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The Oxford Food & Museum Project

The Pitt Rivers Survival Cookbook A Taste of the Museum cross-cultural reflection and celebrating human creativity, global interconnectedness and cultural diversity. A Work in Progress Juli 2020 Linda Roodenburg (concept) Liz Wilding (projectmanager)


’The Bakery’ . Exhibition Edible Treasures Unlocked – foodobjects from the Pitt Rivers Museum Collection. www.foodmuseum.nl. Open from July 2020


Contributors: Gosewijn van Beek Voltaire Cang Naomi Duguid Christine Elliott Len Fisher Vicky Hayward Paul Levy Elisabeth Luard Allison Reynolds Nanna Rögdvaldordóttir Linda Roodenburg Or Rosenboim Helen Saberi Susan Weingarten Marcia Zoladz

© the authors © concept Linda Roodenburg/FoodMuseum No part of this document may be reproduced without the permission of the copyright holders


MENU (all titles are working titles) Introduction : The Pitt Rivers Food Collection I. Fire Linda Roodenburg: Fire Myths Voltaire Cang : Sacred Fire Drill and Hearth *** II. Drinks MILK WATER Vicky Hayward- The Spanish Botijo TEA Helen Saberi : Teabricks Voltaire Cang: The Afterlife Of The Tea Whisk And Other Kitchen Implements Or Rosenboim: The Importance Of The Unique Form Of Eating , Seated On A ‘TEA BED’ Covered With Beautifully Embroidered Textiles WINE, BEER, GIN COFFEE *** III. Proteins EGGS Len Fisher: Preserved Eggs BUTTER/FAT CHEESE INSECTS FISH Len Fisher: Sturgeon Skin Used for Food Len Fisher: Fish Bladder from the Yellow-Bellied ‘Wong’ Fish Nanna Rögdvaldordóttir: Swimbladders in Iceland CHINESE DELICACIES *** IV. Fruits Susan Weingarten: Figs from the Pharaohs Christine Elliott: The Immortal Apple


V. The Bakery Allison Reynolds: Hot Cross Buns Voltaire Cang: Wild Potato Bread Marcia Zoladz: The Caribs, the Sataré-Mawé and a Cassave Bread Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir: Breadstamps Naomi Duguid: Uygur Flat Bread MAIZE *** VI. Medicines and Narcotics KAVA Gosewijn van Beek : Kava SALT Gosewijn van Beek : The Gost of Beatrice Blackwood And The Spirit Of Salt EDIBLE CLAY Linda Roodenburg:– Gyophagy Or Eating Dirt TOBACCO CANNABIS Paul Levy : Hashish HOLY RICE Voltaire Cang : Holy Rice In Paper Wrapping With Printed Inscription

*** Register List of recipes Bibliography


Introduction The Pitt Rivers Food Collection Imagine some visitors being locked up in the Pitt Rivers Museum. How do they survive a week - or may be longer - among hundreds of thousands of objects? Is there any food? And if so, how to prepare it? With the help of this guide they will have the time of their life. What about a mature cheese (1886) made of Norwegian reindeer milk with a piece of bread made from Japanese wild potato and a beer brewed from malted South African millet? Or a strong tea, made from a Russian teabrick, with a drop of preserved milk from Algerian cows, some delicious English cakes, baked in remembrance of the Bidenden Maids in 1902 or a coconut milk pudding wrapped in palm leaves? And in case of feeling a bit peckish, soaking some Chinese shark’s fins and bird’s nests, peeling the eggs preserved in lime and adding some salt from Nagaland or Eritrea would be helpful. The first morning can start with a good coffee after roasting coffee berries from Uganda, perfumed with Indian cardamom seeds and ground in a wooden Scottish coffee mill. Water is on tap in the toilets and for making a cosy little cooking fire, there’s a challenge of using the flints, firedrills or, a bit easier, the wooden tinderbox and sulphur matches. The fire can be lighted with a real fire devil from Tibet and with some genuine Indian cigarettes the non-smoking signs can be neglected. In case of stomach troubles, a piece of angelica root from the Apaches can be of great help by scraping off a very small piece, shredding it fine, boiling in water, and drinking the decoction at intervals for two days. It’s all within reach in the museum exhibition space. Besides meeting physical needs, mental support will be indispensable as well. Some of the objects are designed to enhance health or desire; to provide magic or protection. The cauldrons, casseroles, vessels, pots and pans, bowls and jars aren’t just cooking utensils from all over the world. Their forms don’t follow their functions. Have a closer look at their patterns, symbols and decorations, listen to their stories, and hear the sounds surrounding them. They will comfort and help to cope with the important things in life: birth, death, health, desire…




1933.52.1 'Fire-Devil' in the form of a bird, the beak of which forms a fine jet. Used for blowing up a fire by steam generated inside the vessel. South Tibet or West Bengal Darjeeling, 1933.


Fire Myths by Linda Roodenburg In the beginning there was no cooking. The primordial soup was solid and the Big Mac had to wait for another 4 billion years. When and where it all began remains a mystery. And then, of course, it all depends on what we mean by ‘cooking’. Let us keep it simple and state that cooking is preparing food with the aid of fire. Our earliest ancestors did not cook; their diet was raw. It consisted of game, fresh water fish, shellfish collected on the beach, wild plants, small animals and insects. From the moment Homo erectus (named for his upright posture) discovers how to make fire, he gains a big advantage over his fellow animals. Using fire, he scares predators and captures larger game. He burns forests for crops or livestock and thanks to fire he survives in colder climates. Fire helps him to control his environment and enhance his chances to survive. Thus fire became a necessity of life. He who used it more aptly had the best chances to survive. Adaptivity and inventiveness started to dominate pure physical powers. Human beings developed larger brains and started to cook. In virtually every culture across the world there are myths concerning the discovery of fire. Many of them have the same theme: the hero cleverly steals a piece of fire from the gods or other supernatural creatures and brings it to the human world. In Western culture it is the titan Prometheus who succeeds in tricking the Olympian gods and takes fire to humankind down below. Prometheus believed humankind to be badly supplied with useful properties when these were distributed to the creatures of the world. They could not fly, they were physically weak, had no fur to protect them and were not able to survive underground or in water. Because of that, human beings were vulnerable. If they possessed the knowledge of fire, their chances of survival would be greatly enhanced. By stealing fire and offering it to humankind, Prometheus simply corrected an ancient mistake. God-in-chief Zeus was livid about the theft and punished Prometheus by chaininghim to a mountainin the Caucasus. Every day an eagle would come and pick a piece of his liver, which would heal again every night. The ordeal was meant to be eternal, but the demigod Heracles finally succeeded to set him free.Now that fire was in the grasp of man, it was vital to keep it burning. There had to be a place where a permanent fire was kept and protected. Temples were built for the gods of fire who were supposed to guards the fire for humankind. Fire cults developed everywhere in the world,for example with the ancient Celts, Slaves and Germans. In India Agni was the old Hindu god of fire, Hestia held that position in Greece, Vesta in Rome, and Xiuheuctli in Mexico. Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) inaugurated amovement that became the dominant religion in Ancient Persia, and in regions of the Caucasus you may still find ruins of zoroastrian temples of fire.


Song of the Witches

Round about the cauldron go: In the poisoned entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone Days and nights has thirty-one Sweated venom sleeping got, Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a fenny snake, In the cauldron boil and bake; Eye of newt and toe of frog, Wool of bat and tongue of dog, Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, Lizard's leg and owlet's wing. For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, Witch's mummy, maw and gulf Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark, Root of hemlock digg'd i’ the dark, Liver of blaspheming Jew; Gall of goat; and slips of yew Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse; Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips; Finger of birth-strangled babe Ditch-deliver'd by a drab, Make the gruel thick and slab: Add thereto a tiger's chaudron, For the ingredients of our cauldron. Double, double toil and trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon's blood, Then the charm is firm and good. (W. Shakespeare - Macbeth)



1892.21.5 ‘Sacred fire drill and hearth used in 1879 in the great temple of Izumo,Yashiro, Japan. (Shin-o-sai,festival)’

Every year in May in Japan, the Emperor is shown on national television planting rice seedlings in a paddy field set within the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo. The rice is harvested in September, also by the Emperor himself, an event that is again broadcast nationwide. Come November, the first batch of the harvested rice, along with first rice harvests donated by farmers around the country, are offered to the Emperor’s ancestral deities in a ritual called the Niiname-sai, with the Emperor as the main celebrant. The Niiname-sai is one of the most important events in the Imperial calendar, the one occasion when the Emperor, on behalf of the nation, offers his gratitude to the deities for the harvest as he prays for the welfare of his subjects. The Emperor eats with the deities during the ritual, a commensal act signifying his embodiment of them, especially his main ancestor the ‘Sun Goddess’ Amaterasu, whose benevolence resulted in the good harvest and the continuity of the Imperial line and the nation. Nii-name-sai (alternately, Shin-jo-sai), reads the first three characters on this hinoki cypress slab; the remaining four tell us its purpose, that is, as a hearth for making sacred fire for the ritual. Basil Hall Chamberlain, the British Japanologist who acquired this piece for the museum, called it a ‘fire-drill’ that he secured ‘from the great Shintō temple of Izumo, which the enlightened high priest, Mr. Senke, consented to part with, in order that the learned world of Europe might be able to inspect an example of this most ancient of Japanese religious implements’. 11

Aside from the Imperial Palace, major Shinto shrines around the country also observe the Niiname-sai, notably the Ise Grand Shrine (dedicated to Amaterasu) and the Izumo Grand Shrine (Japan’s oldest shrine, dedicated to the deity of agriculture and marriage, Okuninushi), the two most important Shinto places of worship in Japan. Since its establishment, Izumo Grand Shrine has been under the administration of the Senge family, also said to have descended from Amaterasu. (Chamberlain’s ‘Senke’ above is an uncommon transcription.). (Recently in 2014, the first son and heir of Izumo Grand Shrine’s chief administrator married one of the current Emperor’s grandnieces, a match that further consolidated ancestral ties.) In Izumo, the harvest ritual is officially called Koten Shinjo-sai, and formally begins with the delivery of three sets of wooden hearths and drills from Kumano Grand Shrine, not far from Izumo Grand Shrine and known as the birthplace of fire in Japan. Using one of the new sets, shrine attendants light a fire in a hall set expressly for cooking the rice that will be consumed later by the chief officiant in the company of the deities, as the Emperor does in his own ritual. The officiant partakes of the meal, however, only after taking part in a repeated series of offering, prayer, drinking, and dancing rituals. After his meal, he conducts a calligraphy ritual, ceremoniously writing the same characters found in this museum piece onto two of the yet unused wooden hearth slabs. One of these labeled hearths is then brought to the ‘sacred fire place’ to make the fire for cooking the shrine administrator’s meals in the year ahead. The other hearth is sent to another ‘sacred fire place’ annexed to the main shrine hall, to be used in the process of brewing sake for consumption in next year’s ritual. The third, already-used and unlabeled hearth, its mission fulfilled, is carried away with the remainders of the ritual feast to a hidden place in the mountains the next day, broken into pieces and buried in the ground to decompose and be lost forever.

More fire-making objects: 1911.47.1-3 1903.49.14.1 1911.29.35.1 1928.69.43 1923.88.33


Fire making apparatus, split stick with 2 flexible saws of rattan (West-Papua)Spindle of pine wood, part of a fire-making set, Canada 1903 Wooden tinder box and lid with steel,flint, matches, tinder and damper, UK 1911 Two flints and steel in bamboo box covered with skin of goat’s testicle.Tinder of palm scurf, India (Nagaland) 1928 Flint & steel, Peru 1923

1938.35.1-5. Fire drill with three spare drills & hearth, Australia 1938

1928.48.3 Fire drill, wooden stick with both rounded end, Kenya 1928

1911.29.36 .1 [- ?.17] Sulphur matches in glass cylinder UK 1911

1938.35.1181.2 Sulphur matches Belgium 1897



1910.73.10 Pottery vessel in the shape of an animal lying on a rectangular base, suckling a smaller animal. A long narrow spout coming out of the rear end of the animal. Peru. Lima Region Ancon unnamed cemetery.1910.


