Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Paris Kitchens

A tiny Paris kitchen. (source)

This is kitchen day. At the end of each month, I write about what's happening in my kitchen and share it with like-minded bloggers who link up at Sherry's blog, Sherry's Pickings. This week is also the start of another fun blog link-up called Paris in July, hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea. I've decided therefore to write a post about French kitchens I've experienced: the dream and the reality. The ongoing dream is the part that makes this ok (I hope) for Sherry's kitchen event, which is supposed to be about the present not the past.

I've lived in Paris for a few long stays, when I cooked in an apartment kitchen. These were anything but dream kitchens. They were really small. The appliances were touchy: ovens without a good thermostat, extremely small refrigerators, tiny countertops, wobbly cabinets (once a shelf fell and all the lovely platters and baking dishes that I had bought were broken). Despite the limitations, I not only made most meals for two or three of us, I also thoroughly enjoyed shopping in the nearby open-air markets and small specialty shops in the neighborhood. I even invited French friends for dinner parties where I cooked American foods to amuse them.

While we were living in Paris, we also had quite a few visitors from home who stayed with us for a weekend or even for several days. I have a cousin who still remembers that she and her friend, who were bumming around Europe between college semesters, slept in the kitchen in one of the apartments, which now in retrospect seems impossible. Why in the kitchen? Because our then-young daughter slept in the bedroom and we slept in the living room which was also the dining room. So Jacki and her friend squeezed their sleeping-bags into the narrow kitchen. Mostly, though, we didn't have overnight guests in that location.

Our building from street level. Our apartment faced the
elevated metro, so it was also very noisy as well as small.

We invited more visitors during a later stay in Paris, when we had a very small second bedroom, which was also the laundry room. My then-3-year-old nephew, who was visiting us with his parents and brother, remarked "Aunt Mae's kitchen is smaller than her bathroom." You get the idea!

During our stays in France, we also were invited to the apartments of many friends, so all in all, we've seen a number of Paris kitchens. These were typically crowded and small, but usually had newer cabinets and equipment than ours -- sometimes even a compact dishwasher, an almost-normal refrigerator, and a tiny washing machine. Real estate in Paris is very very expensive, so small kitchens are just a normal part of life there, at least among our middle-class friends. Whenever we go to Paris, we still frequently have dinner at their homes, so some of our experiences are also more recent.

A "solution" for a kitchen that can be hidden
from guests: put it in a closet! (source)

I don't have any photos of the kitchens I've seen in Paris apartments -- not even from recent trips. Before the year 2000, the old limitation of 36-exposure rolls of film meant that I saved the shots for the beautiful tourist sights. Besides, most of the Parisians we know have always tried not to let anyone see their kitchens during a dinner party -- you have to sneak a peek between courses if you can, and bringing your iPhone for a photo op would be horrendously gauche!

Typical Paris kitchen: the refrigerator is below the counter.
Next to it is a tiny washing machine.

Dream Kitchens

Let's turn our attention to another Paris kitchen experience -- dreaming of ideal kitchens in Paris, which is what I'm doing this month. I love to take long walks through the many types of neighborhood in Paris. I enjoy looking into the display windows of a variety of businesses, including kitchen remodeling shops. These are amazingly frequent, unlike here in the US. You would never know how small the typical kitchen is when you look into these spacious sample installations. 

Knowing that kitchen remodeling is so popular in France, I searched out some web-sourced photos of Paris dream kitchens. These unattainable remodeling proposals, like the windows of the kitchen remodeling shops, reflect the fact that Paris is full of rich people -- really, really rich!

My entire Paris apartment would have fit in this kitchen. (source)

At the time we lived in Paris, there was another major difference between French and American kitchen practice. Cabinets, stoves, and refrigerators were not usually provided when people bought an apartment. Instead, the kitchen would be empty, except for maybe a porcelain sink on spindly metal legs and some appliance hook-ups. If the buyers already owned cabinets and so on, they would move them in along with their furniture. Otherwise they had to buy them. We had a friend who did that when she moved from a house in the suburbs. I have no clue if that's still the French custom. Our short-term rentals were all fully furnished, so this didn't apply to us.

Smaller, but elegant, this image is made with CGI. (source)

A kitchen in a former maid's room under the roof. (source)
Do you dream of living in Paris? Do you imagine going to a bakery for croissants every morning and for fresh bread every evening? Do you picture yourself picking out beautiful produce in the markets, buying meat from a custom butcher shop, choosing a whole cake from a patisserie, or enjoying cheese shops with dozens of types of French cheese? Do you dream of giving dinner parties in an elegant apartment with a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower from the balcony? I hope you have good luck finding your dream place! 

