A glamorous French chef called Alexis Soyer was an unlikely hero of the Crimean War. He heard the PBI were suffering from appalling conditions in the front line. Cold and dysentery were killing more men than shot and shell.
Soyer designed a simple but brilliant stove that could use any fuel and cook any food. He also created recipes for cooking hearty food on a massive scale using his eponymous stove.
Here's Soyer's recipe for a huge stew to feed 100 men:
Food for 100 men, using two stoves Cut or chop 50Lbs. of fresh beef in pieces of about 1/4Lb. each; put in the boiler, with 10 tablespoonfuls of salt, two tablespoonfuls of pepper, four tablespoonfuls of sugar, onions 7 Lbs. cut in slices: light the fire now, and then stir the meat with a spatula, let it stew from 20 to 30 minutes, or till it forms a thick gravy, then add a pound and a half of flour; mix well together, put in the boiler 18 quarts of water, stir well for a minute or two, regulate the stove to a moderate heat, and let simmer for about two hours. Mutton, pork, or veal can be stewed in a similar manner, but will take half an hour less cooking. Note. A pound of rice may be added with great advantage, ditto plain dumplings, ditto potatoes, as well as mixed vegetables. For a regiment of 1,000 men use 20 stoves.
Our journey together starts with the earliest evidence of human habitation here, a collection of flint tools that are one million years old. The exhibition has brought together, for the very first time, all the important archaeological finds of early humans in Britain. These finds are both delicate and priceless, so the curators have ensured there are plenty of replica skulls and tools for visitors to handle, enabling us to meet our ancestors.
The Butchers of Boxgrove are featured with human bones, their tools and butchered animal remains on display. Please do read the excellent book about this archaeological investigation that describes how these people socialised, lived and ate together.
Our ancestors have been brought to life with uncanny accuracy with realistic life-sized models and photos on the walls. Standing face to face with our forbears is a very moving experience and brings home their similarities to us rather than their differences. They appear not as primitives or savages but as our family. A deep mirror of history in which we can see ourselves.
Please visit this excellent exhibition at the Natural History Museum
and do heed the wisdom of the curator, our journey together of #1millionyears
has only just begun. History is a journey not a destination.
The world is the King's chocolate cup #ChocolateKitchen - the story of C18th drinking chocolate at Hampton Court Palace Hampton Court Palace
has restored and brought back to life the long-lost #ChocolateKitchen
of the C18th King Georges. Chocolate was a new and glamorous product at the time, valued for medicinal qualities and as an expression of status. Devotion to this tasty treat was taken to dramatic excess at Hampton Court Palace where the Kings employed their own personal chocolatier to prepare their cup of drinking chocolate each morning. The chocolatier was not alone but had a small team of servants to do the hard-grind for him, literally. He was also provided with a #ChocolateKitchen
suite, especially built below the King's quarters and his own accommodation too.
Interior of The Royal Chocolate Kitchen, with the Kings private chocolate chef, Thomas Tosier. Copyright Historic Royal Palaces/Richard Lea Hair
Hampton Court Palace
have restored the #ChocolateKitchen
to how it looked when in use in the18th century. The complete surviving room has been protected by having images projected onto the walls to show the contents, instead of intrusive display boards.
Next door, another room has been created as a facsimile of the original #ChocolateKitchen
and 18th century chocolate preparation is demonstrated there by a talented historical interpreter. When he is not present, a film of him at work is projected onto the wall.
Please visit this wonderful new but old display at Hampton Court Palace
and after visiting #ChocolateKitchen
, relax in the Fountain Court Café with a Chocolate Flight (priced at £3.95). You can taste and enjoy the same rich, spiced hot chocolate that the Georgian Kings savoured every morning.
More information about #ChocolateKitchen
can be found at the Hampton Court Palace website
But. ... please think about it too. Please think about how the hot chocolate travelled from plants grown around the world to the lips of a grandiose monarch. Cocoa and sugar cane are native to South and Central America. By the C18th they were being grown in Caribbean plantations that only functioned due to the inhumanity of slavery. So, the cocoa and sugar used in #ChocolateKitchen
were the product of a people stolen from Africa, hauled across the Atlantic and then brutalised in Caribbean plantations. The spices added to the King's choc included vanilla from South America and nutmeg from the spice islands. These spices were the product of the fight for colonial expansion betwixt England, the Netherlands and Spain and relied on international trade and shipping. #ChocolateKitchen
was well stocked with fine silver, pewter, copper, porcelain and glassware. All products of a burgeoning C18th industry. We had learned from China how to create porcelain and from the Roman Empire, and ultimately Jews and Arabs, how to create fine glassware.