1913.17.11 Preserved milk (haklilt), Algeria (Chaouia Berber) 1913



1884.40.5 “Buff ware pot with spout and funnel (for cork), and ring and handle on top. Two ridges at the base of the neck. Incised wavy lines on and above the shoulder, which is also slipped a buff/green colour.

When Julian Pitt-Rivers published The People of the Sierra (1952), his ethnographic study of a small southern Spanish town in Cadiz province, he included close to the opening a photograph of pottery water-jars lying in the town’s fountain. Among them was a botijo, or self-cooling bottle, a humble domestic item now symbolic of Spanish customs’ enduring relevance. The earliest known example, a small cylindrical clay bottle with a round carrying handle, dates back to c 1.700 BC and was found at a Bronze Age Argaric archaeological site near Beniaján in Murcia. Modern botijos are not so very different. Sitting on a small circular base, generally spherical, they keep the round carrying handle, and now have a narrow drinking spout as well as the filling mouth. Thrown by hand on the potter’s wheel, unglazed, they cool water by up to 15°C via evaporation or “sweating” through porous clay. Until well into the 1960s botijos were found in everyday use in Spanish households of all income levels. In the 1st century AD the Andalusian born agricultural writer Columella had recommended clay as the material for pipes channelling drinking rainwater and once public fountains became universal features of villages and cities, journeys to fetch water in botijos were to become part of family life. In the 20th century the botijo was usually filled before lunch, often by children, and was placed on the table for pouring or drinking directly from the bottle. Where larger quantities required fetching in a single journey women would carry the botijo in one hand after large cántaros, or water 16

pots, were lifted on to their head and hips, a balancing act one can see in photographs taken in Madrid’s sprawling southern suburbs in the 1950s, when self-build communities grew around scarce water taps. Equally important was the role of the botijo for agricultural workers working away from home, often in intense heat. In his book The Pueblo, A Mountain Village in the Costa del Sol (1973), oral historian Robert Fraser quoted Salvador Torres, a day labourer who began working as a child in the 1930s. He recalled work gangs on the southern wheat plains passing out from thirst. The cook, usually one of the men’s sons, also had the job of providing water when required. He started work at 2 or 3am to provide a breakfast soup by 7am, a gazpacho at noon, a chickpea stew at 6pm and more gazpacho at nightfall. In such nomadic work cultures the botijo served as both bottle and pouring utensil. A landmark 1971-73 study of Spanish potteries by a team of German ethnologists revealed red, buffware and black clay botijos being made in 90 towns around the country. Some were designed as functional domestic ware, others as decorative objects. Among those catalogued just as they were disappearing were glazed winter botijos, flat-sided ones for farming work, and moulded bottles with spiral bodies (de rosca) or animal forms. Known as the potixe in the Basque country, botín in Galicia, càntir in Catalunya, búcaro in Andalusia and rallo in Soria, the botijo’s design diversity is now preserved in the Museo de Cerámica Nacional in Chinchilla de Montearagón (Castilla La Mancha) and the Museo del Càntir in Argentona (Catalonia). Among exhibits are plain clay botijos, or búcaros of the kind which appeared in Murillo’s, Zurbaran’s and Sorolla’s paintings, 16th to 18th century Catalan blown-glass botijos for water and wine and, at Argentona, visual artists’ bottles including four creations by Picasso. Today’s plain functional botijos can still be spotted wherever drinking water needs fetching, from petrol station forecourts to railway stations, allotments and roadworks. Cooks use them to collect and keep soft spring water for stewing pulses, making gazpachos and preserving olives, while environmentalists advocate botijos as preferable to plastic bottles. A myth that the clay improves the fragrance of the water is probably due to a drop of anis traditionally added when botijos are filled, although earthenware’s alkalinity may help to correct water’s pH balance. Spain’s main production centre is now Agost, which sits in the dry mountains of Alicante province. Here the making of buffware pots like one of the four in the Pitt-Rivers collection, is finetuned to guarantee durability. After dissolving the clay in water, the potters sieve it mechanically to remove grit and add marine salt for porosity and to bleach the mix. Called pasta blanca, it is preserved in damp blocks until hand-thrown in batches of up to a thousand bottles a day, finished when dried with moulded handles (pellas), thrown drinking spouts (pitos or pitorros) and filling mouths (bocas) . Agost’s designs include the bulbous Valencian botijo, pear-shaped bottles, the chato, which is flattened to fit on a fridge shelf, and the tall cylindrical botijo designed for small 17

modern working spaces. Low-temperature firing takes three days in domed kilns bricked up and sealed with mud and sand to prevent any chance of cold draughts cracking the pots. Cooling and unpacking the ovens is a delicate, slow task. Experiments to check Agost’s botijos’ cooling powers began at Madrid’s Escuela Técnica Industrial de la Universidad Politécnical de Madrid in 1987. Eight years later Professor Gabriel Pinto and Dr. José Ignacio Zubizarreta Enríquez published the cooling formula in Chemical Engineering Education (1995, Vol. 29). The maximum rate, 15°C, took place in a half-full spherical botijo over a period of 7 hours, after which the water’s temperature began rising.

An unexpected guest in the Pitt-Rivers Museum could use a botijo not only for fetching quality drinking water, but also for cooking and, in so doing, would learn how to fill and carry one, drink or pour from it, and adapt taps to make refilling easy. In this way botijo know-how could be taken back into the community, a reminder that age-old material culture may also be a valuable resource which, when we least expect it, can provide invaluable ideas for future food security.

Botijo made by Alfarería Emili Boix Photo Vicky Hayward


Botijo made by AlfarerĂ­a Emili Boix Photo Vicky Hayward


BEAN BIOMBO COOKED IN FRONT OF THE FIRE Luis Callejas learned to stew unsoaked beans when he worked in the southern Aragonese vineyards. Each group of workers from his home town, La Almunia de Doña Godina, would carry into the countryside an earthenware puchero or stewing pot, a botijo and dried beans. Water was fetched from a spring, a fire built and the dish put to cook in the pot placed front of the fire. Bean biombos, as they are called, were originally made by shepherds who carried as little weight as possible on long journeys, but their cookery method, avoiding over-fermented or swollen beans, is also said to give the best stews. Today Luis makes them in the chimney for family and friends, driving 10 miles to a mountain spring at El Frasno to fetch soft, pure cooking water. The lidded pot, ideally a jug-shaped puchero, needs to be the right size. In some country kitchens here one can still see a row of half a dozen, from small to large, designed to cook stews for one to eight people. The first published recipe for biombo was given in 1745 by Franciscan friary cook Juan Altamiras, author of New Art of Cookery, Drawn from the School of Economic Experience (1745), who was born in La Almunia. Today early rising Spanish nuns and friars still cook their beans unsoaked this way.

RECIPE 100-150 g quality dried haricot beans or black-eyed peas per person (new-season beans give the best result) cold spring or mineral water, to cover 2 unskinned whole heads of garlic fresh thyme sprigs about 500 ml mild extra-virgin olive oil, for example Arbequina or Empeltre marine or rock salt 1 whole onion, optional At least six hours before you want to eat, wash the beans and check them over, picking out any with blemishes. Put the beans in the pot, add the whole washed unskinned garlic bulbs, herbs and olive oil, and cover with water, leaving a scant 1” of water above the beans’ surface. Build your fire, using slow-burning logs. Light it and once the flames flare up, stand the pot about 6” in front of them to bring the water to the boil quickly. When it begins to chisporrear, or bubble, after 15-30 minutes, salt the beans and draw the pot back to a distance of about 1218” from the heat till the stew settles down to bubble gently. Do not stir the beans, but keep a close eye on them and “merar y menear “, in other words, keep topping up the water when it does not cover the beans and shake the pot to ensure the stew does not stick to the sides or bottom. Halfway through cooking, after about 2 ½ hours, salt the beans again. After 4-6 hours, depending on the age of the beans, you


should have a very mildly flavoured and slightly smoky stew with smooth-skinned whole pulses and lightly thickened juices. You can leave them close to the fire to keep warm without any further cooking for an hour or two. Check the seasoning and salt for a final time before ladling the beans into bowls to eat with a spoon and bread. Luis wood-grills thin-cut lamb chops over the same fire and serves both the beans and meat with bread, young red Garnacha wine, a mixed salad, fruit and coffee.

-Oven-baked biombo The easiest way to adapt biombo to a home-kitchen is to bring it to a simmer with the pot sitting on a flame-tamer over gentle direct heat for about 30 minutes, then bake it in a low oven, for about 4 hours. Turn off the oven while the stew cools.

-Cocido beans These beans are made for fiestas with a chunk of cured ham bone and one or two cooking sausages like morcilla (black sausage), chorizo or longaniza added after an hour’s cooking. -Beans with borage or wild garlic On San Jorge, when Aragón celebrates its patron saint, Luis’s friend Carlos Martínez, chef at El Patio, makes beans with blanched borage stalks or green garlic cut into 1” lengths and added to the stew for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking time.

Bimbo with green garlic and crumbs Photo Vicky Hayward


BROAD BEAN GAZPACHO Andalusia’s green gazpachos date back to the centuries before the tomato’s arrival. Now rarely made by pounding the raw ingredients in a large pottery bowl, they can be recreated with a food processor to keep their rough texture somewhere between a salad and a soup. I was served this broad bean gazpacho in a village in the Sierra Morena when I was exploring Jaen province in the 1980s. It relies on simple ingredients of quality: broad beans, which may be a mix of small and large, but always freshly picked, old-fashioned rye or wholegrain bread, fruity olive oil, dryland garlic and spring or mineral water. The broad bean pods’ skins leave a satisfyingly grainy final texture. A guest in the PittRivers Museum could make this dish the original way with a small pestle and mortar, a pottery bowl, a large wooden pestle and a botijo full of water while at home you can use modern kitchen equipment.

RECIPE 3 skinned cloves of garlic large pinch of salt 2 slices rye, spelt or wholegrain bread 1 dsp sherry vinegar 750 ml spring or mineral water ½ green bell pepper, trimmed of pith 300 g podded small broad beans (about 2 kg / 4 lb before podding) 4-8 tbsp fruity olive oil 3-4 unchopped mint springs fried diced cured jamón, optional Pod the beans, leaving on each one’s skin and tail. Pound the garlic and salt to a paste in a small pestle and mortar. Put the bread, crusts on, torn up roughly, in a bowl, sprinkle with the sherry vinegar dissolved in a little of the measured water and leave for a few minutes till evenly soaked. If you are using a food processor, put the roughly chopped green pepper with broad beans in the bowl, clamp on the lid and start blending for short bursts, adding the water as you go till you have a pulpy texture. If you are pounding or majando the soup then you need to work with a large wooden or stone pestle in a big pottery bowl. Add the olive oil by hand, pour the gazpacho into a large glass jug, float in the sprigs of mint and leave to rest in a cool place, or the fridge, for at least 2 hours for the flavours to develop. Serve in deep soup bowls, garnished with fried diced cured jamón if you like. This is a light meal in itself or it can be followed by fish pan-fried in olive oil accompanied by glass of chilled dry Jerez or Montilla wine.


