Aug 102018

On this date in 1519, five ships under the command of Ferdinand Magellan’s command left Seville to begin the first ever circumnavigation of the world. One ship and 18 of the original crew made it back to Spain. Magellan died en route, but he is remembered in numerous place names, most especially the Strait of Magellan, and in modern discoveries such as the Magellanic Clouds (two irregular dwarf galaxies) as well as animal species, such as Magellanic penguins (which I saw when I visited Tierra del Fuego in 2011).

Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the West (1492–1503) had the goal of reaching the Indies and establishing direct commercial relations between Spain and Asian kingdoms. The Spanish soon realized that the lands of the Americas were not a part of Asia, but a new continent. The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas reserved for Portugal the eastern routes that went around Africa, and Vasco da Gama and the Portuguese arrived in India in 1498. Castile urgently needed to find a new commercial route to Asia. After the Junta de Toro conference of 1505, the Spanish Crown commissioned expeditions to discover a route to the west. Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean in 1513 after crossing the Isthmus of Panama, and Juan Díaz de Solís died in Río de la Plata in 1516 while exploring South America in the service of Spain.

In October 1517 in Seville, Magellan (already an experienced sailor, explorer, and soldier), contacted Juan de Aranda, Factor of the Casa de Contratación. Following the arrival of his partner Rui Faleiro, and with the support of Aranda, they presented their project to the Spanish king, Charles I, future Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Magellan’s project, if successful, would realize Columbus’ plan of a spice route by sailing west without damaging relations with the Portuguese. The idea was in tune with the times and had already been discussed after Balboa’s discovery of the Pacific. On 22nd March 1518 the king named Magellan and Faleiro captains so that they could travel in search of the Spice Islands in July. He raised them to the rank of Commander of the Order of Santiago, and granted them a number of monopolies on their discoveries. The expedition was funded largely by the Spanish Crown, which provided ships carrying supplies for two years of travel. Expert cartographer Jorge Reinel and Diogo Ribeiro, a Portuguese who had started working for Charles V in 1518 as a cartographer at the Casa de Contratación, took part in the development of the maps to be used in the travel. Several problems arose during the preparation of the trip, including lack of money, the king of Portugal trying to stop them, Magellan and other Portuguese incurring suspicion from the Spanish, and the difficult nature of Faleiro. Finally, thanks to the tenacity of Magellan, the expedition was ready. Through the bishop Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca they obtained the participation of merchant Christopher de Haro, who provided a quarter of the funds and goods to barter.

The flagship Trinidad (110 tons, crew 55), under Magellan’s command

San Antonio (120 tons; crew 60) commanded by Juan de Cartagena

Concepción (90 tons, crew 45) commanded by Gaspar de Quesada

Santiago (75 tons, crew 32) commanded by João Serrão

Victoria (85 tons, crew 43), named after the church of Santa Maria de la Victoria de Triana, where Magellan took an oath of allegiance to Charles V; commanded by Luis Mendoza.

The crew of about 270 included men from several nations, including Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Greece, England and France. Spanish authorities were wary of Magellan, who was Portuguese, so that they almost prevented him from sailing, switching his mostly Portuguese crew to mostly Spaniards. It included about 40 Portuguese, among them Magellan’s brother-in-law Duarte Barbosa, João Serrão, a relative of Francisco Serrão, Estêvão Gomes and Magellan’s indentured servant Enrique of Malacca. Faleiro, who had planned to accompany the voyage, withdrew prior to boarding. Juan Sebastián Elcano, a Spanish merchant ship captain living in Seville, embarked seeking the king’s pardon for previous misdeeds. Antonio Pigafetta, a Venetian scholar and traveler, asked to be on the voyage, accepting the title of “supernumerary” and a modest salary. He became a strict assistant of Magellan and kept an accurate journal. The only other sailor to report the voyage would be Francisco Albo, who kept a formal logbook. Juan de Cartagena was named Inspector General of the expedition, responsible for its financial and trading operations.

