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Winemaker Clark Smith, author of the fascinating new book Postmodern Winemaking, held a seminar at the Ace Hotel in New York City on Dec. 15. Attendees included winemakers and other industry professionals — several Long Island winemakers were in attendance, including Ron Goerler of Jamesport Vineyards and Mark Tobin of Mattebella Vineyards. In his new book, Smith tackles complicated and sometimes controversial topics; the title alone is a potential philosophical rabbit hole waiting to happen. Essentially, Smith is urging the wine industry to embrace available technology, while considering what traditions may have been lost with the advancement of these relatively new technologies. He calls for a focus on terroir — the special characteristics that factors like climate, geography, and the grape’s particular genetics express in the final product — and the creation of "soulful" wine, a term that is highly subjective.
His book is a tool for winemakers and a sinewy bone on which to gnaw for wine geeks. On the page and in life, Smith is outspoken, funny, frenetic, and sometimes contradictory (often contradicting himself); I get the feeling he likes it that way. In the book, Smith notes, "I am often told, 'I like your writing, but I don’t agree with everything you say.' I should hope not. If you are constantly in accord with my assertions, I have wasted my time." Ultimately, Smith is creating a conversation about the art and craft of wine, and what qualifies as quality.
Smith is highly transparent when it comes to his own winemaking practices, which include, for instance, alcohol adjustment and use of oak chips rather than new oak barrels. He urges all winemakers to be transparent in their winemaking methods. When I asked Smith why he thinks his open discussion of technology is sometimes the source of controversy, he replied, "The truth is extremely expensive." The implication, I believe, is that the suggestion of "manipulated" wine has often caused critics to bristle. In fact, Smith reviles the use of the word manipulation, explaining that "All wines are highly manipulated," suggesting that all of the work done in winemaking is manipulation. At the seminar, he passed around a brief handout, which included two definitions of the word for our consideration:
1. Treatment or operation with or as if with the hands or by mechanical means, especially in a skillful manner.
2. Shrewd or devious management by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage.
The two definitions, he notes, "conjoin artisan and scoundrel."
Winemakers, sommeliers, and critics can argue Smith’s points ad nauseam, but how might any of this affect the consumers who are actually purchasing the wine? Although the conversation at the seminar was sometimes spirited, the winemakers in attendance were clearly driven by the desire to make wines they could stand behind, and that consumers would be interested in buying.
So what is a postmodern wine drinker to do? Postmodernism may be characterized in part by a deep-seated skepticism of anything that claims to be the truth, and that may apply to the wine industry as well as any other facet of contemporary culture — an industry which is broader and deeper than ever before. Choice is the name of the game, and there is something for everyone, at every price point, style, and production technique, for consumers who want to take that information into consideration. Of the consumer takeaway, Master of Wine Lisa Granik, a speaker at the symposium, noted that "Consumers should first trust their own palates as to what they like and don't like — they shouldn't feel the need to slavishly follow the views of any critic or number. At the same time, they should always remain open to experimentation, even to revisiting wines they might have not liked in the past, because their palates change and wines change."
What some consider manipulation, others consider craftsmanship. Ultimately, winemakers aim to make a product consumers will enjoy. Progress in any field is often the result of renegade thinking, and irreverent personalities unafraid to march to the beat of their own drum. In Postmodern Winemaking, Smith discusses his favorite wine style, or wines that are intended to intrigue. He notes that these wines "don’t run with the traffic, and that is their appeal." Clark Smith doesn’t run with the traffic either, and that, in turn, is his appeal.
The sofa is your multiplex: how to keep cinema alive in the age of coronavirus
A sold-out screening of a new blockbuster, filled with hundreds of punters – it’s a scene that might feature in a public health information message about coronavirus. No surprise, then, that cinemas were among the first public places to shut down during the outbreak. Yet cinema provides exactly the kind of escapism the public demands at times like these. Here are a few ways Hollywood is keeping the communal medium of film-watching alive during a time of self-isolation.
Food From the Age of Shakespeare
Enthralled by Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House stories when I was a young girl, I once made one of the frontier family’s staple dishes, a cornmeal porridge called hasty pudding. One of my fourth-grade classmates peered into the bubbling mixture and remarked, “Look, it’s breathing.” Undaunted, I’ve continued my forays into historical cookery, from the Mulligatawny stew popularized by British settlers in India to an American colonial dessert called slump. While my cooking is purely recreational, it sometimes takes inspiration from my professional life as a communications associate at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The library’s current exhibition, Beyond Home Remedy: Women, Medicine, and Science, which runs through May 14 and highlights medicinal remedies 17th-century women concocted to treat everything from gunshot wounds to rickets, got me thinking about cooking again. Women in England and colonial America were self-taught healers who compiled remedies along with their favorite recipes in notebooks then called “receipt” books. Handwritten instructions for making cough syrup might appear in the same volume—or even on the same page—as tips for stewing oysters.
The Folger’s collection of several dozen receipt or recipe books offers a fascinating window into life during Shakespeare’s era on medical practices, women’s literacy and popular foods. Recipe books were often circulated among family members, and it’s not uncommon to see handwriting from several individuals in one book, says Rebecca Laroche, who curated the exhibition. As I scanned the neatly hand-scripted books by housewives Elizabeth Fowler and Sarah Longe, I got the urge to try some of their recipes. We know little about these women they were literate, of course, and because Longe calls herself “mistress” and refers to King James I and Queen Elizabeth I in her book, historians surmise that she was informed and fairly well off, though not a member of the nobility. The notebooks, however, give us glimpses of the authors’ personalities.
Fowler had written her name and the date, 1684, on the cover and embellished them with swirls and curlicues. Her 300-page compendium includes poems and sermons. With an eye for organization, she numbered her recipes. Her recipe titles reflect her confidence in the kitchen: “To Make the Best Sassages that Ever was eat,” she labels one. Longe, whose 100-page bound vellum book dates from about 1610, also liberally sprinkles “good” and “excellent” in her recipe titles. But she attributes credit to others when appropriate: “Mr. Triplett’s Receipt for the Ague” or a cough syrup recipe “by D.R.”
Mr. Triplett’s elixir calls for three gallons of aqua vitae, probably brandy or whiskey, and Longe’s recipe for a beef roast includes a pint and a half of wine. Alcohol was a common ingredient for medicine as well as cooking. Other culinary techniques included feeding herbs to caged birds to produce a flavorful meat and keeping fish alive in watertight barrels to ensure freshness.
