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 Dish of the Day - II

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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySun 18 Nov 2018, 12:10

Isn't the internet wonderful? Search long enough and with luck ye shall find.

In an online article by 'Paris Match', ostensibly promoting a newly published book by the French food historian Patrick Rambourg, I found an image of the original menu from the famous 'Souper des Souvrains' of the 18 November 1869, celebrating the opening of the Suez Canal. Et voila:


Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Menu-suez

I'm intrigued by the signature dish 'Poisson à la reunion des deux mers', but perhaps other members of ResHistorica might be more interested in the more enigmatic, Jambon historié ... 'History ham' does indeed sound rather like quite a few of us here, n'est-ce pas?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySun 18 Nov 2018, 18:16

It seems that even by the 1860s the British had already earned a culinary reputation somewhat of being beef-eating squares. Ox-tongue as a starter followed by roast beef as a main course. Worse than that was the prospect of pineapple pudding. Yuck. The antics of the British, in sniping at the canal project from the sidelines during its construction and then the juvenile gate-crashing of the opening ceremony by Captain Nares, suggests a remarkable degree of forbearance on the part of the hosts.

I do have a soft-spot for the French Second Empire and for the Empress Eugenie in particular. It’s retrospective sentimental romanticism, of course, but to think that only 10 months after the Ismailia ball the empire would be ended and she would be in exile is very sad.

Returning to the menu and the list of entrees, I can’t work out what the item is immediately below ‘Langues de boeuf a l’anglaise’. I read it as ‘Aspies de Nerac’ but what is an aspie and who or where is Nerac?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyTue 20 Nov 2018, 09:32

I read that as Aspics de Nérac ... so I rather supposed it meant some sort of individual aspic gallantines, ie set savoury jelly terrines, made of, well, something or other.

Nérac is nowadays a small quaint medieval town in South-Western France (Lot-et-Garonne dept. of Aquitaine) but I'm not sure what the specific connection might be here. Its chateau was once the home of the future Henri IV of France and his wife queen Margot, so maybe there was a particular dish named in their honour - perhaps by our old friend La Varenne. But I note that the 'Dictionnaire de l'Académie française', sixth edition published in 1835, volume two, under the various uses of the word "pâté" gives;"Pâté en terrine, ou simplement, Terrine. Viande assaisonnée d'épices, de truffes etc. et cuire dans une terrine, ou en la laisse pour servie froide. Les pâtés en terrine de Nérac sont forts estimés". [My emphasis].

So at the grand 1869 Suez dinner I think the dish in question was likely to have been individual terrines, or slices of a larger terrine, composed probably of gamebirds and truffles, and the whole set with, or even within, aspic (which was then the very à la mode method of presentation).

PS : Et voila, after a bit more searching ...

The Agence de l'Alimentation Nouvelle-Aquitaine says that terrine de Nérac is traditionally made from partidge, foie-gras and truffles, and that the name dates from the 18th century. Theirs looks tasty but quite coarse in texture.  I suspect that the 'Aspics de Nérac' served in 1869 were much more finely cut and indeed were probably served to table as delicate slices of terrine, each one individually fixed in a perfect mound of clear, glistening aspic-gel.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Terrine-de-nerac-cfotolia-lilyana-vynogradova

And here's a suitable mid-19th century recipe published just the year before the Souper à Ismalia:

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Recette

But this information just raises yet more questions ....

All the turkey, pheasant, partridge, quail, duck, and chicken, as well as the beef and venison, on the original menu are halal. But the usual recipe for this terrine (as above) includes minced pork and pork fat - although with all the foie-gras I'd have thought this was largely unnecessary, other than on grounds of expense which was surely not a consideration on 18 November 1869. However the Khedive, together with other eminent guests and local dignitaries, was presumably Muslim, whilst the supporting bankers, the Rothschilds, were Jewish. Accordingly I suspect the version as served was probably modified to use calves' foot gelatine rather than the more traditional pork gelatin, to get it to set. That said, while most of the menu is indeed of fish (are crevettes/prawns halal? - they certainly aren't kosher), poultry, beef and game (yes, lots of that), there was also the 'Jambon historié', mentioned further above. Or was that indeed just an amusing 'joke' dish containg no real porkiness at all?.

Then again of course, as the menu indicates, the dinner was in the established traditional style of service à la Française - with all dishes within each course served simultaneously, and accordingly one could choose what one wanted from a selection (indeed to tuck into everything served was generally considered rather greedy) - as opposed to the then, very new, style of service à la Russe - with its procession of dishes arriving one after the other, and all in turn served as they duly arrive, already 'plated up', to every diner - as one would typically expect at a grand formal dinner today.

I'm now tempted to try and work out what some of the other menu items might have been.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 21 Nov 2018, 16:23; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : an annoying typo)
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyTue 20 Nov 2018, 14:19

I admire your ability to find these appropriate menus for particular days, MM.  On my (not that numerous) visits to France (and the last two were just day trips) since I became a vegetarian most French people I met gave me a funny look when I said I was vegetarian (though they do like ratty towel as I call it - just doesn't appeal to my pallet).  I suppose there must be some French vegetarians.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyTue 20 Nov 2018, 19:27

@Meles meles wrote:
I read that as Aspics de Nérac... so I rather supposed it meant some sort of individual aspic gallantines, ie set savoury jelly terrines, made of, well, something or other.

Of course - yes - it's a 'c' not and 'e'. So a jelly terrine, that makes sense. If Nérac is in the Périgord, then the terrine seems to be a variation on a pâté de Périgueux - i.e. plenty of foie gras. But, as you say, the inclusion of pork fat may not have been advisable diplomatically on that particular menu. Strangely 'une vipère aspic' is a type of snake. I don't know if it's the same as Egypt's own asp of Cleopatra fame but jellied poisonous snake would certainly not have been a dainty dish to set before an empress.

P.S. LiR 'ratty towel' tickled me. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyTue 20 Nov 2018, 23:07

I think we are talking two different snakes here. the "vipere aspic" being the common European asp, Vipere aspis, but Cleo's version was more likely the Egyptian cobra, Naja haje, but possibly the horned viper, Cerastes cerastes.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyWed 21 Nov 2018, 19:56

LiR and Vizzer,

"(though they do like ratty towel as I call it - just doesn't appeal to my pallet).  I suppose there must be some French vegetarians."

Lady,

this continental, located North to France, don't understand that "ratty towel"...

"I suppose there must be some French vegetarians."

Of course there are...
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/27/french-butchers-ask-for-police-protection-from-vegan-activists
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%A9ganisme
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism

And I suppose they are linked to Animal Liberation Front...I remember them from the burning down of a Dutch gas station of Shell...up to now I don't know what Shell has to do with animals...but I thought it was an isolated case...but as I see now from the wiki...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Animal_Liberation_Front_actions,_2005%E2%80%93present

But there is worser:
I heard it first on the French geopolitical forum...I even had never heard about it...
http://geopolitique.passion-histoire.net/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1365&sid=eb9122f38912e577b07b812e307640cc
Equal rights for any living organism...have I to respect the rights of a tree?
I say you if I have to chose between a human and whatever living being causing harm to my equal human I will always chose the human, even if I have to kill the other living organism...and if I am then a racist, so be it
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisp%C3%A9cisme
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciesism


But LiR as I know you, I think that you only restrict to vegatarian food for your health...and yes in the meantime you help to minimize the consumption of dirty energy and it seems according to the latest scientific observations that it is good for the preservation of our biological life on "our" planet...

Kind regrds from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyWed 21 Nov 2018, 22:12

@Green George wrote:
I think we are talking two different snakes here. the "vipere aspic" being the common European asp, Vipere aspis, but Cleo's version was more likely the Egyptian cobra, Naja haje, but possibly the horned viper, Cerastes cerastes.


Gil,

eek, poisonous snakes...I once saw a German in Turkey, coming down the hill "as white as a corpse". He said he had stepped on a viper...seemingly without harm...and there seems to be also vipers in MM's neck of the woods...
In Tunisia I together with mother, sister and her daughter, in the middle of the southern desert with a strange Tunisian guide (he lost the way in the desert and we came only home at 11PM in the evening)...an Italian touroperator (I don't know if there was a link with the events...he invited a local to demonstrate something with a scorpion...we in a circle around the man..he made a circle in the sand and then let a scorpion out of a small match box and the scorpion didn't go out of the circle and with a stick he obliged the scorpion to go in the box again...my thoughts on that moment: what if someone of our group received a bite of that animal...in the middle of the desert...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 22 Nov 2018, 12:12

I wouldn't expect you to understand 'ratty towel', Paul.  It's my nickname for ratatouille.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 22 Nov 2018, 13:18

@PaulRyckier wrote:
Equal rights for any living organism...have I to respect the rights of a tree?

In terms of trees then I would certainly say yes (within reason). For every tree cut down then at least 2 of the same genus should be immediately planted. We as the human species, however, are not matching this protocol. In fact we're not even matching it 1 for 1.

In terms of animals then yes again. The aforementioned foie gras, for example, has fallen out of fashion over the last 30 years. And over the last 5 years increasing numbers of countries have brought in outright bans on it. This is because of growing public awareness regarding the cruelty involved in the force-feeding of the birds in question. Some producers claim to produce duck or goose liver without force-feeding but policing and verifying this is difficult. In the meantime the Périgord's loss is Belgium's gain. Pork liver pâté from Brussels or the Ardennes has become de rigueur in British shopping baskets at Christmas time. That is, perhaps, until someone does an exposé on its production ....
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 22 Nov 2018, 17:02

@PaulRyckier wrote:
..... eek, poisonous snakes...I once saw a German in Turkey, coming down the hill "as white as a corpse". He said he had stepped on a viper...seemingly without harm...and there seems to be also vipers in MM's neck of the woods...

Since this is at heart a culinary thread, the pedant in me insists that I point out that there are no poisonous snakes - indeed all snakes are perfectly edible (I've eaten rattlesnake). There are however some snakes that are venomous.