The fleet left Seville on this date in 1519 and descended the Guadalquivir River to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, at the mouth of the river. They remained there until 20th September 1519 when they left Spain. King Manuel I ordered a Portuguese naval detachment to pursue Magellan, but he evaded them. After stopping at the Canary Islands, Magellan arrived at Cape Verde, where he set course for Cape St. Augustine in Brazil. On 27th November the expedition crossed the equator; on 6th December the crew sighted South America. On 13th December they anchored near present-day Rio de Janeiro. There the crew was resupplied, but bad conditions caused them to delay. Afterwards, they continued to sail south along South America’s east coast, looking for the strait that Magellan believed would lead to the Spice Islands. The fleet reached Río de la Plata in early February, 1520.

For wintering over, Magellan established a temporary settlement called Puerto San Julian on March 30 [my birthday], 1520. On Easter (April 1 and 2), a mutiny broke out involving three of the five ship captains. Magellan took quick and decisive action. Luis de Mendoza, the captain of Victoria, was killed by a party sent by Magellan, and the ship was recovered. After Concepción’s anchor cable had been secretly cut by his forces, the ship drifted towards the well-armed Trinidad, and Concepcion’s captain de Quesada and his inner circle surrendered. Juan de Cartagena, the head of the mutineers on the San Antonio, subsequently gave up. Antonio Pigafetta reported that Gaspar Quesada, the captain of Concepción, and other mutineers were executed, while Juan de Cartagena, the captain of San Antonio, and a priest named Padre Sanchez de la Reina were marooned on the coast. Most of the men, including Juan Sebastián Elcano, were needed and so pardoned. Reportedly those killed were drawn and quartered and impaled on the coast; years later, their bones were found by Sir Francis Drake.

The journey resumed. The help of Duarte Barbosa was crucial in facing the riot in Puerto San Julian; Magellan appointed him as captain of the Victoria. The Santiago was sent down the coast on a scouting expedition and was wrecked in a sudden storm. All of its crew survived and made it safely to shore. Two of them returned overland to inform Magellan of what had happened, and to bring rescue to their comrades. After this experience, Magellan decided to wait for a few weeks more before resuming the voyage with the four remaining ships.

At 52°S latitude on 21st October 1520, the fleet reached Cape Virgenes and concluded they had found the passage, because the waters were brine and deep inland. Four ships began an arduous trip through the 373-mile (600 km) long passage that Magellan called the Estrecho (Canal) de Todos los Santos, (“All Saints’ Channel”), because the fleet travelled through it on 1st November or All Saints’ Day. The strait is now named the Strait of Magellan. He first assigned Concepcion and San Antonio to explore the strait, but the latter, commanded by Gómez, deserted and headed back to Spain on 20th November. On 28th November, the three remaining ships entered the South Pacific. Magellan named the waters the Mar Pacifico (Pacific Ocean) because of its apparent stillness. Magellan and his crew were the first Europeans to reach Tierra del Fuego just east of the Pacific side of the strait.

Heading northwest, the crew reached the equator on 13th February 1521. On 6th March they reached the Marianas and Guam. Pigafetta described the “lateen sail” used by the inhabitants of Guam, hence the name “Island of Sails” but he also writes the inhabitants “entered the ships and stole whatever they could lay their hands on”, including “the small boat that was fastened to the poop of the flagship.” “Those people are poor, but ingenious and very thievish, on account of which we called those three islands the islands of Ladroni.”

On 16th March Magellan reached the island of Homonhon in the Philippines, with 150 crew left. Members of his expedition became the first Europeans to reach the Philippine archipelago. Magellan relied on Enrique, his Malay servant and interpreter, to communicate with the indigenous peoples. He had been indentured by Magellan in 1511 after the colonization of Malacca, and had accompanied him through later adventures. They traded gifts with Rajah Siaiu of Mazaua who guided them to Cebu on 7th April.

Rajah Humabon of Cebu was friendly towards Magellan and the Spaniards; both he and his queen Hara Amihan were baptized as Christians and were given the image of the Holy Child (later known as Santo Niño de Cebu) which along with a cross (Magellan’s Cross) symbolizes the Christianization of the Philippines. Afterward, Rajah Humabon and his ally Datu Zula convinced Magellan to kill their enemy, Datu Lapu-Lapu, on Mactan. Magellan wanted to convert Lapu-Lapu to Christianity, as he had Humabon, but Lapu-Lapu rejected that. On the morning of 27th April 1521, Magellan sailed to Mactan with a small attack force. During the resulting battle against Lapu-Lapu’s troops, Magellan was struck by a bamboo spear, and later was surrounded and finished off with other weapons.