To kitchen test historic recipes, I passed up Fowler’s recipe “How to Rost a Calves Head,” choosing instead her rabbit fricassee as a main course and Longe’s “Gooseberry Foole” as a dessert. A chilled mixture of fruit and cream, fools are still popular today in England. But fricassee is a rarity in contemporary cookbooks, though English colonists brought it to America and chicken fricassee was reputedly one of Abraham Lincoln’s favorite dishes. The name derives from a French dish that is basically cut-up meat cooked in a sauce. Gooseberries, a tart, grape-size fruit, are available fresh in the summer in this country but usually only in the Pacific Northwest, so I ordered them frozen from Washington State. They cost about $10 a pound, plus delivery fees. Although whole dressed rabbits are available locally in the Washington, D.C. area, I ordered pre-cut, deboned pieces (1.5 pounds for $30) from a gourmet meat retailer in New Jersey. Both berries and rabbit arrived at my doorstep via overnight delivery, packed in dry ice.
Rabbit fricassee is a rarity in contemporary cookbooks, though English colonists brought it to America and chicken fricassee was reputedly one of Abraham Lincoln's favorite dishes. (Courtesy Amy Arden) Gooseberry Foole is a mixture of fruit and cream and served as a dessert. Fools are still popular today in England. (Courtesy Amy Arden) The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. features a collection of recipe books offering a fascinating window into life during Shakespeare's era. (Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
A major challenge to cooking from the days of yore is the dearth of details for cooking time, temperatures and ingredient quantities. Recipes may call for “a good store of onions” or instruct the cook to “lett it stand a great while.” Fowler did not specify how much winter savory for the fricassee, and Longe did not note how much sugar or rose water for the fool. One of the best professional cookbooks of the 17th century was Robert May’s The Accomplisht Cook, published in 1660. Drawing on his training in Paris and his career as a professional cook for English aristocrats, he often specifies quantities and cooking times, but that was not the case for many household recipe books. Technological limitations contributed to the vagueness of early recipes, says Francine Segan, food historian and author of Shakespeare’s Kitchen. The invention and availability of such devices as kitchen clocks and oven thermometers, as well as uniform measurements in the 1800s combined with a trend to make cooking more scientific, shifted the focus of recipes from personal taste and innovation to consistent, replicable results.
Segan’s personal view, however, is that’s today’s cooks are over-regimented. “A quarter of a teaspoon? Ludicrous!” she exclaims. “You have to be a cook and trust your palate.”
So I left my measuring spoons and cups in the cupboard and went on instinct.
The gooseberry fool was surprisingly easy. For color, I opted for ripe, red gooseberries instead of the pale green that Longe used. Per her instructions I scooped “two handfuls” in a bowl and used a spoon to “breake them very small.” With no guidelines for the amounts of sugar and rose water, I added what by my eye was about a half cup of sugar and several sprinkles of rose water. After the quart of cream had come to a “boyle,” I added a dash of nutmeg and folded in the gooseberry mixture. The fragrant rose water mingled with the aromatic spiced cream brought to mind a passage from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Titania, the fairy queen, is lulled to sleep in a forest of thyme and wild roses. “With sweet musk-roses and eglantine / There sleeps Titania.”
“Lett it stand till it bee cold,” Longe’s book instructed. I put the fool in the refrigerator, but during her day she might have chilled it in a root cellar or a purpose-built icehouse if she were lucky enough to afford one.
For the fricassee, I browned the pieces of rabbit in butter in a large skillet. I removed the meat, sautéed the chopped onions, parsley and thyme (a substitute for Fowler’s winter savory) and returned the rabbit to the pan and let it simmer about 20 minutes. I served the fricassee with peas and mashed potatoes. The common combination of herbs, onions and butter created a stew both savory and familiar, and the rabbit reminded me of chicken, but more flavorful and tender. My dinner guests ate with gusto, using the pan juices as gravy for the potatoes. Was this comfort food circa 1684?
As a finale, the fool was not quite as successful. Though delicately spiced, the mixture never fully solidified, leaving it a gloppy texture. Perhaps I didn’t boil the cream long enough. “A surprise to the palate,” said one guest puckering at the unfamiliar gooseberries. In my recipe makeover for the fool, I recommend raspberries, which have a delicate balance of sweet and tartness. Because we’re blessed with electrical appliances, I converted the fool recipe to a fast no-cook version. Over the centuries chicken became a popular fricassee meat and it will substitute well for the rabbit, which was common fare for our 17th-century ancestors. Fowler’s recipe called for a half pound of butter, but I used considerably less to spare our arteries.
As I offer these changes, I feel as if I’m scribbling a few notes in Sarah Longe’s and Elizabeth Fowler’s recipe books. Somehow, I don’t think they’d mind at all.
The “Roman” recipes and their recreation
The Romans left us a variety of different recipes for food and drink. Two of them form the basis of an ongoing research project between the co-owners of Barn Hammer Brewing Company — Tyler Birch and Brian Westcott — and myself that attempts to answer some of these questions.
The first is a recipe for beer that dates to the fourth century Common Era (CE). It appears in the work of Zosimus, an alchemist, who lived in Panopolis, Egypt, when it was part of the Roman empire. The second is a recipe for a mead probably from Italy and dating to the first century CE, written by a Roman senator called Columella.
Beer mash. Matt Gibbs, Author provided (No reuse)
Both recipes are quite clear concerning ingredients, with the exception of yeast. Yeast, or more appropriately a yeast culture, was often made from dough saved from a day’s baking. Alternatively, one could simply leave mixtures out in the open. But the processes and measurements in them are more difficult to recreate.
The brewing of the beer, for instance, required the use of barley bread made with a sourdough culture: Basically a lump of sourdough bread left uncovered. To keep the culture alive while being baked required a long, slow baking process at a low temperature for 18 hours.
Zosimus never specified how much water or bread was needed for a single batch this was left open to the brewers’ interpretation. A mix of three parts water to one part bread was brewed and left to ferment for nearly three weeks.
The brewing of the mead was a much easier process. Closely following Columella’s recipe, we mixed honey and wine must . The recipe in this case provided some measurements, and from there we were able to extrapolate a workable mix of roughly three parts must to one part honey.
We then added wine yeast and sealed the containers. These were placed in Barn Hammer’s furnace room for 31 days in an attempt to imitate the conditions of a Roman loft.
