Jimmy Branagh: We know who ya are, so no intro is necessary
Boiler Elf: I need no introduction!!!
Boiler Elf: Maybe some of you can sit at the table?
Boiler Elf: It gets lonely on the stage
Ceejay Writer: LADIES AND GERMS, THE Boiler Elf. There, you are all set.
Boiler Elf: Thank you for coming again this year.
Boiler Elf: It seems like it has been a big year for foodies
Boiler Elf: So I thought we’d talk about some food this year
Boiler Elf: as a caveat.. I just downed a glass of year old egg nog.
Boiler Elf: As an experiment.
Boiler Elf: If i am still here at the end of the hour, I will give you the recipe
Boiler Elf: and Yes, unpasteurizd eggs
Boiler Elf: There was no cooking involved, just a lot of booze and time
Boiler Elf: i made it last year for an event i never made it to
Boiler Elf: sooooooo
Boiler Elf: SANTA NEWS!!!
Boiler Elf: Oh my, something very very exciting has happened this year
Boiler Elf: anthropology gold
Boiler Elf: one of my brothers has been renamed
Boiler Elf: any guesses on who it might be?
Boiler Elf: all of us gift giver followers are brothers
Boiler Elf reveals a picture
Boiler Elf: Zwarte Piet
Boiler Elf: or Black Peter
Boiler Elf: This year, in Amsterdam, the official Piet is Sooty Peter
Boiler Elf: Also moving to Chimney Peter
Boiler Elf: If you open your google-fu imagery and search for
Boiler Elf: Zwarte Piet
Boiler Elf: you’ll see the what the problem is
Boiler Elf: and then
Boiler Elf: do a search for
Boiler Elf: Zwarte Piet 2020
Boiler Elf: and the blackface is going to smudging
Boiler Elf: In 2019 – Pete had 71% approval
Boiler Elf: 2020 – 47% approval
Boiler Elf: Banned from Facebook this past August
Boiler Elf: Banned from Google ads in October, including soot versions without blackface.
Boiler Elf: Now I should note he isn’t always in blackface
Boiler Elf: There are the Dutch West Indies, where most of the population is of African descent
Boiler Elf: How do they deal with it?
Boiler Elf reveals picture
Boiler Elf: Greenface Piet? He’s been quite the controversial character this year.
Sophie Cloud: Carnival style?
Boiler Elf nods
Boiler Elf: Like New Orleans, all the Caribbean islands love a good party
Boiler Elf: This middle picture is from 1850, where Piet first appeared in print
Boiler Elf: Sint Nikolaas en zijn Knecht by Jan Schenkman, a Dutch school teacher.
Boiler Elf: St Nicholas and his Servant
Boiler Elf: Oral history places him as early as 1828, when he was a negro called “Pieter me Knecht” who carried the basket of presents
Boiler Elf: and was noted as having African hair
Boiler Elf: He may have originally slid away from Knecht Ruprecht, his brother to the east in the German speaking countries
Boiler Elf: In 1850, Nicholas’ reputation was being softened.
Boiler Elf: so Pete might have been a diminutizing of old Ruprecht.
Boiler Elf: Who knows?
Boiler Elf: this past year, there has been a strong KOBP “Kick Out Black Pete” movement
Boiler Elf: His image is actively being purged from libraries
Boiler Elf: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/nov/15/will-dutch-library-ban-on-black-pete-books-spell-end-for-racist-christmas-tradition
Boiler Elf: Dutch rapper Akwasi vowed to “kick Zwarte Piet in the face” if he ever encountered one, while taking part in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in The Netherlands, which garnered him a lot of attention (both positive and negative) on Twitter.
Boiler Elf: So we may have seen the last of Black Pete.
Boiler Elf: It’s not easy being a mythological character!
Boiler Elf: Well, let’s move on
Boiler Elf: Did you watch your homework, the 12 Days of Tudor Christmas?
Boiler Elf: This was a very nice documentary, and it was interesting to see what was and was not included
Boiler Elf: She was good
Boiler Elf: Father Christmas was missing, as was mistletoe
Boiler Elf: But they did deck the halls
Ceejay Writer: And the spinning wheel!
Boiler Elf: and, we saw the Mummers, as they are still portrayed in Newfoundland and the Canadian Maritimes
Boiler Elf: Yes, I liked how they had to stop up the spinning wheel.
Sophie Cloud: but the women were kept busy cooking, no rest for them.
