Jan 222017
 

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The Pontifical Swiss Guard takes today’s date as the official date of its foundation.  In September 1505 a contingent of 150 Swiss soldiers started their march towards Rome, under the command of Kaspar von Silenen, and entered the city on 22 January 1506 to take up their duties as the pope’s guard. Tourists to the Vatican are well aware of the guys who look like they might be refugees from a Renaissance Fayre.  Don’t be fooled. These guys are not toy soldiers; they are the real deal. Furthermore, their swords and halberds are not toys either. They are razor sharp and the halberdiers know how to use them.

Swiss mercenaries were fierce and highly respected in 14th and 15th century Europe, somewhat in contrast with the general popular image of Switzerland as a nation of peace-loving clockmakers. Pope Sixtus IV (1471–1484) made an alliance with the Swiss Confederacy and built barracks in Via Pellegrino after foreseeing the possibility of recruiting Swiss mercenaries. The pact was renewed by Innocent VIII (1484–1492) in order to use them against the Duke of Milan. Alexander VI (1492–1503) later actually used the Swiss mercenaries during their alliance with the King of France. During the time of the Borgias, however, the Italian Wars began in which the Swiss mercenaries were a fixture in the front lines among the warring factions, sometimes for France and sometimes for the Holy See or the Holy Roman Empire. The mercenaries enlisted when they heard King Charles VIII of France was going to war with Naples. Among the participants in the war against Naples was Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Pope Julius II (1503–1513), who was well acquainted with the Swiss, having been Bishop of Lausanne years earlier.

The expedition failed, in part thanks to new alliances made by Alexander VI against the French. When Cardinal della Rovere became Pope Julius II in 1503, he asked the Swiss Diet to provide him with a constant corps of 200 Swiss mercenaries. This was made possible through the financing of the German merchants from Augsburg, Bavaria, Ulrich and Jacob Fugger, who had invested in the Pope and saw it fit to protect their investment. There have been a few short periods when the Swiss Guard was disbanded for one reason or another, so they cannot claim to have an absolutely unbroken record. But, even so, they are one of the oldest standing armies in existence. They are also the smallest.

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The force has varied greatly in size over the years. Its most significant hostile engagement was on 6 May 1527, when 147 of the 189 Guards, including their commander, died fighting the troops of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the stand of the Swiss Guard during the Sack of Rome in order to allow Clement VII to escape through the Passetto di Borgo, escorted by the other 40 guards. The last stand battlefield is located on the left side of St Peter’s Basilica, close to the Campo Santo Teutonico (German Graveyard). Clement VII was forced to replace the Swiss Guard by a contingent of 200 German mercenaries (Custodia Peditum Germanorum). Ten years later, under Pope Paul III, the Swiss Guard was reinstated, under commander Jost von Meggen.

After the end of the Italian Wars, the Swiss Guard ceased to be used as a military combat unit in the service of the pope and its role became mostly that of the protection of the person of the pope and of a ceremonial guard. However, twelve members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard of Pius V served as part of the Swiss Guard of admiral Marcantonio Colonna in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

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The office of commander of the Papal Guard came to be a special honor in the Catholic part of the Swiss Confederacy. It became strongly associated with the leading family of Lucerne, Pfyffer von Altishofen. Between 1652 and 1847, nine out a total of ten commanders were members of this family (the exception being Johann Kaspar Mayr von Baldegg, also of Lucerne, served 1696–1704).

In 1798, commander Franz Alois Pfyffer von Altishofen went into exile with the deposed Pius VI. After the death of the pope on 29 August 1799, the Swiss Guard was disbanded and only reinstated by Pius VII in 1801. In 1808, Rome was again captured by the French and the guard was disbanded again. Pius VII was exiled to Fontainebleau. The guard was reinstated under the same commander, Karl Leodegar Pfyffer von Altishofen, when the pope returned from exile in 1814. The guard was disbanded yet again in 1848, when Pius IX fled to Gaeta, but the guard was reinstated when the pope returned to Rome in the following year.