Hours & Location
In keeping the traditions alive, Brenner&rsquos on the Bayou was opened in 2007 and is situated in a picturesque retreat on Houston&rsquos Buffalo Bayou. While paying homage to some of the original Brenner&rsquos favorites, Brenner&rsquos on the Bayou hosts its own unique menu, wine list, and unforgettable backdrops. The dramatic two-story dining room features breathtaking views from every table and with its rustic, yet elegant atmosphere, Brenner&rsquos private dining rooms provide an ideal setting for intimate or group gatherings. For an experience that is unlike any other &ndash the outside areas offer an escape from the city bustle with its lush greenery, cascading stone waterfall, and idyllic gazebo. In addition, the outdoor decks of Blue Bar will allow you to immerse yourself in nature while still basking in the luxuries of cover and comfort while sipping on hand-crafted cocktails and treating yourself to a variety of small plates. With our focus on personalized service, every occasion will be an experience to remember.
Colorado Distillery Is Changing The Game With A Line Of Exquisite Vintage Liqueurs
Cousins Ian and Nick Lee co-founded Lee Spirits Co. in Colorado Springs in 2013, with the aim of bringing back pre-Prohibition-style spirits. The company, one of the fastest growing in Colorado, started by making gin along with accompanying liqueurs that would fit into classic cocktail recipes exactly as originally written. The company strives to create products that help the modern bartender make the past, present. And boy, are they succeeding.
Lee Spirit's Co. is a Colorado Springs distillery specializing in craft gin and a line of vintage . [+] liqueurs made with all natural ingredients.
My first experience with these outstanding spirits was at a presentation from Ian Lee during the San Antonio Cocktail Conference, titled Forgotten Liqueurs. After listening to his story and tasting through the line-up I became an immediate fan and started seeking local establishments where I could enjoy them. In Austin, I found that Academia’s lead barman Steven Tucker was just as enthused by the products as I was.
When sales manager Brandon Hedrick stopped on a cold-call to show the products to Tucker, it didn’t take long for the experienced barman to know he needed to bring the spirits on to his program. “I was so excited about the products,” he says. “They are versatile and can be used to replace other ingredients. It was amazing to relearn how to use these old school liqueurs in their many applications.” Tucker made me a simple martini using Lee’s Dry Gin and Crème de Rose, served in a liquid nitrogen-chilled coupe, that brought out all the nuances of the spirits.
A classic Old Fashioned gets a makeover with Lee Spirit's creme de rose.
In addition to aiding in our understanding of the world that existed when these products were created - and trying to pull that time into the now - they make everything more interesting,” says Ian Lee when describing the liqueurs. “Customers love things that take them a step closer to the gilded age of cocktails from a historical level as it adds value to the experience of the drink itself.”
The crème de rose is unlike anything I’ve tasted before. Unlike the crème de violet (which is usually not to my taste, but Lee’s is the best I’ve had) it doesn’t evoke grandma’s eau de cologne. Instead, it tastes like fresh petals from an organically-grown Belinda’s Dream antique rose – and I know because I grow them. I have taken to enjoying it over ice, with a splash of mineral sparkling water and a few drops of lemon. It’s like spring in a glass.
Lee Spirits Co.’s portfolio includes an Alpine liqueur flavored with fresh herbs and spices, a delicious crème de cacao and a recreation of the classic Forbidden Fruit. Made with white grapefruit, Colorado honey and a blend of spices, this liqueur was originally created in the late 1800s and enjoyed great popularity until it disappeared in the 1970s in favor of Chambord.
The Amelia cocktail is a perfect spring sipper, blending strawberry ginger gin with creme de rose.
Regarding the resurrection of vintage spirits, Lee says that finding the originals is rare, which makes them expensive. “However, we're providing access to products that are era-correct and supporting consumers at home and behind the bar,” he says. “This movement will grow as bartenders provide experiences for their guests and desire to inspire them to pursue the easily attainable [spirits] and a highly rewarding, era-correct craft of cocktails at home.”
Lee Spirits Co. is also staying true to its roots as a gin distillery. Their first product was a dry gin flavored with angelica, cardamom, coriander, juniper, lemon and orange peel and orris root, among other botanicals. With this as a base, they developed two all-natural flavored gins. Ginfuego gets its kick from fresh jalapeño, Fresno and chile de arbol, while Strawberry Ginger Gin is ideal, as Lee puts it, as a poolside sipper. In stark contrast to sweetened and colored pink gins in the market today, Lee’s Spirts’ strawberry ginger gin is made with fresh ingredients and bottled at a strength of 45% ABV. With its forward strawberry notes and light spice in the back, it is perfect for cocktail crafting.
Ginfuego turns a Bee's Knees into a spicy cocktail with great depth.
At the distillery’s tasting room, named Brooklyn’s on Boulder St. after Nick’s daughter, visitors can taste the products and enjoy cocktails crafted by head bartender Phil Taylor, who spends the other half of his time helping develop products and gathering historical evidence for products in the pipeline. Brooklyn’s was listed in the Travel Channel’s 15 Hidden Speakeasy Bars You'll Want to Find. The latest release from Lee Spirits Co. is Winston Lee, a North American blended whiskey available throughout Colorado with expanded distribution planned to additional states in 2019.
We've seen major movements in the spirits industry towards brands that can prove that their products are handmade,” says Lee. “But to tie a product to the ritual of the past goes beyond the proof of handmade.” As an example, he cites that a bartender can share a drink with a customer and say that he knows that his great grandfather would have drank the same cocktail in the same way, because he was alive when it was being served the first time around. “It's not just handmade - these things are American, handmade, antique vintage products that create an experience, or a connection, rarely seen today. This desire of consumers to seek out and search for old connections to vintage things, experiences and rituals fuels our desire to keep making them.”
At The Golden Goose in South Austin, bartenders are using Lee Spirits in creative, delicious . [+] cocktails.
Closer to my neighborhood, The Golden Goose serves a couple of cocktails made with Ginfuego and strawberry ginger gin. Both are excellent and I am happy to see more bartenders discovering these amazing forgotten liqueurs. Try your hand with one of these simple recipes.
Rose Old Fashioned
2 dash Fee Orange bitters
Build with ice in old fashioned glass, garnish with lemon peel.
1 1/4 oz Strawberry Ginger Gin
Shake and strain, garnish with lemon expression.
1 oz Strawberry Ginger Gin
Build with ice in old fashioned glass, garnish with orange pee.l
1 1/4 oz Strawberry Ginger Gin
Shake with ice, strain into a flute, top with bubbles.
Killer Bee's Knees
Shake with ice, strain into cocktail coupe.