Boiler Elf: let’s change the pictures a bit
Boiler Elf: I also liked the entrance of the Boar’s Head
Boiler Elf: Way back in the 90s, Kevin used to own a coffeehouse in Norfolk Virginia
Boiler Elf: His partner was pagan,
Boiler Elf: and the tidewater pagans were wound pretty tight
Boiler Elf: mostly because their parents were all in the 700 club and wound even tighter….
Boiler Elf: one Christmas, he “went postal’
Boiler Elf: went on a rant on how much he hated Christmas music in all the stores, and he was sick of having Christianity shoved down his throat
Boiler Elf: and how dare anyone play carols near him, because it was all Christ Christ Christ
Boiler Elf: well, Kevin likes a good laugh
Boiler Elf: he looked him in the eye
Boiler Elf: and sang
Boiler Elf: Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly
Boiler Elf: and for the rest of the month, the waiters all sang “Fa la la la la”
Boiler Elf: as a Gregorian chant
Boiler Elf: but that incident might have put him on the path of Clausology
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: point., It was actually about decorating the Great Hall of the Manor or Castle, not the hallways. But Deck the Halls, not Hall is so entrenched, I doubt it can be repaired.
Sophie Cloud: he didn’t understand that garlands and trees are the pagan influence?
Boiler Elf: and it made me think about what carols AREN’T Christian, without being contemporary secular tunes like Rudolf of Santa Claus song
Boiler Elf: like i said, he was wound pretty tight
Boiler Elf: I’m not trying to indoctrinate anyone with these talks, I just find the topics interesting
Boiler Elf looks at the boar’s head
Boiler Elf: Right.. How do I get to the Boar’s Head?
Boiler Elf: Is that song pre-Christian??
Boiler Elf: Hmmm
Boiler Elf: A couple years back I suggested that the ancient German new year might have been in November
Boiler Elf: which raised a few eyebrows
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: right after Samhain?
Boiler Elf: We really don’t know when their new year was. It could have been solstice, it could have been earlier
Boiler Elf: Germans being forest folk
Boiler Elf: And wood rots…
Boiler Elf: And then there’s the arcane calculations needed to convert old calendars to new calendars…
Boiler Elf: and the precession of the poles…
Boiler Elf: But…
Boiler Elf: We do know what day the animals were butchered
Boiler Elf: An activity which marks the end of the agricultural year
Boiler Elf: And we know this because it is marked, to this day, in the Christian calendar,
Boiler Elf: but without any logical association to Christianity.
Sophie Cloud: if boar’s head was the rarest meal in the land, and ‘reserved’ for the king, then it’s understandable to hold it in high reverence. after all, all due honor to the king.
Boiler Elf: Can anyone guess the date?
Boiler Elf nods at Sophie
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: Martinmass?
Boiler Elf: Yes!
Jimmy Branagh: Oct 31?
Boiler Elf: November 11th.
Jimmy Branagh: Bust
Boiler Elf: Also called St Martin’s Day, Martinmas, the Funeral of St Martin, Old Halloween, and Old Hallowmas Eve.
Boiler Elf: Why November 11th?
Boiler Elf: No one knows.
Boiler Elf: That’s a good hunch that we might be onto something truly ancient.
Boiler Elf: So who was Martin?
Ceejay Writer: 11/11 makes a nifty date
Tepic Harlequin: cus it were cold an miserable an everyone needed a good cheer up?
Boiler Elf: There’s a portrait of him
Boiler Elf: Veterans Day in the US
Boiler Elf: Born between 316 and 226 in what is now Hungary, and grew up in northern Italy where his father had been given land after serving in the Roman army.
Boiler Elf: By the by, the half of the cloak he kept became a relic which the Frankish kings swore on, and it is where we get the modern words for priests who serve in the military, Chaplains, and also chapels.
Boiler Elf: His legend is that he cut his cloak to give to a beggar, which was a popular medieval image.
Boiler Elf: Rather than freeze, the sun came out to keep him warm, which is why the “little summer” in fall is sometimes called St Martin’s Summer.
Boiler Elf: He became a pacifist and left the army, eventually becoming the bishop of Tours.
Boiler Elf: this was 4th century
Boiler Elf: If you want to know more about him, here’s a ‘splainer video
Boiler Elf: Life of St Martin of Tours in 60 seconds
Boiler Elf: in Lego
Boiler Elf: His November 11th feast day (Martinmas Day) was a big deal in the Middle Ages. It served a purpose similar to our Thanksgiving as the great Fall feast, coming at the time of the harvest, the slaughtering of animals (cattle and pigs), and enjoying the new wine.