Broad bean gazpacho Photo Vicky Hayward SELECTED READING Barandiaran, J.M., y Manterola, A (dir), La Alimentación Domestica en Vasconia (Atlas Etnografico de Vasconia), Etniker Euskalerria y Eusko Jaurlaritza, Bilbao, 1990 Carretero Pérez, A., Ceramica Popular de Andalucía, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1981 Columella, L. Moderato, Los Doce Libros de Agricultura, translated by Castro, C.J., notes by Aguilera, Emiliano, E.M., Editorial Iberia, 1959 Escardó, A. L., La ceramica del agua y su relación con la aridez, XIV Jornadas de la Asociación Metereológica de España, 1984 Herrera, A., Agricultural General, prologue by Terrón, E., MAPA, Madrid, 1996 Vossen, R., Seseña, N., Köpke, W., Guía de los alfares de España, Editorial Nacional, Madrid, 1975 23

TEA TEA BRICKS by Helen Saberi

1917.53.804 Tea brick, Russia 1917 1896

1917.53.804 Brick of tea, also currency, Yunnan

If making some tea in the Museum use the tea bricks to barter for the fire devil [1933.52.1] from Tibet plus the butter churn from France [1900.12.1]. You could also barter for some tsampa [1986.30.1] and the preserved milk [1913.17.11] for adding to the tea.

Tea leaves were compressed into bricks, sometimes called cakes, from ancient times in China, antedating the T’ang Dynasty and long before Lu Yü published the Ch’a Ching, c. 780. This was the earliest book about tea, how prepare it and drink it. In the chapter, ‘The Tools of Tea’, he describes the tools and method for making tea bricks or cakes. [The Classic of Tea, 62-69 – I could add more detail here?] Tea bricks zhuan cha were the most produced and used form of tea in China prior to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). They were usually made from mature coarse dried tea leaves and although they were slightly fermented they were not aged. The leaves, either whole or ground, were steamed. Sometimes they were mixed with binding agents such as flour, rice water or even blood or yak dung to help hold the leaves or ground leaves together. The tea was then placed into one of a number of types of press or mold which were various sizes and shapes and compressed into a solid form. The presses often left an intended imprint on the tea, such as an artistic design, Chinese characters or simply the pattern of the cloth with which the tea was pressed. Some were imprinted with a cross and this was probably how the tea was broken for sale or for use. An early description of how to infuse pressed tea is found in an extract from the Kuang Ya, a dictionary of the c. 4th century AD:


‘… the leaves were plucked and made into cakes in the district between the provinces of Hupeh and Szechwan; the cakes were roasted until reddish colour, pounded into tiny pieces, and placed in a chinaware pot. Boiling water was then poured over them, after which onion, ginger and orange were added.’

Salt was also often added. At this time tea was a bitter medicinal drink used as a remedy for various ailments including stomach problems, lethargy and even bad eye sight. The roasting was probably done to destroy any infestation by moulds or insects which may have occurred during storage but also gives a pleasant, toasty flavour to the tea. At times the powdered tea, when added to hot water, was whisked to a froth before serving. Tea in the form of bricks or cakes was easier to transport long distances and kept for longer. They could be sewn into yak skins to withstand knocks and bad weather. The bricks were traded along the ancient Silk roads and Tea roads. They were carried on their perilous journeys across deserts, jungles and mountains by yak, camel, horse or even men. There were five recognizable grades of tea bricks. The lowest was called ‘Sing ja’ or ‘wood tea’. It contained wood chips, twigs and soot (said to give the tea a richer colour). When used, a piece was broken off and boiled with salt until the liquid was almost black. The highest quality was made for export to Russia, the lowest grade went to Tibet. Tea in brick form was the favoured beverage in many parts of Central Asia for hundreds of years and was also made into a kind of soup for added sustenance. For herding peoples, whose traditional diet was meat and milk products, tea was ideal as an aid to digestion and a source of vitamin C. Brick tea was not only regarded as a refreshing beverage but also as a medicine against coughs and colds.

Two French missionaries, Père Huc and Père Gabet, who travelled through Central Asia in 1846-8, commented on the benefits of brick tea. Huc kept a detailed record of their experiences and notes that before starting out they collected their provisions which consisted of ‘five bricks of tea, two sheeps’ paunches of butter, two sacks of flour and eight sacks of tsampa’ (barley meal). After setting up their camp for the night they brewed tea outside their little tent. The two missionaries were often given hospitality and Huc describes how the tea was made: ‘They take a tea-cup half filled with boiling tea; to that they add some pinches of tsampa, and then mix those materials into a sort of wretched paste, neither cooked nor uncooked, not hot nor cold, which is then swallowed and is considered breakfast, dinner or supper as the case may be.’ For the two Frenchmen this meal was no doubt an ordeal but they soon appreciated that the tea, especially enriched with butter, kept out the cold and sustained them on their long journey. 25

The British traveller Thomas Atkinson described his own experience of brick tea in 1860. A chief of the Khirghiz tribe served him a bowl of tea with clotted cream, salt and millet meal added. He said ‘I cannot say that the beverage is very bad or particularly clean; still hunger has often caused me to make a very good meal of it. I think of it as rather tea-soup than tea. The Tibetans, it is said, enjoyed their brick tea by boiling it with yak butter in a large cauldron.’ [quoted from article by Ken Bresset, Tea Money of China.]

The universality of brick tea in Tibet and surrounding areas led to its use very early on as a form of currency for bartering. In fact, tea bricks were often the preferred form of currency over metallic coins for the nomads of Mongolia and Siberia. They became an accepted medium of exchange that could pass the same as silver and other trade items. They could be bartered against practically anything. Workmen and servants were routinely paid in tea bricks. In 1891 the American ethnographer William Rockhill followed local customs by paying nomads in north-east Tibet a small brick of tea for a sheet and a piece of cloth. [Rupert Falkner Tea East and West, p. 60-65] When the trading route from China to Russia, known as the Tea Road, was opened in the late seventeenth century the tea transported at that time was usually in loose form, not bricks and this continued until the 1860s when the Russians established several tea factories making tea bricks in Hankow’s British concession in China. Hankow was a major tea trading centre on the banks of the Yangtze River in Hubei Province. They used machines powered by steam to press the pulverized tea into cakes stamped with the respective company’s insignia. The reverse of large bricks was usually scored for dividing into equal portions. [I could go into more detail here?] In 1872 Ivanov & Co set up the first brick tea factory in Fujian, pressing tea bricks out of black tea dust previously regarded as a waste product. Three years later, two Russian firms with factories in Fujian produced almost 5 million lb of brick tea destined for Russian tea tables. The Tibetans are still well known for their ‘butter tea’ (po cha or bo-jha) which can be made in a number of ways and is usually made from brick tea. Chunks of tea are broken off the brick, which are first toasted over a fire then crushed or pounded into powder. This is then put in cold water which is then heated and boiled for about five minutes until dark and strong. Sometimes a small amount soda, obtained from the shores of the lakes on the northern Tibetan plateau, is added and gives a reddish tinge to the brew and draws out the flavour. [Rupert Faulkner, Tea East and West, pp 60-65]. The tea is strained through a brass or horsehair strainer into a wooden or bamboo tea churn called a cha dong. Yak milk, yak butter and salt are added and the mixture is churned vigorously with a stick or plunger until the mixture is emulsified. This repetitive churning may well be accompanied by the Tibetan tea song evoking the origins and the meeting together of the ingredients: 26

‘From the Chinese country comes the tea flower beautiful. From the northern plain comes the small white salt. From the Tibetan country comes the yak butter like gold. The birthplace and dwelling place are not the same – But they all meet together in the little belted churn’ (quoted from East and West, p. 62)

When ready to drink the tea is poured into teapot and served in wooden tea bowls. Rinjing Dorje in Food in Tibetan Life (1985) describes how Tibetans would carefully blow all the butter that was floating on top of the tea to one side and when the tea is nearly finished, some tsampa (roasted flour, usually barley) is mixed with the remaining tea and butter in the cup and formed into a kind of dough which can then be rolled into little balls and popped in the mouth. He also explains that at least three to five cups of tea are drunk every morning and a prayer of offering to the holy ones is said before drinking. The butter tea (gur gur cha or shrusma cha) of Ladakh is described by Gabriele Reifenberg in her book Ladakhi Kitchen (1998):

‘This is the drink no household is without. Usually a supply will be made in the morning, put in a thermos – or in the villages a clay samovar heated with cow dung – and served at frequent intervals throughout the day. Often extra butter will be put in the tea to be soaked up by bread; tsampa may also be added at times, anything from just one pinch to quite a lot.’

Tea leaves which are ideally from brick tea (or large leaved Indian tea leaves) are boiled in an open pot until the liquid is greatly reduced, then drained and boiled up twice more, but the third time the liquid should not evaporate. The liquid remaining is called chathang and this is poured into a jug or jar and stored. This is the basis for the drink and can be kept for a few days. The tea leaves are fed to the cattle. When tea is required another pot of water is boiled and a ladleful of the chathang is added. Butter, milk and salt are put into a churn (or mixer), the tea added and all is then churned or mixed. The mixture poured back into the pan, heated through and then placed in a thermos or samovar to keep hot. Reifenberg advises that foreigners should think of gur gur cha as soup rather than tea. She also says that some people add soda (pul) which comes mostly from the Nubra Valley. In Mongolia tea is prepared in a similar way and after the tea has boiled and then cooked for a few minutes at a low heat, milk and salt are added. In Xinjiang in the far west the milk is cooked with the tea. 27


1993.64.5 Textile used to cover the stove and people's legs while they sit around the stove drinking tea. Uzbekistan. Samarkand. Cultural Group: Urgut

The experience of eating is a paradox: aimed at the nutrition of the individual body, it is an act most commonly shared with others. We eat with family, with friends, even with strangers, sharing plates and tables, sharing memories and pleasures. Contemporary societies celebrate sometimes the emancipatory aspects of eating alone, liberated from the constraints of tradition: new cookbooks offer today recipes for one, and TV shows hail the pleasure of savouring food uninterrupted by conversation. Yet such acts of apparent rebellion only underline the centrality of shared eating to global human cultures. The sacred act of breaking bread and sharing a meal is central to many cultural and religious rites. It brings together human societies all around the world, extending the consumption of food beyond physical survival, towards a celebration of conviviality and community.

Eating together necessitates, first of all, an adequate setting. First, there should be a table, large enough to accommodate all the culinary offering. Chairs should be placed, to allow diners to relax in a comfortable and pleasant position. The height, form and design of the chairs and the table are left, 28

of course, to interpretation. In the desert oasis city of Samarkand, now in Uzbekistan in Central Asia, for example, the preferred format is the bed-table: an elevated wooden or metal structure resembling a double bed frame with an elevated table in the centre. The whole structure is covered with embroidered textiles and soft cushions. The diners take off their shoes off, climb onto the bed and sit down comfortably around three sides of the table. As meals in Samarkand may last long hours from sunset into the night, diners often relax lying down on one side, sipping black tea with butter between one bit and another. Tea beds can be large or small, accommodating from three to fifteen people around a communal table. Often they were located outside, in the internal court of the family house, under a canopy of vineyard stretched on metal cables to improbably heights, or by a mulberry tree.