I'm a Mexico City-born writer based in Austin, Texas covering dining, drinking and travel since 1999. I think globally, widely interested in local ingredients and
Postmodern Wine: Keeping Traditions Alive in the Age of Tech - Recipes
SUE SAMUELSON AWARD FOR FOODWAYS SCHOLARSHIP 2017
This examination of two sites of culinary tourism on the Mediterranean island of Gozo explores the ways in which each defines “authentic” Gozitan identity through the selection and intensification of specific food ingredients, recipes, production processes, and educational activities. Fieldwork revealed how each site variably stresses these food production aspects to manufacture a version of Gozitan identity and uses the rhetoric of authenticity to assign value to a romantic representation of Gozitan culinary heritage. Beyond providing education about local ingredients, traditional agricultural methods, and the food preparation processes according to recipes handed down through generations, each site offers visitors tangible representations of Gozitan identity that they may take home and continue to interact with: material objects that have also been carefully selected, presented, and commodified for the tourist gaze.
Key Words: Malta, Gozo, culinary tourism, identity
The densely populated Maltese archipelago of three inhabited islands—Malta, Gozo, and Comino—sits in the midst of the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Libya. Years of invasion and foreign occupation have left a distinct mark on the physical and cultural landscape and have combined to create a history and lifestyle of which the Maltese people are extremely proud. Today, Malta is host to over one million annual visitors (Malta Tourism Authority) who come to experience the Mediterranean climate, the stunning landscape, and the rich cultural heritage. One piece of Malta’s complex cultural identity can be found in its foodways. Through the lenses of folklore studies, cultural studies, and food studies, this paper examines two sites of culinary tourism on the island of Gozo that attempt to define “authentic” Gozitan identity through food.
This paper compares and contrasts the ways in which aspects of local foodways are selected and focused upon at these sites in order to create a version of Gozitan identity. Through local ingredients, recipes, food production processes, and educational activities featured at each site, visitors learn what to expect of “authentic” Gozitan foodways. Guides and workers at each site stress its respective origins—whether physically close or from within the family—using site features and the rhetoric of authenticity to assign value to a romantic representation of Gozitan culinary heritage.
After centuries of invasions and outside rule, Malta gained independence in 1964, became a republic in 1974, and entered into the European Union in 2004. Tourism, mostly made up of Western Europeans, provided the majority of Malta’s income at the time of this research (Malta Tourism Authority). Gozo, the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago, with an area of roughly 40 square miles, is located 3 ¾ miles off the northern coast of the main island of Malta. With a population of about 31,000, Gozo is more rural and agricultural than its larger sister island. In a 1969 study, Ian Masser reported that 50% of the population of Gozo was part of the traditional farming community and that the island’s industry was largely connected to the “processing of agricultural produce” (240-241). In 1999 Thelma Barer-Stein confirmed that this had not changed much—at least in perception. She stated that local customs were quite distinguishable and the Gozitans were seen as “the Scotsmen of our islands” by their Maltese counterparts (305), painting the smaller island’s inhabitants as wild and rugged compared to those of the more “civilized” Main Island. The perceived concept of rural otherness plays a large role in the manufactured sense of authenticity expressed in the following examples of Gozitan foodways. It was on this smaller island that my fieldwork took place.
In August of 2014, I spent three weeks living in the coastal Gozitan village of Xlendi with a dozen students of anthropology and a handful of instructors from the University of Leuven in Belgium. 1 Armed with a proposal inspired by undergraduate coursework in folklore, I was ready to jump into one of my first post-collegiate experiences with fieldwork. With an interest in cultural commodification, I searched for presentations of the “authentic” and “traditional” offered for visitors on the small island. Online investigation had led me to the Magro Food Village and Savina Creativity Center, which advertised an interactive experience for tourists that focused on “traditional” Gozitan foods and crafts. After my arrival, I saw sign boards for Ta’ Mena, an agro-tourism estate that offered tours followed by a tasting of traditional Gozitan specialties, the majority of which were produced on site. Ultimately my fieldwork study focused centrally on comparing and contrasting these two Gozitan sites.
My fieldwork on the island included participant observation based on multiple tours of the Magro factory and a tour and tasting at the Ta’ Mena Estate. I took photographs of the built and natural environments and material culture, and held informal in-person and email interviews with staff, tour guides, and executive personnel including Joanna Magro—a member of the founding family of the Food Village—and Joseph Spiteri, director of Ta’ Mena Estates.
My observations in the field were structured around foodways: the “network of behaviors, traditions, and beliefs concerning food” which includes the activities from procurement to “preparation, presentation, and performance” (Long 2004: 8). Lucy Long defines culinary tourism as “the intentional, exploratory participation in the foodways of an ‘other’” (2004: 21). While some scholars discuss culinary tourism that results simply from the need for subsistence while in a new place (Mak, Lumbers, Eves, and Chang 2012 Long 2004), my fieldwork in Gozo specifically considers two sites visited by tourists who make an effort to travel to a specific location and participate in a set of activities through which they can experience the foodways of the “other”—spending time and in some cases, money, to do so.
The Magro Food Village, located in the city center of Xewkija, Gozo, offers a variety of experiences ranging from a seasonally available tour of the tomato processing factory—around which the Food Village experience was built—to cooking classes featuring traditional Gozitan foodstuffs led by master chefs (Savina: Visitor’s Information). The website states that the Food Village offers a “unique experience in local food-making and crafts all under one roof,” and that it is “a one-stop shop for all travelling taste buds!” (Magro Group: Factory Tours). Whether visitors are simply part of a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the island (Photo 1)—who stop for ten minutes to browse the gift shop filled with “traditional and authentic” souvenirs that can be taken home—or they pre-book a tour and explore the factory with a guide for over an hour, the Magro Food Village and Magro Group are proud of the organization’s role in “keeping Gozitan culinary traditions alive” (Magro Group: visitor video).
Photo 1. Hop-on hop-off tour bus parked outside of the Magro Food Village. Xewkija, Gozo, July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
In 1916, the original Magro brothers joined their father in his business as a merchant in Pjazza Savina in Gozo’s capitol, Victoria. In 1934, the brothers entered the business of canning and processing fresh tomatoes grown on Gozo along with “the importation into Malta of livestock, fodder and foodstuffs and exports of local agricultural produce” (Magro Group: “Our History”). Through the following generations, the business continued to expand and in 1995 the company moved into a new factory that is now a “centre of excellence for food processing in the Mediterranean” that exports its products to over 20 countries (Magro Group: “Our History”). The company is currently in the hands of the fourth generation of the Magro family. Not only does the company offer tourists the chance to learn about the history of the company and purchase food and souvenirs, but, depending on the interest of the visitor, a variety of activities is also available. These include a free tour of the Savina Creativity Center, a free (but pre-booked) tour of the Magro Food Village, including the tomato processing plant and the dairy center, and a pre-booked session in the Magro Village Kitchen, including lectures, group activities, and cooking classes for a fee.