Boiler Elf: A goose, not a turkey, however, was the bird of choice, which bore a connection to St. Martin’s life, as he hid among the geese to avoid becoming a bishop.
Boiler Elf: Aha! Eating a large bird in November!
Boiler Elf: The feast was widely seen as the preferred time for the butchering of “Martinmas beef” from prime, fattened cattle, geese, other livestock and the ending of the toil of autumn wheat sowing.
Boiler Elf: We might be onto something here!
Boiler Elf: Hiring fairs were more abundant than usual, where farm laborers could choose, or others had, to seek new posts.
Boiler Elf: The day was a fall Carnival, as his feast also marked the beginning of preparations for Christmas and, at one point, signaled the start of the original Advent of forty-three days.
Boiler Elf: Martin’s Lent
Boiler Elf: November 12 to Dec. 25th
Boiler Elf coughs
Boiler Elf: So.
Boiler Elf: Ms Writer
Ceejay Writer: Mmm?
Boiler Elf: We have a culinary mystery.
Boiler Elf: How is it, that you kill the animals to prepare for winter then fast for 40 days?
Boiler Elf: if anyone is really into the history of sausages, I think there might be something going on here.
Boiler Elf: With the foodie craze going full swing, this could be your big academic paper opportunity!
Boiler Elf: Martin’s Lent is not very popular.
Ceejay Writer: I will report back on my findings!
Boiler Elf: It was shortened to what we know as Advent today, which starts on November 28th.
Boiler Elf: By the Christian orthodox rule, the Advent fast is a fish fast. That means no red meat, dairy, no eggs, but fish, wine, and oil are allowed.
Boiler Elf: Which may sounds weird, but fish was poor-folk food way back when.
Boiler Elf: Check a seafood menu from the early 20th century. You can find scans of them online. It’s shocking to see what isn’t served anymore because of scarcity.
Boiler Elf: Now I like to experiment so I know how it feels
Ceejay Writer: Lobster, shrimp, scallops were all readily available to farmers living near the sea.
Boiler Elf: I have never been able to keep the Advent fast.
Boiler Elf: It’s just too cold.
Boiler Elf: The flesh is weak and the mind isn’t all that willing when all I want to do is put on weight to keep warm.
Boiler Elf: I am one of those people that puts on about 15 pounds as soon as the temperature drops, then loses it easily come spring.
Boiler Elf: So you can see why the church went towards Advent
Boiler Elf: I don’t think the Roman church even requires fasting anymore
Boiler Elf: Martin appears in may Western European countries on November 11th,
Boiler Elf: here he is
Boiler Elf: On a white horse
Boiler Elf: Wearing a red cloak
Boiler Elf: And followed by a chorus of children carrying lanterns
Boiler Elf stares
Boiler Elf: uh oh
Boiler Elf: are you thinking what i’m thinking?
Sophie Cloud: Pied Piper?
Boiler Elf: Have we seen this before?
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: I think animals were slaughtered in November and their meat preserved to save on feeding them. The fasts of Advent and Lent may have been designed to stretch out the harvest.
Boiler Elf nods
Boiler Elf: You have to slaughter the animals as everyone would have starved if you fed all of them over winter
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: bingo
Boiler Elf: That’s just hard facts
Sophie Cloud: the old animals making way for the babies to be born in the spring
Boiler Elf: but the fasting doesn’t make sense. Was it a way of making sure the meat was preserved, rather than consumed?
Sophie Cloud: it takes time to preserve the food, and weather can ruin food so easily. better to fast until a certain level of food is reached for the winter.
Boiler Elf: its an interesting question, and i do have to wonder if it works into food preservation, especially looking at the variety of Italian preserved meats
Boiler Elf: but back to Martin
Boiler Elf: there he is
Boiler Elf: and
Boiler Elf: there HE is
Boiler Elf: on a white horse
Boiler Elf: in a red cloak
Boiler Elf: followed by strange looking smaller people
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: Just because there is a Spring, that doesn’t mean there is more food. So the harvest of one year needs to be stretched out until the harvest of the next year. I think that may be the real reasons of the fasts.