But yes the vipers in this neck of the woods are the European asp, Vipera aspis ... indeed I don't think common adders, Vipera berus, range this far south. Asps, despite their somewhat fearsome reputation are actually very small creatures - considerably smaller than most grass snakes or adders, and certainly not big enough to tackle a full-bosomed Cleopatra, even with Marcus Antonius already out of the way. The biggest asp I've ever encountered here was barely 40cm long, rather slim and docile, and just quietly basking in the sun on the door-step. While I know snakes can dis-articulate their lower jaw to enable them to swallow meals larger than their own head, this one would have choked on even the tiniest, most svelte mouse or shrew ... even one that had been working-out and crash-dieting for weeks. Indeed the earth-worms around here, while probably not heavier than the asps, are generally longer (... that's a 300mm/1foot rule):

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Monsta-worm
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 22 Nov 2018, 22:20

LiR, Vizzer, MM, see you all tomorrow and kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 23 Nov 2018, 11:36

Concerning the culinary use of vipers, Edward Topsell (1572-1625) in 'The History of Four-footed Beasts and Serpents', says on page 616 of the 1658 edition;

"Now followeth the preparing of Serpents; Take a Mountain Serpent, that hath a black back, and a white belly, and cut off his tail, even hard to the place where he ʃendeth forth his excrements, and take away his head with the breadth of four fingers; then take the reʃidue and ʃqueeʃe out the bloud into ʃome veʃʃel, keeping it in a glaʃs carefully, then fley him as you do an Eele, beginning from the upper and groʃʃer part, and hang the skin upon a ʃtick to dry it, then divide it in the middle, and reʃerve all diligently. You muʃt waʃh the fleʃh and put it in a pot, boyling it two parts of Wine, and being well and thoroughly boyled, you muʃt ʃeaʃon the broth with good Spices, and Aromatical and Cordial powders, and ʃo eat it."

... So cooked rather like eel. But he then goes on to say, somewhat less plausibly;
 
"But if you have a minde to roʃt it, it muʃt be ʃo roʃted, as it may not be burnt, and yet that it be brought into powder and the powder thereof muʃt be eaten together with other meat, becauʃe of the loathing, and dreadful name and conceipt of a Serpent; for being thus burned it preʃerveth a Man from all fear of any future Lepry [leprosy, although he means skin diseases generally], and expelleth that which is preʃent. It keepeth youth cauʃing a good colour above all other Medicines in the world; it cleareth the eye-ʃite, gardeth ʃurely from gray hairs, and keepeth from the Falling ʃickneʃs [epilepsy]. It purgeth the head from all infirmity, and being eaten (as before is ʃaid) it expelleth ʃcabbineʃs, and like infirmities with a great number of other diʃeaʃes. But yet ʃuch a kinde of Serpent as before we have deʃcribed, and not any other, being alʃo eaten, free-eth one from deafneʃs."

Mind you Topsell also reckoned weasles gave birth through their ears, lemmings grazed on clouds, apes were terrified of snails, and that elephants got pregnant by eating mandrake. He also reported as true the existence of fire-breathing dragons, manticores and unicorns, although he did express his skepticism for the many-headed hydra.


Last edited by Meles meles on Tue 04 Dec 2018, 17:44; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : it's neither ʃimple nor eaʃy typing ʃeventeenth century English)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 23 Nov 2018, 21:30

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
I wouldn't expect you to understand 'ratty towel', Paul.  It's my nickname for ratatouille.

And now I lost my message again. I start again.

Lady,

as usual you pushed me to search on the net even on university level and neuroscience !...

To start with: I searched in my Collins paperback on "ratty": 1. Brit. and N.Z. informal: iiritable, annoyed 2. informal: (of the hair) straggly and greasy. But at the same time I saw coincidentally as heading (first word) on the opposite page (704) the word: "ratatouile"...
And suddenly the light came in the darkness...
Of course "ratty towel" and "ratatouille"...and now I understand why our "Viizzer" put a smile, indeed that's a good one....
But then I was thinking about "homonym" but to be sure I did a quick research on the internet...perhaps I hadn't better done it but as said thanks to your ad random remarks I learned that much in the last years...

No, no homonym but homophone:
From wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English%E2%80%93Spanish_interlingual_homographs
Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Homograph_homophone_venn_diagram


And:
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23273798.2015.1120877?journalCode=plcp21

ABSTRACT
Bilinguals take longer to identify interlingual homophones than control words. For example, Dutch–English bilinguals take longer to identify an English word like “leaf” ([li:f]), a homophone of the Dutch word “lief” ([lif]; meaning “sweet”), than to identify a control word like “branch”. This homophone-delay effect, observed with both visual and auditory presentation, has been interpreted as evidence in favour of language non-selective lexical access. The present article examines whether a homophone effect is also present in word production. Theoretically, homophone production may profit from feedback from a phonemic level back to a lexical level, but may suffer from a semantic conflict during a process of output monitoring. In line with the latter view, the results show (a) a delay in the production of homophones in the second language, (b) an increased error percentage in the production of homophones in both the first and second language, (c) a reduction in P200 amplitude in the production of homophones in the second language and (d) an increase in the N400 in the production of homophones in both languages of the bilingual.


Hmm, neuroscientists can be right, but in my experience, or is it only me, there is no difficulty with using or recognizing homophones in two different languages...
For instance "slim" in Dutch ("klug" (clever) in German, and "schlimm" in German ("erg" (bad) in Dutch.
There is a slight difference of pronunciation: sl and schl, but first of all, when I am listening, reading, talking, thinking in German I know very well what "schlimm" is, even without context and wouldn't I suppose not hesitate, at least in my case...perhaps is it because I am from the very childhood exposed to two Flemish dialects and I can still "seamless?" change from one dialect to another and also perhaps because of German, French, English as second languages?
For instance I think I will never make a mistake or hesitation as in the example from the university article between the English "leaf" and the Dutch "lief" (in nowadays Dutch "lief" became "partner" Wink ) at least here in Southern Dutch Wink ...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 23 Nov 2018, 22:32

@Vizzer wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:
Equal rights for any living organism...have I to respect the rights of a tree?

In terms of trees then I would certainly say yes (within reason). For every tree cut down then at least 2 of the same genus should be immediately planted. We as the human species, however, are not matching this protocol. In fact we're not even matching it 1 for 1.

In terms of animals then yes again. The aforementioned foie gras, for example, has fallen out of fashion over the last 30 years. And over the last 5 years increasing numbers of countries have brought in outright bans on it. This is because of growing public awareness regarding the cruelty involved in the force-feeding of the birds in question. Some producers claim to produce duck or goose liver without force-feeding but policing and verifying this is difficult. In the meantime the Périgord's loss is Belgium's gain. Pork liver pâté from Brussels or the Ardennes has become de rigueur in British shopping baskets at Christmas time. That is, perhaps, until someone does an exposé on its production ....


Vizzer,

first about "it tickled me"...had to look for it in my Collins dictionary...but had perhaps already a feeling from the connotation as we have in Dutch "tikken" tap, touch...it touched me...but the producing of a laughter I hadn't seen in it...

"In terms of trees then I would certainly say yes (within reason). For every tree cut down then at least 2 of the same genus should be immediately planted. We as the human species, however, are not matching this protocol. In fact we're not even matching it 1 for 1."

Of course you are right, but I am glad that you added "within reason". I wanted to say about the anti-specifists, we as the most evolved "biological beings" on earth, dotted with the highest reasoning brain, have to see that for the survival of our species, we can't cover the earth with our species with the suppression of the rest of the fauna and flora of the world. And as we see it now due to our reasoning that we are poisoning our environment by doing the wrong things...and that use of doing the wrong things is not that easy to reverse...but it is still the reasoning human species, who has to do the steps as that human species is the highest in the "reasoning" ranking...my humble opinion...

"In the meantime the Périgord's loss is Belgium's gain. Pork liver pâté from Brussels or the Ardennes has become de rigueur in British shopping baskets at Christmas time. That is, perhaps, until someone does an exposé on its production ...."

Of course you can guess that that "someone" already exists in Belgium...and someone filmed inside an "abattoir" and the firm had to close it doors for sometime and it had to promise that it would let die the animals in a more "human" Wink  way...and it reopened with monitoring cameras inside, which could be controlled by the food control service.
Vizzer, don't misunderstand me, I don't want any harm to or extermination of animals or fauna, but if the life of a "numan" is concerned vis à vis an animal, one has always, in my humble opinion, to chose for the "human" as the highest ranking in the life on earth...I say it again in my humble opinion...

Of course this is no stuff for MM's dishes thread, but we can always, the same with the language study I made for LiR move the text to another subforum to discuss further...and perhaps you have seen it yet, I am a bit the same as LiR or perhaps worser in my deviations of a subject to at random related discussions...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 24 Nov 2018, 22:15

@Meles meles wrote:
@PaulRyckier wrote:
..... eek, poisonous snakes...I once saw a German in Turkey, coming down the hill "as white as a corpse". He said he had stepped on a viper...seemingly without harm...and there seems to be also vipers in MM's neck of the woods...

Since this is at heart a culinary thread, the pedant in me insists that I point out that there are no poisonous snakes - indeed all snakes are perfectly edible (I've eaten rattlesnake). There are however some snakes that are venomous.

But yes the vipers in this neck of the woods are the European asp, Vipera aspis ... indeed I don't think common adders, Vipera berus, range this far south. Asps, despite their somewhat fearsome reputation are actually very small creatures - considerably smaller than most grass snakes or adders, and certainly not big enough to tackle a full-bosomed Cleopatra, even with Marcus Antonius already out of the way. The biggest asp I've ever encountered here was barely 40cm long, rather slim and docile, and just quietly basking in the sun on the door-step. While I know snakes can dis-articulate their lower jaw to enable them to swallow meals larger than their own head, this one would have choked on even the tiniest, most svelte mouse or shrew ... even one that had been working-out and crash-dieting for weeks. Indeed the earth-worms around here, while probably not heavier than the asps, are generally longer (... that's a 300mm/1foot rule):


Meles meles,

"Since this is at heart a culinary thread, the pedant in me insists that I point out that there are no poisonous snakes - indeed all snakes are perfectly edible (I've eaten rattlesnake). There are however some snakes that are venomous."


Has they then to remove the venom "sack" or whatever they call it before further proceeding?
And now I remember, that my father warned me, when he "kuiste" (how do you say "vis kuisen" in English? cleaning fish? gutting? but this is not the total cleaning!) the Pieterman (it is not in my dictionary but I found it on internet: Weever fish
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weever
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pietermannen
that they had venomenous spines...
But how he removed the spines I don't recall, because both my sister and I were not interested in the fish commerce and its proceedings...
Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 220px-Trachinus_vipera

"and certainly not big enough to tackle a full-bosomed Cleopatra"

MM, I see a virtual picture just in front of me...

"While I know snakes can dis-articulate their lower jaw to enable them to swallow meals larger than their own head, this one would have choked on even the tiniest, most svelte mouse or shrew ... even one that had been working-out and crash-dieting for weeks."
MM, that of the dis-articulated lower jaw I didn't know. One learns everyday something new on this board.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyTue 04 Dec 2018, 14:12

Who else remembers the Christmas song "Gaudete" by Steeleye Span.??