Compared to the Magro factory and Food Village, Ta’ Mena Estates offered quite a different experience, though the central themes remained the same. Ta’ Mena is a family owned estate in Xaghra, Gozo that offers “Maltese Wine, Agritourism Activities and Traditional Foods” (Ta’ Mena Enterprises). Through the generosity of Ta’ Mena’s director Joseph Spiteri, I was invited to tour the estate and participate in the food and wine tasting that followed. Located in the rural countryside, the gated entrance to the estate opened into a tented outdoor seating area and a small roadside shop. In 1936, Joseph Spiteri’s grandfather owned two hectares of land in Xhagra on which he cultivated grapes for wine making. In the 1960s his mother Carmela—known as Mena—purchased 23 more hectares of land and cultivated it. She offered the opportunity for people to come pick their own vegetables and shop the produce from her land until her death in 1986. In 2002, Joseph, his four siblings, and their father decided to pursue Mena’s dream of “integrating agriculture with tourism so that one sector sustains the other” (Ta’ Mena Enterprises). (Photo 2) The land that was once a fruit and vegetable garden now includes an orange grove, fruit trees, 1,500 olive trees, and over 10 hectares of vineyards. Their food production includes a mix of traditional methods and modern equipment, including a windmill from the 1930s, a winery, and a cold press for olive oil (Joseph Spiteri, personal communication Ta’ Mena Enterprises: About Us).
Photo 2. Roadside sign for Ta’ Mena in Xaghra. Gozo, July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
Ta’ Mena’s website states that its goal is to offer “more of what is unique to Gozo with its history, folklore and culture” (Ta’ Mena Enterprises: About Us). This includes “hands on agricultural experiences” during the harvest season, in which visitors can pick their own produce, take guided tours of the estate (free of charge), participate in tours followed by wine and olive oil tasting (pre-booking required), or experience private tours, lunches, and dinners that feature traditional and seasonal Gozitan specialties (with a minimum fee of €200). Ta’ Mena’s website also advertises cooking classes and the opportunity to observe wine making and the production of olive oil (Ta’ Mena Enterprises). Accommodations in self-catering apartments and rustic farmhouses are also available.
In his publication on staged authenticity in tourism, Dean MacCannell states that the desire of the tourist is to “share in the real life of the places visited, or at least to see that life as it is really lived” (1973: 594). The online English Oxford Living Dictionary gives several definitions for “authentic” including “of undisputed origin and not a copy genuine,” and “made or done in the traditional or original way” (Oxford University Press 2018), in other words, how close something is to how it “ought to be” (Appadurai 1986: 25). Bendix states that “[once] a cultural good has been declared authentic, the demand for it rises, and it acquires a market value (2004: 8). Tourists often look for authentic experiences, or at least experiences that are perceived to be authentic, and therefore, successful companies will cater to this need. Several scholars have since critiqued MacCannell’s work by stressing that authenticity is a construct and therefore subjective rather than being objective reality (Bendix 1997 Scarpato and Daniele 2003 Germann Moltz 2004). According to Jeannie Germann Moltz, there are several ways in which tourist experiences can project authenticity, from the ingredients used to the décor to those responsible for conveying the information (in Long 2004: 57). In their 2003 article “Staged Authenticity and Heritage Tourism,” Deepak Chhabra, Robert Healy, and Erin Sills mention that built environments are “perhaps the most obvious manifestations of heritage and the most popular destinations of heritage tourism” (704). Both the Magro Food Village and Ta’ Mena Estates operate from specific built environments to which tourists are invited in order to experience staged encounters with Gozitan heritage. Once within the purposefully constructed sites, visitors are not only presented with a version of Gozitan authenticity that is carefully crafted, but they are also shown the different components of this authentic food that imply value.
Three main components emerged that can be thought of according to their relationship to the food at both sites: where the food came from (ingredients), how the food is made (recipes and processes), and what the visitor can do to experience the food (activities)—both at the sites and after visitors leave. While the sites are quite different in size, scope, and content, both focus on the same components (and larger ideologies) to create a sense of local and authentic Gozitan identity through food that is created close to its origin and is therefore more valuable as both a process and a product.
The first component that plays a role at the Food Village and Ta’Mena is the origin of the sites’ ingredients, and consequently, the agricultural methods used to produce them. Both sites stress that their ingredients are local—whether they employ local farmers, like the Magro tomato processing factory, or grow the majority of the ingredients on site, in the case of Ta’ Mena. However, this is more than just a statement shared by those in charge of the guided tours. In both cases, visitors are taken to see the produce that is either recently harvested or still on the vine.
The Magro Food Village’s main focus is the tomato, as that is the chief product of the larger processing factory around which the Food Village is centered. (Photo 3) Seasonal tours of the factory include a visit to the loading docks where countless tomatoes are awaiting processing less than 24 hours after being harvested. This statistic is due to the minimal distance that the produce must travel—either from elsewhere on the island of Gozo or from Malta—to reach the factory. True to the company’s desire to stimulate the senses, a visitor is drenched in the thick smell of ripe tomatoes warming in the Mediterranean sun as the produce arrives at the factory. Not only are all visitors told that the tomatoes are fresh and brought to the factory on a daily basis, which is a point of company pride, but they are not expected simply to believe the guides rather, visitors are invited to see for themselves. According to Regina Bendix, the “scarcity value [of authentic items] is evaporating” because of the mass application of the term “authentic” to a variety of products (1997: 7). Perhaps it is for this reason that the Magro tours include a trip outside of the carefully constructed Savina Creativity Center and into the depths of a massive factory—the act of calling something authentic is no longer convincing rather, the Magro Food Village presents solid evidence in the form of mountains built from crates of tomatoes.
Photo 3. Sliced tomatoes drying in a display outside the Magro Food Village. July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
One must question, then, how the Magro Food Village communicates this idea of authentic products to those visitors who do not tour the factory and encounter the tomatoes, as this is another option for tourists as well as a seasonal necessity. I suggest that the stress applied to the seasonal production of the factory is implicitly responsible for this task. Just as tours of the factory are seasonal, so is the variety of products being produced by individuals behind glass walls in the Savina Creativity Center. By producing seasonal products, the company is implying that they are following the natural growing seasons and using fresh produce from the island’s traditional agricultural cycle. While this relationship is largely implied by the Magro Food Village, those at Ta’ Mena explicitly show their dedication to the use of fresh and local (and therefore more authentic) ingredients.
