Anita’s famous tomato chutney

By popular demand, here is the recipe for my famous tomato chutney.  It is somewhat modified from Madhur Jaffrey, An Invitation to Indian Cooking:

Sweet and spicy tomato chutney

1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (yes, a whole head)

a piece of fresh ginger, 2 in long, 1 in thick, 1 in wide, peeled and roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

2 lbs tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/8-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)

Put garlic, ginger and 1/2 cup vinegar in blender and puree.  In a heavy-bottomed pan place tomatoes, the rest of the vinegar, sugar, salt. Bring to a boil, then add contents of blender.  Lower heat and cook very slowly for 1 1/2 hours or more, uncovered, until thick.  Add cayenne after about a hour, tasting to see how hot you want it.  I use 1/8 teaspoon of the hot cayenne I get at the co-op.  You can also use hot red pepper flakes. Stir frequently especially toward the end or it WILL stick and burn because of the sugar.  It should be as thick as honey with some chunks (this depends on how much you chop the tomatoes)– it should coat the back of a spoon when it is done.  It will be dark, dark red.  You can put it in canning jars and process or just put it in jars and keep it in the fridge — it keeps a while and it is good on anything.  Try it on a cheese sandwich.  It is amazingly good.  Makes about 2 cups, depending on how juicy the tomatoes are (if they’re really juicy it will make less).  The recipe can be doubled.

 

 

The Cats of Praia Vermelha

For the past week, I’ve been at the International Congress for the History of Science and Technology, held at the Praia Vermelha (“red beach”) campus of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  There are a lot of cats on the campus.  I don’t know their background; they seem to be strays, but are well fed and cared for.  I’ve been taking pictures of them for days; here’s a selection.

sleeping under cars

The cats liked to sleep around parked cars.  They followed the sun.

They seemed completely uninterested in people. more cats with cars

clean catsBut people were interested in them.

shelterThere was a shelter set up, with food and water.

boxesAnd newspaper-lined boxes because cats like boxes.  They were under the care of an organization for stray animals.

 

 

 

another sign
Attention! Cats in the Road!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The university did not seem particularly happy about their presence.

sign
“Federal Area.  Prohibited to abandon animals on campus.”

But this one-eyed ginger boy seemed supremely unconcerned.

sleeping pirate

Discovering Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 2017

I am sitting in the sun on the roof of my hotel in Rio, looking at the heavily forested hills to the east, the high rise hotels lining the Copacabana to the south, the elaborate rooftop garden across the Avenida de Princesa Isabel, and beyond, the rickety tin shacks of a favela creeping up a hill. It is winter in the tropics, and the temperature is 22 C (about 72 F) at 10 AM.

About 400 years ago, in 1637 or so (the sources differ on the dates), a young Dutch artist named Frans Post (1612-1680) travelled to South America at the invitation of the new Dutch governor of what was then a Dutch colony at Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil, which the Dutch held from 1630 until 1654.

Frans_Post_-_Paisagem_de_Pernambuco
Frans Post, Landscape of Pernambuco, 1637-44, Museu nacional de Belas Artes, Rio. Wikimedia

The Dutch governor, Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen (1604-1679), ruled over the sugar-rich territory between 1636 and 1644.

Map of Brazil from 17th century
Map of Dutch Brazil, ca 1639

According to art historians, Post completed eighteen landscapes while in Brazil, documenting Dutch possessions, including the port of Recife.  Post painted many more Brazilian landscapes from memory after his return to the Netherlands.  Another artist accompanying the governor, Albert Eckhout (1610-1666), painted people, including the slaves who worked on the sugar plantations, as well as plants and animals.

I saw a couple of Post’s later paintings last week at the art museum in São Paulo.  I had never heard of Frans Post, and knew only vaguely of the Dutch presence in Brazil.  I was intrigued by these large, lush landscapes laden with tropical plants, Dutch planters, and slaves.

Post View of Olinda 1662
Frans Post, View of Olinda, Brazil, 1662. Rijksmuseum

Some of his earlier works are at the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio; oddly, most of them are in Paris at the Louvre, presented as a gift to Louis XIV in 1679.  Some of Eckhout’s paintings, part of the same gift, became the basis of Gobelins tapestries. In 1645, Post made several engravings of his earlier paintings to illustrate a book by Caspar Barlaeus (1584-1648) on Johan Maurits’s tenure as governor, Rerum per octennium in Brasilia et alibi nuper gestarum (Recent achievements in Brazil over the past eight years), published in 1647.