In the long and hot summer of the desert oasis, eating outdoors was common enough. But in the dead of winter, with the snow heaping in the roads and gardens, dinner was eaten indoor by the stove. A special textile was served for this purpose: a weaved cotton flat carpet was used to cover the stove. It is called a Sandilpush, or Sandalik posh and has a specific domestic function. In the cold Central Asian winter, a charcoal stove is placed in a pit specially prepared in the earthen floor of one of the interior rooms. The stove can even be a simple bowl or brazier full of charcoal, which is placed in the pit and covered with a wooden or metal frame frapped with felt or quilts. On top of the quilts was placed the beautiful sandilik posh. The small stove provided warmth as well as a centrepiece for the living room, as the diners could snugly fit their feet under the covered frame to keep warm. Tea was served on the embroidered or weaved sandilposh, that covers both table and quilts. As a functional textile, it is specific to the settled life-style, and many found it ‘the most charming domestic article’ in Uzbek tradition.1

Samarkand lies at the heart of Central Asia. Populated by Uzkeks and Tajiks of Turkic origins “it is responsible for the production of some of the world’s most visually dramatic textiles.”2 Textiles are a central part of the Samarkandi culture: from coats to hats, rugs to table cloths, the Samarkandi take pride in the beauty of local expert stitch and needle work. As Janet Harvey suggests, ‘the weaving of cotton cloth was the most common domestic handicraft of the oasis towns and villages until the nineteenth century”.3 Usually a craft reserved for women, the creation of decorated fabrics is an ancient tradition in the region. Many of the textiles created and designed for everyday household use rather than exclusive artistic creations. Thus, as Caroline Stone has argued, these textiles remained

John Gillow, Textiles of the Islamic world , Thames and Hudson, 2010, p 190. Gillow, Textiles of the Islamic world, p. 184. 3 Janet Harvey, Traditional textiles of Central Asia, Thames and Hudson, 1996, p. 93. 1 2


confined to living rooms of local families and escaped the attention of scholars and museums. Decorative hand embroidered fabrics called Suzani reflect the style and social status of homeowners, yet relatively little scholarship is dedicated to their history. Every region and city have their own decorative style and colour scheme: wealthy city of Bukhara embroidered textiles are easy to recognise for their ample use of gold thread on black velvet background. In Samarkand, the preference is for lighter colours, usually using a light cream atlas silk background. Today we associate central Asian textiles with silk production, but as John Gillow suggests, “silk-rearing in Central Asia is comparatively recent phenomenon as an important industry. Indeed the territory covered by the modern republic of Uzbekistan was and is ideal cotton-growing country”.4 The embroidered Suzani was often matched by beautifully weaved carpets, with patterns representing local flora and fauna in bright colours. Similarly, carpets and rugs aimed for domestic use have received relatively limited attention from scholars interested in Central Asian crafts. Yet these are the decorative elements that defined and shaped the Central Asian home through their practical functionality and individual design. Rather than relying on expert craftmanship, the rugs and textiles of the Samarkandi home were shaped according to the preferences, skills and knowledge of the family’s women, who adorned their abode with their hand-made creations.

The exemplar conserved at the Pitt Rivers suggests an artistic origin in Samarkand, where traditionally rugs were designed with a light-coloured background. It is weaved in simple cotton yarn, suggesting that it was supposed to be used daily in a setting that demanded robustness. The pattern reflects the use of the rug: small tea pots for a tea stove cover. The carpet-weaving craft flourished in Early Modern Samarkand. Alongside the famed ikat silk textiles and embroideries, carpets were one of the most important local traditional crafts exported on the sill roads to Europe and East Asia. Rugs were weaved using cotton yarns, as this one, as well as silk threads. The colourful dyes were achieved thanks to the expertise of local dye masters, many of whom were Jewish, in the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bokhara. The ability to extract stunning hues of indigo blue, red from oak gall and madder root, yellow from fried pomegranate rinds, brown from walnut husks was a closely kept secret passed from father to son. If the difficult and physically demanding art of dyeing was mainly masculine, the weaving was a feminine art. In each house, there was a small manual wooden loom, used to weave carpets and textiles for domestic use. The Samarkandi women would use locally dyed yarns to create original designs, often inspired by local flora and fauna or by domestic items, which they would weave carefully at home, alongside their ‘usual’ domestic chores of cooking, cleaning and child-rearing.


Gillow, Textiles of the Islamic world p. 184.


In the traditional Uzbek culture, women were mostly confined to their homes; houses were built around a small patio or garden, which typically had a well and a hearth for cooking. The living room and the bedrooms, sparsely furnished, were located around the patio and the whole building was separated from the street by a high wall. The realm of domesticity was primarily feminine, while men went out to the market, to the workshops or the fields, on their everyday jobs. Thus, the carpets and textiles were not only created by women, they also made up the aesthetic landscape that surrounded women most of the day at home. Objects of common domestic use such as the stove rug can therefore be particularly indicative of the lives and preferences of their creators and users. Yet the stories behind such items often remain untold, as no evidence of authorship, usage or design has survived to our days. In a sense, the stove rug is a silent witness of a rich and important segment of history centred on women as protagonists of everyday life in Central Asia.

The rug’s provenience from the town of Urgut near the historical city of Samarkand suggests that it may have been acquired in the local market, still famed today as a preferred location for trading in high quality antique textiles, that were typically put into everyday use in central Asian households. The pattern of the carpet seems to represent an oil lamp or maybe a kettle, which would be particularly appropriate as drinking tea would be the ideal activity around a warm stove in the winter. If the tea-bed provided a unique space for gathering around food and drink in the summer, the Uzbek stove provided such a space in the winter, when the fertile valleys of Central Asia were covered with snow. Drinking and eating around the stove was a habit of sheer necessity – keeping warm – but also a cultural tradition that shaped the form of the meal and the design of the furniture. Yet the meaning of the rug cannot be understood without appreciating the centrality of tea to the Samarkandi culture.

The Samarkandi dinner opens with a cup of hot tea. Tea arrived in Central Asia from China, along the Silk Roads, and was soon adopted as the preferred beverage by the local inhabitants, who were mostly Muslims. Both green and black tea are widely drunk. As most of the region’s inhabitants are Muslim, tea became the staple drink long ago. Yet tea is not only an alternative to forbidden alcohol, it is a cultural heritage of the nomadic caravan merchants. In the heat of summer, a hot cup of tea revives and refreshes. Some legends suggest that Jewish merchants on the silk roads brought the precious tea leaves from China to Samarkand. While such myths are difficult to prove, it is true that Samarkand and Bokhara had a thriving Jewish community of merchants and traders, who lived in sumptuous palaces and contributed to the cities’ wealth and prosperity. Drinking tea became a cornerstone of local culture: guests and visitors are often welcomed with a cup of tea, typically half 31

full, and refusing a drink is taken as an offence. Tea drinking has become, of course, as much Russian as Chinese. The samovar – hot water container for tea-making in Russia – is a common sight in Uzbek houses, tea gardens and even trains to this day, connecting the local habits with the traditions in the wider Russian-speaking world. Interestingly, the cultural influence in tea drinking can be traced also to the mountainous regions of Tibet and Nepal which may have inspired also the past tradition of serving Black tea with a dollop of salted butter, which enhances its flavour and richness. This habit is now largely lost in Uzbekistan, but tea is still served in the traditional blue cups, called piala, that are sold in every market.

The small cups are decorated with the white cotton bud that is today considered the national flower of Uzbekistan. Cotton has always been grown in Central Asia, but only with the Soviet occupation it became a monoculture crop that outbid all others cultivations in this fertile part of the world. During the American Civil War, the Russian Tzar feared a lack of supply of American cotton to his empire, and decided to plant his own fields of cotton to respond to local demand. Central Asia, and in particular the fertile valleys of today’s Uzbekistan, were deemed the most appropriate location for the Russian cotton agricultural industry. Today, the omnipresence of cotton in Uzbek life is evident even in this daily moment of tea drinking by the stove: the cups feature the cotton flower, and the stove is covered by a rug weaved with cotton threads. If the early golden age of Samarkand was marked by local production and trade of precious silk, in the twentieth century the focus turned to cotton. The duality of the cotton – a blessing and a curse for the local economy – remains a constant feature of life in contemporary Samarkand.

Along with tea, the meal opens with fresh fragrant Non bread, a plump round loaf brushed with oil, with a flat core punctured with a floral pattern. In Uzbek, ‘non’ simply means bread, and there are various types of baked loafs offered at the dinner table. The bread is still baked locally in clay ovens, but nowadays bakers use gas and not wooden heat. There is also a pita-like flat bread rich in butter, or a drier round loaf typical to Samarkand and famed for its longevity. An alternative bread, which was common in Jewish festivities, is Non Tokh’i, a flat and crispy bread, baked in a hot taboon.

The diners tear pieces of bread as more plates change hands: fresh fruit in the summer and dried fruit in the winter. Green and white melons, juicy red watermelons, plump grapes freshly cut from the vine, peaches and apricots, glossy cherries and deep purple mulberries, plums in every colour and shape, soft dates and dark raisins, almonds and walnuts, sun dried apricots and figs, and thin sheets of ‘leather’, a sticky and delicious dried apricot paste. Sugar coated almonds are also a common delight in the region. In summer, a fresh salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and onions is 32

unavoidable, alongside a salad of shredded carrots, fried aubergines and heaps of chopped dill. The tea pot is continuously filled with fresh boiling water, and tea is continuously poured into the cups to be slowly sipped as the meal progresses.

Relaxed and comfortably sitting by the warm stove, the diners may wish to go on sipping hot tea, or to proceed and engage with the main course of the meal. But in either case, it is worth lingering to reflect on the aesthetic value of the meal. The Samarkandi carpet serves a double function: preserving the heat of the stove around the diners’ feet, as well as enhancing the beauty of the dining experience. The colours, patterns and material were chosen by the expert craft maker to generate aesthetic pleasure in simple surroundings. The rug reflects the importance, in Samarkandi culture, of merging functionality and aesthetics into a feast of colours, flavours and scents.

Today, the staple main course in Uzbek cuisine is Plov, a rice dished traditionally cooked in an outdoor metal pot over charcoal or hearth. It includes carrots, dried fruit, and a juicy, fatty meat, often mutton. Different versions of plov include also barberry, a local tangy berry, hard boiled eggs, beef or chicken. The rice is cooked in lamb fat in a large metallic pot, and served to the table in a central dish, to be shared by all diners. Yet historical accounts and oral testimonies suggest that other dishes were common before the Soviet rule, dishes that reflected the ethnic and religious diversity of the region in the 19th century. For example, the Jewish community of Samarkand was known for its special dishs, Baxsh and Sirkaniz: the first is a rice dish with heaps of coriander and large chunks of liver, to be eaten with fresh pomegranate seeds. The second is a vegetarian rice dish with carrots and beetroot, dill and chickpeas, served with a hot sauce of garlic fried in oil or fat. These dishes disappeared from the culinary horizons of Samarkand with the emigration of the Jewish community, initially in 1922, and in later waves in the 1970s, yet they can still be found in Samarkandi restaurants in Israel today.

Even if different communities had their own unique dishes and culinary preferences, the setting of the meal was similar across ethnicities and religions in Central Asia. The act of eating is a lengthy feast of sharing, lingering, sipping and talking, around a common table or a warm charcoal stove. It is a slow, convivial meal, informal in its presentation and structure, yet rich with rituals and habits. Singing and playing music were common during Samarkandi meals: the doira’ drum was a common feature at the dinner table. The informal sequence of courses and the lengthiness of the meal provided the perfect setting for a musical pause, when guests enjoyed a simple tune or a joyful song while sipping tea.


In the meander of the Pitt Rivers Museum in the depth of night, the visitor can find consolation and comfort in the stove textile, and use it to cover the legs and warm up before drinking a cup or soulreviving tea. The simple beauty of the carpet will bring to life past celebrations and moments of joy shared around the stove. The hidden history of this object will come to life through use and touch, by giving it another opportunity to be the centrepiece of a shared meal, an item of comfort and pleasure.

