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  • Mermaid Monday: Eating Mermaids November 20, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Monday: Eating Mermaids

    This interesting account appeared in the British press in 1827 (Anon). It describes excitement about mermaid bones, in Portsmouth and an unusual dinner. ‘Mombuss’ is Mombassa, which we have seen before connected to mermaids. Beach seems to hear Lieutenant Emory, two hundred years ago, leaning across the table and saying ‘capital meat, Captain!’ The skeleton of […]

    Immortal Meals #35: Bewitched Chinese Dancing Horses October 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Immortal Meals #35: Bewitched Chinese Dancing Horses

    It is a WIBT (wish I’d been there) moment from Chinese history. One night in the mid-late eighth century the warriors of the Chinese warlord Ch’Eng-szu (704-778) were preparing a sacrificial feast. Some struck up music to add to the festive atmosphere when suddenly a very strange thing. Dozens of the war horses in the field […]

    Immortal Meals #34: Picnic Under the Vicar’s Oak July 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Immortal Meals #34: Picnic Under the Vicar's Oak

    Norwood was a rural area to the south of London that was sucked into the metropolis in the mid, late nineteenth century. If you want to go and imagine where the nightingale once sang and where Surrey farmers shot rabbits, head off for the mean streets around Crystal Palace, sit down and weep. ‘This is the […]

    Immortal Meals #33: Fairy Feast 1912 June 11, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #33: Fairy Feast 1912

    Oh to have been there… Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz was an American eccentric and mystic who from 1908 to 1911 studied British, Irish and Breton fairies. Readers may have come across his curious The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, brought out in November 1911, the single most bizarre book every published by Oxford University Press […]

    Immortal Meals #32: Molecular Gastronomy, 1910? February 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #32: Molecular Gastronomy, 1910?

    In December 1910 a Dr. Stillman, head of the laboratory at the Stevens Institute of Technology, New York, decided to offer some lucky guests a synthetic meal: ‘On the side table were test tubes, bunsen burners, retorts, bottles of various reagents, and so forth.’ Do we glimpse here the beginning of molecular gastronomy? The menu […]

    Immortal Meals #31: Avendaño’s Anxious Banquet November 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #31: Avendaño's Anxious Banquet

    Imagine going to a banquet and not being sure if you are to eat or be eaten. Welcome to the world of Andrés de Avendaño y Loyola, a seventeenth-century Franciscan who walked into the territory of the Itza (a forgotten kingdom previously celebrated on this blog) in 1696. Avendaño was brave. Many other missionaries had […]

    Immortal Meals #30: Chair Jumping at Court June 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #30: Chair Jumping at Court

    Colonel Lennox (1819) was a British ne’erdo well who evolved into a capable member of the British establishment eventually starring as Governor General of North America. As a young man testosterone dripped from him as he walked along: he argued, dueled, whored and was a fine wicket keeper… The event below relates to the aftermath […]

    Immortal Meals #29: Bourbon at Surrender May 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #29: Bourbon at Surrender

    Surrenders are never very easy moments but the meeting between William Tecumseh Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston at Bennett Place on 17 and 18 April 1865 as the American Civil War was winding down proved a generally civilized affair. Sherman, the Union commander, was a Democrat and had a natural sympathy for the south: despite […]

    Immortal Meals #28: Freedom and Chicken March 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Immortal Meals #28: Freedom and Chicken

    The date, sometime in the 1440s; the place, the English village of Long Newnton in what is today Gloucestershire; the meal, a table of chicken; the host, Thomas Carter; the occasion, Thomas’s freedom. Thomas Carter had been born a bondsman sometime in the 1370s  around the time Richard II was crowned king and the first […]

    Immortal Meals #27: The Honey Baby March 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals #27: The Honey Baby

    It is a story still told in hushed voices by archaeologists and classicists. Here is a recent version by Ken Albala from his (very good) lecture series on the history of food. So there is this revealing story of this group of Egyptologists and they find this perfectly sealed jar of honey and they open […]

    Immortal Meals #26: The Professors and the Cave Bone Broth September 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals #26: The Professors and the Cave Bone Broth

    The immortal meals series has included prehistoric food and it has included an unlikely Victorian dinner in a dinosaur but this reference, thanks to Chris from Haunted Ohio Books is on a whole different level. Some of the bones of extinct animals found beneath the stalagmite floor of caves in England and elsewhere, presumably of […]

    Immortal Meals #25: Champagne, Nests and the Courthouse September 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #25: Champagne, Nests and the Courthouse

    Beach is not sure why he finds this meal so appealing, but it is probably something to do with the disregard for frontier law and the ability of Texans to improvise entertainment out of a goose, a shack and some eggs. Sherman is and was the capital of Grayson County in Texas. In 1858 a […]

    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén’s Eggfight August 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén's Eggfight

    Jaén in Andalucia (Spain) is a town with its roots in Spain’s troubled late middle ages, half Arab, half Christian. Jaén also stars in a wonderful book by one of our greatest living medievalists Teofilo ‘God’ Ruiz now at UCLA. In City and Spectacle, Ruiz describes life in fifteenth-century Jaén in terms of the shows, […]

    Immortal Meals #23: Family Meals, Medan Style June 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Immortal Meals #23: Family Meals, Medan Style

    This is a first in the immortal meal series, a repast that is probably, we must hope, mythical, but one that launches a genre that we are still trying to forget two and a half millennia later. First some background. Herodotus, the father of history, gives us only one account of the birth and childhood […]

    Immortal Meals #22: Mesmerism Tea Party April 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #22: Mesmerism Tea Party

    This story combines three Beachcombing interests: first, mesmerism, and second, the practical joke framed, third, in an immortal meal, one that many readers would have killed to have attended. We are in the town of Hexham in the north of England in 1871. Mr Morgan, a professor of mesmerism has come to town to impress […]

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