Pigafetta and Ginés de Mafra provided written documents of the events culminating in Magellan’s death:

When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, [the natives] had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred people. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries… The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly… Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice… A native hurled a bamboo spear into the captain’s face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the native’s body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off.

Magellan provided in his will that Enrique, his interpreter, was to be freed upon his death. But after the battle, the remaining ships’ masters refused to free the Malay. Enrique escaped his indenture on 1 May with the aid of Rajah Humabon, amid the deaths of almost 30 crewmen.

Pigafetta had been jotting down words in both Butuanon and Cebuano languages – which he started at Mazaua on 29 March and his list grew to a total of 145 words. He continued communications with indigenous peoples during the rest of the voyage.

Nothing of Magellan’s body survived. That afternoon the grieving rajah-king, hoping to recover his remains, offered Mactan’s victorious chief a handsome ransom of copper and iron for them but Datu Lapulapu refused. He intended to keep the body as a war trophy. Since his wife and child died in Seville before any member of the expedition could return to Spain, it seemed that every evidence of Ferdinand Magellan’s existence had vanished from the earth.

(click to enlarge)

It took another 16 months after Magellan’s death for the one surviving ship, Victoria, the smallest carrack in the fleet, to make it back to Seville after completing the first circumnavigation of the Earth. Only 18 men out of the original 237 men in the fleet were on board.

There are plenty of original accounts for you to read concerning the rigors and losses on the return. Meanwhile I will turn to the taste buds.

Magellan gin is a blue gin inspired by Magellan’s voyage, particularly the spices that Victoria had on board (notably cloves). Magellan is also the name of a camp cooking equipment company, and I have certainly cooked on stoves such as this one on camping trips (as well as in my first apartment in Buenos Aires).

I could certainly  you numerous pointers on how to turn out a feast using only a 2-burner camp stove, or how to waste an evening drinking blue gin, but instead I will focus on an indigenous Filipino ingredient, the kalamansi, in honor of the place where Magellan met his end. Kalamansi (Citrus microcarpa) is a citrus fruit used mostly for the sourness it gives to a dish. Despite its outer appearance and its aroma, the taste of the fruit itself is quite sour, although the peel is sweet. Kalamansi can be made into marmalade in the same way you make orange marmalade (see  ).


The fruit can be frozen whole and used as ice cubes in beverages such as tea, soft drinks, water, and cocktails. The juice can be used in place of that of the common Persian lime. The juice is extracted by crushing the whole fruit, and makes a flavorful drink similar to lemonade. A liqueur can be made from the whole fruits, in combination with vodka and sugar.


May 042017

Today is the birthday (1852) of Alice Pleasance Liddell who inspired Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) to write Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alice the fourth child of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, and his wife Lorina Hanna Liddell (née Reeve). She had two older brothers, Harry (born 1847) and Arthur (born 1850, died of scarlet fever in 1853), and an older sister Lorina (born 1849). She also had six younger siblings, including her sister Edith (born 1854) with whom she was very close and her brother Frederick (born 1865), who became a lawyer and senior civil servant. At the time of her birth, Alice’s father was the Headmaster of Westminster School, but in 1856 he was appointed to the deanery of Christ Church, Oxford. Soon after this move, she met Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who met the family while he was photographing the college’s cathedral on 25 April 1856. He became a close friend of the Liddell family in subsequent years.

Alice was three years younger than Lorina and two years older than Edith, and the three sisters were constant childhood companions. She and her family regularly spent holidays at their holiday home Penmorfa, which later became the Gogarth Abbey Hotel, on the West Shore of Llandudno in North Wales. When Alice Liddell was a young woman, she set out on a grand tour of Europe with Lorina and Edith. One story has it that she became a romantic interest of Prince Leopold, the youngest son of Queen Victoria, during the four years he spent at Christ Church, but the evidence for this is sparse. It is true that years later, Leopold named his first child Alice, and acted as godfather to Alice’s second son Leopold. It is far more likely that Alice’s sister Edith was the true recipient of Leopold’s attention). Edith died on 26 June 1876, possibly of measles or peritonitis (accounts differ), shortly before she was to be married to Aubrey Harcourt, a cricket player. At her funeral on 30 June 1876, Prince Leopold served as a pall-bearer.