This isn't it:

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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyTue 04 Dec 2018, 21:25

That's funny, Trike, you certainly have an aptitude for finding amusing links and videos.

Paul, I hadn't noticed before that you had commented again on the 'ratty towel'/'ratatouille'.  A few years ago when the "CSI" series (American) were on TV there was a story where someone was murdered by blowfish (which is a Japanese fish I think, though it is eaten in Japan) poison.  I wonder if the weever fish and the blowfish are related.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 07 Dec 2018, 17:51

Weeverfish are actually very tasty and are often used in the Provençale fish stew bouillabaisse. (And yes, Paul, I think weeverfish are indeed what you know, in Dutch, as 'pietermannen').

Obviously when cooking any venomous creature, whether they be Japanese blowfish or American rattlesnake, one usually removes the poison-generating glands along with all the other inedible guts - and in the case of Japanese blowfish (fugu) also the toxin-containing skin, liver, heart and other internal organs. However in the case of weeverfish I'm pretty sure the toxin is rendered completely inactive by heat, and so, barring the usual inedible stomach and intestines, the whole weeverfish can be added into the boiling stew mix without any fear of later poisoning. Soupe aux poissons, which is basically a very rich bouillabaisse seived to remove all the lumps and bones, is a very popular dish here. I make my own using any left-overs from fish or shellfish - heads, bones, skin, shells, carapaces or whatevers - all boiled up together with tomato, onion and garlic. It's very tasty - and cheap. It is usually served with freshly-made croutons, aioli (garlic mayonaise) and grated cheese (eg gruyère or emmental), all served separately for the diner to add as they wish.

Incidentally further to the discussion about the word 'aspic' and the edibility of asps and vipers ... the word 'weever' in English, as in weeverfish (which is often incorrectly spelled weaverfish) derives from the old French wivre, meaning a serpent, from the Latin vipera. In modern French a weeverfish is called simply un vive. 

And seeing how Paul appreciates random animal facts: weeverfish are rather unusual in not having swim bladders, and so they are unlike most other bony fish. As a result they cannot control their buoyancy and will sink to the bottom as soon as they actively stop swimming. Just as well then that they mostly spend their lives, half-submerged in the sand, at the bottom of the sea.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 08 Dec 2018, 11:09

The boiling stew rendering the toxin harmless (in the instance of the weever fish) makes sense, MM.  I suppose it depends on the toxin - my understanding is that doesn't work for toadstool poison.  I have to say I don't fancy the idea of eating snakes even if I wasn't a vegetarian, though I guess a lot depends on  where one lives, disposable income etc.  If I lived in a desert area where not much grew but there was a multitude of serpents in the area maybe things would be different - let's hope I never have to find out.  I hated 'aspic' or gelatinous foods even before I turned vegetarian.  As for mistakes with homonyms, I've made mistakes even in my own language.  At one time I used to think that the "synoptic" as in the gospels meant synonymous but of course it doesn't.  Nordmann's referral to a "syllogism" recently (another thread) made me check the word.  I HAD known what it meant but forgotten - it's a sort of specious argument but that's much too simple a description really.

My breakfast was the leftovers of some (gluten free) macaroni cheese from yesterday and toasted crumpets but I'm not going to state how they are made!!!! They were ready-made crumpets - not as if I made them myself.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 08 Dec 2018, 12:41

Deleted.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 08 Dec 2018, 22:24

@Meles meles wrote:
Weeverfish are actually very tasty and are often used in the Provençale fish stew bouillabaisse. (And yes, Paul, I think weeverfish are indeed what you know, in Dutch, as 'pietermannen').

Obviously when cooking any venomous creature, whether they be Japanese blowfish or American rattlesnake, one usually removes the poison-generating glands along with all the other inedible guts - and in the case of Japanese blowfish (fugu) also the toxin-containing skin, liver, heart and other internal organs. However in the case of weeverfish I'm pretty sure the toxin is rendered completely inactive by heat, and so, barring the usual inedible stomach and intestines, the whole weeverfish can be added into the boiling stew mix without any fear of later poisoning. Soupe aux poissons, which is basically a very rich bouillabaisse seived to remove all the lumps and bones, is a very popular dish here. I make my own using any left-overs from fish or shellfish - heads, bones, skin, shells, carapaces or whatevers - all boiled up together with tomato, onion and garlic. It's very tasty - and cheap. It is usually served with freshly-made croutons, aioli (garlic mayonaise) and grated cheese (eg gruyère or emmental), all served separately for the diner to add as they wish.

Incidentally further to the discussion about the word 'aspic' and the edibility of asps and vipers ... the word 'weever' in English, as in weeverfish (which is often incorrectly spelled weaverfish) derives from the old French wivre, meaning a serpent, from the Latin vipera. In modern French a weeverfish is called simply un vive. 

And seeing how Paul appreciates random animal facts: weeverfish are rather unusual in not having swim bladders, and so they are unlike most other bony fish. As a result they cannot control their buoyancy and will sink to the bottom as soon as they actively stop swimming. Just as well then that they mostly spend their lives, half-submerged in the sand, at the bottom of the sea.


Meles meles,

thank you very much for the additional information about the weeverfish.Excuses for the delay, the whole evening the turmoil in our national government with a stalemate between the Flemish Nationalist coalition partner and the rest of the government over the UN migration pact. I think Thursday a pro Marrakech resolution in the parliament with an alternative majority of more than two thirds with the opposition voting with that rest of the government. Some two minutes ago press conference of our Prime Minister, changing the government with the Flemish nationalists out of the government, de facto the Flemisn nationalists no part of the government anymore. And taht is no good news for the coming elections, with a Flemish regional government perhaps dominated with the far right Flemish nationalists and the less hardline Flemish Nationalists now out of the national government. If this soft line nationalists join with the hardline of the Vlaams Belang in the Flemish regional parliament...back to the Thirties with the VNV? And Steve Bannon was here today with Marine Le Pen...
https://www.politico.eu/article/steve-bannon-in-brussels-un-migration-pact-already-dead/
https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2018/12/03/vlaams-belang-strikt-steve-bannon-en-marine-le-pen-voor-spoedmee/


I look further now to the latest news just started.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 08 Dec 2018, 23:25

Yes Meles meles, as said a Liberal/Christian-Democrat minority government now till the elections of May...

But back to the weeverfish...
From other Dutch language information about the "pieterman" I read that the poison is detoriated by heat, in fact if one has a "sting?" a hit? of a weeverfish one has to bath in hot water as hot as bearable. And I read also that most "pricks?" happen by walking in undeep water, while the fish is digged in  just under the sand surface, nearly indistinguishable. And they mentioned also that before buying weeverfish it is better to let the fishmerchant remove the head and the skin to not have bad surprizes. And I think it was that that my father did in the time. But I agree if you can handle the fish and knows where to take the fish for not hitting the poison, you can put it in boiling water and then neutralize the poison. Putting in boiling water has my mother had to do with life lobsters, because that was the best way for cooking. Not sure if the animal liberation front nowadays...

Thanks again MM for all the at random information, you are really a fountain of knowledge...

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySun 09 Dec 2018, 13:49

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
The boiling stew rendering the toxin harmless (in the instance of the weever fish) makes sense, MM.  I suppose it depends on the toxin - my understanding is that doesn't work for toadstool poison. 

Fungi are a bit different, which is hardly surprising as they are neither animals nor plants and so have their own distinct chemistry. But yes in general the toxins in 'poisonous' mushrooms, such as 'fly agarics', 'destroying angels', or 'liberty caps' (aka magic mushrooms), and others, are not usually disactivated by heat/cooking.

At the same time however, quite a few 'edible' mushrooms can provoke bad reactions, at least in some people, when not cooked or not dried, before consumption. Very few mushrooms are considered completely safe to eat raw ... just off the top of my head, of the common ones, only field mushrooms, ceps (some species only), chanterelles and caesar mushrooms are completely safe to eat uncooked. Of course if you ever ate one of the other 'edible-but-should-be-cooked-first' mushrooms, raw, you won't actually be 'deadly poisoned' but you might might suffer an unpleasant upset stomach. Then again there are some 'edible' mushrooms that, even when cooked, only some people react to, a bit like an allergic reaction. And there are others that only seem to cause problems if you have eaten a certain something else at the same time - the most common one here is drinking alcohol at the same time - which seems to cause a bad reaction with some otherwise edible mushrooms, eg ink-caps and maybe parasols, but again it seems to affect some people only.

I generally dry most of the ceps and morilles I collect; cook immediately (parasols, ink-caps and ceps); or sauté and then freeze most others, such as chanterelles/girolles, pied-de-moutons, wood blewits, or trompettes de la mort (which despite the name are perfectly edible and very tasty). I never serve mushrooms I've collected myself or been given by others to any guests, but should they want to eat what they've found in the woods here, then they have to identify and cook their finds themselves ... I might venture an opinion but I never tell anyone if their finds are good or not. Although if they then cautiously abandon their harvest I'm quite happy to sort through the discards and rescue any choice finds ... but again only for my own consumption and at my own risk.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyMon 24 Dec 2018, 23:31

Christmas 1171 - Henry II, the Plantagenet King of England as well as the western half of France (the Angevin Empire), held his Christmas court at Dublin, thereby marking the beginning of many centuries of English meddling in Ireland.
 
In the mid-12th century Ireland was still ruled by a number of local kings, although their authority was more limited than their counterparts in the rest of western Europe. In the 1160s King Diarmait Mac Murchada was deposed as King of Leinster by the High King of Ireland, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair. Diarmait turned to Henry II for assistance in 1167 and the English king agreed to allow Diarmait to recruit mercenaries from within his realm. Diarmait put together a force of Anglo-Norman and Flemish mercenaries including one, Richard de Clare, and with these supporters he reclaimed Leinster. However Diarmait died shortly afterwards in May 1171 whereupon Richard de Clare promptly claimed Leinster for himself. The situation in southern Ireland was tense and uncertain - to say the least - especially as the Anglo-Normans were now holed up in a few isolated castles around Leinster; they were heavily outnumbered and they were far from their supply base in England/Wales.