RECIPE SAMARKAND NON BREAD Ingredients: 380 g flour 3 teaspoon dry yeast 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon sugar 250 ml water Olive oil and nigella seeds for decoration Mix all ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. Leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. Knead again to let the air out, form 3 balls, and leave to rise again for 45 minutes. Heat the oven to 200c. Using the fist, flatten the centre of each ball, and poke holes in it with a fork or a special Uzbek instrument. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle nigella seeds. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden



1996.17.41.8. Tea whisk and container, Japan 1996

Summary: The article discusses the Japanese practice of kuyō, or mortuary/memorial services, for household objects and work tools. Ancient beliefs in Japan held common household and kitchen implements to be imbued with spirits that helped their owners and sometimes took revenge on them when misused and unceremoniously disposed; these beliefs were a critical influence on the development of kuyō rituals established in early modern Japan that are still practised today. The article explores the history of kuyō rituals for kitchen implements in Japan and utilises a specific example, the ritual for bamboo tea whisks (also found in the Pitt Rivers Museum’s collection) that the author has participated in and observed, to discuss such rituals’ roles and functions in today’s Japan and material culture in general. More objects related to tea: 1980.34.2063 Ivory netsuke of a pedlar carrying a broom and tea whisks. Japan, 1980 1980.34.2597 Ivory netsuke toggle representing a tea bowl with a tea whisk sitting inside. Japan 1980 1989.44.19 .1-3 Tea whisk made from a length of bamboo pared into fine strips at one end. Japan 1989 1996.17.41 Travelling tea ceremony set consisting of: box with lid and an inner tray . Cleaning cloth in envelope]; white cleaning feather; incense box; spoon ; tea whisk ; wooden cylinder ; water bottle [.10]; ladle stand [.11]; tea bowl [.12]; tea container [.13]. Also, brocade case for spoon [.14]; brocade case for tea bowl [.15] and silk bag for tea container [.16]



1935.6.1 Wine vessel, Iran 1935

“I was a palm-wine drinkard since I was a boy of ten years of age. I had no other work more than to drink palm-wine in my life. (…) So my father gave me a palm-tree farm which was nine miles square and it contained 560,000 palm-trees, and this palm-wine tapster was tapping one hundred and fifty kegs of palm-wine every morning, but before 2 o’clock p.m., I would have drunk it all; after that he would go and tap another 75 kegs in the evening which I would be drinking till morning.” From: Amos Tutuola - The Palm Wine Drinkard (1953)

Hafez (1317- 1390) The Nightingales are Drunk. In: Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz. Penguin Classics


1983.22.1 Corked and sealed globular stoneware wine-jar with narrow neck, flaring rim & ring foot. The jar is covered in Chinese/English labels, one of which states, 'Distributed by Kwong Hing Khui - Tientsin, Hongkong - Different kinds of wine'. The seal over the cork is of paper. China. Hong Kong, 1983



1905.38.25 Malted millet ('kaffir') for beer-making. South Africa, Natal 1905

1936.55.2 Gin bottle of dark green glass Ghana, 1936 ‘These bottles (full of gin) were used formerly as currency’


COFFEE 1920.101.88 Coffee-berries (some whole, some powdered) in cylindrical finely coiled basket with lid. The basket is coiled around a cylinder of gourd. The plant fibre is woven in a zigzag pattern of plain, brown and dark brown lozenges Uganda, 1920

1891.4.7 Wooden coffee cooler, consisting of circular vessel, with handle on one side and protruding rectangular hole on the other. Decorated with incised patterning on inside and outside of vessel. Turkey, 1891

1891.4.5 Coffee ladle or spoon. Coffee-roaster of iron with incised ornament and double folding handle. Copper alloy bands decorate the handle. Turkey, Taurus Moutains 1891


1934.8.134 Human-headed pottery jar with narrow opening at back of head, on a piriform body with applied, incised and impressed decoration South Sudan, 1934


52.5.1 B Wooden carved cup in the form of a male head with cicatrization marks on cheek. Ghana 1952.



1900.12.1 Butter churn comprising a lamb skin with wooden funnel, France 1900


EGGS DUCK EGGS PRESERVED IN LIME – Notes from Len Fisher Given the date of collection, these are likely to be the real deal. Also known as pidan, century eggs, millennium eggs, and one hundred year-old eggs, the preservation process actually takes about five months. Hundred year-old eggs deserve a hundred year-old recipe, and here it is. The recipe, provided to the authors by the manager of an unspecified Chinese factory, was first reported in the West by the American food chemists Katharine Blunt and Chi Che Wang (Journal of Biological Chemistry 28 (1916) 125 -134), who also analyzed the product in what some might consider to be excruciating detail. To an infusion of one and one-third pounds of strong black tea are stirred in successively 9 pounds of lime, 4 pounds of common salt, and about one bushel of freshly burned wood ashes. This pasty mixture is put away to cool overnight. Next day 1000 duck’s eggs of the best quality are cleaned and one by one carefully and evenly covered with the mixture, and stored away for 5 months. Then they are covered further with rice hulls, and so with a coating fully inch thick are ready for the market. They improve on further keeping, however, for at first they have a strong taste of lime which gradually disappears. ...The eggs are eaten without cooking. “These are very different from fresh eggs” the authors go on to say. “The somewhat darkened shell has numerous dark green dots on the inner membrane. Both the white and yolk are coagulated; the white is brown, more or less like coffee jelly, and the yolk greenish gray with concentric rings of different shades of gray. The yolk gradually loses its peculiar color on exposure. Numerous tyrosine-shaped crystals are found on the side of the white next to the yolk, apparently formed on the vitellin membrane. The taste of the eggs is characteristic and the odor markedly ammoniacal. It may be noted here that the eggs have no odor of hydrogen sulfide and that no blackening of lead acetate paper [a test for hydrogen sulfide LF] could be detected ...” What the marinade is doing, in technical terms, is to denature the egg proteins, so that the string-like molecules become entangled and form an elastic gel, whose properties have even been compared to those of the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease (Erika Eiser et al: “Molecular cooking: physical transformations in Chinese’century’eggs” Soft Matter 5 (2009) 2725 2730). Not to worry! You are eating it, not injecting it into your brain. Pidan, properly prepared, is a tasty (and safe) delicacy, but the person marooned in the museum might do better to steal and eat the museum specimens, rather than risk the present-day commercial product, where things have been speeded up. As the author pointed out in a talk at the 2007 Oxford Symposium “Food and Morality”, the product is likely to have been immersed in caustic soda, rather than gentle lime, potash and tea, and to have taken a week to prepare rather than five months. The end product is 43

superficially similar, with the proteins in the egg having been denatured by the gradually increasing alkalinity as the components of the unusual marinade diffuse into it, but there the similarity ends. The taste is altogether harsher, and the experience correspondingly less pleasant. The experience might even be fatal. One Chinese factory, now fortunately closed down, was recently found to have been adding poisonous copper sulfate to the mixture in order to enhance the colours! (https://qz.com/94864/preserved-thousand-year-oldeggs-in-china-are-even-more-toxic-than-they-sound/) The colourful sliced eggs may be served as part of a salad, but the real deal makes a real meal, as the following recipe shows.

1957.10.18-19 Duck eggs preserved in lime, China, 1957


RECIPE CENTURY EGG WITH PORK CONGEE (recipe adapted from https://food52.com/blog/) To make the congee (a thickish, hot Chinese comfort food, usually eaten in the morning): Pick your stock. It can be any kind of stock, but if you have the time and want to match flavors, go with a stock made from chicken, ginger, onion, and rice wine. Pour it all into a soup pot, a crockpot, or a rice cooker —whatever works for you —and turn the heat up until it starts to boil. Add rice. If you have rice left over from last night’s dinner, you're that much closer to a hot bowl of congee. You can also use dried rice, of course, keeping in mind that the congee will take a bit longer to cook. Plop in the rice, using a greater quantity for thicker congee and less rice for a thinner one. Let everything come to a boil again, give it a good stir (or even use an electric beater) if the rice is clumpy, and then set it to simmer. Stir-fry thin slices of pork. While your rice and broth are simmering, heat up a frying pan or wok and drizzle it with cooking oil. You can also add some sesame oil if desired. Sauté minced garlic and ginger, sliced scallions, and peppercorns in your preferred proportions, but don't go overboard: A few big pinches of each will do. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When the meat is cooked, stir the pork, oil and all, into the still-simmering congee. Now for the century egg bit: Peel and dice the century eggs. Add bite-sized pieces to the congee a little before you plan on serving it, and let everything simmer for another few minutes, or until the eggs are heated through. Garnish and serve. Ladle the congee into bowls and take a moment to inhale the aromatic steam swirling up from its surface. Not a single whiff of egg. Drizzle on a bit of sesame oil, chopped scallion, and fresh cilantro. The rice, pork, and egg make the congee an incredibly filling breakfast, enhanced by the aromas and flavours of the spices. (These eggs were discussed by Fuchsia Dunlop at the Oxford Symposium on Eggs)


1916.36.332 Three Sooty Tern eggs, alltogether in a museum display box. Oceania, Polynesia, Easter Island Rapa Nui. Motu Nui [islet near Easter Island, part of Chile. 1916 “On page 265 of collector's published account of the expedition to Easter Island, Katherine Routledge writes: 'The tara departed from Motu Nui about March, but a few stragglers remained; we saw one bird and obtained eggs at the beginning of July'. The 'Bird Cult' associated with the collection of sooty tern eggs is described on pages 254 to 268. See Mrs. [Katherine] Scoresby Routledge (1919) The Mystery of Easter Island: The Story of an Expedition. London: Sifton, Praed & Co. Ltd. “ Preparation For soft-boiled tern's eggs, bring to the boil from cold, allow 2mins 30 secs, remove and plunge into cold water. Peel when cool and serve with oriental salt for dipping - fine-ground salt with powdered cumin, cracked black pepper and grated dried ginger-root. (by Elisabeth Luard)



T.G. Smollett remarked upon it in 1775: “The cheese made of reindeer-milk is eaten new, or boiled in water and stored up, and sometimes toasted. It is so fat as to burn like candles, and said also to be an excellent specific to restore limbs benumbed with cold.� From: Memoirs of the Laplanders in Finmark, their Language, Manners, Customs, and former Paganism, &c. Smollett, T.G. (ed.). The Critical review, or, Annals of literature; London Vol. 40 (Nov 1775). P.395

1886.12.2 Reindeer milk cheese, Norway (Finnmarken) 1886

1886.9.1 Cheese, horse figure, Italy 1886




1920.101.36 Sample of perfumed butter for anointing royal personage. ( in a small glass bottle sealed with red wax) Uganda. Cultural Group: Nkol, 1920

1910.17.5-7 Edible fats from seeds, Indonesia 1910 -


1899.62.68 Wooden food-bowl, shaped like a dog eating a fish. Solomon Islands 1899 Decorated with inlaid pieces (triangular and circular) of haliotis shell and black pigment.

More objects: -1947.4.35 B 'Wedding basket'. Obtained by the Navajo from the Ute, who make them. Good specimen. Traces of meal remain N AMERICA. USA SW Navajo Basin Ute , 1940 - 1935-2016.610.edu


“Fattening bowl�, Nigeria, 2016


1914.27.7 One of two swim bladders from yellow-bellied Wong fish, of good quality. “Used as food and also for making glue for composite bows” Soochow, China 1914

FISH BLADDER FROM THE YELLOW-BELLIED ‘WONG’ FISH - Notes from Len Fisher The bladder is “yellow in colour and roughly oval in shape with curled over edges” (and roughly 27cm long). It hardly seems like material for a food delicacy, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The swim bladder is an internal gas-filled organ found in most fish, which use it for flotation. It is composed of collagen, a triple-stranded protein that makes up most of the connective tissue in our bodies. Collagen is difficult to digest, but when heated with water it turns into gelatin, whose uses in food preparation are numerous. The collagen from swim bladders seems to be rather special. It is particularly valued in SouthEast China and South-East Asia as a primary component of fish maw soup, a delicacy that is especially associated with the Chinese New year. It is also the favoured source for isinglass – a semitransparent whitish form of gelatin that is used to clarify beer and wine, to preserve eggs in their shells, and even as a specialist glue for paper conservation and for violin bows, where flexibility needs to be combined with strength.