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In the later 19th century, the Swiss Guard developed into a purely ceremonial function. Guards in the Vatican were “Swiss” only in name, mostly born in Rome to parents of Swiss descent and speaking the Roman Trastevere dialect. The modern Swiss Guard is the product of the reforms pursued by Jules Repond, commander during 1910–1921. Repond proposed to recruit only native citizens of Switzerland and he introduced rigorous military exercise. He also attempted to introduce modern arms, but Pius X only permitted the presence of firearms if they were not functional. Repond’s reforms and strict discipline were not well received by the corps, culminating in a week of open mutiny in July 1913. In his project to restore the Swiss Guard to its former prestige, Repond also dedicated himself to the study of historical costume, with the aim of designing a new uniform that would be both reflective of the historical Swiss costume of the 16th century and suited for military exercise. The result of his studies was published as Le costume de la Garde suisse pontificale et la Renaissance italienne (1917). Repond designed the distinctive Renaissance-style uniforms still worn by the modern Swiss Guard. The introduction of the new uniforms was completed in May 1914.

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The foundation of Vatican City as a modern sovereign state was negotiated in the Lateran Treaty of 1929. The duties of protecting public order and security in the Vatican lay with the Papal Gendarmerie Corps, while the Swiss Guard, the Palatine Guard and the Noble Guard served mostly ceremonial functions. The Palatine and Noble Guards were disbanded by Paul VI in 1970, leaving the Swiss Guard as the only ceremonial guard unit of the Vatican. At the same time, the Gendarmerie Corps was transformed into a Central Security Office, with the duties of protecting the Pope, defending Vatican City, and providing police and security services within its territory, while the Swiss Guard continued to serve primarily ceremonial functions. Paul VI in a decree of 28 June 1976 defined the nominal size of the corps at 90 men. This was increased to 100 men by John Paul II on 5 April 1979.

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Since the assassination attempt on John Paul II of 13 May 1981, a much stronger emphasis has been placed on the guard’s non-ceremonial roles. The Swiss Guard was developed into a modern guard corps equipped with modern small arms, and members of the Swiss Guard in plain clothes now accompany the pope on his travels abroad for his protection.

To be considered for the guard a man must be between the ages of 19 and 30, unmarried, Swiss by birth, Catholic. Most also hold university or professional degrees. At minimum they must have completed basic training in the Swiss military. Service in the guard may be from 2 to 25 years.  They may marry after three years’ service if they are over the age of 25.

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Although their duties are largely ceremonial, the guards are all fit and well trained, and their armory looks like a weapons museum stocked with everything from cutlasses and muskets to the latest in automatic pistols and rifles – and, they are all in good condition, and are routinely used.

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To celebrate the Swiss Guard I’ve chosen a very popular recipe, originally from the German-speaking cantons of Switzerland, but now widespread, and considered a mainstay of Swiss cuisine: rösti.  These may look like conventional US hash browns, but they are infinitely more toothsome.

Rösti

Ingredients

660 g Yukon Gold potatoes
125 g unsalted butter
7 g kosher salt
150 g crème fraîche
chives, chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 °F / 190 °C.

Clean and peel the potatoes. Shave potatoes lengthwise on a mandoline (approximately 0.03 in / 1 mm thick). Stack the slices in several small piles and cut them into shreds.

Place the shredded potatoes into cold water and thoroughly rinse away the excess starch. Then drain the shreds and dry them with paper towels.

Melt the butter, add the salt, and toss the shreds in the butter mixture.  Do not do this until you are ready to start cooking or the salt will draw water from the potatoes.

Heat a large (10 in / 25 cm) nonstick, ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the prepared potato shreds to the hot pan. Press them flat so that they completely cover the bottom of the pan. Cook until the bottom surface becomes golden and crisp (about 5 minutes).