Henry took this opportunity to intervene personally in Ireland. He took a large army into south Wales, forcing the rebels who had held the area since 1165 into submission, before sailing from Pembroke to land at Waterford in October 1171. Some of the Irish lords appealed to Henry to protect them from the Anglo-Norman invaders, while de Clare offered to submit to Henry if he was allowed to retain his new possessions. Henry's timing was influenced by several factors, including encouragement from Pope Alexander who saw the opportunity to establish papal authority over the Irish church (and for his part Henry was keen to appease the Pope after his "who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" outburst during the 1170 Christmas court held at Bures in France, which had led to Thomas Becket’s assassination and Henry’s excommunication). The critical factor though appears to have been Henry's concern that his nobles in the Welsh Marches would acquire independent territories of their own in Ireland, beyond the reach of his authority. With his large army Henry entered the city of Dublin on the 11th of November and established his court there. His intervention was successful in that at his Christmas court both the Irish and Anglo-Normans in the south and east of Ireland accepted his rule ... at least for the time being.

The Christmas festivities in 1171 were held in a spacious temporary marquee constructed on an area of ground now occupied by the southern side of Dame Street but then outside the walls of Dublin. Henry entertained the Anglo-Normans and Irish lords with all the ceremony and ostentation for which the Normans were well known. Among the exotic dishes reported to have been here used for the first time in Ireland, special mention was made of crane's flesh, which, as well as that of peacocks, herons, swans and wild-geese, was then esteemed a choice luxury in France. As Giraldus Cambrensis, the Welsh chronicler of Henry's invasion, says:

The feast of Christmas was drawing near, very many of the princes of the land repaired to Dublin to visit the King’s court, and were much astonished at the sumptuousness of his entertainments and the splendour of his household; and having places assigned to them at the tables in the hall, by the King’s command, they learnt to eat cranes which were served up, a food they before loathed.

The inclusion of cranes on the menu may have been in simple ignorance of local sensibilities, or it could have been meant as a deliberate, if rather crass, message to the Irish, because cranes were specifically held in affection and with great awe in Ireland. In ancient Irish mythology the crane (corr) was a sacred creature thought to represent magic, learning, deep secrets, mysteries and truths. Cranes were associated with the moon, were symbolic of death, and due to their habit of standing upright they were often believed to be semi-human shape-shifters. In later Christian times they were widely believed to be humans paying penance for wrong-doing during their lifetime. For all these reasons the eating of cranes was generally considered taboo in Ireland.

Although not resident in Ireland since the 1600s, cranes are still well regarded. Here's a 'celtic' crane depicted on a modern Irish decimal two pence coin:

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Crane-coin
 
The Normans however had no such qualms and ate most things finned, furred or feathered, all with their specific ways of being prepared and with individual terms for carving them: in the case of a crane one 'displays' it. Knowing how to display your crane is all very well, but first you have to know how to cook it. From 'Forme of Cury' (complied by the court cooks of Richard II in about 1380) there's this succinct recipe for crane or heron, wrapped in bacon and roasted, to be served with a ginger sauce:

Cranys & herons schulle be enarmud wyþ lardons of swyne & rostyd & etyn wyþ gyngyuyr.

But if your stumbling block is actually obtaining a whole crane in the first place (and they are now a protected species throughout Europe) then the following recipe is perhaps better for modern cooks as you can use any left-over Christmas turkey instead. The 'pie' method refers to the use of a pastry 'coffin' or case, which served principally as a means to preserve the meaty contents. The pastry case itself was not intended to be eaten but was nevertheless kept, to be ground up and reused to thicken sauces.

The recipe comes from some centuries later than Henry II's reign and mentions turkey which was of course unknown in the Old World before the beginning of the 16th century, but in style it is still in much the same manner  as typical medieval Anglo-Norman cooking. It's from 'The queen's royal cookery: or, expert and ready way for the dressing of all sorts of flesh, fowl, fish: ... " By T. Hall, free cook of London.' (published in 1709):

To bake all manner of Land-Fowl, as Turkey, Bustard, Peacock, Crane, &c., to be eaten cold.

Take a Turkey and bone it, parboil and lard it thick with great Lard, as big as your little finger; then season it with two Ounces of beaten Pepper, two Ounces of beaten Nutmegs, and three Ounces of Salt, season the Fowl, and lay it in a Pie fit for it; put first Butter in the bottom, with ten whole Cloves, then lay on the Turkey, and the rest of the Seasoning on it, and lay on good store of Butter; then close it up and baste it either with Saffron-water, or three or four Eggs beaten together with their Yolks; bake it, and being baked and cold, liquor it with clarified Butter, &c.


Of course another reason why Henry II may have held his Christmas Court in Dublin might simply been to get away from his family. Henry famously had a turbulent relationship, not only with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, but with all four of his sons, as depicted in the 1968 film ‘The Lion in Winter’ which was set during the 1183 Christmas court at Chinon (although in reality Henry II spent Christmas of 1183 at Le Mans). In 1171 while Henry both entertained and insulted the Irish lords in Dublin, Eleanor held her own Christmas court in Poitiers with at least two of their sons. 

Another who was almost certainly absent from the festivities in Dublin was one of Henry’s favourite entertainers when he was resident in England - Roland le Petour, or Roland the Fartere - who was obliged each Christmas to perform for the king, a synchronised jump, whistle and fart, "Unum saltum et siffletum et unum bumbulum." One wonders what the Irish would have made of Roland and his party trick.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 06 Nov 2019, 14:09; edited 9 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyWed 26 Dec 2018, 10:19

MM wrote:


...because cranes were specifically held in affection and with great awe in Ireland. In ancient Irish mythology the crane (corr) was a sacred creature thought to represent magic, learning, deep secrets, mysteries and truths. Cranes were associated with the moon, were symbolic of death, and due to their habit of standing upright they were often believed to be semi-human shape-shifters.




What an excellent post, MM - I knew nothing about cranes being a sacred creature.




We don't ever seem to have had much discussion about Henry II - a really interesting king. What a crazy lot he and his wife/kids were - his was the original English royally dysfunctional family madhouse! Might be worth a thread...


I remember Lion in Winter - Peter O'Toole really hamming it up as Henry: he was excellent! He was Henry II again in Becket , playing opposite Richard Burton as the extremely tiresome monk.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyWed 26 Dec 2018, 10:43

I'll second Temperance's opinion that MM's contribution was very good.  Henry II's Xmas festivities make my consumption of gluten-free macaroni cheese verily pale into insignificance.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyWed 26 Dec 2018, 11:55

@LadyinRetirement wrote:
Henry II's Xmas festivities make my consumption of gluten-free macaroni cheese verily pale into insignificance.

It seems that the Normans and French of the time had already acquired the later general 'gallic' reputation for being bon-viveurs, gastromomes and foodies. Jean de Hauteville, a 12th century northern French author, characterized his fellow countrymen as Ventricoles, that is 'cultivators of the stomach', while his Anglo-Norman contemporary, Pierre de Blois, declared that the knights of the time were, "loaded with wine instead of steel, ... they carried cheeses instead of lances, wine-skins instead of swords, and spits instead of spears".

This all gives a slightly different impression to the common image of medieval knights as either thuggish brutes prone to casual violence and unsophisticated laddishness ... or that of the "devout, parfait, gentille, knyght", as depicted in most contemporary medieval romances, with their simplistic and indeed almost nauseating Mills & Boon style of writing.

Henry II was of course no esthete nor shrinking-violet and robustly enjoyed his food ... but generally the elaborate extravagance of his table was deliberately done to impress allies and enemies alike (as at the 1171 Christmas court in Dublin) and during his long reign he increasingly partook of such luxuries himself rather sparingly. Always a big man he apparently worried about getting fat, and so as well as being careful with his food, he was also accustomed to rise at dawn and to continue in almost constant motion, either mounted or on foot, the whole day, "to the sore discomfort of those in attendance on him". These same attendants also commented that, although ostentatiously generous in public, he was meanly parsimonious at home.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 28 Dec 2018, 17:23

By the way, à propos of cranes ... in medieval and renaissance symbolism the crane usually denotes vigilance. This comes about from the popular idea that cranes in a group would take it in turns for one to stay awake on guard while the others slept. The wakeful crane was supposed to stand on one leg holding a stone its other foot, so that if it should accidentally doze off it would drop the stone and the noise would immediately wake it. Such a stone-holding bird was known in heraldry as 'a crane in its vigilance'. The stork is also sometimes similarly depicted as 'in its vigilance', and it's not always clear exactly which bird is being depicted. Not surprisingly both cranes and storks are fairly unusual in British heraldry as the live birds have always been fairly rare in Britain and nowadays they are really only commonly seen, at least on the ground, in northern, central and eastern Europe.

Here's a crane, or more probably a stork, 'in its vigilance' as depicted on the civic arms of the town of Radenbeck in Northern Germany (the 'thing' on the left is, I think, a simple pot-hook, that is the common rachet device used to raise or lower a cooking pot over the fire), but also note the stone held in the bird's right talon:

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Radenbec

And here's another vigilant bird keeping watch whilst its companions sleep, as depicted in the Harley Bestiary (English, 13th century). And this one is definitely not a stork as the prominent word at top right in red "GRUS" is of course latin for crane:

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Crane-in-its-vigilance
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 28 Dec 2018, 20:32

MM and of course I remember the vigilant cackling geese of Rome from my lessons in the Sixt Latin-Greek Humanities in our Roman-Catholic College Belgium...
https://www.lookandlearn.com/blog/18528/junos-sacred-geese-on-the-capitoline-hill-saved-rome-from-the-gaullic-hordes/




Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 M849921
(a bit bombastic, but the youtubes I found, were even more bombastic)


Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 29 Dec 2018, 17:42

29 December 1170 – the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket inside Canterbury Cathedral by followers of King Henry II.
 
Once a close friend, loyal confidant and trusted advisor of Henry II, as Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket became embroiled in a bitter dispute with the king over the rights and privileges of the church. Matters came to a head in June 1170 when the Archbishop of York, together with the Bishops of London and of Salisbury, crowned the heir apparent, Henry the Young King, at York. This was a breach of Canterbury’s privilege of coronation, and so in November Becket excommunicated all three. While the churchmen fled to France, Becket continued to excommunicate his other opponents.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Becket-and-Henry-14-century
Henry II and Thomas Becket (from a 14th century chronicle).

The news reached Henry II during the Christmas court that he was holding at his castle of Bures in Normandy, whereupon he is said to have uttered the words that were interpreted as wishing Becket killed. Oral tradition says that the King said something like, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" but this form of words, or something even fairly close, seems only to date from a re-telling of the usual story in 'The Chronicle of the Kings of England' (first published in 1821), and of course Henry would anyway have spoken Norman-French. Edward Grim, a clerk from Cambridge who was visiting Canterbury Cathedral, who witnessed Becket’s death and indeed was himself badly injured in the scuffle, subsequently researched and wrote (in Latin) a book 'Vita S. Thomae' - Life of St. Thomas (c. 1180), and he quotes Henry as saying, "What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born clerk!"

