Nov 042015


Today is the birthday (1650), and wedding anniversary, of William III sovereign Prince of Orange from birth and king of England, Scotland (as William II), and Ireland from 1689 until his death in 1702. His reign with his wife Mary as co-regent, was a transitional period from the absolute monarchies of the early Stuarts to the constitutional monarchies of the House of Hanover and beyond. He was not very prominent in the history books when I was in school and, in consequence, I never knew much about him. With the exception of Charles II, the Stuarts were not a popular lot. They also did not have many heirs, so the succession was constantly in jeopardy after Charles II, who was succeeded by his brother James, because Charles had no children. William was also deeply unpopular and was only made king because James II, his father-in-law and uncle, was even more so. The intrigues among the latter Stuarts revolved around the continuing struggles between Protestants and Catholics initiated by Henry VIII.


William inherited the principality of Orange from his father, William II, who died of smallpox a week before William’s birth. His mother Mary, Princess Royal, was the daughter of King Charles I of England. In 1677, he married his mother’s niece and his first cousin, Mary, the daughter of his maternal uncle James, Duke of York. A Protestant, William participated in several wars against the powerful Catholic king of France, Louis XIV, in coalition with Protestant and Catholic powers in Europe. Many Protestants heralded him as a champion of their faith. In 1685, his Catholic father-in-law, James, became king of England, Ireland and Scotland. James’s reign was unpopular with the Protestant majority in Britain. William was invited to invade England by a group of influential political and religious leaders in what became known as the “Glorious Revolution.” On 5 November 1688, William landed at the southern English port of Brixham. James was deposed (although a number of battles between James and William ensued), and William and Mary became joint sovereigns in his place. They reigned together until her death on 28 December 1694 after which William ruled as sole monarch.

William was not healthy as a child, small and thin, with a slightly hunched back, he suffered very badly from asthma all his life. Tragically, William also lost his mother when he was nine years old. On a visit to England after the Restoration of her brother, Charles II, she had contracted smallpox and died there. Being left alone at this early age, he developed a strong sense of self reliance. William was brought up in Holland in the Protestant, Calvinist faith.


His future wife and first cousin, Mary Stuart, was born at St. James Palace on 30th April, 1662, the eldest daughter of the future James II of England and his first wife Anne Hyde, daughter of Edward, Earl of Clarendon. Anne Hyde had been a maid of honour to William’s mother, Mary Stuart. Mary’s parents secret marriage had been occasioned by the fact that Anne was pregnant with his child. Although Charles II welcomed Anne into the family, the Queen-Mother, Henrietta Maria, felt James had married beneath him and opposed the marriage vehemently. The child, a son, died young.

The marriage of William and Mary was arranged for diplomatic motives by Charles II. It did not get off to a very auspicious start, on first sight of William, Mary wept inconsolably. At twenty-seven, he was not an attractive prospective partner, with his thin, hunched body, extremely large aquiline nose and piercing eyes. Mary’s sister Anne (also future queen and last of the Stuarts), unkindly referred to him as ‘Caliban’, after the mythical Greek ogre of monstrous appearance. Her father consented reluctantly to the match. The wedding took place on 4th November, 1677 and was a dismal affair, the bride cried throughout while her father looked on anxiously, William, as groom, was austere and uncomfortable, with only King Charles II smiling and joking in an attempt to lighten the dour atmosphere. After such an unpromising start, the marriage surprisingly proved to be a successful one, though it was never to produce any children.


Mary was displaced in the Line of Succession on the birth of her half brother, James Francis Edward, in 1688. The English, weary of James’s pro-Catholic policies, and faced with the prospect that he now had a catholic heir to continue his work, invited William to England to redress the situation. William arrived in England on 5th November, 1688. James II, deserted by many of his followers and unnerved, it is reported, by recently reading of the fates of the deposed Kings Richard II and Henry VI, fled to France. A convention was set up to determine the government of the country in January, 1689, which came to the decision that James could be said to have abdicated.

The crown was accordingly offered to Mary, however William would not agree to rule only in his wife’s name, which he considered humiliating. The crown was consequently offered to William and Mary jointly. On her arrival in England, Mary was widely criticized for having no respect for the father whose throne she had come to take and she and Anne were compared to the unfilial daughters of King Lear. James himself wrote bitterly to Mary, disowning her and laying a curse upon her. A devout woman, Mary’s actions bore heavily on her conscience in the years to come.

William III and Mary II formally promised to rule according to law and to be guided by Parliament. The Declaration of Rights designated the succession was to go to Mary’s children, then Anne’s, failing those it was to pass to any children of William (who was strictly speaking only third in line to the throne) by another marriage. It declared that no Catholic could become either sovereign or consort and imposed a new Oath of Allegiance. Secondly, it decreed that no monarch could keep a standing army in time of peace except with the consent of Parliament.

William never inspired the loyalty of his English subjects and was always dismissed as an arrogant foreigner who was chillingly reserved. The smog ridden air of London badly affected the chronic asthma he had suffered from since childhood and gave him a constant deep cough. The court was accordingly moved to the Tudor palace of Hampton Court, outside London. He spent much of his time campaigning abroad, in Ireland opposing James’s attempt to win back the throne in 1690 and in the Netherlands from 1691-97.