By the time the King George had tasted his morning chocolate he was already beholden to the whole world. Another King reminded us of this in 1963, not 1763.
We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women.... When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman. The towel is provided by a Turk. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs, we are beholden to more than half the world.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963
Our thanks to Polly Putnam, curator, Historic Royal Palaces and Marc Meltonville, food historian, Historic Royal Palaces, for an excellent tour of the #ChocolateKitchen. To plan your day at Hampton Court Palace and book your tickets, please follow this link.
Dr Seuss was born on 2 March 1904 as Theodor Seuss Geisel. He studied to be a Doctor, not of medicine but of Literature at Oxford.
Dr Seuss, champion of literacy
I adore the books written by Dr Seuss. I read them avidly as a child and now I read them with joyous gusto to the children of today. Dr Seuss is a great champion of literacy as he has made reading accessible and a joy for millions of children. Literacy is the great chain-breaker, freeing humanity from fear, poverty and dictatorship. Our hero, Malala, is a living testament to that.
Literacy is liberty
To celebrate the birthday of Dr Seuss and to cheer all champions of literacy, I have recorded 'Green Eggs and Ham'
Happy birthday Dr Seuss, long may your books be enjoyed.
Borotho, the traditional bread of Lesotho, is easy to make and very tasty too!
Bread flour (whole meal & white)
Pinch of salt,
Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl, add water gradually as you knead. Knead until the dough is well mixed and springing back. Cover and keep warm, leave untill the dough is well risen.
Cook as desired: in the oven, or on the hob in a heavy pan at low heat, or steam. If steamed, it will be cooked if the table knife comes clean when testing. If cooked in the oven or on the hob, cook until nicely browned.
Serve with stew and barbecued meat or eat with jam. Enjoy!
If you enjoy the recipe, please make a donation to Sentebale, a great charity that cares for HIV/AIDS orphans in Lesotho.
Prince Harry is a patron of Sentebale, along with my friend Prince Seeiso.
Our radio show tonight on Radio Northumberland and EGH Media is about festive cooking from across the world and through time. Please tune-in tonight at 8pm UK by following this link (you can listen online from wherever you are): http://www.blogtalkradio.com/eghmedia/2013/12/10/cooking-up-an-international-christmas One of our regular listeners and friends from Florida, Suzanne Gotro, will share her own recipe for Collard Greens. Suzy will be making it for her Christmas in Florida and will be sharing her secret touches. I shall provide a festive favourite from Tudor and Jacobean England, a real minced pie made with meat and fruit. Sam Pepys invariably enjoyed it at Christ-tide.
This recipe for Minced Pie was written by Gervase Markham, the Nigella of 1615!
Take a Legge of Mutton, and cut the best of the flesh from the bone, and parboyl it well then put to it three pound of the best Mutton suet & shred it very small; then spread it abroad, and fashion it with Salt Cloves and Mace: then put in good store of Currants, great Raisins and Prunes clean washed and picked a few Dates sliced, and some Orenge-pils sliced ; then being all well mixt together, put it into a coffin, or into divers coffins, and so bake them and when they are served up, open the lids and strow store of Sugar on the top of the meat and upon the lid. And in this sort you may also bake Beef or Veal, onely the Beef would not be parboyld, and the Veal will ask a double quantity of Suet.
We will also learn about Christmas food enjoyed on Pitcairn, a tiny island in the Pacific, from Nadine Christian
, one of only 48 residents. All the islanders are descended from the crew of HMS Bounty
and their retinue and their heritage is both C18th England and Tahiti. Nadine has described Christmas on Pitcairn in her blog: http://nadinechristian.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/a-mutineers-kresmas.html
Please join in by leaving your comments here, at Facebook
We do hope you enjoy the show and find inspiration for your own feast!
Those who know me well will tell you that my understanding of modern art encompasses anything post-Van Dyke. I'm not very good with 'installations' and struggle horribly with 'the abstract'. However, a new exhibition promising a mix of art and my beloved history was too tempting to resist.