Whatever Henry’s intentions - whether he was giving an implicit order, a hefty hint, a growling grumble, or it was just a case of the wine speaking - four knights, Reginald FitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy and Richard le Breton interpreted the outburst as a royal command, and promptly set out to confront the Archbishop. On 29 December 1170 they arrived at Canterbury.

According to accounts left by the monk Gervase of Canterbury and the eyewitness Edward Grim, they placed their weapons under a tree outside the cathedral and hid their armour under cloaks before entering to challenge Becket. The knights informed Becket he was to go to Winchester to give an account of his actions, but Becket refused. It was not until Becket refused their demands to submit to the king's will that they retrieved their weapons and rushed back inside. Becket meanwhile had proceeded to the main hall for vespers. The four knights, wielding drawn swords, caught up with him in a spot near a door to the monastic cloister, the stairs into the crypt, and the stairs leading up into the quire of the cathedral where the monks were already chanting vespers. Becket was cut down with three or four sword cuts to the head. According to Edward Grim, Becket’s last words were, "For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death."
 
Soon after his burial in the cathedral the faithful throughout Europe began venerating Becket as a martyr and on 21 February 1173 – just over two years after his death - he was canonized by Pope Alexander III, and on 12 July 1174 Henry II humbled himself with public penance at Becket's tomb. Meanwhile Becket's assassins had fled north, but they were never pursued and neither did Henry confiscate their lands. Pope Alexander however excommunicated all four. Seeking forgiveness, the assassins travelled to Rome and were ordered by the Pope to serve as knights in the Holy Lands for a period of fourteen years, which they duly did. Becket’s tomb in Canterbury Cathedral became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in England. Becket's mortal remains were finally destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII.

For a suitable 'dish' to mark the day I was rather surprised to find that there is nothing named after St Thomas – there are apparently no Becket cakes, Becket biscuits nor Becket tarts. There are however a couple of desserts named after Canterbury, both making use of apples, which are of course still a staple crop from around Canterbury and the county of Kent generally. Apple desserts and pastries of course have a very long history in England, although things did certainly look up after the 1066 invasion when better varieties of apple were introduced from Normandy. Pearmains are probably the oldest apple variety still grown and they were introduced from France soon after 1200. Costards were another very popular, large, good-keeping apple which became popular in the 13th century. They were sold in the streets of London by ‘costermongers’ whose ware were later extended to many kinds of fruit and other goods. The earliest written recipe in English for an apple pie, tart or other baked pastry seems to be this one (from Forme of Cury):

For to make tartys in applis, tak gode applys & gode spycis & figs & reysons & perys, & wan þey arn wel ybrayd colour wyþ safroun wel & do ytin a cofyn, & do yt forth to bake wel.

 
This was written down by a cook at the court of Richard II in about 1380 and so is almost exactly contemporaneous with Chaucer’s 'Canterbury Tales'. It therefore could well be something his pilgrims shared at a tavern on their route to pay homage at Becket’s shrine in Canterbury. Note that this old recipe is for a baked tart, with pastry on the bottom only, rather than a pie with both a pastry base and top. As such it is very similar to a traditional French tarte aux pommes à la normande (Normandy apple tart).
 
So for today I propose Canterbury Apple Tart which is characterised by its grated apple and lemon filling and with sliced apples on the top, and again made in very much the same manner as both the 1380s recipe and a traditional French tarte aux pommes, in that it has no top crust. This similarity is perhaps not so surprising when one considers that both Normandy and Kent are famed for their apples and that in the Middle Ages they were only a day’s sailing away from each other, whereas northern and western England were at very least a week’s hard riding away.
 
I can however find no explanation for why this is called a 'Canterbury' tart, nor any recipe for any apple dish named after Canterbury in any cookbook from the 16th to 19th centuries. Indeed if one does a search online all recipes for 'Canterbury tart' seem eventually to come back to the redoubtable Mary Berry and a recipe by that name, or a variation thereof, in one of her cookbooks and so dating only from at most a few decades ago. I rather suspect that she originally copied or adapted a regular French apple tart recipe, and simply renamed it for a British audience, but nevertheless the Normandy/apple connection is still appropriate to mark Thomas Becket's assassination.
 
Here then is a Mary Berry recipe for what she calls Canterbury Tart.
 
Pastry:
4oz/100g butter
8oz/225g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
 
Tart:
4 eggs
8oz/225g caster sugar 
2 lemons, grated rind and juice of
4oz/100g butter, melted
2 large cooking apples, quartered, cored and peeled
2 eating apples, cored and finely sliced
1oz/25g Demerara sugar
 
Oven:  preheat a baking tray in the oven heated to 200deg C.
 
Make the pastry, either by hand or processor, and then chill it for about 20 minutes before putting it into an 11 inch flan tin. Put the tin back into the fridge while you are doing the next bit.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, castor sugar, lemon rind and juice. Then stir in the melted butter. Get the dessert apples on standby, and grate the cooking apples straight into the bowl using a coarse grater. Stir in the cooking apples.
Pour the apple mixture into the flan tin, and then put the eating apples around the edge as per the picture.   Lastly, use the Demerara sugar all over the eating apples.
Bake on the preheated tray for about 40 minutes. The tart needs to be set in the centre, and slightly brown.   
 
Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Mary-berry-canterbury-tart
 
This makes quite a large tart (it’s cooked in an 11 inch dish) so there should be enough for at least a dozen Canterbury pilgrims to get a share. And just to show how similar it is to a typical Normandy apple tart, here's a photo of a tarte normande taken from my French Cordon Bleu 'Régions de France' cookbook.
 
Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Tarte-normande
 
The French recipe, just like Mary Berry's, also adds lemon juice and zest to the apple, as well as a little bit of vanilla essence in the pastry and a pinch of cinnamon to the apple. Interestingly as far as I can recall, my mother, who lived all her life in Sussex, which is the county adjacent to Kent, also distinguished between an apple pie which she flavoured with quince (if available) and lightly spiced with nutmeg and cloves - and an apple tart, which she always flavoured with lemon and cinnamon. She also always took greater care with the tart to arrange the apple pieces in decorative concentric circles and then finally glazed it with quince jelly or similar. Apple tarts were fancy desserts for when we had guests - apple pies were everyday 'puddings' for us family.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 29 Dec 2018, 21:01

Meles meles,

I studied Thomas Becket, perhaps most of British history, after of course Henry VIII and Cromwell, but yours was the best I read.
And about apple tarts and apple pies...what's the difference between a pie and a tart...can you explain it best with French words, as I up to today don't know what a British? English? pie is... Embarassed Embarassed Embarassed ...

And overhere (the West and East- Flanderns provinces (the real Flanders Wink ))
it looks like that:
Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT9bK-zoXNIt_dBvKpddiInlJHZMhZlc_gWSrWAQcuMZwVtKI8maA

and the subtitle was: Franse appeltaart (French apple tart?)

Is that now a tart or a pie?

Kind regards from your friend Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 29 Dec 2018, 22:14

I would call that a tart. In English, or at least my English, a pie is fully enclosed in pastry, with a pastry base, sides and a top crust. A tart has only a pastry base and sides and is open at the top, or maybe with just a little bit of fancy pastry lattice-work. Other people from other regions in Britain may completely disagree with me, but they would of course be wrong!  Wink 

A pie:
Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Pie

A tart:
Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Tart

And note that the classic French tarte aux pommes is a bit different from a tarte tatin. Tarte tatin was created accidentally by one of the Tatin sisters, either Stéphanie or Caroline, who ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, in France, during the 1880s. It was probably Stéphanie, who did most of the cooking, who put the apple pieces and sugar in a pan to cook (to make the apple purée middle for a normal apple tart) but then forgot them and they started to caremelise. To try and recover the dish she put the pastry 'base' on the top of the cooked apples and baked it, still in the dish, to cook the pastry top. She they turned it out, upside down, to end up with the cooked pastry on the bottom and the caremelised apples on top. The dessert was such a success that it became something of a signature dish for their hotel.

A tarte Tatin (a reversed tart, cooked upside-down):

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Tart-tatin

Although the dish still usually bears their name, at least in France, the Tatin sisters did not really invent it. The reversed method of cooking tarts had been used for many years and there were already published recipes for such gâteaux renversés, eg  Antonin Carême mentions such reversed cakes adorned with apples in his popular book 'Pâtissier Royal Parisien', first published in 1841.


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySun 30 Dec 2018, 10:39

I spent about 6 weeks near Lanotte-Beuvron when I was 19 helping some French children practise their English in the summer vacation.  I remember my hostess (and I couldn't be rude) insisted that I read Maurice Genevoix's Raboliot* and Andre Maurois' Les Silences du Colonel Bramble.  Of course, I was polite and read them but I can't say either was to my taste.  One of the children went down with jaundice and guess what I developed after I came back to England....

I suppose "gateaux renverses" are the same as "upside-down cakes".  I've heard of "pineapple upside-down cake" though don't know if I've ever eaten one.

* The area of France I was staying at was Sologne and Raboliot was a poacher - the word literally means "wild rabbit".  One of the members of the French conversation group I belong to turned up once with an extract of the Colonel Bramble book.  Still that was only an extract in a one and a half hour session so I could put up with it.  There were a couple of ladies (the daughter of one of them had studied the book at school) who used to regularly bring extracts from Les Petits Enfants du Siecle by Christine Rochefort.  Of course I haven't read the whole book there.  Apparently the girl child who tells the story is stultified by her way of life and by the end of the book is becoming the sort of person she didn't want to be as a child.  I didn't like the excerpts of that book we studied either.   Sorry, I really am in Grumpy Old Woman Mode today.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 03 Jan 2019, 19:59

MM,

thank you so much for your excellent survey. Now I understand it completely. And I didn't on the internet. How is it that you can explain difficult matters in a simple way. You would be a good teacher.

Kind regards from Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyWed 06 Nov 2019, 12:47

Yesterday was the 5th November, 'Bonfire Night' or 'Guy Fawkes Night' in Britain - although we've already covered the history relating to that several times. Nevertheless just to refire this thread - although hopefully it won't appear réchauffé - how about Parkin anyone? 

Parkin is a heavy, moist, cake, made with oatmeal, treacle and ginger - sometimes served as a dessert cake or as a pudding with custard - but traditionally also eaten on Bonfire Night. Although almost certainly older, the name 'parkin',  in relation to a type of cake, is first recorded in the reports of the court case of Rex v Jagger at the Yorkshire Assizes of 1797, where a husband attempted to poison his wife with "a cake of parkin laced with arsenic". It is more pleasantly known from the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth of around 1800, and from Carr's 1828 'The Dialect of Craven, in the West-Riding of the County of York' wherein it is described as; "Parkin, a cake made of treacle and oat meal, commonly called a treacle-parkin."