During the King’s frequent absences, Mary ruled England. In 1689, Mary’s sister Anne, after many miscarriages and stillbirths, gave birth to a son who survived, an heir to the throne in the next generation, named William in honor of the king. William created the boy Duke of Gloucester. Anne was dominated by her friend Sarah Churchill. A petty quarrel which developed between the sisters was made far worse by the interference of Sarah. William disliked Anne’s husband, Prince George of Denmark, which he made no attempt to conceal. Mary failed to visit Anne during her subsequent pregnancy, the two sisters were never to speak to each other again.

In December, 1694, Mary fell ill with smallpox, the disease that had killed both of William’s parents. The Queen’s condition steadily deteriorated. William was distraught but remained at her bedside until the end. Queen Mary died aged only thirty-two on 28th December. William was prostrate with grief at her death. It was to be several months before he managed to come to terms with the loss of his wife.

Purcell’s funeral music for Mary is palpably hanting:

The heir to the throne, Anne’s only surviving child, William, Duke of Gloucester, a delicate child who suffered from brain damage, died in July, 1700. Although there were many who possessed a superior claim, the next Protestant in the line of succession was Sophia, Electress of Hanover. She was the youngest child of James I’s daughter Elizabeth who had married Frederick, the Elector Palatine and was married to Ernest Augustus, Electoral Prince of Hanover. In 1701 the succession was fixed, after the death of Anne, on Sophia and her heirs, by Act of Parliament.

On 21st February, 1702, William’s horse stumbled on a molehill while he was out riding, causing him to fall badly and break his collar bone. He was unwell throughout the following month and did not recover from the accident. By the first week in March, his condition had deteriorated so badly that it became obvious that he was unlikely to survive. He died on 7th March 1702. He was later found to have kept a lock of Mary’s hair and her wedding ring next to his heart. His death was not greatly lamented in England, where he had never been liked.

Dutch cuisine these days is a bit on the plain side, but in William’s day it was remarkably elegant and complex. Because the Dutch controlled the spice trade from the East Indies, many contemporary recipes use rich spice combinations. I came across a recipe for roast pigeon in a 17th century cookbook which seems as if it would be worth a try. It was in an antiquated style of Dutch and was very brief. But the basics seem clear enough. This recipe can be made with squab if you can find it (one per person). I used to be able to find it frozen in Rockland Co., NY, or you can use game hen halved. Squab is stronger.


Pigeon with Celeriac Puree and Grapes

Roast the pigeon or squab at high heat, 200°C, for about 15 to 20 minutes. You want the skin to be golden and the meat cooked but not dry. Also place in the oven a pan of black seedless grapes with a little olive oil.

Meanwhile, peel and dice I cup of celeriac per person and simmer until tender. Drain and mash with butter and freshly grated nutmeg to taste.

Spread the mashed celeriac on a plate, and top with a roast squab, drizzled with the roast juices and pulp of the grapes.

Oct 162014


World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on 16 October in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with food security, including the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The World Food Day theme for 2014 is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”

World Food Day (WFD) was established by FAO’s Member Countries at the Organization’s 20th General Conference in November 1945. The Hungarian Delegation, led by the former Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Food Dr. Pál Romány, played an active role at the 20th Session of the FAO Conference and suggested the idea of celebrating the WFD worldwide. It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger.

Since 1981, World Food Day has adopted a different theme each year in order to highlight areas needed for action and provide a common focus.

Most of the themes revolve around agriculture because only investment in agriculture – together with support for education and health – will turn this situation around. The bulk of that investment will have to come from the private sector, with public investment playing a crucial role, especially in view of its facilitating and stimulating effect on private investment.

The World Food Day theme for 2014 is Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth”


In spite of the importance of agriculture as the driving force in the economies of many developing countries, this vital sector is frequently starved of investment. In particular, foreign aid to agriculture has shown marked declines over the past 20 years.

Events take place in over 150 countries to mark World Food Day. Below are example of events held across the world in recent years.

United States of America

World Food Day has been a tradition in the USA since the first World Food Day in 1982. In the United States the endeavor is sponsored by 450 national, private voluntary organizations. One example for World Food Day events is the World Food Day Sunday Dinners that Oxfam America sponsors in collaboration with several other non profits. Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu and author Francis Moore Lappe have teamed up with Oxfam America to promote World Food Day Sunday Dinners. The Iowa Hunger Summit has been held on or near World Food Day since 2007, and is organized by the World Food Prize in conjunction with their annual symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.


In Italy, ministries, universities, research agencies, international agencies and NGOs have organized many conferences as well as exhibitions and symposia. The Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies organized a meeting which focused on women’s rights in rural areas in 2005.

In Germany, the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture have all become involved via press conferences. Spanish television has been active in broadcasting events. FAO Goodwill Ambassador – Spanish soccer star Raul – has taken part in events and helped highlight food-security issues across his country.