Despite the limitations of my past French living quarters (which by the way were not in the least inexpensive!) I really had a wonderful time there on my past trips, and would love to do it again some time.

A French cheese shop. (source)
Blog post © 2021 mae sander; photos as credited.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

What we have been eating

The Famous Sabich Sandwich

Carol made us a beautiful Israeli meal with Sabich sandwiches and mujedara.

Sabich sandwich fillings, to be eaten in puffy pita bread, include hard-boiled eggs, sliced potato, fried eggplant, Israeli chopped salad, tahini, hummus, and the wonderful condiments called Zhug (peppers, garlic, and green herbs), and Amba (a type of mango chutney). Carol made it all from scratch, so it was especially good. And Nat made a wonderful blueberry tart for dessert.

The legend is that the Sabich, an Iraqui breakfast or lunch sandwich, was popularized in the 1960s by a food vendor in Ramat Gan called Sabich Tsvi Halabi. It's now very widespread in lunch counters and small diners, and even featured on the menu at the roadside chain restaurants, often inside gas stations, called the Aroma Café. Carol's Sabich was MUCH better than that!

We enjoyed our Sabich dinner after kayaking at the lake...Nat shared this beautiful video:


Ingredients for a vegetarian frittata.

Finished frittata with onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms.
Topped with cheese, bread crumbs, and dried parsley.
Instructions say to bake this in a cast-iron skillet, but I just use a baking dish.

On the Grill

Mushrooms brushed with olive oil.
Lamb chops coated with crushed garlic and rosemary.

Fish Tacos

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.

Monday, June 28, 2021

In My Garden

June is a good month for flowers.
I hope a few of these keep blooming for a bit longer.


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Coca-Cola in the Urban Landscape

Coke is everywhere! (source)
I find advertising to be fascinating because so much creativity is used to gain our attention and work on our views. Outdoor artwork has been a part of the urban landscape for over a century, and Coke was always featured in many of the ads. I was thinking about this and therefore started looking for images -- here goes!
In particular: Coca-Cola billboards appear throughout the world (well, maybe not in Antarctica).

Unlike the artists who paint ephemeral murals that appear and disappear on the sides of buildings and many other places in cities, the creators of Coke and other ads are usually not acknowledged. Nor is their creative process discussed, except perhaps in advertising textbooks or other more obscure sources. The extent of the recognition of this art work is astounding. For a history of the Coca-Cola logo see this article: "Trace the 130-year Evolution of the Coca-Cola Logo."

This Coca-Cola billboard dates from1911 (source)

You can even buy coke billboards for your model RR layout.

My favorite soft drink, Diet Coke also figures in plenty of ads. (source)

Along highways and country roads more billboards appeared in the past, but pressure from advocates of natural beauty and scenery have reduced the number of them somewhat. They are still with us wherever we go. It's easy to stop "seeing" them, so I thought I would share with Sami's weekly outdoor art blog event, and also with the weekly drink party at Elizabeth's blog.

Blog post by mae sander, © 2021. Images as credited.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Icelandic Noir

 "Elma took in the elegant sitting room. A large, imposing canvas hung on one wall, featuring insubstantial figures among a swirl of moss and lava. A Kjarval, Elma saw from the signature at the bottom. That figured: although she didn’t know much about art, she did know that Kjarval was Iceland’s most important painter." -- Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, The Creak on the Stairs (p. 225)

A painting of Iceland by Jóhannes Sveinsson Kjarval (1885-1972)

If our next planned trip really happens (unlike some of our other recent failures due to the aftermath of the pandemic), we'll be going to Iceland. I'm looking forward to seeing the far northern landscapes, the villages, the volcanic activity, the birds and other wildlife, and all the other fascinating things I hope for. Meanwhile, my sister recommended an Icelandic mystery story set in a small Icelandic village called Akranes. The quoted passage introduced me to the painter Kjarval, who painted Icelandic scenery that I hope to see -- very interesting!

The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir,
English Edition 2020.

In the novel, Elma, a police officer has recently returned to Akranes from Reykjavík. The two places aren't far apart, but the rugged landscape means a tunnel is necessary to connect them by direct road, and everyone recalls how isolated little Akranes once was. Elma's first assignment, the center of the novel, is to solve the case of a brutal and seemingly unmotivated murder of a young mother of two boys -- an unlikely victim:  

"Statistically speaking, the average Icelandic murder victim was not a mother of two in her thirties. Since 2000, around twenty men and ten women had been murdered." (p. 126). 