Here a three traditional regional variations for Parkin, all taken from the book, 'Pot-luck; or, The British home cookery book', by May Byron (published in 1914).

827. PARKINS (Derbyshire)
One pound of, fine porridge oatmeal, half a pound of butter or beef dripping, six ounces of brown sugar, almonds (a few), half an ounce of ground ginger, nine ounces treacle, pinch of salt. Mix all dry ingredients well together, rub butter into meal, add treacle last and make stiff enough to roll out, half an inch thick, on a floured pasteboard. Cut out in rounds, place half almond in centre of each. Place immediately in slow oven, to cook half to three-quarters of an hour.

828. PARKINS (Lancashire)
Four pounds of oatmeal, four pounds of treacle, half a pound of butter, ginger and candied lemon according to taste.

830. PARKIN (Yorkshire)
Half a pound of flour, half a pound of fine oatmeal, two ounces of lard, two ounces of butter, half a pound of treacle, two ounces of sugar, one teaspoonful of ground ginger, one teaspoonful mixed spice, one teaspoonful baking powder, pinch of salt, a little milk. Rub the lard and butter into the flour, add all dry ingredients, warm the treacle, and add with a little milk, mix well, pour into a flat tin, well greased. Bake in a very moderate oven about forty minutes.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Yorkshire-parkin
Yorkshire parkin - hopefully without the 'original' arsenic.

And so now, having perhaps rather rashly relaunched this thread, I guess I need to think about something for tomorrow or at least for in a few day's time ... suggestions anyone?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyWed 06 Nov 2019, 22:23

MM, I did a search for an equivalent on the continent and didn't find one. I think as I am such a "zoetemuiltje" (it seems to be not Dutch: a sweet little mouth),
I would like it? But then in the Derbyshire: beef dripping? and in the Yorkshire: two ounces of lard? I am not sure if I would like that meat/sugar combination...I am even frightened to think about it Wink. Only in the Lancashire one you have the normal continental ingredients? Wink

As for ginger, my partner use it in tea bags as she says it is good for the digestion and I tasted it once and it is not bad (although I don't need it Wink )
As I read at ten years old already Dutch translations of British novels, and they mentioned many times those British in India, drinking "gemberbier" (ginger beer?) and when I was some years ago in a restaurant, where I was accustomed, and there was a course with ginger in it, I told the "patron" about my story and that I wanted to know how that ginger tasted. He brought me some small pieces of the stuff flaked of with a knife...and I tasted the raw material...but strong...young...strong...

Kind regards, Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 07 Nov 2019, 11:08

I had thought that parkin was a variation on a flap-jack but they’re obviously quite different. The parkin uses treacle and ginger while there’s no ginger in a flap-jack and golden syrup is used for a flap-jack rather than treacle. A parkin is also more cakey while a flap-jack is more biscuity. As golden syrup really only became widely available in the 19th Century, then the parkin is seemingly a lot older as a recipe. The word flap-jack, however, long predates parkin and co-incidentally was first recorded in the 1600s during the reign of King James of gunpowder plot fame. I’m not sure if there is any link between the ‘jack’ in flap-jack and the king’s nickname. Probably not. In North America, however, a flapjack is the name for a pancake – i.e. a crêpe. This would perhaps hark back to an older meaning and usage which has subsequently changed in the British Isles.

P.S. Meles, here's a suggestion for tomorrow: 08 November 1519 - Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes is invited into the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan by emperor Moctezuma.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 07 Nov 2019, 12:28

Very similar to the English flap-jack is Tharf Cake (also recorded as Tharve Cake, Thor Cake, Tharf-kyek, Thaaf-keahyk, Thaf-kyek, Tharth-kyek, Thaugh-cyek, and Tharfy Cake) which comes from the Cumberland, Westmorland, West Yorkshire, Lancashire area. The name may derive from the Old English 'theorf' meaning plain or unprocessed or unleavened, in which sense it appears in the Lindisfarne Gospels of 950AD.

Tharf Cake like Parkin has a strong association with Halloween, from which it has now become transferred, like many old customs, to November 5th. The 'Miscellanies' of the English Dialect Society for 1876 says;
'THARF CAKE is a circular cake made from oatmeal butter and treacle In Sheffield it is eaten on the 5th of November. As All Souls Day is the second day of November it may be that the custom of eating tharf cakes which obtains in Sheffield on the 5th of November has reference to the soul mass cake formerly eaten on the Feast of All Souls and on that day distributed to the poor. But as these cakes are of a coarse hard kind the custom may relate to the old fast of Advent called La Potite Carème Quadragesima S. Martini or little Lent, a fast which one might call the autumnal Easter. A year or two ago I noticed that a shopkeeper in a good street in Sheffield advertised tharf cake for sale by a conspicuous handbill in his window. As a rule I find that people are ashamed of tharf cake. They call it parkin instead of using the old word. Tharf-cake, and tharf-bread meaning unleavened bread are common in early English literature. On Caking day, which in Bradfield is the first day of November, boys and young men dress themselves like mummers and go to farm houses collecting money to buy tharf cake with.'

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Thor-cakes
Derbyshire Thor Cakes image from http://www.wirksworth.org.uk/

The Lancashire Evening Post for 01 November 1904 has this little snippet;

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Tharcake

Alternatively the name Tharf cake it may derive from a similar root to that for Parkin and the related Harcake (which is a form of thin parkin) made from oatmeal, sugar, butter, ginger and brown ale. Traditionally Harcake was also eaten on All-Souls day (2nd Nov) and so was sometimes referred to as Soul Cake or Soulmass Cake. 

The OED says;
'Thomas Blount's 'Glossographia' dictionary of 1656 gives; "Soul-masse-Cakes, are certain oaten cakes, which some of the wealthier sort of persons in Lancashire use still to give the poor on All-Souls day." Addy's 1888 'Glossary of Sheffield Words' has; "It may be that the custom of eating tharf-cakes, which obtains in Sheffield on the 5th of November, has reference to the soul mass cake formerly eaten on the Feast of All Souls and on that day distributed to the poor."

Athough related in tradition, this northern form of Soul Cake clearly differs from the more common southern form, which while it too is a small un-raised dense cake or biscuit, it is however usually made of a wheat-flour dough enriched with dried fruit and sweet spices, commonly coloured with saffron and sometimes marked with a cross on top or decorated with currants, peal or coloured comfits.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Soul-cakes
'Southern-style' soul cakes.

PH Ditchfield's 'Old English Sports' of 1891 has;
'All-hallow Even was supposed to be a great night for witches: possibly it was with the intention of guarding against their spells that the farmers used to carry blazing straw around their cornfields and stacks. It was the custom for the farmer to regale his men with seed cake on this night; and there were cakes called "Soul Mass Cakes," or "Soul Cakes," which were given to the poor. These were of triangular shape, and poor people in Staffordshire used to go a-souling, i.e. collecting these soul cakes, or anything else they could get.'


Ruth Edna Kelley's 'The Book of Hallowe'en' (Boston, Massachusetts, 1919) has; 
'The poor in Staffordshire and Shropshire went about singing for soul-cakes or money, promising to pray and to spend the alms in masses for the dead. The cakes were called Soul-mass or "somas" cakes.

There a number of versions of this rhyme:


Soul-cake, a soul-cake, please good missus a soul cake.
An apple, a pear, a plum, a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul, three for him who made us all...'


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 07 Nov 2019, 17:18

The practice of giving and eating Soul Cakes at around All Hallow's Eve and All Saints Day and All Soul's Day is of course not unique to England, nor even to Protestant countries.

In France the tradition, at least in the north, is for Niflettes de Toussaint, which originate from the town of Provins in the Seine-et-Marne Département. These are small, sweet, vanilla-flavoured, egg-and-cream tarts, and very nice they are too. It is said that they were originally made to be given to orphans, with niflette meaning, in Latin, "ne flete", that is to say, "don't cry", or "cry no longer", hence their traditional association with All Soul's Day.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Niflettes-de-tousaint


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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 07 Nov 2019, 18:00

@Meles meles wrote:
The practice of giving and eating soul cakes at around All Hallow's Eve and All Saints Day and All Soul's Day is of course not unique to England, nor even to Protestant countries.

That makes sense to me MM (i.e. associating soul cake with All Souls' Day). Strangely enuff, however, the singer Sting (from Northumberland) sings a song called Soul Cake but gives it a distinctly Christmassy vibe:



Conversely, a similar popular song which I grew up with goes 'Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, please put a penny in the old man's hat, if you haven't got a penny a ha'penny will do, and if you haven't got a ha'penny then god bless you!'. Yet to Mrs V (also from up north) it's known as 'Hallowe'en is coming'. It seems that depending upon one's geographical location these 2 songs swap places.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 07 Nov 2019, 18:15

I'm originally from Sussex and we always sang "Christmas is coming ..." with exactly the same words as you.

Also, re geographical variations, while you mentioned the similarity or actually not, of parkin to flap-Jack, and how a flap-jack in the US now means a crêpe/pancake .... in Sussex a flap-jack used to mean something akin to an apple turn-over. Accordingly I wonder if the American usage of flap-jack, for a pancake, is a corruption or transformation of FLIP-jack, from the requisite action of turning the thing over?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyThu 07 Nov 2019, 19:12

That sounds like an obvious deduction to make. I seem to remember 'flapjack' appearing in one of Billy Stratfordson's works (sonnet or play - probably a play) but I can't recall where. Does anyone know?
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 07:24

As Vizzer suggested ...

8 November 1519 - the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortés met the Aztec emperor Moctezuma II at Tenochtitlan.

Cortés had landed on the Gulf coast in April 1519 and, having secured the support of the Totonac and Tlaxcalans, headed inland into the Valley of Tenochtitlan, the heartland of the Aztec empire. On 8 November Moctezuma met Cortés on the Great Causeway into the city. Moctezuma was accompanied by his brother, Cuitlahuac, and his nephew, Cacamatzin, and a host of under-kings, chiefs and officials all "adorned with blazing gold on their shoulders with feathers and jewels" and watched by a huge crowd of the city's people. After formal greetings, Moctezuma then brought Cortés to the shrine of the goddess Toci, where he gave him a more private greeting in which he effectively capitulated to Cortés, saying it was his "desire to serve."