Isinglass can also be formed into thin flexible transparent sheets and used as a curtain material. The Hollywood actor Gordon McRae even sang about it in the film Oklahoma, where “The Surrey With The Fringe On Top” had “Isinglass curtains you can roll right down, In case there’s a change in the weather.” But we digress. There are a number of different ways to prepare and eat fish bladder. Most of them require that the bladder (which is usually available only in dried form, as with that of the Wong fish, although most have not been dry for quite so long) be rehydrated by soaking in water for a couple of hours. It is then pat-dried, and can be added directly to a fry-up. The most significant use, though, is in the highly prized fish maw soup. In what is called the traditional method (Sittichoke Sinthusamram & Soottawat Banjakul “Effect of drying and frying conditions on… characteristics of fish maw …”, Journal of Science of Food and Agriculture 95 (2014) 3195-3203) the whole bladder is fried in vegetable oil until it puffs up, then sliced up and added to the soup as in the Festive Fish Maw Soup below. Other recipes, however, incorporate the bladder without frying, as in the Nyonya recipe (the cuisine of the Peranakans, descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia). Take your pick!

RECIPE FESTIVE FISH MAW SOUP 1 pc of fried fish maw, soaked and sliced into rings 100g of chicken fillet, boiled and shredded 6 pcs of cooked Japanese crab meat sticks, shredded 50g of corn kernel 1 egg 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tablespoon of oil Seasoning: 1 tablespoon of Chinese Hua Diao wine 1 teaspoon of salt 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce Pinch of white pepper 3 tablespoon of corn starch, mixed with water into slurry 1 pot of chicken stock, about 800ml Heat pot with oil over medium fire. Sauté garlic till browned. Add chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Add fish maw rings and shredded chicken. Simmer on low fire for 20 minutes. Add corn and crab meat, continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Increase heat to high fire, and bring it to a rolling boil. Stir in egg to create egg drops. Add salt and pepper, drizzle Chinese wine. Stir in corn starch slurry to thicken the soup. Heat off. Serve.


RECIPE NYONYA FISH MAW SOUP 100 grams minced pork (chicken) 2 liters chicken stock see cooking tip below for home-made stock recipe 25 grams fried fish maw soak in hot water until softened, cut to bite-sized pieces 8 dried Japanese mushrooms soak caps in hot water until softened, squeeze out excess water half carrot peeled & sliced thinly (optional: cut to flower shapes) half head Chinese round cabbage cut to bite-sized lengths 10 fish balls half can baby abalone optional, may add abalone stock to the soup Marinade 1 tsp light soy sauce 1 tsp fish sauce 1/2 tbsp corn flour 3 dashes white pepper 1/2 tsp sesame oil Garnishing chopped spring onions fried shallots Marinade minced pork with (A) for at least 10 minutes in the fridge. Use a spoon to roughly shape them into small balls. In a large soup pot, bring chicken stock to boil. Add fish maw, mushrooms and carrots. Simmer for 15 minutes, add cabbage and continue simmer for another 10 minutes. Add fish balls, marinated meat balls and baby abalone. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the fish balls float to the surface. Ladle soup to serving bowls and top with fried shallots and spring onions. (courtesy https://noobcook.com/nyonya-fish-maw-soup/; Wikimedia Commons)


SWIMBLADDERS IN ICELAND FOODCULTURE - Notes from Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir Swim bladders were boiled until soft and preserved in fermented whey or in some skyr. They are a rich source of isinglass and if a bladder was parboiled briefly, then put into a bowl of skyr while still hot, the skyr coagulated and could be cut into slices. Sundmagaskyr was considered a delicacy. Although isinglass was widely used in jellies and desserts before gelatin became popular, I’m not sure if swim bladders were ever used as a dessert by themselves anywhere else but there are Icelandic recipes for whey-preserved swim bladders, cut up small, caramelized in sugar and served with whipped cream. Dried swim bladders could be soaked in salted lamb broth overnight, then cooked in butter. Milk was added, along with some flour, to make a gluey mass, called sundmagasteik,swimbladder steak. One source tells of a woman who made what she called swim bladder cheese by cooking a large amount of barley porridge and arranging it in a barrel in layers, alternating with swim bladders.



1899.45.6 Sturgeon skin used for food. Strip of sturgeon skin folded in half length ways and dried Japan, Hokkaido,(Ainu) 1899.

The Ainu people from the Japanese island of Hokkaido call the sturgeon kamuichepu (fish of the gods). It was thought to be the presiding god of the river that is now called the Ishikari, and it is certainly a gift from the gods so far as the Ainu are concerned. They even use the skin to make clothes and bags. As the label on the exhibit in the Pitt-Rivers museum indicates, they also eat it. According to Japanese food writer Makiko Itoh, the skin is usually blanched and sliced into thin strips, where the chewy texture is much prized by aficionados. Pieces of sturgeon are also salted and smoked with the skin on, where the combination of fat and collagen produces interesting textural and taste effects. The same may be said of the small fish that are sun-dried in India and Bangladesh to produce “Bombay Duck.” The Ainu are not the only people to incorporate fish skin into their cuisine. Food writer Elisabeth Luard points out that toasted salmon skin, with its underlayer of fat, is traditionally eaten with gravlax in Norway. Moving further afield, fish skin (including sturgeon skin) can also be used in place of pig skin to make a fishy version of the Mexican chicharron – crispy, light as air and oddly ungreasy. Sturgeons are, of course, the source of caviar – the salt-cured “roe of the virgin sturgeon”, as the popular song puts it. The quality varies with the species of sturgeon, and there are 27 different 54

species across the world. The particular species from which the Pitt-Rivers skin specimen was obtained seems to have been the Sakhalin sturgeon, endemic to the Sea of Japan and the Korean Peninsula, and now listed as critically endangered (although “Sakhalin caviar” is still sold by some suppliers). It is relatively expensive, perhaps because of rarity, but not comparable in quality with the famous beluga caviar, obtained from the beluga sturgeon Huso huso, which is found primarily in the Caspian sea. Most of the world’s caviar now comes from farmed sturgeon, where the mature females produce tens of thousands of eggs in a batch. There is a sporting chance that the sturgeon from which the Pitt-Rivers skin specimen was obtained was a female, captured mainly for her eggs, and an admittedly much smaller chance that some of those eggs may have become stuck to this piece of skin. With tens of thousands of eggs, each surrounded by sticky membranous material, produced by a gravid mature female, surely there was some chance? We thus have two potential food sources from the Pitt-Rivers specimen – the skin itself, and any roe that may have become stuck to it. Here are recipes for each:

HANK SHAW’S CRISPY FISH SKIN CHICHARRONS Hank Shaw is a Sacramento chef, and says that he got the idea for this recipe from Sacramento’s sushi chef Billy Ngo. Here it is in Hank’s own words, using sturgeon as the fish:

“Slice the skin from the meat off the fillet. You will notice that you still have some meat and fat attached to the skin. That needs to go. You also need to tenderize the skin by boiling in salty water for about 5 minutes; the salt helps season the skin. Now you need to carefully remove all the meat and fat from the skins. Gently lift the skins out of the boiling water and lay them meat side up on a cutting board. Now, using a butter knife, carefully lift and remove all the meat and fat. This is fairly tricky, and if you have oven-mitt hands you will tear the skin. Take your time until you get the hang of it. Once you have all the meat removed, you need to dry the skins. I do this in a dehydrator at 120°F until the skin dries, which isn’t too long — about 2 to 4 hours depending on the species of fish. I’ve also greased a baking sheet and laid the skins down (meat side up) and dried them in an oven set to 170°F. You will need to flip the skins at least once if you do this option. When the skins are dried you can save them in the freezer indefinitely. Frying is easy. Heat about 1 inch of high smoke-point oil — I prefer rice bran or grapeseed oil, but canola or other vegetable oil works, too — to between 350°F and 360°F. Get your seasonings 55

nearby, as you will have only seconds to season before the skins’ surface dries. Salt is a must, but I’ve used herbes de Provence, smoked paprika and even lemon pepper. Drop a couple skins into the hot oil and watch the magic: They will puff up immediately in an amazingly miraculous way. They will be ready in less than a minute. Watch for the sizzling to die down dramatically. Move them to paper towels with a slotted spoon and season immediately. Once fried, they will stay crispy for a few hours, depending on the humidity.”

MICHEL TROISGROS CAVIAR RECIPES We can take a lead from the Hospes Palacio de los Patos hotel in Granada, Spain, where the triple Michelin-starred chef Michel Troisgros offers a menu where every dish has a caviar component. According to Financial Times food critic Claire Wrathall (November 7, 2009), Michel’s “first instinct was to pair it with potato – he describes the two as “amoureux” – first as a topping for the most exquisite pommes dauphines, little croquettes of potato combined with choux pastry, flavoured faintly with ginger and topped with a teaspoon of caviar and a quartered sliver of lemon. It was exquisite, though not quite so sublime as the “mezzalunas” that came next. These looked like ravioli but with thin slices of potato in place of pasta, half of them stuffed with smoked petits pois – each peeled so that it was almost the same size as a sturgeon’s egg – and the rest filled with caviar that had been warmed but not cooked, over which had been scattered a few raw blanched almonds and gossamer threads of orange zest. We were instructed to eat everything together, so that “the alchemy happened in our mouths”. A “candidate for the last supper,” according to Wrathall. And if all else fails, we can still go back to licking the fish skin.


1896.62.97 Shark’s fins, China, 1896

1915.32.9 Edible bird’s nests, Sumatra, 1915


1906.58.54 Pudding made from coconut milk wrapped in palm leaves. Ellice Islands, Funafuti, 1906

1993.48.1 Wrapped bar of chocolate, USA Alaska Juneau. NW Coast Tlingit, 1993 Colour: Yellow Blue Black White Chilkat blanket shape and design. On back of packing is printed: ‘No more royal robe ever draped a king than the Chilkat Blanket, the famous dancing regalia of the peoples of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia. These meticulously-crafted emblems of family legacy are named after the Chilkat tribe, whose weavers specialize in the art. The Gel-Sun Dancers of Haines, Alaska in the Chilkat Valley receive a portion of the proceeds from your purchase to help their work in continuing the dances, language and traditions of their Tlingit heritage INSECTS 2002.9.1-4 Edible ants, Oxford, 1985 Four specimens of an edible ant, found unentered in the 60 Banbury Road display 'Quest for Animal Protein' when this was dismantled. The label gives no information as to donor or date of donation etc., but does state that they were purchased from a delicatessen in Oxford. 1953.10.49 Edible wood beetle, Nagaland 1922-1923 found unentered October 1953 1923.85.669 Hornet, the grubs of which are eaten as delicacies, India (Nagaland) 1923



1910.54.1 Apple for New Year’s Day, UK (Wales) 1910 59

1901.40.79 Two samples of perforated figs, with many small fragments. Dried Sycomore Figs threaded on a string. Excavations at Abydos, Egypt. Tomb of Den. 1st dynasty