As Elma and her colleagues try to identify the victim and find the culprit, they discover a series of past evils among a small number of Akranes residents.  The officers' driving around the area in all kinds of weather helps set the scene where the murder has taken place, and the background that's being discovered.The small-town atmosphere of Akranes is very clear: everyone knows each other, and there's a clear social order that protects the richer and more socially well-placed residents. Understanding the relationships of a number of people who turn up in the search for a motive is a clear part of the novel. Although the victim left the town long ago, her school friends and many other contacts still live there, and the police must question them to try to figure out why the victim suddenly returned to the town and thus met her death.

As in many police procedurals, the investigation is punctuated with stops for food, though not many full meals -- mostly coffee breaks. For example, almost every woman that they interview about the victim's past offers the police refreshments. Some of these are interestingly local to the area. 
"Guðrún had made coffee and laid the table when they arrived, so they felt they had no choice but to sit down and accept the cake she offered them, a traditional randalína made of layers of sponge and jam." (p. 110). 

"‘I hear that Akranes is becoming ever more popular with tourists,’ Elma remarked, accepting the cup of coffee Gréta offered her." (p. 131).

"She [Anna] invited Elma to take a seat at a small kitchen table covered in a flowery plastic cloth and put some of the doughnut twists known as kleinur and a cup of coffee in front of her." (p. 206).  

"Vilborg invited Elma to sit down on a curry-yellow sofa and offered her some tea, which she accepted." (p. 250). 

When they aren't out investigating, the officers have pastry on hand in the station:

"If this had been America they’d have had doughnuts, but here they had to make do with gingerbread biscuits, she thought, letting one dissolve in her mouth with the hot coffee." (p. 89). 

Children in the book also are depicted eating things like American-style cereal. There are also quite a few food scenes in the flashbacks to the victim's childhood, where she is either starved by her dysfunctional mother, or helped by a neighbor named Solla: 

"She wondered if it was too early to go to Solla’s. Her stomach was rumbling and Solla often had something nice to eat at weekends: freshly baked bread or cinnamon rolls sprinkled with sugar." (p. 166). 

When Elma and her colleagues aren't being offered hospitality, the officers eat fast food:
"The Akranes speciality, a deep-fried hot dog, tasted exactly as she had remembered. And the melted cheese, chips and burger sauce more than satisfied all her junk-food cravings." (p. 115). 
The Akranes lighthouse is the location of the victim's body in the novel. (source)

I really hope my trip to Iceland will not be another casualty of the global pandemic. I don't know if I'll get to taste the foods I read about, or see the specific sights of Akranes -- but I have very high expectations for what I'll be able to see during our trip.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander. 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

"The Box-Car Children"

The Box-Car Children by Gertrude C. Warner, first published in 1924, is a highly appealing and lastingly-popular tale that seems to me to be very compatible with the imagination of a child. I just read it, I'm not sure why.

Four motherless children move into a strange town with their father, who gets drunk one night and then dies the next day (no details). The children fear that they will be given to their grandfather, who is mean and doesn't like them (they think). So they run away and find an abandoned box-car on a disused railway siding in a woods not far from town. This all happens in the first few paragraphs of the book, without much drama. 

The 1924 edition (on Kindle) is 
beautifully illustrated.
The drama is in how the children manage to take care of themselves in their makeshift home. Within days, they figure out how to get food, make hay and pine-needle beds for sleeping, use a nearby creek for washing dishes and bathing, and somehow even adopt a dog. What schoolchildren, reading such a book, would not like to imagine being totally free and figuring out for themselves how to meet all their needs? Each chapter shows a new way the four box-car children take charge of their own lives and well-being.

This fantasy, however, is problematic for the imagination of a mother -- or a grandmother. Charming as it may be for four children to respond to their father’s death by running away in fear of their grandfather and immediately adjusting to living independently in an abandoned box-car, I'm afraid that an adult imagines all kinds of other things, and thinks of all sorts of questions, dangers, practicalities, anxieties.... 

My problem is that I didn’t read this book when I was a child when it would have probably captivated my imagination. Maybe a teacher read part of it to a group of kids at some point, but I only remember hearing of the book, not anything about it. And now I find it very hard to love this story the way that children have loved it for almost a century. I wonder if it’s still part of the curriculum these days, as it evidently was for much of the 20th century.

