commercial railways above ground.

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But with technological advancement came increasing exploitation of labor, and all the problems, social and economic, of industrial development.  These tales will have to wait for another time, however, because I want to focus on the quintessential miner’s lunch: the Cornish pasty.

Despite the modern pasty’s strong association with Cornwall, its exact origins are unclear. The English word “pasty” derives from Medieval French paste from  vulgar Latin pasta, meaning “a pie,” typically filled with venison, salmon or other meat, vegetables or cheese, and baked without a pie dish. Pasties have been mentioned in cookbooks throughout the ages; for example the earliest version of Le Viandier has been dated to around 1300 and contains several pasty recipes. In 1393, Le Menagier de Paris contains recipes for pasté with venison, veal, beef, or mutton.

Other early references to pasties include a 13th-century charter which was granted by Henry III (1207–1272) to the town of Great Yarmouth. The town is “bound to send to the sheriffs of Norwich every year one hundred herrings, baked in twenty four pasties, which the sheriffs are to deliver to the lord of the manor of East Carlton who is then to convey them to the King.” Around the same time, 13th century chronicler Matthew Paris wrote of the monks of St Albans Abbey “according to their custom, lived upon pasties of flesh-meat.” A total of 5,500 venison pasties were served at the installation feast of George Neville, archbishop of York and chancellor of England in 1465. They were even eaten by royalty, as a letter from a baker to Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour (1508–1537) confirms: “…hope this pasty reaches you in better condition than the last one…” In his diaries written in the mid 17th century, Samuel Pepys makes several references to his consumption of pasties, for instance “dined at Sir W. Pen’s … on a damned venison pasty, that stunk like a devil.”  However, after this period the use of the word “pasty” outside Cornwall declined.

In contrast to its earlier place amongst the wealthy, during the 17th and 18th centuries the pasty became popular with working people in Cornwall, where tin miners and others adopted it due to its unique shape, forming a complete meal that could be carried easily and eaten without cutlery. In a mine the pasty’s dense, folded pastry could stay warm for several hours, and if it did get cold it could easily be warmed on a shovel over a candle.

Side-crimped pasties gave rise to the suggestion that the miner might have eaten the pasty holding the thick edge of pastry, which was later discarded, thereby ensuring that his dirty fingers (possibly including traces of arsenic) did not touch food or his mouth. However many old photographs show that pasties were wrapped in bags made of paper or muslin and were eaten from end-to-end. According to the earliest Cornish recipe book, published in 1929, this is “the true Cornish way” to eat a pasty.

The traditional Cornish pasty now has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in the European Union. PGI status requires that a Cornish pasty must be a circle of pastry filled with a mix of uncooked beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (also known as a yellow turnip or rutabaga – referred to in Cornwall as turnip) and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, folded over to form a half moon shape, crimped on the side, and baked until golden. Furthermore only pasties made in Cornwall may be called Cornish pasties.

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I must say that I have never had pasties as wonderful as those baked in Cornwall – no doubt due to the same kind of devotion to a regional product that other regions devote to cheese or wine.  The finest pasty I ever had was in the Blue Anchor in Helston in April 1975 (yes, I have a good memory!).  I was visiting the Blue Anchor because it was legendary in those days as one of only four pubs in England that brewed its own beer (and had been doing so since the 15th century).   I ordered a pasty almost as an afterthought to go with my lunchtime pint.  It was just perfect – the pastry was flaky, the filling was the right balance of meat and vegetables, but, most important to me, the black peppery richness of the filling enhanced the other flavors and left a warm rosy glow in my mouth.  I wish I could recommend them to you, but I gather the pub no longer serves food.  A great shame.

As Cornish miners emigrated to jobs around the world they took the pasty with them.  In both my schools in Australia there was a choice of hot dishes for lunch – a meat pie or a pasty produced fresh daily by the local baker.

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Pasties are also well loved in the the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and parts of Wisconsin where Cornish miners settled.  In fact Wisconsin is known as the Badger state, “badger” being a nickname for a miner.  In some areas, pasties are a significant tourist attraction, including an annual Pasty Fest in Calumet, Michigan in late June.

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A similar local history about the arrival of the pasty in the area with an influx of Welsh and Cornish miners, and its preservation as a local delicacy, is found in Butte, Montana.

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The Mexican state of Hidalgo, and the twin silver mining cities of Pachuca and Real del Monte (Mineral del Monte), have notable Cornish influences from the Cornish miners who settled there with pasties being considered typical local cuisine. In Mexican Spanish, they are referred to as pastes.