FIGS FROM THE PHARAOHS by Susan Weingarten You will be glad to see that there are some dried sycomore (sic) figs in the museum, less tasty than ordinary figs, by all accounts, but good enough to stave off hunger. The label on them tells us the figs were donated to the museum in 1901 (CE). They come from excavations at Abydos, Egypt, from the Tomb of Pharaoh Den, 1st dynasty. Den began to reign about 2970 BCE, so the figs are nearly 5000 years old. Sycomore figs, Ficus sycomorus, grow naturally in Africa, mainly in Kenya and Sudan. Unlike ordinary figs, these grow straight out of the trunk of the tree. They live symbiotically with their own specific wasps, Ceratosolen arabicus Mayr, which bore their way into the figs and pollinate them. Ceratosolen wasps have very complex relationships with other even smaller wasps which also get inside the figs. Rather like de Morgan's fleas: Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em Little fleas have lesser fleas and so ad infinitum‌ A great film about the sycomore in Africa and its tiny wasps can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xy86ak2fQJM Thousands of years ago, sycomore fig trees were imported into ancient Egypt and Israel, (as well as Cyprus and Crete), probably by humans, who propagated them through cuttings, or possibly through undigested seeds in the droppings of fruit bats. But in their new homes the trees lost their fertilizing wasps, and had to make do with other wasps, including Sycophaga sycomori and Apocrypta longitarsus, which did not carry pollen, so they could not form seeds. The figs were less juicy too. However, at least 5 millennia ago, humans discovered that simply gashing the figs while they were still on the tree meant that they would turn pink and juicy, and be much tastier. There are painted wall reliefs from the time of the pharaohs which show these gashed figs (see image below), and figgashing was apparently the occupation of the prophet Amos in the Bible: 60

14 Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit. (Amos.7.14-15, Authorised Version) Although the Authorised Version translation of the Bible here says that Amos was a 'gatherer' of sycomore fruit, in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible, the word used is 'gasher.' This practice of gashing sycomore figs is described by the Greek botanical writer Theophrastus in the fourth century BCE, using the same Greek word for 'gash.' People were still gashing sycomore figs in Egypt in the 1960s. Gashing the figs produces ethylene gas which makes the figs ripen quicker. (Ethylene gas is also used on green bananas so they will turn yellow before they reach your supermarket). These dried sycomore figs in the Pitt Rivers are gashed, and in fact were found threaded on a string. Pharaoh Den's tomb was excavated at the beginning of the twentieth century by the British archaeologist, Flinders Petrie (see box). In his book about the excavations, The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, he has drawings of his small finds (plate 32), including a drawing of a single fig (66) with a large hole in it, although his text on page 34 refers in the plural to 'dried sycamore figs strung on a thread.' Petrie donated many of his finds from his Egyptian excavations to the museum in Cairo and other museums all over the world, including these figs here in the Pitt Rivers museum. He also donated some other sycomore figs to the Schweinfurth collection in the Botanical Museum in Berlin. Here they were studied in the 1960s by the world expert on sycomore figs, Professor Jacob Galil from Tel Aviv University, who wrote many papers about the figs and their wasps. (He even had a wasp named after him: Ceratosolen galili.) Galil found three different sorts of long-dead wasps in the figs from the pharaonic tombs. We had a look at our figs with a magnifying glass, and didn't find any wasps, but watch out for any we might have missed before you eat them!

FIGS IN OUZO 12-20 dried figs About 1 cup ouzo 1-2 strips orange peel Take dried figs (you can use ordinary figs if you can't find sycomore figs) and check there are no wasps inside them. Put them in a jam jar, pressing them down well with the orange peel, and pour ouzo over them, covering them completely. Put the lid on, and soak for a few days till the figs swell up and soften.Serve cold with vanilla ice-cream, or hot with bread pudding. (Ouzo is a Greek liqueur made from aniseed. You can use other anise-flavoured drinks such as arak instead). Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie was a British archaeologist, who dug many sites in Egypt and Palestine, using innovative methods some of which are still in use today. He was generally considered 61

a genius, and he thought scientists might be able to learn something from examining his brain. So in his will he left his head to the Royal College of Surgeons in London. The rest of him was buried in the Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. However, as he died during WWII, it took two years for his head to arrive in London from Jerusalem. Unfortunately the label fell off the jar in which the head was preserved, and it is now not possible to distinguish Petrie's head from the other heads in the collection of the Royal College.

This painted relief of sycomore figs now in the Metropolitan museum in New York (public domain), comes from the Egyptian tomb of Meketre from around 1981 BCE. You can see the little depressions which clearly represent the gashes made in the figs to make them ripen.

THE IMMORTAL APPLE by Christine Elliott 62

1910.54.1 Apple for New Year’s Day, UK (Wales) 1910

THE IMMORTAL APPLE by Christine Elliott A window seat, pile of books and copious Egremont Russets are my idea of heaven. Little surprise then, that though the Bible describes Eve offering “a fruit” to Adam, it is the eponymous apple which most often features in paintings and on pages depicting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; notably the serpent’s sensuous eulogy in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. Aptly, Pitt Rivers encapsulates the mystique imbued in apples since time immemorial by exhibiting ‘Welsh’ ones in adjacent cases displaying Magic and Trial by Ordeal; and Sympathetic Magic. The Isle of Avalon - Ynes Afallach in Welsh - also known as ‘the Orchard’, is the mythical resting place of dead kings and heroes. Here, according to Cornish tradition, King Arthur took refuge until the day comes when he will free the Welsh and the Cornish, his compatriots, from the foreign yoke. In myth the Greek god of intoxication Dionysus (Bacchus his Roman equivalent) created the apple, which he presented to Aphrodite, goddess of love. The apple’s ambiguous symbolism sowed the seeds of destruction by precipitating the Trojan war. Greek goddess Eris called for ‘the judgment of Paris’, on the Trojan prince, throwing down the golden ‘apple of discord’ for the most beautiful, captive Spartan princess Helen. Alexander the Great, in his search for the ‘water of life’ in India, found some apples which the priests there took to extend their life to four hundred years. He is credited with introducing the apple to Macedonia in the 4th century B.C., sending some back to his teacher Aristotle, who is depicted in medieval text ‘The Book of the Apple’ lecturing about immortality as he is dying, periodically revived and energised by smelling an apple. By the time Pliny wrote Naturalis Historia (77 – 79 A.D.), wealthy Romans had apple varieties a-plenty – from the swollen ‘pulmoneum’ to the shrivelled ‘pannuceum’. Diminutive crab apples are the ancient ancestor of modern cultivars, their gnarled and thorny branches long associated with witchcraft and folk magic. In Woden’s Anglo-Saxon ‘Nine Herbs Charm’, the wergelu (as the crab apple is thought to have been called) is one of nine plants in a spell to protect against evil and snake’s venom. From Apple computers’ iconic 1970’s logo grew the myth that its missing ‘bite’ is a tribute to Alan Turing, inventor of the world’s first semi-programmable computer, who committed suicide by eating 63

an arsenic-laced apple. More plausibly, the term 'Macintosh' refers to a particular variety of an apple of which company co-founder and erstwhile frugivore Steve Jobs was fond. For its 1,000th anniversary London’s Borough Market created the ‘real apple store’, featuring one thousand different varieties including the oldest known one, Court Pendu Plat, introduced by the Romans and still flourishing. The apple has inspired several unrelated but redolent fruits or other plant growths to take its name custard apple, oak apple and Chinese apple, which is in fact a pomegranate. Sir Isaac Newton’s plummeting muse grew at his mother’s home in Woolsthrope, Lincolnshire. On a visit to this garden during his Cambridge days in the late 1660’s, he observed a green apple fall from a tree and only then began to consider the mechanism that drove what is now termed Gravity. The apple-free theory was published in Newton’s Principia in 1687. Like Hercules’ successful labour to return stolen golden apples to the Garden of Hesperides, it is the Sisyphean efforts of Brogdale National Fruit Collection that have rescued 2,200 apple varieties, a tart contrast to the paltry selection available from supermarkets. Thankfully, a cornucopia of metaphor, myth and magic have conspired, like Keats’ ‘moss’d cottagetrees bent with apples’ to prolong the apple in legend and in life. The two Welsh ‘afals’ in the museum have tripods of three sticks, like stool legs and are studded with – very - dried fruit. These objects are wooden; apple tree wood in all probability and dating from 1910. The originals used to be taken round as Calennig, meaning New Year celebration or gift. (Literally, ‘the first day of the month’, from the Latin ‘kalends’). From door to door, children in Wales would parade their calennings, decorated with cloves, almonds, corn ears, fruit with a candle and holly in the top, singing and in return, receiving small gifts. Gifting an apple tree has become an annual tradition at Borough Market; and Slow Food in the UK plants these disingenuous sticks in the market hall, as a sign of growing stronger and deepening our mutual roots of friendship. For symbolic reasons, in 2017, an especially endangered species was selected – the dark and bittersweet Black Dabinett, a cider apple originally grown in Somerset. Like Pitt Rivers’ food tradition, it thrives.

“Calinneg Hero” copyright the National Museum of Wales


1884.140.112 Four prunes strung together, Papua New Guinea 1884

1884.140.116 Bamboo vessel containing cooked fruit, Andaman Islands (India) 1884

1898.76.12 Breadfruit wrapped in palmleaves New Hebrides 1898


V. THE BAKERY Thee we adore, eternal Name, And humbly own to thee, How feeble is our mortal frame! What dying worms we be. Our waisting lives grow shorter still As days and months increase; And every beating pulse we tell, Leaves but the number less The year rolls round and steals away, The breath that first it gave; Whate’er we do, where’er we be We’re travelling to the grave. (Poem written on a wrapper for biscuits eaten by the mourners at the funeral of Mrs. Oliver- who died aged 52 in Yorkshire in 1828)

1919.53.1 Wrapper for Mrs. Oliver’s funeral biscuits, UK 1828


HOT CROSS BUNS by Allison Reynolds

1981.11.2 Hot cross bun, UK 1976

There is no doubt about it, I’ve always believed home-made hot cross buns take some beating. My thoughts are confirmed by eminent 20th century food writers Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson who both assert that the modern commercially made bakers’ hot cross bun is just not comparable to home-made ones. David claims, “Made at home, Bath buns and spice buns are by no means heavy, and hot cross buns, well spiced and fresh from the oven, are entirely delicious. (English Bread and Yeast Cookery 1977). Grigson says, “Until you make spiced hot cross buns yourself…it is difficult to understand why they should have become popular. Bought they taste so dull. “ (English Food 1974). Initially, the general public purchased breads and buns from bakers because homes did not have ovens. A decree issued in 1592 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, permitted bakers to offer ‘spiced’ breads, buns and biscuits only on special occasions. Her aim was to suppress what she saw as a symbol of papal Christianity – which had no place in the new protestant world. Consequently, the buns became even more popular. Two centuries later, there were still only two holidays in the year when spiced fruited buns could be baked and that was the Friday before Easter and at Christmas (Burials were also an exception). In Great British Bakes (2013) Mary-Anne Boermans writes of the crowds in London going ‘abunning’ to the famous bun houses around Chelsea in 1793 and causing a near riot. Boermans attributes the patronage of the royal family in the late 18th century to the fame of the ‘Royal’ Bun 67