Visitors to Ta’ Mena are able to experience a more diverse selection of produce as they tour the Spiteri Estate, following paths through olive groves and looking out on acres of carob trees, fruit trees, and vineyards while a guide discusses the traditional methods of agriculture used on the family’s land (Photos 4 and 5). These include hand-picked produce and irrigation powered by an 80-year-old windmill. Visitors are literally led through the land on which the ingredients grow and in some cases are able to harvest the produce themselves (Ta’ Mena). Bendix connects the original form of a thing to the most authentic form of that thing (1997: 49), and whether discussing the original windmill or the locality of the produce, visitors at Ta’ Mena are asked and/or expected to recognize this connection between originality and authenticity, and therefore, value, prescribed by those in search of authenticity.
Photo 4. View of Ta’ Mena Estates, including historic windmill used for irrigation. July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
Photo 5. Walking tour of Ta’ Mena passing through olive grove. July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
Not only are the contemporary origins of the ingredients important, but the stability of each company’s history is emphasized. In both cases, a connection is drawn between the origins of each site and their present operations: the original Magro brothers exported local goods and Mena grew produce for locals to harvest. This portrayal fits with the rural and idealized view of Gozo that was related earlier about the conception of Gozitan identity. In fulfilling this notion, the Magro Food Village and Ta’ Mena are propagating the idea of a rural Gozo as the most authentic version that a tourist can experience, starting with local ingredients.
The second component is that of recipes and the production processes — how are the ingredients transformed into food products? The focus shifts from where in a physical sense to who — where is the origin located within the families that are responsible for presenting the food and the larger experience to visitors. Patterns reflect a romanticized vision of authenticity that generally falls to the responsibility of the women, and in the case of the Magro Food Village, women from some unidentified point in the past.
Both of the companies stress the role of recipes that have purportedly been handed down through the generations from the families’ respective forefathers. The companies both explicitly state and implicitly project this idea: Ta’ Mena’s website states that “[they] are using traditional recipes which were used by [their] fore-fathers who did not have refrigerators and freezers but still had to provide for the winter season” (“Our Products”), while the Magro Food Village reflects a more community-based locality which, in the case of cheeselets production, is “the same way [it] has been done for generations in small local farms” (Magro Group).
While the language that is used to communicate this close connection to the recipes is generally masculine or non-gendered, the majority of representation takes a female form, reflecting a case of essentialism which, according to Susan Gelman is “the view that categories [such as “girl” or “boy”] have an underlying reality or true nature that . . . gives an object its identity” (2003: 3). In the case of Ta’ Mena and the Magro Food Village, the connection between women and the creation of food is emphasized. Bendix identifies two types of authority that can be recognized when it comes to authenticity: the credibility of the anonymous folk or the credibility of a specific individual (46-47). The Magro Food Village and Ta’ Mena provide both. While the generally anonymous forefathers are mentioned, each site represents their food through at least one named female.
Ta’ Mena’s source of feminine authority is Mena herself, matriarch of the Spiteri family and in whose honor the estate was reopened. Though a majority of the workers, guides, owners, and farmers are male, the brand bears Mena’s name and carries her legacy. Photographs of Mena can be found on the estate’s website, but the image that is most firmly connected to her name is a stylized feminine head that serves as a logo for the brand (Photo 6).
Photo 6. Wine bottle from Ta’ Mena, featuring stylized woman’s head. September 2016. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
One of the central figures for the Magro Food Village and Savina Creativity Center is Sor Serafina, an aunt of the Magro family and a Franciscan nun (Photo 7). Her image is featured on a line of sweet treats and accompanied by the story of her recipes—lost and found again, and used to recreate her desserts, such as jam tarts, fruitcakes, and Maltese pastini, for visitors to the Magro Food Village. The following narrative is included on the packing of the entire line:
Amongst my grandmother’s papers, several years ago, I found a collection of recipes, handwritten by a relative of my grandmother, Sor Serafina. Born in 1892, Sor Serafina was a loving aunt of my family. She joined at a Franciscan nunnery at a very young age and became a regular provider of sweet delights for Christmas, Easter and our summer feast of Santa Marija. She passed away at the venerable age of 92. These gourmet desserts are re-created in her honor and we are proud to share the recipes of Sor Serafina with you and your loved ones. (John Magro box of Savina Creations product)
Photo 7. Sketch of Sor Serafina included on the packaging of a sweets line sold at the gift shop located in the Magro Food Village. July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
In a rhetorical move that is not new, but nevertheless effective, the companies have located a sense of their products’ authenticity in a feminine representation. However, one notable feature at Magro is the presence of multiple statues of anonymous women at the Magro Food Village in old-fashioned clothing and with bare feet (Photo 8)—the industrious “peasant woman” responsible for the creation of the food, if not now then at least at some point in the past. While this image contrasts with the workers behind glass windows in sterile uniforms, producing foods and wares for the gift shop in stainless steel kitchens, the anonymous women remind visitors whom the employees are emulating. One must then ask why this image is represented at the Magro Food Village and seemingly absent at Ta’ Mena.
Photo 8. Kitchen statue of unidentified woman carrying goods from Magro brands. Magro Food Village, July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
I suggest that the anonymous female statues in traditional garb are an active opposition to the Magro Food Village’s location within a large factory that sits in the middle of Xewkija, which is far less rural than Xhagra. Ta’ Mena, surrounded by the Gozitan countryside and situated among the produce that is transformed into the goods that can be bought at the end of the drive, does not need to evoke a romanticized version of a rural past because it is not so hard to imagine the history that the Spiteri family uses to legitimize their brand. On the other hand, the Magro Food Village actively works to offset the inherent modernity associated with sterile mechanized food production. By aligning their products with those people who are connected to the romanticized version of Gozitan authenticity, both sites make use of a rhetorical strategy that is not new, but nevertheless effective: locating their authority as purveyors of Gozitan food in the authority of both individual women and the “folk” at large through the depiction of Mena, Sor Serafina, and the anonymous women in historic garb.
Finally, both the Magro Food Village and Ta’ Mena offer a variety of activities that introduce visitors to their produced idea of Gozitan culture and food. A very basic visit to either site contains activities that are largely non-interactive. At the Magro Food Village, one can watch a video that depicts the history of the Magro family, watch workers infuse olive oils behind glass walls, and wander through the gift shop with strategically placed “photo points” before leaving the premises (Photo 9). Visitors to the roadside stand at Ta’ Mena, or those who participate in the free walking tour are led through the estate to look at the variety of plants and animals that contribute to the goods in the gift shop. However, both sites also offer more interactive experiences for those who are interested.