Alice Liddell married Reginald Hargreaves, also a cricketer, on 15 September 1880, at the age of 28 in Westminster Abbey. They had three sons: Alan Knyveton Hargreaves and Leopold Reginald “Rex” Hargreaves (both were killed in action in World War I); and Caryl Liddell Hargreaves, who survived to have a daughter of his own. Alice denied that the name ‘Caryl’ was in any way associated with Charles Dodgson’s pseudonym. Reginald Hargreaves inherited a considerable fortune, and was a local magistrate; he also played cricket for Hampshire. Alice became a noted society hostess and was the first president of Emery Down Women’s Institute.

After her husband’s death in 1926, the cost of maintaining their home, Cuffnells, was so high that she decided to sell her original manuscript copy of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (Dodgson’s earlier title for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). The manuscript fetched £15,400, nearly four times the reserve price given it by Sotheby’s auction house. It later became the possession of Eldridge R. Johnson and was displayed at Columbia University on the centennial of Carroll’s birth. (Alice was present, aged 80, and it was on this visit to the United States that she met Peter Llewelyn Davies, one of the brothers who inspired J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan). Upon Johnson’s death, the book was purchased by a consortium of American bibliophiles and presented to the British people “in recognition of Britain’s courage in facing Hitler before America came into the war.” The manuscript now resides in the British Library.

For most of her life, Alice lived in and around Lyndhurst in the New Forest. After her death in 1934, she was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium and her ashes were buried in the graveyard of the church of St Michael and All Angels Lyndhurst.

On 4 July 1862, in a rowing trip on the Isis from Folly Bridge, Oxford, to Godstow for a picnic outing, 10-year-old Alice asked Charles Dodgson to entertain her and her sisters, Edith (aged 8) and Lorina (13), with a story. As the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed the boat, Dodgson regaled the girls with fantastic stories of a girl, named Alice, and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit-hole. The story was similar to those Dodgson had spun for the sisters before, but this time Liddell asked Mr. Dodgson to write it down for her. He promised to do so but did not get around to the task for some months. He eventually presented her with the manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in November 1864.

The relationship between Liddell and Dodgson has been the source of much debate, with some biographers supposing that Dodgson had a pedophilic attraction to the girl. But there is little to no evidence of this assertion. You’ll have to read the voluminous works on this debate if you want to form your own opinion. I’ll just say a few words about it. The biggest problem to overcome in drawing a conclusion is chronocentrism. As Leslie Poles Hartley wrote, “the past is a foreign country.” If we start imputing motives to people who lived 150 years ago we can easily run into grave error. The photo (above) of Alice as a gypsy girl, is frequently seen as erotic. But that is a modern view. Victorian photographers routinely took portraits of little girls in costume, sometimes naked, and they were generally seen as pictures of innocence. Some of them were even reproduced on Christmas cards.  Are we to assume from this that all Victorians were rank pedophiles? I suppose you could draw that conclusion, but . . . are all ancient Greek nudes evidence of their sexuality? I hardly think so.

The Alice in Dodgson’s tales and Alice Liddell are clearly not the same, and recent research has contradicted the long-held assumption that he based the character on her. Dodgson himself said in later years that his Alice was entirely imaginary and not based upon any real child at all. Dodgson’s own drawings of the character in the original manuscript of Alice’s Adventures under Ground show little resemblance to Liddell.

There are at least three direct links to Liddell in the two books. First, he set them on 4 May (Liddell’s birthday) and 4 November (her “half-birthday”), and in Through the Looking-Glass the fictional Alice declares that her age is “seven and a half exactly”, the same as Liddell on that date. Second, he dedicated them “to Alice Pleasance Liddell”. Third, there is an acrostic poem at the end of Through the Looking-Glass. Reading downward, taking the first letter of each line, spells out Liddell’s full name. The poem has no title in Through the Looking-Glass, but is usually referred to by its first line, “A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky”.