I enjoyed the 1920s vibe in the story. When they run away, the four children have $4, which is enough for food for several days. At first they eat bread and milk (keeping the milk bottles cold in a stream that conveniently runs near their box-car). They find bowls, spoons, and cups in a nearby dump, wash them in the stream, and they’re ready to roll. Everything just works out like a dream in a world that wouldn't work that way any more --
“It was a rapturous moment when Jess poured the yellow milk into four cups or bowls, and each child proceeded to crumble the brown bread into it with a liberal scattering of blueberries.” (p.15. Kindle Edition of 1924 version)

The oldest boy, Henry, is 13 years old, and he finds a job mowing the grass and doing odd jobs for a doctor in the not-at-all faraway town. A boy working this way probably wasn't unrealistic 100 years ago. Helping with his new employer's vegetable garden, he thins the carrots and onions, and brings the small discards home to the box-car, where his 12-year-old sister, Jess, is boiling some meat in a kettle that was found in the dump, over a fire-pit that the children have built. Meat and vegetables are ready:

“And when she ladled out four portions on four plates of all sizes, some of them tin, and laid a spoon in each, the children felt that the world held no greater riches. The tiny onions floated around like pearls; the carrots melted in your mouth; and the shreds of meat were as tender as possible from long boiling. A bit of bread in one hand helped the feast along wonderfully. The little wanderers ate until they could eat no more.” (p. 19)

So real to a child! And there's even a cherry orchard, where they were allowed to pick:
"It was a 'cherry year,' certainly. There were two varieties in the orchard, the pale yellow kind with a red cheek, and the deep crimson ones which were just as red in the center as they were on the outside." (p. 24). 

Mary, the maid of the doctor's household has even made "cherry slump" which she gives them -- and it's delicious... "they never will forget that cherry slump made by Irish Mary." The stereotype of the Irish maid: another point for the adult reader. (p. 25)

Note that the edition that I read on my Kindle was published in 1924, but was not widely read. The better-known version of this book (which you probably remember if your elementary teacher read it to you) was published in 1942, with numerous changes to the details about food and possessions, different names of some of the characters, and most important, a different story of how the children ran away to live on their own. My dim memory of being read this book in early elementary school probably is a memory of the 1942 version, but it really doesn't matter since I scarcely recall the book at all, but finally, I got around to it!

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

"Green Mansions" by W. H. Hudson


Henri Rousseau, The Snake Charmer (1907)

W.H. Hudson (1841-1922) and Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) are linked in my mind. 

Rousseau is well-known as a painter of imaginary scenes of life in jungles far from his home in Paris. His vision of the tropics is based more on the dioramas of the Paris Natural History museum and maybe the zoo than on any actual observation, as he never traveled, only imagined the places that he painted. 

Hudson was a naturalist who wrote many works about the natural history of South America, especially his native Argentina. I recently read quite a lot about Hudson in Jonathan Meiburg's A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey. Hudson is an interesting character, though Meiburg actually told me more than I wanted to know about him. But I got intrigued, and read Hudson's best-known work, the novel, Green Mansions: A Romance of the Tropical Forest (1904).

As I read, I thought about Rousseau's paintings, which date from the same time and maybe the same spirit of romantic longing for some imaginary primeval jungle environment far from the city. Hudson lived in London for much of his later life, and he only saw the open pampas of Argentina where he was born (to English-speaking parents), not the lush forests of the Amazon and the Orinoco Rivers in the north of the continent. So Green Mansions, like The Snake Charmer, is based on imagination more than on observation. 

Green Mansions is a dramatic and tragic tale of a white man named Abel who is living in a remote tropical village with a small number of native inhabitants for whom he has little respect. He defies their instructions to stay away from a part of their territory that's inhabited by evil and little-understood spirits. In this forbidden forest Abel finds a beautiful woman -- maybe a she's creature that's not quite human and only seems like a small woman. 

Rima, the forest woman, speaks a language that sounds like whistling bird song, but she also knows Spanish, which Abel speaks as well as English. She has an uncanny ability to appear for a moment, and then to disappear into the forest, and Abel becomes obsessed with her, and then goes with her on a long and futile search for her place of origin. Their story is sad and very romantic, as he convinces her to love him in a repressed Victorian kind of way. If you want a plot summary, there are many available. 