Boiler Elf nods
Boiler Elf: One of the questions at the first salon i did was about the relationship between Odin and Santa Claus
Boiler Elf: I thought there was an argument for Sinterklaas more than any of the other Santas
Boiler Elf: But now, here beside St Martin, I think there’s an even stronger argument that the may be in the shadow of Odin
Boiler Elf: Hmm, still haven’t got to the boar
Boiler Elf: We do know the Celts had a strong relationship with swine culture
Boiler Elf: The sónargǫltr, or “atonement boar” was the boar sacrificed as part of the celebration of Yule in Germanic paganism, on whose bristles solemn vows were made, a tradition known as heitstrenging.
Boiler Elf: In Norse cuture, It is said that on Yule Eve, the great vows were taken; the sacred boar was brought in before the king, the men laid their hands thereon, and took their vows at the king’s toast.
Boiler Elf: And in modern England, on new years day, chimney sweeps would carry pigs
Boiler Elf: you could pay them to pull a hair from the pig and make a wish
Sophie Cloud: a good way to affirm which of the lords were allegiant, before going off to the spring wars.
Boiler Elf nods
Boiler Elf: Jacob Grimm conjectured that the English boar’s head banquets, may be an echo of the sónargǫltr.
Boiler Elf: Let’s look at the song
Boiler Elf: This dish is so special it has a theme song
The boar’s head in hand bear I,
Bedeck’d with bays and rosemaries.
And I pray you, my masters, merry be
Quot estis in convivio (As many as are in the feast)
Caput apri defero (The boar’s head I bear)
Reddens laudes Domino (Giving praises to the Lord)
Boiler Elf: Lots of Latin here, showing it comes from catholic times
The boar’s head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all this land,
Which thus bedeck’d with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico. (serve with a song)
Our steward hath provided this
In honour of the King of Bliss;
Which on this day to be servèd is
In Reginensi atrio. (In the Queen’s Hall)
Boiler Elf: (Which refers to Queen’s Hall at Oxford)
Boiler Elf: That was first printed in 1521, but is probably much older
Boiler Elf: The act of printing making the words more rigid than they had formerly been, of course.
Boiler Elf: The Queen’s College celebrates the tradition by three chefs’ bringing a boar’s head into the hall, with a procession of a solo singer who sings the first verse, accompanied by torch bearers and followed by a choir.
Boiler Elf: The procession stops during verses and walks during the chorus. The head is placed on the high table, and the Provost distributes the herbs to the choir and the orange from the Boar’s mouth to the solo singer
Boiler Elf: There’s an old engraving showing the entrance over there
Boiler Elf: In academic settings, this would have been the last big event before everyone went home for winter break
Boiler Elf: But
Boiler Elf: Sounds a bit Gormenghast to me
Boiler Elf: But Christmas
Boiler Elf: So allowed, ya know?
Boiler Elf: I would say this is definitely something that reaches back to pre-romanization (pre-Christian) times
Boiler Elf: In Sweden, there’s a strong connection between the Norse god Freyr and St Stephen, and it is Stephen who is pictured bringing the boar’s head into the banquet
Boiler Elf: Which happens at about the same time the Vikings would have been sacrificing a boar to Freyr so he would show his favor on them in the new year.
Boiler Elf: And then carrying in the decorated boar’s head on a precious metal dish, accompanied by minstrels.
Boiler Elf: But there is absolutely no reason to connect Stephen with the Boars head.
Boiler Elf: He was Herod’s horse groom, and was stoned to death for reminding people of their Isreali heritage and they needed to try harder
Boiler Elf: So here’s another culinary mystery
Boiler Elf: Why don’t Christians have a pork taboo?
Boiler Elf: Islam does, and Islam is younger than Christianity
Boiler Elf: but the, Islamic countries tend not to have forests
Boiler Elf: and you can’t have pigs without forests
Boiler Elf grins
Boiler Elf: Shall we blame Paul, the Roman?
Boiler Elf: Jesus and the original 12 definitely did not eat pork
Boiler Elf: but there is the Peter’s vision, which seemed to say they should start
Boiler Elf: and there was something about demons, right?
Boiler Elf: pigs, as sacred animals of the underworld, would have been able to have been possessed by the demons and carry them off without being harmed.
Boiler Elf: Pigs came to England by tricking King Pwyll, lord of the underworld
Boiler Elf: so, like chickens, not native to England
Boiler Elf: They were a common sacrificial animal
Boiler Elf: the chickens came to England via the Romans, but the pigs were already there by then
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: I think also pork would spoil more quickly in the hot Middle East as opposed to northern Europe that would have much colder temperatures.