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It is important to distinguish between these pastes and the ubiquitous Latin American favorite, the empanada.  They may look superficially similar but they have very different histories.  Empanadas evolved from Iberian pastries and have some, or all, of their fillings cooked before they are baked.  They also have a range of fillings, not just beef and vegetables, and it is very common in many regions of Latin America to fry rather than bake them.

If you are an experienced cook you do not need more than the rudiments to be able to bake your own pasties. Cut a circle of short crust pastry and fill it with a mix of chopped beef, potatoes, swede, and onions seasoned generously with freshly ground black pepper, fold over the pastry, crimp on the side, and bake until golden.  But if you want a recipe from scratch here is one taken from this BBC website.  It’s worth visiting the site if you need help because it has several video demonstrations as well as photo illustrations.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/classic_cornish_pasty_67037

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Classic Cornish Pasty

Ingredients

For the pastry

500g/1lb 1oz strong bread flour
120g/4oz vegetable shortening or suet
1 tsp salt
25g/1oz margarine or butter
175ml/6fl oz cold water
1 free-range egg, beaten with a little salt (for glazing)

For the filling

350g/12oz good-quality beef skirt, rump steak or braising steak
350g/12oz waxy potatoes
200g/7oz swede
175g/6oz onions
salt and freshly ground black pepper
knob of butter or margarine

Preparation method

Tip the flour into the bowl and add the shortening, a pinch of salt, the margarine or butter and all of the water.

Use a spoon to gently combine the ingredients. Then use your hands to crush everything together, bringing the ingredients together as a fairly dry dough.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface (there’s no need to put flour or oil onto the surface because it’s a tight rather than sticky dough).

Knead the dough to combine the ingredients properly. Use the heel of your hand to stretch the dough. Roll it back up into a ball, then turn it, stretch and roll it up again. Repeat this process for about 5-6 minutes. The dough will start to become smooth as the shortening breaks down. If the dough feels grainy, keep working it until it’s smooth and glossy. Don’t be afraid to be rough – you’ll need to use lots of pressure and work the dough vigorously to get the best results.

When the dough is smooth, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for 30–60 minutes.

While the dough is resting, peel and cut the potato, swede and onion into cubes about 1cm/½in square. Cut the beef into similar sized chunks. Put all four ingredients into a bowl and mix. Season well with salt and some freshly ground black pepper, then put the filling to one side until the dough is ready.

Lightly grease a baking tray with margarine (or butter) and line with baking or silicone paper (not greaseproof).

Preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan assisted)/325F/Gas 3.

Once the dough has had time to relax, take it out of the fridge. The margarine or butter will have chilled, giving you a tight dough. Divide the dough into four equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a disc roughly 25cm/10in wide (roughly the same size as a dinner plate).

Spoon a quarter of the filling onto each disc. Spread the filling on one half of the disc, leaving the other half clear. Put a knob of butter or margarine on top of the filling.

Carefully fold the pastry over, join the edges and push with your fingers to seal. Crimp the edge to make sure the filling is held inside – either by using a fork, or by making small twists along the sealed edge. Traditionally Cornish pasties have around 20 crimps. When you’ve crimped along the edge, fold the end corners underneath.

Put the pasties onto the baking tray and brush the top of each pasty with the egg and salt mixture. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45 minutes or until the pasties are golden-brown. If your pasties aren’t browning, increase the oven temperature by 10C/25F for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

May 232013
 

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qoung tart tea room

On this day in 1889 Louisa Lawson, Australian campaigner for women’s rights, poet, and mother of Australian poet Henry Lawson, founded the Dawn Club at a meeting at Forresters Hall, Sydney. It was one of the earliest clubs to discuss women’s rights, especially the right to vote.  It was an outgrowth of her journal, Dawn

After the inaugural event, meetings were commonly held in one of Quong Tart’s tea rooms. Tea rooms at the time were popular places to meet and have tea with light snacks and pastries of all sorts.  Quong Tart was a tea and silk merchant from China, and his tea rooms were spectacular. A popular meeting place for the Dawn club was the Loong Shan Tea Giyse at 137 King Street, Sydney. It was his grandest tea room, with marble fountains and ponds with golden carp. Upstairs was a reading room and large meeting hall.