Recently, a curator in the Netherlands discovered thirty-four previously unknown drawings of Brazilian animals made by Post during his stay.  Here is one, of a jaguar.   The caption calls it a “tiger,” and notes that some he has seen are black.

Post cat
Frans Post, Jaguar, ca. 1637-1644. Noord-Hollands Archief, Haarlem

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam exhibited these drawings last winter, accompanied by taxidermied animals from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden.  Sorry I missed it!

Johan Maurits appointed not only artists but also naturalists, to document the incredible richness and strangeness of Brazil. Among them was the German naturalist, astronomer, and explorer Georg Marcgraf (1610-1644), who arrived in Brazil early in 1638 and stayed until Johan Maurits’s departure; Marcgraf died shortly thereafter in Angola.  With Marcgraf was a Dutch physician, Willem Piso (1611-1678).  Together Marcgraf and Piso documented Brazilian flora and fauna.  Piso held a particular interest in indigenous remedies, following in the footsteps of Spanish physician Francisco Hernández (1514-1587), who had recorded Mexican plants and animals and the Aztec pharmacopoeia in the 1570s.  Hernández’s work finally appeared, much truncated, as Rerum medicarum Novae Hispaniae thesaurus (1651).

L0001205 F. Hernandez, 1517-1587, Rerum Medicarum..., 1649
Hernandez, Thesaurus, 1651

Johannes de Laet (1581-1649) edited the work of Piso and Marcgraf into the beautiful volume Historiae naturalis Brasiliae, published in 1648, a landmark in the natural history of the new world.

Historia-Naturalis-Brasiliae
Marcgraf and Piso, Historia naturalis Brasiliae, 1648

Many of the illustrations came from the work of Post and Eckhout.

Several historians, including Hal Cook, Britt Dams, and Neil Safier, have written about Marcgraf and Piso.  I have seen less about their relationship with Post and Eckhout (which does not mean that that work does not exist).  I like to think of these young men, all still in their twenties in the late 1630s, walking through the magical landscape of Brazil and recording its treasures, far from home in northern Europe.

 

Vesalius in Wonderland

eu040001Last month, artist Lisa Temple-Cox had a residency at Oregon State for two weeks as part of the Horning Series on “The Material Body” that I organized this academic year. Among the numerous talks and demonstrations she gave was this collaborative talk with art historian Glenn Harcourt on a joint project they are calling “Vesalius in Wonderland.” During the talk, Glenn describes the project while Lisa does a life-size copy of one of Vesalius’s illustrations. A video of the talk is here.

Accompanying the talk was a copy of the new English translation of Flemish anatomist Andreas Vesalius’s landmark 1543 work De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, The Fabric of the Human Body in Seven Books.  The translation is full, folio size, beautifully printed with detailed reproductions of the original illustrations.  You can see some samples here.  The Horning Endowment funded the purchase of this volume by the Special Collections and Archives Research Center at OSU, where the talk took place.

Sup on a Syllabub

I cannot resist this post from the National Library of Medicine’s excellent blog, Circulating Now.

Circulating Now from NLM

By Anne Rothfeld

Caricature of food consumption; two men and a woman eating ice cream.Les Mangeurs de Glaces, 1825
NLM #A021418

Want an intriguing dessert from the past to satisfy your present day holiday palate? Serve the syllabub: a cream-based treat, mixed with sweet wine and lemon juice, then whipped with cream until frothy, and garnished with a seasonal herb. The acids, which rise from the lemons to firm the cream, then separate from the wine, which sinks into a two-part delectable sweet course. Syllabub, wine mixed with well-whisked cream, originates from the name Sille, a wine-growing region in France known for its sweet wine, and bub, an English slang word for a bubbling drink.

Eighteenth-century English cooks whisked syllabubs into a froth then placed the mixture into a pot to separate. Next, the mixture was spooned through a fine sieve to drain, oftentimes overnight. Before serving to guests, the creamy foam was topped with a splash of…

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