Boiler Elf: true
Tamlorn Carterhaugh Wood: same thing with shellfish
Boiler Elf: and also, you’d have to keep them close, which is a health issue. In forested countries, you can pasture them
Boiler Elf: Scythians had a taboo against pork
Boiler Elf: There are references to Scottish Highlanders having a taboo against pork before 1800
Boiler Elf: Which appears to be conjecture
Boiler Elf: There were a lot of 19th century attempts to connect the highlanders with a lost tribe of Israel
Boiler Elf: Pigs will not thrive without forests, and the highlands are rather barren
Boiler Elf: So there’s 2 mysteries to chew on
Boiler Elf: (see what i did there?)
Boiler Elf: as the time is nearly done. let’s talk
Boiler Elf: EGG NOG
Boiler Elf: Egg nog, is American
Boiler Elf: I was surprised that its not really a thing in Brit-land
Boiler Elf: Milk, eggs, and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health, but only the wealthy could afford it
Boiler Elf: The drink crossed the Atlantic to the British colonies during the 18th century. Since brandy and wine were heavily taxed, rum from the Triangular Trade with the Caribbean was a cost-effective substitute.
Boiler Elf: The cheap American booze, coupled with plentiful farm and dairy products available to colonists, helped the drink become very popular in America
Boiler Elf: When the supply of rum to the newly founded United States was reduced as a consequence of the American Revolutionary War, Americans turned to domestic whiskey, and eventually bourbon in particular, as a substitute.
Boiler Elf: In places in the American colonies where even bourbon was too expensive, homemade moonshine spirits were added to eggnog
Boiler Elf: So, i’m still feeling ok
Boiler Elf: throat might be a little tight
Boiler Elf: Here’s 2 recipes, first from George Washington
One quart cream
one quart milk
one dozen tablespoons sugar
one pint brandy,
/2 pint rye whiskey
1/2 pint Jamaica rum
1/4 pint sherry
mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well.
Add milk and cream, slowly beating.
Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture.
Let set in cool place for several days.
Boiler Elf: And here is the one endorsed by NPR Science Friday, which every year they assured was safe because of the alcohol content, and then i had to try it. You make the first part on Thanksgiving day, to drink on Christmas Eve
Dad’s Egg Nog (NPR)
6 large eggs
3/4 cup bourbon
1/3 cup rum (dark is best)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
With an electric mixer, beat eggs until well mixed.
Combine bourbon and rum, and add very gradually to the egg mixture; this should take about 15 minutes. If the booze is added too quickly, it will curdle the eggs by causing the proteins to denature, so take it slow.
Beat in the sugar — about 5 minutes — and store in a glass or ceramic jar or jug in a cool, dark place, but not a refrigerator. Of course you can drink the same day, but our family recipe calls for a month of mellowing. The container should be covered loosely, but you want some air to get in.
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
Whip the cream until almost stiff. Whip in vanilla and sugar.
Stir the base mixture and thoroughly mix into cream.
This nog will be very thick and you may wish to thin it somewhat with milk.
Serve in punch cups with a sprinkling of finely grated nutmeg.
Boiler Elf: Keeping it in a dark place is important. One of the jars i started last year was not buried by other cans to the back of the shelf, and it had something growing in it. that jar got tossed.
Boiler Elf: it has a unique flavor which comes from the month of aging
Boiler Elf: one month would be the peak, i think.
Boiler Elf: there’s some chemistry going on. Maybe related to what goes on with refridgerator pies? more mystery for you
Boiler Elf: i did it with extremely fresh unpasteurized eggs, and lived to tell.
Boiler Elf: so looks like we’re out of time, but i had so much more to say
Boiler Elf: so if i get invited back next year, i can tell you then?
Sophie Cloud: that would be lovely
Jimmy Branagh: Absolutely
Ceejay Writer: Awww! Well, I suppose you just have to come back next year.
Jimmy Branagh: What do you mean invited? You’re an institution
Boiler Elf: and let me know how the egg nog works out. you’ll never drink packaged again
Boiler Elf: i’m wondering how old some of those italian sausage techniques are
Boiler Elf: thank you for believing in me
Boiler Elf: Now I have much to do before Christmas Eve
Ceejay Writer: Thank you for believing in US!
Sophie Cloud: believe? of course we do! 🙂
Jimmy Branagh: Tay safe Mr. Elf. Look out for birds!
Boiler Elf snaps his fingers to Black Jack