In all of the novel's attitudes, including a pretty bad contempt for the natives and their culture, Hudson's work is very much a product of its time. I read it when I was in high school, and couldn't make sense of it. Now that I can make sense of it, I'm not crazy about its overblown emotionality. I have reservations about the described bravery of a white man (self-identified as a white man over and over) who walks through the jungle alone, eating bird's eggs and snakes and odd vegetation. The gushing descriptions of Abel's love for Rima, a slightly supernatural creature, don't appeal to my literary tastes. Very dated, I'd say.

In contrast, Rousseau's paintings have always fascinated me, and I love to look at them. Rousseau's vision of the mysterious jungle is not accompanied by a romantic and emotional sensibility. but by some sort of fascination with the idea of jungles and snakes and wild animals. His primitive style is famous and much discussed in the context of modernism in art: he seems to look forward to the twentieth century not backward to the past.

Note that I have no reason to think there is actually a connection between painter Henri Rousseau and author W.H. Hudson, it just occurred to me while I was reading. I tried briefly to find a previously identified connection, but did not discover any. I did locate a book called "Rousseau and Naturalism in Life and Thought" by an author named William Henry Hudson. However, it's by ANOTHER man named William Henry Hudson, an obscure American professor who lived at about the same time! And it's about the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, not the painter Henri Rousseau. Go figure.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Ethiopian Coffee


Locally roasted Ethiopian Coffee.
Saturday, Carol and Nat offered us a cup of Ethiopian coffee made with steamed milk, using beans that they buy from the Hyperion local coffee roasters in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  It was quite delicious. Carol has been experimenting with various types of Ethiopian-grown coffee, which are processed somewhat differently than other single-origin coffee beans. In response to her enthusiasm, I've been looking into the story of Ethiopian coffee and local sources of Ethiopian beans. The fact that the coffee plant is native to Ethiopia and that coffee cultivation began there makes it all the more interesting.

I find single-origin coffees to be very appealing, for example, the coffees from Costa Rica, which we sometimes buy as a result of our visit to a coffee processing collective in Costa Rica, or coffee from Peru, which is rather hard to find but which we found delicious when traveling there. After visiting a coffee plantation in Hawaii, I often ordered coffee shipped directly from there, but it became too expensive.

Several of the local small-scale coffee roasters are very aware of a number of issues about coffee. They care about the welfare of coffee plantation workers in the far corners of the world, and make an effort to have ethically-grown products.

The various methods of processing coffee beans are also interesting, for example, washing the raw beans or allowing them to dry without washing them or removing the "coffee cherry" attached to the beans. Ethiopian coffee uses this "natural" method of processing, which affects the flavor of the coffee. There are also various ways that coffee beans undergo a fermentation process before they are roasted.

Ethiopian Coffee from Roos Roast.
A picture of this Ethiopian single-origin coffee is on the Roos Roast website, but their only single-origin selection at the moment seems to be from Indonesia. Our current favorite coffees are Roos Roast blends of beans from multiple origins.

Roos Roast makes an effort to find ethical sources for their coffee, and most of their product is Fair Trade Organic, meaning that they focus on ethical treatment of workers as well as on organic agricultural methods. They are very aware of environmental issues in their processing as well -- they use a high-efficiency roaster that produces much less smoke than most equipment. Recently, their entire roof has been covered with solar panels to conserve energy. 

The Roos Roast building is in walking distance of my house, so we often walk there when we need to buy coffee. When we were isolating from contact with people, Roos Roast also made it very easy to buy coffee safely, so we have used their coffee consistently. I'm looking forward to being able to drink coffee in the café part of the shop when it fully reopens.
Another local roaster's selection of
Ethiopian coffee beans.

A bit further from our home, but a place we sometimes shop is the well-known food business Zingerman's. Here is what Zingerman's has to say about their Ethiopian coffee beans:

"Here at Zingerman’s, we are committed to traditionally-made, full-flavored food. For that reason, we find Ethiopia a really interesting coffee growing region. It is, of course, the birthplace of coffee — and we’ve all heard the story of Kaldi and his goats. But we are also fascinated by the stunning amount of flavor variety found in coffees from Ethiopia. Various combinations of plant genetics, micro-climate, and processing method produce cup profiles that range from citrusy, floral, bright, and elegant, to rustic, spicy, and deeply fruity.

"This coffee falls squarely in the rustic camp. It is a 'natural' or 'dry' processed coffee, meaning that the fruit flesh from the coffee cherry was left attached to the bean as it dried. Natural processed coffees, and this one in particular, have intense fruit characteristics. Famed the world over for its distinctive blueberry mocha flavor, Harrar coffee fetches some of the highest prices for unwashed coffee in the world market."