The U.K. Food Group has also been active through conferences and media broadcasts. In the emerging economies of Eastern Europe – i.e., Albania, Armenia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovak Republic – a variety of activities have been held.

In Hungary, renowned experts have given presentations in the Hungarian Agricultural Museum and FAO, and WFD medals have been awarded to well-known Hungarian experts by the FAO Sub-Regional Representative.

On behalf of the Holy See, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have sent an annual message for food producers and consumers on World Food Day.

In Armenia, staff from the Ministry of Agriculture, non-governmental organizations, Armenian State Agriculture University, the donor community, international organizations, and the mass media have participated in the World Food Day ceremony. In Afghanistan, representatives of Ministries, embassies, UN agencies, International Financial Organizations, National and International NGOs and FAO staff have attended the World Food Day ceremony.

In Cyprus, special ceremonies have been organized in primary and secondary schools, where teachers explained the significance of World Food Day.


Angola celebrated WFD in 2005 through the 4th Forum on Rural Women, while in Burundi the second Vice-President planted potatoes to provide a symbolic example about food production. In Central African Republic, the President of the Republic has inaugurated a bridge at Boda to coincide with World Food Day, making the agricultural production area more accessible.

In Chad, thousands of people have attended debates, conferences and activities including theatre, films, folk dance, visits to project sites and visits by agricultural companies.

In Ghana, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has hosted a food security conference, while Namibia has run an awareness campaign through national media.

Egypt has hosted a Forum on nutrition issues. Morocco and Tunisia have held seminars and exhibitions.


The Government of Bangladesh has been involved through organizing a food festival; in China in 2005, celebrations were organized in Qujing City, where numerous ethnical minorities live, by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government of Qujing City, with the participation of a number of senior officials of the Government.

In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, seminars have been held and visits made to various project sites. The Ministry of Agriculture of Indonesia has in the past organized a major Food Expo in Bandung, West Java, while a Farmers’ and Fishermen’s Workshop of NGOs was held in Bali.

In Pakistan, A Society Named as MAPS(Mentor Amiable Professional Society) celebrates world food day by providing food packages to poor & nee-dies and tells the importance of food to the people by organizing workshops.

Latin America

In Chile, exhibitions of indigenous food products have been prepared by local communities. In Argentina, senior officials of the Government, academics, international organizations and the press have participated in the main ceremony. In Mexico in 2005, a National Campaign for a “Mexico Without Hunger” was held, with the involvement and support of civil society and students. In Cuba, producers have been able to exchange views and experiences at an agricultural fair. The media strongly support awareness campaigns on World Food Day; for example in Venezuela there has been national coverage of events.


Leket Israel – The National Food Bank will mark World Food Day with a unique countrywide picking event. Volunteers are invited to four locations throughout Israel on Friday, 18 October to pick fruits and vegetables for distribution to the needy.

For world Food Day I want to focus on a personal policy I have held to most of my life, namely eating foods that are grown locally and are in season. This practice serves several purposes. It supports local farmers, especially small farmers, and it keeps you in tune with the seasons. Furthermore, when you buy fresh food that’s in season today, you reduce greenhouse emissions, which, in turn, helps protect everyone’s food supply for tomorrow. A lot of energy is wasted trying to grow food in the wrong place or at the wrong time of year. In both Argentina and China I have been able to buy all my meat and vegetables in local markets, that sell local products. Also in both places they never sell anything that is not ready to eat right away.

wfd7 wfd6

This site celebrates world Food Day with some appropriate recipes.


I have taken celery root soup more or less as is. Celery root is also known as celeriac, a relation of celery grown for its bulbous roots with a celery flavor. Celery root is pretty easy to find and can be used in soups and stews much like other root vegetables.


You could also use parsley root, probably my favorite root vegetable, as a substitute. It’s bit harder to find. You can identify it because it has parsley growing from the tops of the roots.


Celery Root Soup


3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
1 large or 2 small leeks, washed well and sliced
2 medium celery roots (about 1 lb/450g), peeled, cut into quarters lengthwise, and sliced crosswise
5 cups vegetable broth
3-4 celery stalks, strings removed, finely diced
1 cup bite-size pieces of country-style bread (crusts removed)


Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Place a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter. When melted,
add the diced onion, the bay leaf, and the thyme sprigs. Cook until the onion is soft, without
browning. Meanwhile, prepare the leek and celery root. When the onions are
soft, add salt to taste, stir well, and add the leek and celery root. Cook, stirring now and then,
until the celery root begins to soften, about 7 minutes. Then add 5 cups vegetable broth, bring
to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until celery root is quite soft, about 20 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, blanch the diced celery stalks in salted water for 1-2 minutes (until
translucent green but still crunchy), drain, and spread on a plate to cool. Next, toss the bread
pieces with 2 teaspoons of melted butter, spread on a baking sheet, and bake until
crisp and golden, about 12 minutes.

When the soup is ready, remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf and purée in a blender. Taste and add
salt as needed. If the soup is too thick, thin with chicken stock or water.

Serve in warm bowls with the diced celery and croutons as a garnish.