Today is the anniversary of the death of James Cook, English naval captain and explorer. The details are not entirely clear. He had been on good terms with indigenous Hawaiians for some time, and sailed off with their blessing. But he had to return because his foremast had broken. His return was apparently unwelcome. One of his cutters was stolen. As he had done in Tahiti he took a hostage in order to get the cutter back. He tried to take the Alii ‘Aimoku (ruler or king) — Kalaniʻōpuʻu. – who was apparently willing to help by being a hostage. But several of his subjects attacked Cook. He was beaten savagely by a club from behind, then stabbed in the back 8 times.
The esteem which the islanders, nevertheless, held for Cook caused them to retain his body. Following their practice of the time, they prepared his body with funerary rituals usually reserved for the chiefs and highest elders of the society. They carefully preserved his bones and returned them to his crew for a formal burial at sea.
All a bit grisly. One of his shipmates wrote, “He was a modest man, and rather bashful; of an agreeable lively conversation, sensible and intelligent. In temper he was somewhat hasty, but of a disposition the most friendly, benevolent and humane. His person was above six feet high: and, though a good looking man, he was plain both in dress and appearance. His face was full of expression: his nose extremely well shaped: his eyes which were small and of a brown cast, were quick and piercing; his eyebrows prominent, which gave his countenance altogether an air of austerity.”
My readers will appreciate the irony in not posting a recipe in honor of a man named Cook.
Small extra — “Captain Cook” is rhyming slang in Australia for “look.”
Well, today is also St Valentine’s Day so eat some chocolate.