Put the pan in the pre-heated oven and bake for 10–15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and then carefully flip the rösti over. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Some cooks add an additional step at this point, although the rösti is ready to eat at this point. Remove the rösti from the pan and place it directly on a baking rack set over a baking sheet. Return this assembly to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes. This makes the surface becomes very crisp.

Remove from the oven and let the rösti rest for 5 minutes. Then cut into wedges and serve with a garnish of crème fraîche and chopped chives.

 

Jan 302016
 

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On this date in 1826 the Menai Suspension Bridge (Welsh: Pont Grog y Borth), a suspension bridge to carry road traffic between the island of Anglesey and the mainland of Wales was opened to traffic. Before the bridge was completed all movements to and from Anglesey were by ferry across the fast flowing and dangerous waters of the Menai Strait. The main source of income on Anglesey was from the sale of cattle, and to move them to the markets on the mainland, including London, they had to be driven into the water and encouraged to swim across the Strait, a dangerous practice which often resulted in the loss of valuable animals. With Holyhead as the closest point to, and thus one of the principal ports for ferries to Dublin, Engineer Thomas Telford (http://www.bookofdaystales.com/thomas-telford/ ) was engaged to complete a survey of the route from London to Holyhead, and he proposed that a bridge should be built over the Menai Strait from a point near Bangor on the mainland to the village of Porthaethwy (which is now also known as Menai Bridge) on Anglesey.

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Because of the high banks and fast flowing waters of the Strait, it would have been difficult to build piers on the shifting sands of the sea-bed and, even if it could have been done, they would have obstructed navigation. Also, the bridge would have to be high enough to allow the passage of the tall ships of the day. In view of this, Telford proposed that a suspension bridge should be built and his recommendation was accepted by Parliament.

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Construction of the bridge, to Telford’s design, began in 1819 with the towers on either side of the strait. These were constructed from Penmon limestone and were hollow with internal cross-walls. Then came the sixteen huge chain cables, each made of 935 iron bars, that support the 176-meter (577 ft) span. To avoid rusting between manufacture and use, the iron was soaked in linseed oil and later painted. The chains each measured 522.3 meters (1,714 ft) and weighed 121 tons. Their suspending power was calculated at 2,016 tons.

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Because of its isolation for much of its history, Anglesey has been a bastion of Welsh culture and language. At the beginning of the 20th century 90% of the population were native Welsh speakers. Now they are closer to 50%.

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Numerous megalithic monuments and menhirs exist on Anglesey, testifying to the presence of humans in prehistory. Plas Newydd is near one of 28 cromlechs that remain on uplands overlooking the sea. Geologists believe that Anglesey was once part of the mainland. Historically, Anglesey has long been associated with druids. In 60 CE the Roman general Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, determined to break the power of the Celtic druids, attacked the island using his amphibious Batavian contingent as a surprise vanguard assault and then destroying their shrines and the sacred groves. News of Boudica’s revolt reached him just after his victory, causing him to withdraw his army before consolidating his conquest. The island was finally brought into the Roman Empire by Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman Governor of Britain, in 78 CE. During the Roman occupation, the area was notable for the mining of copper. The foundations of Caer Gybi as well as a fort at Holyhead are Roman, and the present road from Holyhead to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll may originally have been a Roman road.

British Iron Age and Roman sites have been excavated, and coins and ornaments discovered, especially by the 19th century antiquarian, William Owen Stanley. Following the Roman departure from Britain in the early 5th century, pirates from Ireland colonized Anglesey and the nearby Llŷn Peninsula. In response to this, Cunedda ap Edern, a Gododdin warlord from Scotland, came to the area and began the process of driving the Irish out. This process was continued by his son Einion Yrth ap Cunedda and grandson Cadwallon Lawhir ap Einion, the last Irish invaders finally being defeated in battle in 470. As an island, Anglesey was in a good defensive position and, because of this, Aberffraw became the site of the court, or Llys, of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Apart from a devastating Danish raid in 853 it was to remain the capital until the 13th century, when improvements to the English navy made the location indefensible.