I don't know if I'll experiment with Ethiopian coffee or not, but I am curious about all the many flavors and origins of coffee that are available around us. I notice that has a very wide selection of Ethiopian coffee available, but I'm really happy that I now feel safe shopping in person! We have so many local roasters here that it's really fun to check out all the possibilities.

Blog post © 2021 mae sander, images as credited.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

"A Most Remarkable Creature"

"Indeed, nearly all the animals we regard as intelligent—baboons, crows, raccoons, caracaras, humans—are big-brained social generalists that thrive in unpredictable environments." -- A Most Remarkable Creature (p. 108). 

Books on natural history and evolution sometimes seem to me to be incredibly wonderful. Jonathan Meiburg's A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey is one of the most enjoyable that I've read. I loved the way the author combined his personal experiences exploring many areas in South America with descriptions of the behavior and evolution of the various caracaras that he saw; the question of what makes a bird intelligent; portrayals of people he traveled with; and biographical details of earlier observers of South American wildlife. The unifying theme of this book is the character and intelligence of caracaras (Polyborinae), which are a subfamily of the falcons (order Falconiformes). 

Rather than write a review of this great book, I would like to share my memories of seeing the birds and landscapes that Meiburg described. I found it really delightful to read about birds that I've seen on several trips to South America and elsewhere. On these trips, I have seen a number of caracaras of several different species -- as well as many other birds and animals, which made the book all the more interesting. I loved all the new things I learned from his book as well as the recollection of what I learned from the guides on these trips. Here are some of our photos of several types of caracaras, which we have enjoyed seeing in a number of places.

A striated caracara with a sea lion. October, 2017, Staten Island, Argentina.

Three Striated Caracaras, Staten Island, Argentina, October, 2017.
This species is one of the author's favorites. We couldn't tell
what they were doing, and it might have been simply playing!

Southern Crested Caracara, Torres del Paine Park, Chile, October, 2017.

lifers_peru 55
Yellow-Headed Caracara, Maranon River, Peru, February, 2017.

lifers_peru 59
Black Caracara, Maranon River, Peru, February, 2017.

texaslifers 8
Crested Caracaras, Aransas Bay, Texas, October, 2016.

Crested Caracara, Costa Rica, December, 2019.

Striated Caracara, Staten Island, Argentina, October, 2017.

New Murals in Gallup Park


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Juneteenth, Our New National Holiday

"On June 19, 1865, in downtown Galveston, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which demanded 'absolute equality' among enslaved people and slaveholders." (source)
Today is a new official US National Holiday: Juneteenth, just passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Biden this week. It's been an official holiday in Texas since 1980, to celebrate the end of slavery there after the Civil War. This end came slowly: the Texas proclamation was June 19, 1865, while Lincoln issued the actual Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. 

June 19 soon became a meaningful day for Texans -- by 1872: "Celebrations reached new heights ... when a group of African-American ministers and businessmen in Houston purchased 10 acres of land and created Emancipation Park. The space was intended to hold the city’s annual Juneteenth celebration." (New York Times)

"High on the Hog," the recently-released Netflix series about Black food in America includes some very interesting food history associated with Juneteenth. Here are a few screen shots of the participants talking about this holiday in Epiode 4 of the series:

Jerrelle Guy, author of Black Girl Baking.

Member of a family that was involved in the
original Juneteenth.

Apple pie: part of the tradition.

Also cakes such as this red velvet cake and another 
red cake -- the color red is associated with the holiday.

Later in the episode: Texas Barbecue, including this intriguing
Ruben sandwich made with BBQ smoked brisket and turkey.

Of course "High on the Hog" covers a great deal of food history and traditions besides Juneteenth. It also celebrates Texas Barbecue, and many other foods like the cowboy stew cooked and served by Black cowboys, noting that around one in four cowboys in the Old West were Black -- though not in Hollywood! Host Stephan Satterfield interviewed many people in Episode 4. Especially interesting: eating barbecue with author Adrian Miller, whose new book Black Smoke explores African-American barbecue culture, and a dinner featuring cookbook expert Toni Tipton-Martin. I wrote about Tipton-Martin's latest book here, and I wrote about the first two episodes of "High on the Hog" recently here

I enjoyed all four episodes. I encourage you to watch as a way to learn about our new holiday, as well as to learn a lot about American cuisine. There will be many celebrations this year; for example, in Galveston, Texas, a new Juneteenth mural titled "Absolute Equality" was unveiled to celebrate this year's holiday:

-- From Houston Public Media

Blog post © 2021 mae sander.