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July—

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear—

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?

In addition, all of those who participated in the Thames boating expedition where the story was originally told (Carroll, the Reverend Duckworth and the three Liddell sisters) appear in the chapter “A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale.”

According to her grandson, Lorinda Liddell (Alice’s mother), gave the recipe for orange marmalade to Frank Cooper’s wife who then produced Cooper’s Oxford marmalade. I can’t say whether this is true or not, but it’s as good an excuse as any to dribble on about marmalade for a while. In Alice’s time, the word “marmalade” was not restricted to preserves made with citrus fruits, just as cognates in Romance languages (marmellata in Italian or  marmelada in Spanish) refer to jams in general. But the word eventually became restricted to preserves of bitter oranges when used on their  own, and more generally to other citrus fruits such as lime or grapefruit. For many years I made huge batches of marmalades in January after Christmas was over and before I had to return to lecturing in February. I experimented with lemons, limes, kumquats, and grapefruit year by year, but they often failed to set properly because those fruits do not have as much natural pectin in them as Seville oranges. Seville oranges are very hard to find in the US, but there rally is no substitute for proper orange marmalade. Regular oranges will not do. The peel must be bitter and laden with the right aromatics. Here’s Mrs Beeton’s discourse followed by one of several different recipes.

  1. Marmalades, jams, and fruit pastes are of the same nature, and are now in very general request. They are prepared without difficulty, by attending to a very few directions; they are somewhat expensive, but may be kept without spoiling for a considerable time. Marmalades and jams differ little from each other: they are preserves of a half-liquid consistency, made by boiling the pulp of fruits, and sometimes part of the rinds, with sugar. The appellation of marmalade is applied to those confitures which are composed of the firmer fruits, as pineapples or the rinds of oranges; whereas jams are made of the more juicy berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, currants, mulberries, &c. Fruit pastes are a kind of marmalades, consisting of the pulp of fruits, first evaporated to a proper consistency, and afterwards boiled with sugar. The mixture is then poured into a mould, or spread on sheets of tin, and subsequently dried in the oven or stove till it has acquired the state of a paste. From a sheet of this paste, strips may be cut and formed into any shape that may be desired, as knots, rings, &c. Jams require the same care and attention in the boiling as marmalade; the slightest degree of burning communicates a disagreeable empyreumatic taste, and if they are not boiled sufficiently, they will not keep. That they may keep, it is necessary not to be sparing of sugar.


  1. INGREDIENTS.—Equal weight of fine loaf sugar and Seville oranges; to 12 oranges allow 1 pint of water.

Mode.—Let there be an equal weight of loaf sugar and Seville oranges, and allow the above proportion of water to every dozen oranges. Peel them carefully, remove a little of the white pith, and boil the rinds in water 2 hours, changing the water three times to take off a little of the bitter taste. Break the pulp into small pieces, take out all the pips, and cut the boiled rind into chips. Make a syrup with the sugar and water; boil this well, skim it, and, when clear, put in the pulp and chips. Boil all together from 20 minutes to 1/2 hour; pour it into pots, and, when cold, cover down with bladders or tissue-paper brushed over on both sides with the white of an egg. The juice and grated rind of 2 lemons to every dozen of oranges, added with the pulp and chips to the syrup, are a very great improvement to this marmalade.

Time.—2 hours to boil the orange-rinds; 10 minutes to boil the syrup; 20 minutes to 1/2 hour to boil the marmalade.

Average cost, from 6d. to 8d. per lb. pot.

Seasonable.—This should be made in March or April, as Seville oranges are then in perfection.