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Cortez-Moctezuma
Moctezuma meets Cortés, from a native book 'Lienzo de Tlaxcala', produced in 1550 to demonstate the Tlaxcalans' loyaty to the Spanish throne. The person standing behind Cortés is Malintze or  Doña Marina, a Nuaha woman who was his translator and mistress. Note also the various (food?) gifts of caged birds, turkeys and a small deer.

Moctezuma had the royal palace of Axayácatl, Moctezuma's father, prepared for Cortés and later that day he came to visit Cortés and his men. According to several Spanish versions, some written years or decades later, Moctezuma first repeated his earlier, flowery welcome to Cortés, but then went on to explain his view of what the Spanish expedition represented in terms of Aztec tradition and lore, including the idea that Cortés and his men (pale, bearded men from the east) were the return of characters from Aztec legend. This may well explain Moctezuma's ready capitulation, for at the end of this explanation the Emperor, of his own accord, promptly pledged his loyalty to the King of Spain and accepted Cortés as the King's representative. According to Bernal Díaz del Castillo (albeit writing five decades after the events he descibes), Moctezuma said to Cortés, "As for your great King, I am in his debt and will give him of what I possess."

But within just a few days, probably almost inevitably, relations between the two groups started to sour. The Aztecs were furious when Cortez demanded he be allowed to mount a cross on the main pyramid temple alongside the two large idols of Huichilobos and Tezcatlipoca, and then in a separate incident several Spanish soldiers were killed in an arguement. Cortés along with five of his captains convinced Moctezuma to "come quietly with us to our quarters, and make no protest...if you cry out, or raise any commotion, you will immediately be killed." And so until May 1520, Moctezuma lived with Cortés in the palace of Axayácatl and while he continued to act as Emperor he was in reality a prisoner as insurance against any further resistance and subject to Cortés' overall control. Then in late May Spanish soldiers massacred many high ranking Aztecs in the central square while they were folding a religious feast. Hostilities simmered throughout June until on the night of 30 June the Aztecs rose in outright rebellion. The Spanish conquistadors and their native allies were driven out of the city and in the confusion Moctezuma was killed, perhaps by the Spaniards, perhaps by his own people. The Spanish however would be back - but that's another story.

At the time Tenochtitlan was one of the largest cities in the world, larger than every city in Europe except perhaps Naples and Constantinople. It was built on an island situated on the western side of the shallow Lake Texcoco and was connected to the mainland by bridges and causeways leading to the north, south, and west. The city was surrounded by the famous chiampas or 'floating gardens' (artificial islands separated by canals) which were incredibly fertile and productive, producing sometimes four or five crops in a year. Among the vegetables grown on chinampas were maize, beans, squash, sweet potatoes, amaranth, tomatoes and peppers. The lake itself yielded fish, crayfish, frogs, salamanders (the strange axolotl) and various waterfowl; the surrounding hills abounded in game; while ants and their eggs, grasshoppers, maguey worms and jumil bugs were all available in large quantities and readily eaten.

The Aztecs exploited all these resources to develop a unique and complicated cuisine. Yet among all this variety, there was one notable thing missing from their diet: fat, and the lack of fat is the major thing which separates indigenous from modern Mexican cuisine, and indeed, from almost all cuisines. (The lack of animal fats or vegetable oils also meant of course that they had no candles, rushlights or lamps).

They could readily obtain wildfowl (ducks, geese, herons), small wild game (squirrels, rats, rabbits and the like) and they certainly domesticated small indigenous dogs, not only as companions but for food, as well as the turkey which was their largest domestic animal. However the only other sizeable mammals available were the wild peccary (a small, lean, forest-dwelling, pig-type animal) and a few species of small wild deer. Central America had no indigenous cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, camels, elephants, or other large domesticable animals. In particular  there was certainly no creature that produced consumable milk or habitually had large deposits of fat (neither the Aztecs nor their coastal neighbours ever seem to have attempted open ocean whaling). The only other option would be humans, and while the Aztecs did engage in cannibalism, it was an occasional practice reserved for religious rituals, not a dietary staple. 

There were also only a few plants in pre-colonial Mexico that could produce oil, namely avocado, cacao and pumpkin. The Aztecs ate these plants in many forms and seem to have been aware of their valuable fat content. However oil was not produced in large quantities from native Mexican plants until after the conquest, when Europeans craving greasy food began to experiment with local flora, but the Aztecs themselves for the most part simply made do without. Indeed they seem to have developed a cultural aversion to eating oily or fatty food and their disgust at it is well recorded. 

Unable to fry - and no archaeological evidence has ever been found for a Mesoamerican cooking vessel capable of frying - the Aztecs of necessity cooked their food in other ways. Spit-roasting over an open flame or hot coals, or boiling in a pot were common, as was steaming, which was used to produce the ubiquitous corn-dough tamalli. But most Aztec dishes were cooked (ungreased) on a flat, round, pottery griddle, called a comalli (Spanish comal), which is still used in rural Mexico today. It was with the comal that the Aztecs made one of their greatest contributions to the modern food landscape: the thin corn flatbread that they knew as tlaxcalli and their conquerors as tortilla, Spanish for "little cake". In Nahuatl (the Aztec language), tlahco means "middle", and the best way to enjoy a tortilla was with something in the tlahco of it. The word tlahco, ie for a filled tortilla, is believed to be the origin of the modern "taco".

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Aztec-food-1
Making tlaxcalli (tortillas) - from the 'Florentine Codex'.

16th-century Spanish chronicles, in particular the 'Florentine Codex' written by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, describe a dizzying array of possible tlahco/taco fillings, all of which were also available as fillings for tamales (the Nahuatl, tamalli, meaning 'wrapped' referred to steamed, leaf-enclosed parcels). An Aztec in the markets of Tenochtitlan could choose between vendors selling tacos or tamales filled with vegetables such as black-eye beans, lima beans, squashes of both the pumpkin and courgette families, tomatoes (although the native tomato was generally smaller, greener and less sweet than modern cultivars), bell peppers, and nopal cactus; meat (dog, turkey, wild duck and game); or the stranger bounty of the lake itself (fish, shell-fish, water-insects, amphibians, algae). All of these would have been spiced with the favorite seasonings of the Aztecs (salt and chili) plus indigenous herbs such as the pungent epazote or the bittersweet hoja santa.

So for Dish-of-the Day I propose authentic Aztec tlahco/tacos - that is, maize flour tlaxcalli/ tortillas, with whatever filling you fancy. But whatever you choose it must only be of indigenous Central American vegetables - beans, peppers, chillis, squashes, tomatoes and the like - and absolutely no pork, beef or cheese in there at all, although you are allowed a little turkey meat or venison if you really insist. Moreover these vegetables can then be only dry-baked/roasted without any oil or fat in a covered pot. Or alternatively the mix could be wrapped in the young leaves of say the maguey plant (aka the century plant, it's a type of succulent), corn husks, or big squash leaves - or perhaps more practically one could use cooking parchment or aluminium foil - and placed on hot coals to steam, or just put into an oven to bake. And to accompany it all, maybe some guacamole - the name again comes direct from the Nahuatl, āhuacamolli, meaning literally just "avocado concoction/stuff".

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Aztec-feast-5
Dining Aztec-style - from the 'Florentine Codex'.


Last edited by Meles meles on Fri 08 Nov 2019, 19:19; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 14:35

@Meles meles wrote:
I propose authentic Aztec tlahco/tacos - that is, maize flour tlaxcalli/ tortillas, with whatever filling you fancy. But whatever you choose it must only be of indigenous Central American vegetables - beans, peppers, chillis, squashes, tomatoes and the like - and absolutely no pork, beef or cheese in there at all, although you are allowed a little turkey meat or venison if you really insist.

Oh that's disappointing. I was looking forward to having some dog and some algae in mine!

But another great posting Meles - thanks. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 14:56

Apart from encounters with Spaniards (assorted) is there any record that this diet was a healthy one in terms of longevity?

You have posted some real gems, MM  as you always do when as the seasons change. I only make complex aran things which are not worth posting about - but pretty good to wear. My latest will be great if I ever get to go  down in a submarine = the food on board those is - or was - rather dreadful.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptyFri 08 Nov 2019, 16:49

The common blue-green algae on Lake Texcoco was/is a cyanobacteria of the Arthrospira species. It is now cultivated industrially in many countries (principally where there is plenty of year-round sunlight, so generally around the tropics) and the dried product, usually called Spirulina, is sold in trendy health shops as a dietary supplement or 'whole food'. So by all means include that in your taco fillings for added authenticity.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Spirulina

Just don't eat the axolotls, should you actually be tempted, because currently these endearing little beasties currently need all the help they can get. Drainage and land reclamation projects around Mexico City, as well as civic encroachment and the resulting pollution, now mean they are an endangered species in Lake Texcoco, which was originally their principal territory. They are now frequently kept in laboratories and aquaria around the world, but Lake Texcoco is their original home and they are found in the wild nowhere else.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Axolotl

Priscilla, I reckon the heavy focus on corn and other vegetables within the Aztec diet may have left the common person slightly low in dietary fats, but I don't think there were overall any major deficiencies in macro- or micronutrients. For the average Aztec citizen a regular diet based principally on vegetables (including maize), with some fruit, grain and insect/fish/algae, and with a very conservative meat consumption, would I think have led to a fairly well-rounded diet. However those at the lowest levels of society did probably suffer from fat/protein deficiencies - as they did in Classical Athens, Imperial Rome, Byzantine Constantinople, Renaissance Paris or Victorian London. But as to whether Aztecs lived longer because of their largely fat-less diet is less certain. Cardio-vascular disease and conditions like diabetes were probably very rare, but infected burns and wounds (and no antibiotics); hard labour and the resulting repetitive strain injuires (they had no beasts of burden other than humans); and traumatic injuries, either from simple accidents or the incessant 'Flower Wars'; probably meant most died well before they could develop heart problems, hypertension, dementia or cancer.


Last edited by Meles meles on Sat 09 Nov 2019, 12:52; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 09 Nov 2019, 10:48

Another key aspect of the possible health benefits, or otherwise, of the Aztec diet is the method they used to process their dietary staple: maize. The Aztecs and other mesoamericans prepared their maize by first soaking then cooking it in an alkaline solution, using wood-ash lye. The process is still called nixtamalization from the compound of the Nahuatl words, nextli, meaning "ashes", and tamalli, "unformed corn dough".