These quotes are from her speech at the inauguration of The Dawn Club:

“Now as we have no time to be elaborate or diffuse, we must be methodical, and we will take first the reasons why women claim the right to vote; and then we will pick up the objections one by one and turn them inside out to show their entire vacuity, and finally review briefly what women are doing now in other countries (in order to show how woefully we in New South Wales are behind the times).”

“The whole principle of the Justice of the woman’s vote agitation may be compressed into a question: Who ordained that men only should make the laws to which both men and women have to conform?”

“Men tell us we are responsible for the home and education of children, that the morals of society are in our keeping; they have bound our hands and placed us in the front rank of the battle”

“I see a new heaven and a new earth . . . brother and sister standing shoulder to shoulder and heart to heart in the great fight for right, truth and justice, for better laws, for better protection to our sons and daughters, for better and purer homes.”

The self-governing British colony of South Australia gave women the right to vote and, furthermore, enabled women to stand for the colonial parliament in 1894, well before any European nation, and only a year behind New Zealand, first in the world.  The Commonwealth of Australia federated in 1901, with women voting and standing for office in some states. The Australian Federal Parliament extended voting rights to all adult women for Federal elections from 1902 (with the exception of Aboriginal women in some states). Catherine Helen Spence stood for office in 1897 in South Australia (unsuccessfully), a first for the modern world.

Tea rooms were originally set up in the Western world by tea merchants so that people could taste the many varieties of tea on offer.  Dainties typically accompanies the tea sampling.  Soon they grew into places of social gathering with more elaborate foods on offer, sometimes even full meals.  Many had meeting rooms for large gatherings. Quong Tart’s tea rooms had meeting rooms for up to 500 people.

Let me take this opportunity to correct an error that is a royal pet peeve of mine. People in the U.S. and restaurants there continue to perpetuate the error that afternoon tea with little sandwiches and fancy cakes is “high tea” thinking “high” in this context means “regal” or lofty.  It is not.  High tea is the opposite of afternoon tea.  It refers historically (and to a degree now) to a full dinner eaten by working class families directly after returning from work, and by children who ate their dinner early because they were too young to eat with the adults.  There is some debate as to the meaning of the word “high” here. Some people say it is in contrast to low tea, based not on quality, but on the height of the tables. High tea was eaten at a high table, low tea at a low table (like a coffee table).  Others believe it refers to the early hour it was eaten (5:30 to 6 pm), related to the meanings  of “high” in “high time” or “high noon.”  Whatever the reason, STOP USING “HIGH TEA” TO REFER TO AFTERNOON TEA!!!

I’m giving a recipe for classic English tea cakes today, to have for afternoon tea. They’re a bit like a scone except they are raised with yeast.  Typically you eat them fresh from the oven. If you have leftovers you can cut them in half, and brown the cut faces under a broiler.  Then slather them with butter.  This recipe is nice and spicy.  The ‘mixed spice’ of British cookery is primarily used in sweet baking, similar to France’s sweet quatre-épices. It typically incorporates powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice in equal parts. In this case because cinnamon and nutmeg are already in the ingredient list I would add a pincheach of ginger, cloves, and allspice.

English Tea Cakes

Ingredients:

13oz (375g) strong white bread flour
½ tsp sea salt flakes, lightly crushed
¼oz (7g)  fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ orange, zest only, chopped fine
1¾oz (50g) caster sugar
1¾oz (50g) unsalted butter, cubed
5fl oz (150ml) 2% milk
1 egg, beaten
4½oz (125g) mixed dried fruit
sunflower oil, for greasing

Instructions:

Mix the flour, salt, yeast, spices, orange zest and sugar in a large bowl.

Put the butter and milk in a small saucepan and heat very gently until the butter is melted and the milk is just lukewarm. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg. Make sure the milk and butter mix is lukewarm only, otherwise it will scramble the egg and kill the yeast.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the warm butter, milk and egg. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball.

Turn out on a very lightly floured surface and knead for five minutes to form a smooth, pliable dough. Knead the fruit into the dough until evenly distributed, then place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover loosely with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1½ hours, or until doubled in size and spongy to touch.

Knead the dough lightly, divide into six portions and roll into balls. Using a rolling pin, flatten each ball to a circle about ½in (1cm) thick and place on a large baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for a further 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove the tea towel and bake the teacakes in the center of the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until well risen and golden-brown. Serve warm, cut in half and spread thickly with butter.

Yield: 6 teacakes