Photo 9. “Photo Point” bobbin lace-making diorama located inside the Magro Food Village gift shop. The figure is slightly larger than life and seated above eye level to provide picture-taking opportunities. July 2014. Photo: Kylie Schroeder.^
Additional activities at the Food Village include a tour of the Magro canning factory and an interactive presentation in the Magro Village Kitchen—in which tourists are encouraged to look for familiar products (ketchups, sauces, etc.) produced by the company—simulated milking competitions with cut out cows, and tomato bulls-eye throwing competitions. At Ta’ Mena, guests are welcome to pre-book a food and wine tasting and can even participate in harvesting ingredients and watching the production of olive oil or wine. Both offer cooking classes that teach the visitor to create typical Gozitan cuisine and are available for a price.
Regardless of the depth of interactivity by the visitor, trips to both sites end with a tasting of different food items and a trip to the gift shop. Not only can a visitor enact a version of Gozitan identity while at the site, but through the gift shop a visitor can leave with products that have been imbued—by experience and branding—with a sense of authenticity.
Obviously, the representations of Gozitan culinary and cultural authenticity depicted at Ta’ Mena and the Magro Food Village are not fully representative of the diversity of the island. However, these are two of the most visible representations for visitors to Gozo. Through presenting a similar focus at each site, though accomplished in different ways, these sites undoubtedly affect the representation—which is selected by proprietors at the sites—and the perceptions, consumed by visitors, of what makes Gozitan food special.
Not only are visitors to the Magro Food Village and Ta’ Mena Estate able to bring home foods, drinks, and other goods, but they also leave with a sense of what is “authentic” according to those with the power to select and present a specific view of what it means to be Gozitan and Maltese. Therefore, being closer to origin—either in location or in familial connection—means being closer to the original and more valuable. After learning about and interacting with the local ingredients and traditional agricultural methods, and food processed and prepared according to recipes handed down through generations, a visitor to either site is able to take home and continue to interact with a tangible representation of Gozitan identity that has been carefully selected, presented, and commodified for the tourist gaze.
(1)^ Off the Beaten Track Field School, Expeditions.
Appadurai, Arjun. 1986. Letters. Anthropology Today 2(4): 24-25.
Barer-Stein, Thelma. 1999. You Eat What You Are: People, Culture and Food Traditions. Ontario: Firefly Books Limited.
Bendix, Regina. 1997. In Search of Authenticity: The Formation of Folklore Studies. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Chhabra, Deepak, Robert Healy, and Erin Sills. 2003. Staged Authenticity and Heritage Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research 30 (3): 702–19.
Cohen, Erik. 1988. Authenticity and Commoditization in Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research 15 (3): 371–86.
Gelman, Susan A. 2003. The Essential Child: Origins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought. Oxford University Press.
Long, Lucy, ed. 2004. Culinary Tourism. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky.
MacCannell, Dean. 1973. Staged Authenticity: Arrangements of Social Space in Tourist Settings. American Journal of Sociology 79 (3): 589-603.
MacCannell, Dean. 1976. The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Mak, Athena H.N., Margaret Lumbers, Ania Eves, and Richard C.Y. Chang. 2012. Factors Influencing Tourist Food Consumption. International Journal of Hospitality Management 31(3): 928-936.
Masser, Ian. 1969. A Plan for Gozo. A Case Study of Problems of Tourism and Conservation. Town Planning Review 40 (3): 233-250.
Scarpato, Rosario, and Roberto Daniele. 2003. New Global Cuisine: Tourism, Authenticity and Sense of Place in Postmodern Gastronomy. In Food Tourism Around the World: Development, Management, and Markets, Routledge 2011 edition, ed. C. Michael Hall, Liz Sharples, Richard Mitchell, Niki Macionis, and Brock Cambourne, Chapter 17, 296-313. Oxford: Elsevier Ltd. New York: Routledge.
Snapshots of Daily Life in a Remote Region of Portugal
The Barroso is one of Portugal’s most isolated areas, known for its rough terrain, abiding agricultural traditions and stunning beauty.
Paulo Pires holds a newborn dwarf lamb at his barn in Covas do Barroso. Credit.
Photographs and Text by André Vieira
At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with travel restrictions in place worldwide, we launched a new series — The World Through a Lens — in which photojournalists help transport you, virtually, to some of our planet’s most beautiful and intriguing places. This week, André Vieira shares a collection of images from Portugal.
The Barroso, in northern Portugal, is part of the historical province of Trás os Montes — “behind the hills,” in Old Portuguese. It’s one of the nation’s most isolated areas, known for its harsh climate, rough terrain and stunning beauty. Its residents are sometimes dismissively (and wrongly) portrayed as simple and unsophisticated. The truth is that their profound attachment to their land and traditions makes Trás os Montes one of the most culturally unique parts of the country.
Isolation has made the traditions here particularly rich and diverse. Ancient Catholic rites have combined with the cultural vestiges from the many other peoples who, over several centuries, have found their way to the region: Visigoths, Celts, Romans, the soldiers of Napoleon’s army.
To survive the unforgiving geography, residents of the Barroso have, over time, developed a complex farming system that relies on the collective management of the water, forests and pastures used by their animals. This method has helped keep the soil fertile, the rivers and springs clean, and the landscape unblemished.
It is a system based on self-sufficiency, where residents eat what they grow, bake their own bread (often in their village’s ancient community oven), step on grapes from their orchards to make wine, and slaughter hogs to make sausages and ham — which they smoke above their kitchen’s fireplace.
In 2018, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization included the distinctive region on its list of “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems.” It was among the first European sites to receive such designation. The title was a morale booster for residents, who benefited from the new status by highlighting the environmentally friendly way in which their products are made and promoting the region as a prime location for ecotourism.
I come from Brazil, but my great-grandfather grew up in a village in Trás os Montes before migrating to South America. Portugal, once the seat of one of the richest empires in the world, has been beset in recent history by deep poverty, especially in the countryside. In search of a better life, millions of Portuguese emigrated to the country’s former colonies and richer countries in Europe. Many of those migrants were from Trás os Montes.
In late 2017, tired of living in post-Olympic Rio de Janeiro, I decided to move to Portugal, where photography became my way of getting to know a country which, despite my family origins, I knew only superficially. When I read about the region’s U.N. designation, I realized there was something special about my family’s roots that I wasn’t aware of, a perspective that my work as a photographer could give me the privilege of exploring in depth — which I did over many trips until the coronavirus pandemic hit.
My first stop was at the village of Vilarinho Seco, considered one of the best-preserved examples of the traditional architecture of the Barroso, with houses made of rustic stone, often with a shed for the animals on the ground floor, ornate granite granaries next to them, and public water fountains lining the streets every few hundred yards. Vilarinho is in one of the highest parts of the Barroso, at about 3,300 feet above sea level, in the middle of a windswept plateau.