Decades ago I began with this recipe as a guide, but then played with it over the years. First I boiled the fruit very slowly for a very long time over low heat.  For many years I filled a big stock pot with oranges (or other citrus fruit), covered them with water, and set the pot, covered, on my wood stove overnight. The water barely simmered, but in the morning the fruit was completely cooked. I then took the fruit out, weighed it, chopped up the peel into thin slices, and returned them to the cooking water while discarding the seeds. I added as much in weight of sugar as the weight of oranges, and brought the mix to a boil on the stove on high heat. At first you need to stir occasionally with a wooden spoon to make sure the sugar dissolves, but as the marmalade thickens you must stir more often to avoid scalding or burning. Determining when you have achieved the right temperature and consistency for the marmalade to set you must take a very little in a teaspoon and drop it on a cool, clean saucer. If it flows at all, it is not ready. If it forms a concave droplet, or “bead,” it is ready. I used to use small canning jars, place the marmalade in them hot from the stove almost to the brim, and cap them. They formed a hermetic seal and would keep like that, unrefrigerated, for a year or more. With some fruits lacking in adequate pectin, such as kumquat or lime, I added a little extra pectin to be sure. Be careful, though; too much pectin makes a set well enough, but the product can have a weaker flavor.


Oct 022015


On this date in 1959 the series The Twilight Zone premiered on CBS television in the United States. I was well aware of the show in the 1960’s as a boy in Australia, and have been a fan – off and on – ever since. Although I did not see many episodes as a boy, I remember well some of them (“To Serve Man” left an indelible impression), and in more recent years I was able to see, or recall, all of the episodes courtesy of holiday-time 24- or 48-hour extravaganzas of non-stop airings. I was often glued to the screen, hour upon hour when these bonanzas came around (usually uninterrupted by commercials). To my mind the series is unparalleled. It did not rely on special effects or especially imaginative camera work. What it did have was great writing and great acting. Nor did the themes stretch credulity unduly. Admittedly there were elements of the supernatural and paranormal, and occasionally extraterrestrial. But these themes did not drive the series. Many of the situations were perfectly believable, even though unhistorical, such as living in a post apocalyptic world, or being presented with a seemingly insoluble conundrum (sometimes solved, sometimes left dangling). What I liked, and still like, was that the series made me THINK – a rarity in television, then and now.

The Twilight Zone premiered the night of October 2, 1959, to rave reviews. “…Twilight Zone is about the only show on the air that I actually look forward to seeing. It’s the one series that I will let interfere with other plans”, said Terry Turner for the Chicago Daily News. Others agreed. Daily Variety ranked it with “the best that has ever been accomplished in half-hour filmed television” and the New York Herald Tribune found the show to be “certainly the best and most original anthology series of the year.”


Although the show proved popular to television’s critics, it struggled to find a receptive audience of television viewers. CBS was banking on a rating of at least 21 or 22, but its initial numbers were much lower. The series’ future was jeopardized when its third episode, “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” earned a 16.3 rating. Still, the show attracted a large enough audience to survive a brief hiatus in November, after which it finally surpassed its competition on ABC and NBC and convinced its sponsors (General Foods and Kimberly-Clark) to stay on until the end of the season.


With one exception (“The Chaser”), the first season featured scripts written only by Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, a team that was eventually responsible for 127 of the show’s 156 episodes. Additionally, with one exception (“A World of His Own”), Serling never appeared on camera during any first season episode (as he would in future seasons), and was present only as a voice-over narrator. Many of the first season’s episodes proved to be among the series’ most celebrated, including “Time Enough at Last”, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”, “Walking Distance” and “The After Hours”. The first season won Serling an unpre­cedented fourth Emmy Award for dramatic writing, a Producers Guild Award for Serling’s creative partner Buck Houghton, and the Hugo Award for best dramatic presentation.


When I look back now on early episodes I love to see actors in their early years, now famous for later roles. Of the many, let me mention Bill Bixby, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, William Shatner, Telly Savalas, and George Takei These actors are often now well known for classic roles that have them typecast, and it is fun to see them as totally different characters. Seeing Shatner as a delusional and frightened air passenger, for example, is priceless.


The Twilight Zone could be controversial, as in the case of “The Encounter” in which a very young George Takei plays a Japanese-American whose father was a traitorous signaler for the bombers at Pearl Harbor, and Neville Brand plays a WW II veteran who killed an unarmed Japanese P.O.W. They have both kept their secrets for all their lives, but they come out as they converse in an attic. Serling’s final narration sums it up:

Two men in an attic, locked in mortal embrace. Their common bond, and their common enemy: guilt. A disease all too prevalent amongst men both in and out of The Twilight Zone.