When soaked in a strong alkaline solution a number of chemical changes take place in the grains of maize. Plant cell wall components, including hemicellulose and pectin, are highly soluble in alkaline solutions, and so the kernels soften and their hulls loosen; the grain hydrates and absorbs calcium or potassium from the cooking solution; and the starches swell, gelatinize and partly disperse into the liquid. All these chemical changes mean that nixtamalized maize has several benefits over unprocessed grain: it is more easily ground; its nutritional value is increased; flavor and aroma are improved; and mycotoxins are reduced. Moreover when the treated maize is subsequently ground to flour, chemicals released from the germ by the alkaline treatment, mean that the resulting dough is less prone to tearing and crumbling, even with no added fat or oil. But the primary nutritional benefit of nixtamalization is that the corn's niacin is released, making it available for absorption into the body.

However when maize cultivation and consumption spread to Europe and then to Africa, knowledge and understanding of the vital nixtamalization process didn't travel with it (in part perhaps because European grain milling was already mechanised with mills powered by animals, water and wind, and so it was no longer a labour-intensive, domestic chore). But without alkaline processing maize is a much less beneficial foodstuff and in particular it is deficient in niacin. Where maize replaced other grains such as wheat, barley and rye (all good sources of niacin) and became a major component of diet, niacin deficiency became common, manifesting itself in the condition called pellagra which causes dermal sensitivity to sunlight, skin lesions, mouth ulcers, inflamation, hair loss and increased risk of cardio-vascular problems. In the nineteenth century, before niacin was indentified and its role in diet was understood, pellagra epidemics were recorded in France, Italy, Spain, Egypt and parts of sub-saharan Africa, always in areas where maize had replaced traditional cereals and had become the dietary staple.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 09 Nov 2019, 12:18

Incidentally, that's another reason why pumpkin pie would never have been on the menu for the first Thanksgiving meal as celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in the Autumn of 1621 (see Dish of the Day for 26 Nov 1789). Maize was almost certainly on the menu but it was from the crop recently harvested by the colonists themselves - and they didn't know how to correctly treat it - so they would have had considerable trouble trying to make their ground maize flour into an elastic dough suitable for making pie pastry, or indeed for even corn bread (and they themselves repeatedly lamented how they were never able to make proper raised bread loaves when using maize flour). They most likely ate their recently-harvested maize in the form of a polenta-type porridge, or simply char-grilled as corn-on-the-cob ... but again, the resulting dishes would have been deficient in useable niacin.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySat 09 Nov 2019, 15:02

MM, your dishes of the day are always interesting. I've come across some recipes for gluten-free bread which recommend using xan-xan gum in the mix (as gluten is a substance which helps bread (the non-gluten free type anyway) to adhere - though as you're a scientist you don't need me to tell you you that).  Gluten-free bread CAN be crumbly.

At the moment I can't use my gas supply so at present I'm using one of those little electric appliances with a top where you can do some frying or put things underneath to grill them.  I manage to cook basic but serviceable meals (nothing too exiting) so can't really offer a meal of the day (well, scrambled eggs would be a bit boring for a meal of the day!!!).  I really need to get a new microwave as they are very useful.

I see you have mentioned the tortilla and indeed the Aztecs' flatbread does look like the ancestor of the tortilla which sometimes features in "Tex/Mex" food.
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PostSubject: Re: Dish of the Day - II   Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 EmptySun 10 Nov 2019, 11:16

Missed this yesterday ...

9 November 1867 - the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan came to its official end when Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th Tokugawa shogun, "put his prerogatives at the Emperor’s disposal" and then resigned 10 days later. Thus began the Meiji Restoration (明治維新 Meiji Ishin) when the 15 year-old emperor Meiji was restored as supreme ruler of Japan.  

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Tokugawa-yoshinobu    Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Meiji-emperor
(left) The last shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, circa 1860 - (right) the Emperor Meiji in 1873.
 
The Tokugawa shoguns (hereditary military leaders) had ruled Japan since 1600 when Tokugawa Ieyasu seized control from the emperor.  Emperors continued to exist thereafter but had no power. When most people think of 'typical' Japanese culture – arts, cuisine, samurai, geishas – they are actually more specifically thinking of the Tokugawa period. The culture had rigid codes of conduct and was strictly isolationist from other countries and foreign influence. But in the 1850s the intrusion of Western ships, notably Commodore Perry’s arrival in 1853, made it clear that isolationism had left Japan far behind the rest of the world in many spheres but particularly in technology.  After considerable debate among the powerful there was some agreement, although it was far from universal, that the shoguns should relinquish power to the emperor, who would then open up Japan to modern influences.  

However the official end of the shogunate in November 1867 was not the end of the story. The samurai stood to lose, not just their old cultural ways, but their entire hereditary privilege which gave them power, wealth, and prestige.  Accordingly in January 1868 the Boshin ("Year of the Earth Dragon") War broke out between imperial forces and those loyal to the ex-shogun. The two armies pursued each other around the whole length of Japan in a protracted series of battles and skirmishes, with both sides availing themselves, whenever possible, of Western-made modern rifles, machine-guns, artillery and steam warships (the British generally supported the Emperor while the French mostly supported the ex-Shogun's forces, but for both foreign powers it was profit that came first). However in the end it was the Imperial forces that prevailed to gain control over the entire country.

The Meiji oligarchy that formed the government under the rule of the emperor first introduced measures to consolidate their power against the remnants of the Tokugawa period. In 1868 all Tokugawa lands were seized and placed under imperial control, thus placing them under the prerogative of the new Meiji government. In 1869 even the lands of daimyo (feudal lords) loyal to the emperor were taken away, and all the feudal domains were transformed into prefectures, whose governors were appointed by the emperor. Thus, arguably for the first time, there was a central government in Japan which exercised direct power through the entire realm. The new government then proceeded with unifying the country under a single, legitimate and powerful rule by the Imperial Court. The emperor's residence was officially transferred from Kyoto to Edo at the end of 1868 and Edo was then renamed, Tokyo.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Meiji-Joukyou
The Meiji Emperor relocating the imperial court and seat of government from Kyoto to Edo/Tokyo in 1868.

To reform the military the government instituted nationwide conscription in 1873, mandating that every male would serve in the armed forces for four years upon turning eighteen; followed by three more years in the reserves. One of the primary differences between the samurai and peasant class was the right to bear arms, but now this ancient privilege was suddenly extended to every male in the nation. Furthermore samurai were no longer allowed to walk about town bearing a sword or weapon to show their status as in former times. This led to a series of riots from disgruntled samurai but they were swiftly put down by the newly formed Imperial Japanese Army - modelled on the French army, trained in Western tactics and equipped with modern weapons - even though the core of the new army was the Tokyo police force which was largely composed of former samurai. This sent a strong message to the dissenting samurai that their time was indeed over. However, it is equally true that the majority of samurai were content despite having their status abolished. Many found employment in the government bureaucracy, which resembled an elite class in its own right. The samurai, being better educated than most of the population, became teachers, gun makers, government officials, or military officers. While the formal title of samurai was abolished, the elitist spirit that characterized the samurai class lived on.

Besides these drastic changes to the social structure of Japan, in an attempt to create a strong centralized state defining its national identity, the government established a dominant national dialect to replace local and regional dialects. This was based on language patterns of the Tokyo samurai classes and eventually become the norm in the realms of education, media, government and business.

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Promulgation-of-The-New-Japanese-Constitution-1889
The promulgation of the new Japanese constitution in 1889. Note how none of the Japanese ladies wear kimonos but are all now dressed in the latest French fashions.

As part of the Meiji reformations the Emperor also lifted the ban on eating red meat and promoted Western cuisine, which was widely viewed as the cause of the Westerner’s greater physical size. The style of cuisine known as yōshoku (洋食 - "western food") was thus created, and as a result of its origins, relies on meat as a common element, unlike the traditional Japanese cuisine at the time which was based on fish, and to a lesser extent poultry. Yōshoku cuisine remains popular in modern Japan, both for simple home cooking and in the common, informal pubs/bars known as izakayas. Many yōshoku dishes are barely distinguishable from Western counterparts with little more than a slight Japanese twist, while others show much more Japanese influence. For example omurice, (オムライス "omelette-rice") does resemble an omelet, but only just. It consists of fried rice wrapped in a very thin sheet of fried beaten egg and topped with American-style tomato ketchup. By contrast Nikujaga, (肉じゃが "meat-potato") is a sort of Irish stew with beef, onions and mushrooms, but in a sweet soy sauce and then served Japanese style with rice. 

So for today here's a recipe for nikujaga as an example of nineteenth century yōshoku, the form of Western/Japanese fusion cuisine that was deliberately introduced following the Meiji Restoration. Nikujaga itself was supposedly invented by chefs of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 19th century on the orders of Admiral Togo, to create a Japanese version of the beef stews then commonly served on British Royal Navy warships, which of necessity in the absence of refrigeration, were based on using salt-preserved beef or tinned 'bully-beef'. Togo had been in Britain from 1871 until 1878 studying naval science, technology, strategy and tactics, and in his orders to the Japanese navy chefs for the creation of nikujaga, he wasn't simply trying to ape RN practices, but was rather trying to address the very real problem of vitamin B deficiencies in naval diets that were based on preserved foods.

Generally potatoes make up the bulk of the dish with the meat mostly serving as a source of flavor. Thinly sliced beef is the most common meat used although minced/ground beef is also popular, and because it is thinly sliced or minced nikujaga is not cooked for as long as a typical European beef stew. Shirataki are thin, transparent rice noodles. Dashi is the simmering stock of choice because it blends well with the soy.  It is made from dried bonito flakes and kelp, and is the backbone of Japanese cooking, so it should usually be obtainable, at least in powdered form, from Asian grocers. Otherwise use beef stock but it should be thin and with no added salt. One important feature of this dish is that the vegetable pieces are big, much bigger than is usual in Western stews. Nikujaga is usually served accompanied by a bowl of plain white rice.

Nikujaga.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 ounces beef sliced thin
1 onion, peeled and cut in thick slices
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into large pieces
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
½ cup sake
2 cups dashi or thin beef broth 
2 tbsps sugar
3 tbsps soy sauce
5 oz bag shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed
3 ozs green beans, ends trimmed and left whole

Instructions:
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy pot.
Working in batches, sauté the beef until lightly browned on both sides. Set the beef aside.
Sauté the onions until they are soft, then add the potatoes, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms, and sauté for another 3 minutes.
Add the sake and bring to a rapid boil for about 1 minute.
Turn down the heat to medium, add the dashi, sugar, soy sauce, shirataki, green beans, and beef.
Simmer, partially covered until the potatoes and carrots are well cooked and the liquid has greatly reduced (about 30 mins).

Dish of the Day - II - Page 5 Nikujaga
Nikujaga.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 14 Nov 2019, 17:22; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typos)
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