A cold and wet fog covered the landscape on my first visit, limiting visibility. I roamed the streets of the village without meeting a soul, until I heard the faint and approaching sound of jingling bells. Soon, small groups of cows emerged from the mist, orderly marching in single file to their sheds to spend the night. Soon the village was full of life, with neighbors greeting each other in their muddy boots and wet clothes, taking time for a chat before heading home to sit around the fire, have dinner and end another hard day of work.
My first acquaintance in town was Elias Coelho, the patriarch of one of the oldest families in the village. He seemed to have something to discuss with everyone who walked by. It didn’t take long for him to invite me to his home, with a blazing fireplace in the kitchen and rows of sausages and smoked ham hanging from the ceiling above it.
“Here we make everything at home,” he proudly explained, pouring wine into my glass.
Clinging to his arm like a koala was Beatriz, his two-year-old granddaughter, the youngest resident of Vilarinho Seco. Her seven-year-old sister, Bruna, is the second youngest. There are no other children close to their age for them to play with, but most grown-ups seem to take the responsibility of looking after them as they freely roam around the village.
“Life here was very hard. Many people have left,” he said, lamenting the potential loss of the village and its traditions. “The young don’t want the heavy work in the fields anymore.”
Covas do Barroso, some 15 minutes south of Vilarinho by car, sits at around 2,000 feet above sea level. Its architecture is similar to that of Vilarinho Seco, but the landscape here is very different. The village lies on the edge of a valley, surrounded by forests of pine and oak. A pristine stream courses through it, and seemingly every house has an orchard full of grapevines and persimmon trees.
The coronavirus pandemic has largely spared the Barroso, which has benefited from its isolation. Montalegre, one of the region’s two municipalities, had fewer than 200 cases and one death since March. Boticas, the other municipality, managed to make it into November without a single infection. It’s now dealing with an outbreak of around 30 cases.
But the large Barroso diaspora, which returns each summer from all over the globe to the place they still call home, was also affected. Many still came, though they were largely denied the celebrations that make up a big part of the experience: the shared wine and food, the village festivals, the traditional games, songs and dances.
The region faces other threats, too. In 2019, residents of Covas were surprised by the news that a mining company was awarded a permit, given by the Portuguese government, to extract lithium in the mountains surrounding the village. Another company won the rights to mine near the village of Morgade, some 40 minutes away.
The news brought about fierce opposition from residents. Eventually, the companies were forced to delay their plans and produce a detailed environmental impact report for their projects.
“The government is always complaining that the interior of the country keeps losing population. Well, we are the ones who chose to stay and raise our families here. We are here out of choice, not because of a lack of options. And now they come to threaten our way of life,” said Nelson Gomes, one of the leaders of the resistance movement in Covas do Barroso. “They talk about the jobs that will be created, but they don’t realize that those are much less than the livelihoods that will be destroyed.”
Twelfth Night Spice and Fruit Cake
The period between Christmas Day and Twelfth Night (January 6) was an especially festive time in Elizabethan England and the 12 days of Christmas (Twelfth Night) was topped off with a large Twelfth Night spice and fruit cake. Cookbooks and household management books encouraged that people spend as much time as possible in the summer and autumn stocking their pantries in preparation for the festive season. That would have been especially important if you had a grand manor and could expect to feed 50 people or more twice daily, every day, for 12 days!
The Twelfth Night fruit cake would traditionally include a dried bean and a pea and the people who found them in their slice of cake would be declared the King and Queen of the Revels. Samuel Pepys’ 17th century Twelfth Night cake recipe mentions that the ingredients cost him almost 20 shillings and the cake was cut into 20 slices. Another recipe, taken from Lady Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book , dates to 1604, and produces a huge fruitcake that was cut into an amazing 160 slices! If you’d like to try your hand at making this recipe, here it is:
“Take a peck of flower, and fower pound of currance, on ounce of Cinamon, half an ounce of ginger, two nutmegs, of cloves and mace two peniworth, of butter one pound, mingle your spice and flower & fruit together, put as much barme as will make it light, then take good Ale, & put your butter in it, all saving a little, which you must put in the milk, & let the milk boyle with the butter, them make a posset with it, & temper the Cake with the posset drinkl, & curd & all together, & put some sugar in & so bake it. ”
Queen Victoria famously serve a fruitcake at her wedding in 1840. ( Public domain )
Instead of struggling for months on end, you can use this brilliant collection of gifts for 12 year old boys to find the perfect product that will keep them smiling from ear to ear all year long. Check it out now.
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Remembering Napa Valley wine pioneer Peter Mondavi
Peter Mondavi samples a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon out of the barrel at the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena.
The news came over the weekend that Peter Mondavi had died, at the age of 101. Son of Cesare Mondavi and brother of Robert Mondavi, Peter owned Charles Krug Winery in the Napa Valley with his family since the early 1940s, with Peter serving as the winemaker from 1944 to 1961.
Robert left the family business and started his own winery in 1966, in the process changing the history of winemaking in the Napa Valley and in all of California.
Peter was far less the showman than his flamboyant brother, but in many ways he was as innovative, as steadfast and as dedicated to establishing Napa as one of the world’s premier wine regions.
It was Peter, and not Robert, who drew the Napa Valley’s oldest commercial winery out of its post-Prohibition decrepitude and reestablished careful winemaking practices, acquiring important properties up and down the Valley floor. It was Peter who replaced the traditional redwood tanks at Charles Krug with French oak barrels, a rarity and an extravagance at the time, but one that the entire valley eventually adopted.
Through the ‘60s and ‘70s, Peter Mondavi and his family managed an ever-growing empire under the Charles Krug umbrella, a brand that, like that of his more famous sibling, became synonymous with tradition and quality.
Handsome, soft-spoken, devoted to his family, Peter Mondavi retired, at least officially, only last year. He is in the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Napa Valley Vintners’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Owing to his age, he has had more “living legend” citations than perhaps any winemaker alive.
But his greatest achievement, he liked to say, was to establish and sustain his winery as a family business, steering it through several acquisitive periods in Napa’s history, a fate to which his brother’s winery finally succumbed in 2004.
Peter’s century-plus on earth amounts to a timeline for the most cataclysmic shifts in wine history, where technology, taste and interest in this iconic California beverage advanced at breakneck speed. Mondavi and Krug kept pace, but it remains a brand with a strong sense of tradition, not only in its image but in its wines.
More than this, Peter Mondavi was one of the last and greatest links to Napa’s past, a visionary winemaker and owner who was instrumental in shepherding the Valley from its earliest roots into the 21st century. The Krug name survives because of him, but the Mondavi name — a shared legacy, to be sure — carries on alongside with equal potency.
Peter Mondavi Sr. is survived by two sons, Peter Jr. and Marc and a daughter, Siena.