Echoes is a fantastic art/history/culture happening created by Friction Arts in Birmingham. It isn't an art gallery or installation, it isn't a museum or theatre but a very sweet spot between them all. This sweet spot carries the memories of the people who lived and worked in Birmingham and, best of all, stimulates and gathers new memories from all the visitors.
Echoes has been created as a series of rooms from homes, workplaces and play-spaces, all from Birmingham 1960-1990. The rooms are decorated and filled with all the domestic detritus that our lives accrue; photos, china, ornaments and books.
Visitors are not just allowed to explore and examine all the 'stuff' but are positively encouraged to and rewarded with choccies! Because all the 'stuff' is so seemingly mundane and common, it stimulates memories from everyone. We all had a vase like that. We all had a grandad with one of those.
As the visitors explore and interact with all the 'stuff' they also hear reminiscences collected by Friction Arts. Some are played on speakers, others are played on old telephones - pick up the handset and hear a voice telling their story.
What is most wonderful about Echoes is that visitors are part of, not viewers of, the happening. Their memories and reactions are the real event; the installation is just the trigger.
The last room to explore is a Birmingham pub, faithfully recreated down to the right kind of darts. I was able to emulate Al Murray as The Landlord and remember songs from long ago.
Our journey through our own memories concluded with tea, biscuits and a conversation with the creative team of Friction Arts. Art galleries, museums, theatre and heritage are rarely this much fun or as welcoming.
I entered Echoes as a sceptic, experienced it with joy and departed as an enthusiastic advocate.
Please find out more via the website:
HistoryNeedsYou's October radio show with Stephen Lambert of EGH Media
focussed on Halloween traditions old and new. We were joined by Rhiannon, a Wiccan priestess, and Zayed Zaheer, a British Asian Muslim. Interspersed by readings from Lady Tankerville's Encounters
(an account of ghosts at Northumberland's famously haunted Chillingham Castle), it was a fascinating show.
If you missed it, you can listen using the player below.
Next month's show, to be broadcast on 13 November at 8pm GMT, will be on War and Remembrance.
Our friends at Historic Royal Palaces have an historical Halloween treat for us all this evening, between 8 and 9 pm (GMT). To join in, make sure you follow @HRP_Palaces or: #TowerGhosts at Twitter, and Tower of London at Facebook.
This Halloween, join Beefeater Phil Wilson for a unique after-dark experience of the Tower of London's bloody history ... through the ghost stories told of its ill-fated inhabitants and infamous incidents.
Thursday 31 October 2013, 8-9pm (GMT) - followed by a Q&A with our guide. What will you ask?
- Be guided around the top-ten sites for historic accounts of ghosts, hauntings and inexplicable occurrences - including the Bloody Tower, Queen's House and the Martin Tower
- Stories, photos, videos and Vines will bring the spooky sights and sounds to life
- The cast of creepy characters include the ‘ghosts’ of Anne Boleyn, Guy Fawkes, the Two Princes, Walter Raleigh – and even a ghost bear!
I appeared on @bbcwm
this afternoon, discussing historical food with @dannykellywords
. I explained how #mediæval and #Tudor cooks used to balance sweet and savoury flavours. My expertise in historic cooking came in very useful one Christmas when I was presented with an enormous organic Turkey at 1am on Christmas Day and 'ordered' to cook it for dinner. I hadn't planned to cook that year so I had to improvise with what I had in my cupboards. Ginger Turkey
- Clean and dry the Turkey.
- Chop crystalised ginger and candied orange peel, mix with seasoning and rub through the cavity.
- Chop an orange into quarters and place inside the cavity to add moisture and flavour.
- Mix butter with herbs and a little ground mixed spice, and push under the skin around the Turkey breast.
- Coat the Turkey liberally with ginger jam or ginger marmalade. Stud with a few cloves for extra taste and decoration.
- Add seasoning.
- Add a splash of white wine to the bottom of the roasting pan then put in the roasting rack and a few peeled onions rubbed in butter.
- Carefully place your very sticky Turkey into the pan, breast down.
- Cover in a loose tent of foil, shiny side in. This keeps in the moisture.
- Roast sloooooowly.
- Remove the foil in the last half hour to brown the bird.
Serve with a spiced sweet potato soufflé and fat-free roasted potatoes
. Happy (very early) Christmas!Matthew