Although Serling was focusing on guilt, the images of Asian/U.S. conflict were too strident for a time when president Johnson was ramping up the Vietnam War, and for Japanese-American survivors of the war in the Pacific. In consequence the episode was banned from syndication.

Serling had sought an outlet for controversy in creating the series in the first place. By the late 1950s, Serling was a well known television writer. His successful teleplays included “Patterns” (for Kraft Television Theater) and “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (for Playhouse 90), but constant changes and edits made by the networks and sponsors frustrated him. “In Requiem for a Heavyweight,” for example, the line “Got a match?” had to be edited out because the sponsor sold lighters. Other programs had similar elimination of words that might remind the audience of competitors to the sponsor, including one case in which the sponsor, Ford Motor Company, had the Chrysler Building removed from a picture of the New York City skyline. Such script changes and editing are still very much alive and well. A few years ago I toured the set of Two and a Half Men and was told that a script had to be changed because it implied that pizza was fattening, and one of the sponsors was a pizza firm.


Serling’s plots often confronted tough issues – war, xenophobia, power politics, bigotry, etc. – which he wrapped in parable. I find the results masterful, and enduring in their messages. I wish only that we had such visionaries as Serling around today. I could fill up 20 posts with Serling’s quotes, he was so incredibly insightful about society and the human condition. Here’s a few that are representative:

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs, and explosions, and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy; and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.

How can you put out a meaningful drama when every fifteen minutes proceedings are interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits with toilet paper? No dramatic art form should be dictated and controlled by men whose training and instincts are cut of an entirely different cloth. The fact remains that these gentlemen sell consumer goods, not an art form.

I happen to think that the singular evil of our time is prejudice. It is from this evil that all other evils grow and multiply. In almost everything I’ve written there is a thread of this: a man’s seemingly palpable need to dislike someone other than himself.

I think the destiny of all men is not to sit in the rubble of their own making but to reach out for an ultimate perfection which is to be had. At the moment, it is a dream. But as of the moment we clasp hands with our neighbor, we build the first span to bridge the gap between the young and the old. At this hour, it’s a wish. But we have it within our power to make it a reality. If you want to prove that God is not dead, first prove that man is alive.

And one that leads to my recipe of the day from a letter to his wife.

Hollywood’s a great place to live… if you’re a grapefruit.

For decades I used to make marmalade by the gallon when I lived in the New York Catskills. It was my way of recovering from the long Christmas season, and making January festive in a different way. Citrus fruits were cheap and plentiful so I would make all manner of marmalades besides orange – lemon, lime, kumquat . . . you name it. But grapefruit was always a big hit. Cooks often use pectin in preserves because it is quick and fail safe. But I never did. All that ever went into my marmalades were fruit, sugar, and water. All marmalades have the same recipe — equal weights of sugar and fruit plus water. I liked grapefruit marmalade the best because of the rich and complex flavors from both the pulp and the skin.


© Grapefruit Marmalade

Put around 1 kg of whole grapefruit in a large pot and add 2 liters of water. You can simply soak the fruit overnight, but I always put it on my woodstove where it gently warmed through all night when the fire was banked down. In the morning I took the pot from the stove, removed the fruit, and reserved the liquid. First, quarter the fruit, remove all the pips, and scrape out the pulp into a bowl. Then slice the skin into thin strips. Put the pulp and skin back into the water and add 1 kg of granulated white sugar. Bring to a rolling boil and cook uncovered for about an hour. Stir periodically at first, when the marmalade is watery, but be more vigilant as it thickens to avoid sticking. When the mix is syrupy begin to test for its ability to set – that is, jellify when cooled. This is an absolutely critical stage and requires some experience. Take a small amount of the mix with a spoon and drop it on to a chilled saucer. It should form a balled bead with a wrinkled skin that does not flow when the saucer is tilted. Pack into sterilized jars whilst the marmalade is hot, tightly lid, and store at room temperature. It can keep for months, but it never did in my house.


If marmalade does not appeal, see if you can find a roast beef platter for $1.25 !!