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After the Irish, the island was invaded by Vikings, some of these raids being noted in famous sagas, as well as Saxons, and Normans, before falling to Edward I of England in the 13th century.

Anglesey is a relatively low-lying island with hills spaced evenly over the north of the island. The highest six are: Holyhead Mountain (220 metres (720 ft)); Mynydd Bodafon (178 metres (584 ft)); Mynydd Llaneilian (177 metres (581 ft)); Mynydd y Garn (170 metres (560 ft)); Bwrdd Arthur (164 metres (538 ft)) and Mynydd Llwydiarth (158 metres (518 ft)). To the south/south-east the island is separated from the Welsh mainland by the Menai Strait, which at its narrowest point is about 250 meters (270 yd) wide. In all other directions the island is surrounded by the Irish Sea. It is the 51st largest island in Europe.

Anglesey has several small towns scattered around the island, making it quite evenly populated. The largest towns are Holyhead, Llangefni, Benllech, Menai Bridge, and Amlwch. Beaumaris (Welsh: Biwmares), in the east of the island, features Beaumaris Castle, built by Edward I as part of his Bastide Town campaign in North Wales. Beaumaris is a yachting centre for the region, with many boats moored in the bay or off Gallows Point. The village of Newborough (Welsh: Niwbwrch), in the south, created when the townsfolk of Llanfaes were relocated to make way for the building of Beaumaris Castle, includes the site of Llys Rhosyr, another of the courts of the mediaeval Welsh princes, which features one of the oldest courtrooms in the United Kingdom. Llangefni is located in the centre of the island and is the island’s administrative centre. The town of Menai Bridge (Welsh: Porthaethwy) (in the south-east) expanded when the first bridge to the mainland was being built, in order to accommodate workers and construction. Until then, Porthaethwy had been one of the principal ferry crossing points from the mainland. A short distance from this town lies Bryn Celli Ddu, a Stone Age burial mound. Also nearby is the village with the longest purported place name in the United Kingdom, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Nearby is Plas Newydd, ancestral home of the Marquesses of Anglesey. The town of Amlwch is situated in the northeast of the island and was once largely industrialized, having grown during the 18th century supporting the copper mining industry at Parys Mountain.

Other villages and settlements include Cemaes, Pentraeth, Gaerwen, Dwyran, Bodedern, Malltraeth, and Rhosneigr. The Anglesey Sea Zoo is a local tourist attraction, providing a look at and descriptions of local marine wildlife from lobsters to conger eels. All the fish and crustaceans on display are caught around the island and are placed in reconstructions of their natural habitat. They also make salt (evaporated from the local sea water) and breed commercially lobsters, for food, and oysters, for pearls, both from local stocks.

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The island’s entire rural coastline has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and features many sandy beaches, especially along its eastern coast between the towns of Beaumaris and Amlwch and along the western coast from Ynys Llanddwyn through Rhosneigr to the little bays around Carmel Head. The northern coastline is characterised by dramatic cliffs interspersed with small bays. The Anglesey Coastal Path is a 200-kilometre (124 mi) path which follows nearly the entire coastline. Tourism is now the most significant economic activity on the island. Agriculture provides the secondary source of income for the island’s economy, with the local dairies being amongst the most productive in the region.

Anglesey eggs is a popular dish using local ingredients. It is essentially a casserole of mashed potatoes and leeks in which are embedded boiled eggs. The whole is bathed in cheese sauce, and may be topped with chopped bacon. Here’s the recipe in pictures. I made it for my breakfast this morning.

Cut in half enough boiled eggs to make one layer in your casserole.

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Mix mashed potato with sliced poached leeks.

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Make a cheese sauce by gently simmering heavy cream with butter and adding grated cheese.

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Combine the cheese sauce and mashed potatoes.

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Spread the mashed potatoes on the bottom of a casserole and top with eggs.

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Cover with the remainder of the mashed potato and sprinkle with bacon.

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Heat under the broiler or in a hot oven.

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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/