House. And she goes on to say, “… it was rumoured that that the bun house took over 250 pounds Stirling on Good Friday for their (Hot) Cross buns. At a pre-decimal penny per bun, this sum would have come from the sale of 60,000 buns.” The scarcity and the anticipation of spiced fruit buns would have certainly been something to look forward to. It is not surprising then to find that from the 18th century onwards hot cross buns were referred to in nursery rhymes. (see below). In The Taste of Britain (1999), Laura Mason and Catherine Brown declare that few recipes for hot cross buns are given in domestic cookery books before the 20th century. Early editions (1870s/1880s) of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management include recipes for light buns and plain buns but not for hot cross buns. However, in my battered 1906 copy of this famous cookery book there are seven bun recipe and one of these is for two dozen hot cross buns. Beeton’s recipe calls for mixed spice and she also recommends the cross is cut with the back of a knife and she does not include a final glaze after baking. Mrs Beeton has given the average cost as 1d each and under Seasonal she writes, ‘on Good Friday’. Ovens in homes were well established by the time I grew up in 1950s England, but we still bought our buns at Easter. Hot cross buns were not for sale in bakers’ shops until a week or two before Easter. They were a special once a year treat. Nowadays, supermarkets flood the shelves with hot cross buns even before we have seen the old year out. Something has changed in the commercial manufacturing process. I can still remember one Easter in 1964 staying with a friend’s family in the Dorset countryside and setting out early the day before Good Friday to visit the local bakers to pick up our large order – a baker’s tray of sticky fresh hot cross buns greeted us. What a sight, and an intoxicating fragrance of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves) permeated the car all the way home. We tucked into the soft and fresh buns with lashings of farmhouse butter (I doubt if we waited until Good Friday) but, we always ate them toasted for Good Friday breakfast, equally as nice. Hot cross buns are round and are made from a rich yeast dough (flour, milk, yeast, sugar, butter, eggs, currants and spices). The top is marked with a cross, usually made by a cut in the dough with the back of a knife, a strip of pastry or, a paste of flour and water is piped as a cross on top (most popular with commercial bakers). Although rarely seen today, there are some English cookery books that suggest the cross can also be made with strips of candied peel or almond paste (marzipan). A sugary glaze is brushed over the tops of the buns as soon as they come out of the oven; this gives the buns an attractive glossy appearance and adds to the sticky sweet texture. These days, I do bake the family hot cross buns for Easter. I often return to Elizabeth David’s recipe (see below) which is a traditional spice bun mixture. Unlike the commercial baker’s paste


version, Elizabeth David, like Mrs Beeton, also uses the back of an ordinary table knife to emphasise the cross. She does not see the need for ‘unnecessary fiddling work’ and goes on to suggest, “There is no need to worry overmuch about the exactitude of the cross. You have made the symbolic gesture. That is what counts”. Hot cross buns are deeply embedded in English folk traditions, symbolism and superstition. Thought of as a ritual food, hot cross buns were, and still are by many people, traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Today, the power of the symbol of the cross is associated with Christianity and represents the cross of the crucifixion and is synonymous with the Easter festival. Kate Colquhoun in Taste: The Story of Britain through Cooking (2007), attributes the earliest form of the hot-cross bun to Monks. It appears that as Christianity spread, the small loaves studded with dried fruits and baked in honour of Eostre were “marked with a cross by monks: the earliest form of hot-cross bun.” Journalist Katherine Knowles also shares this theory and writes that the most likely origin story comes from St Alban’s Cathedral. Her article, Were Hot Cross Buns the First Food Fad? A Brief (and Fascinating) History (April 2017) states, that this ‘cross-anointed bun’ is mentioned in Ye Book Of St Albans, a gentleman’s guide to hawking, hunting, and heraldry, printed in the 1480s. Knowles continues, “Here, we are told, a monk, working in the refectory, Brother Thomas Rocliffe, created a recipe and distributed the bun to the local poor on Good Friday to great popular acclaim.” The cross shaped markings also have culinary ties with our pagan past. The fire/sun symbol is represented by the round shape and the cross denotes the seasonal four quarters. The Saxons ate buns marked in a cross in honour of the goddess of dawn and light, Eostre – whose name was later transferred to Easter. The Egyptians offered small round cakes with markings of the horns of an ox to the goddess of the moon. The Greeks and Romans also had festive cakes that bore such symbols. The hot cross bun is shrouded with superstition and it was commonly thought that hot cross buns baked on Good Friday had magical qualities. These buns never went mouldy and were kept as good luck charms from one year to the next. Sailors would take a hot cross bun on board a vessel to ward against shipwrecks; cooks would hang a new hot cross bun each year from the corner of the kitchen ceiling to prevent fires and crumbs from the same bun steeped in water were thought to have curative properties and were added to medicine. It is also thought that sharing a hot cross bun will strengthen a friendship and reinforces the old saying, “Half for you and half for me, between us two good luck shall be.”

Nursery Rhymes ‘Perhaps no cry – though it is only for one morning – is more familiar to the ears of a Londoner, than that of One-a-penny, two-a-penny, hot-cross buns on Good Friday.’ 69

(Henry Mayhew, London Labour and the London Poor, 1851 Ssourced from, English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, 1977)

Hot Cross buns; Hot Cross buns. One a penny, two a penny, Hot Cross buns. Smoking hot, piping hot, Just come out of the baker’s shop; One a penny poker; two a penny tongs; Three a penny fire shovel, Hot Cross buns.

(sourced from, The Taste of Britain. Laura Mason and Catherine Brown. (1999)

One for the poker, Two for the tongs; Three for the dust-pan, Hot Cross Buns!’

(Good Friday rhyme recorded by Allan Jobson in An Hour-Glass on the Run, 1959. Sourced from English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David, (1977)


1985.51.1060 Witch cake. Suspended behind a door to keep witches away. UK, 1985

1917.53.684. Cake Biddenden Maids, UK (Kent),1917* 1902.60.4 Cake Biddenden Maids UK (Kent),1902

1913.52.1 Ceremonial cake made in human form. England Hertfordshire St. Albans. Cultural Local Name: Popladies / Pope ladies Materials. 1913



1900.78.23 “Outurep” Two breads made from wild potato, Japan (Ainu),1900

This bread made from wild potato is labeled as ‘Ainu Yezo’, ‘Ainu’ being the hunter-gatherer people who were also called Ezo (‘Yezo’ is the less-common spelling), as was the territory they occupied north of Japan’s main island of Honshu. Although Ezo territory included Sakhalin and the Kurile islands, the place name ‘Ezo’ specifically referred to the island renamed as Hokkaido in 1869, when Japan formally incorporated this northern frontier into its domain. By then, the government had already forced Ainu to assimilate into Japanese society by compelling them to adopt sedentary and agricultural lifestyles, conscripting adults into the labour force and reeducating their children while also outlawing many of their traditional customs and practices. The bread’s label also indicates the procurer’s name, ‘Father J. Rousseau’, and year of purchase, ‘1900’, confirming that it was part of a collection of Ainu-related objects that Rousseau had been commissioned by British Japanologist Basil Hall Chamberlain to acquire for the museum. The precise date, location, and method of the bread’s acquisition are unknown, although since Rousseau’s name appears in early 20th century resident registration lists as a member of a French Catholic mission in Hokkaido, he may well have procured it directly from his constituents among Ainu. The bread is clearly marked as ‘used in wars with the Japanese’, indicating its initial purpose as war rations. Ainu did engage in intermittent ‘wars with the Japanese’ in the 19th and into the early 20th century. Wild potato was also among the plants they gathered, together with wild garlic, nuts, grapes, and other berries, to supplement their regular diet of game and fish. Ainu, however, also cultivated grains and vegetables, but only on a small scale. 72

Though nearly 120 years old, this wild potato bread appears not inedible; a good soak in water and some heating in the oven or frying pan would render it ready to eat, as one does with freeze-dried bread. Indeed, it appears similar to today’s muninimo (alternately, potcheimo), an Ainu dried pancake made from potatoes that have fermented in storage under the snow during winter. (‘Munin’ means ‘to rot/ferment’ in Ainu; ‘imo’ is Japanese for ‘potato’.) The potatoes are processed in the warm months, first by peeling their skins off and mashing them, and then through repeated soaking and draining in water, have their impurities removed while retaining their starch. Once most of the liquid has drained off the starch, it is then shaped into round discs, often with holes in the middle - like these museum pieces - for them to be tied together and hung out to dry. The dried potato pancakes can be stored indefinitely, to be consumed as needed. They are the ultimate preserved food for lean times and emergencies or, indeed, for war rations. Muninimo today, however, are made not from wild but from farmed potatoes. Potato farming was introduced to Hokkaido, and forced on the Ainu, only late in the 19th century, when potato was seen as a better alternative to rice, which was difficult to grow in the cold and dry region. It became a successful crop, so much so that Hokkaido now grows 80 percent of all the potatoes in Japan, providing most of today’s supply of the starch food to Japanese, as well as Ainu.



1990.47.3 Cassava sieve. Square basket woven with two types of coloured material with one colour acting as weft and the other warp. Brazil. Amazonas State, Satare Maue, 1990.

The Pitt Rivers Museum has two objects displayed separately although they closely related. The first one is a basketry sieve used in the preparation of the main ingredient of the other one – a cassava bread. Listed as Object 1990.47.3 in the museum collection, the square shaped sieve is decorated with geometrical patterns, it was made by the Sataré-Mawé, an indigenous group who lives in the State Amazon, in the North of Brazil. The other one, is a cassava bread, Object 1908.13.2, from the Caribs. The sieve still is, or was used in the past, by several Amerindian groups and local populations in the Amazon Forest and in the Northern part of South America and, as Amerindian spread in a fan like movement from the region towards the South of the Continent, it can be also found as witnesses of the material culture of the population living the coast in or around the Atlantic Forest. Nowadays, this kind of sieve is manufactured and sold more for their decorative qualities, the painted decoration has lost its original significance, even when generally acknowledged as of Amerindian origin. The diamond shape painted in black means the paw of the jaguar, a strong and important animal in the original local cultures, part of Amerindian imagination and sophisticated world view, a place where human beings, animals and spirits have interchangeable significance, according to where they are, how close or opposed to other beings. The original pigment for


preparing black ink is made with a mix of a tincture of the fruit of jenipapo (Genipa Americana) and soot, it is used in basketry and for body paintings. The square basketry sieve introduced in the museum collection in 1990, was used by several Amerindian groups. Anthropologist Berta Ribeiro, in her Dictionary of the crafts* lists one from the Tembé, who live in the State of Pará, also in North Brazil, but quite far from the Caribs from Guyana and the Sataré-Mawé from the South-West in Amazon basin, better known in Brazil for their knowledge of the medicinal qualities of Guaraná (Paullinia cupana), an indigenous plant with high concentration of caffeine and tannins. Besides the sieve the Pitt-Rivers Museum also has a cassava roots grater, donated in 1906, it is was originally collected sometime before 1896, record 1906.20.81, is the dried tongue of the Pirarucu (Arapaima gigas), a large fish that can grow as heavy as two hundred kilograms, and lives in the rivers and lakes in Amazon basin. Its taste buds when dry are as hard as bones. In order to prepare the bread, the roots of the cassava plant (Manihot esculenta Crantz), are thoroughly washed as it contains a poison, Cyanide. Different types of cassava have variating amounts of poison.They will be grated and pressed inside a circular basket to eliminate all the remaining liquid. Small circular portions of this pulp will be grilled and transformed into a bread with size and shape like a thick pancake. The leftover water is also collected, after a while a starch will separate from the liquid, and once dried is used in the preparation of pancakes known in Brazil as tapioca. Nowadays the starch is used as a thickening agent in the food industry as it is tasteless. The cassava bread comes from a different country of the sieve. Guyana is in the Northern most part of South America and faces the Caribbean Sea, but it has a frontier Venezuela and Brazil. It was first a Dutch and then a British colonial outpost, and it is an independent nation since 1966. Today, it has approximately eight hundred thousand inhabitants, mostly descendants of enslaved Africans that started to arrive in the region at the end of the sixteenth century. The slave trade and the employment of enslaved workers was part of the colonial enterprise of Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain and France in the North of South America and the Caribbean Islands. After the abolition of slavery in England, in 1834, the African workforce in Guyana was in part substituted by indentured workers from India. The Carib listed in the Pitt-Rivers as the original cassava bread makers are a large ethnic group spreading from the coast to the North and Centre-Western Brazil. There are Caribs in the French Guiana, in Suriname, in Colombia, Venezuela and in Brazil. The term Carib includes a broad definition of groups of people living in the Amazon Forrest or very close to its borders, in common they have a language, that presents variations according to each group. However, as part of the large number of the people who live inside the Amazon Forest, they have touching communications points


not only inside their linguistic group, but also with different ones, as a way exchanging information and objects. It explains why the similar basketry sieve is used by several groups in the region. Living far from Guyana and the Amazon Forest led me into a search for the original cassava bread recipe, I wanted the original one, as prepared by remaining Carib groups in Guiana. I found a video in YOUTUBE showing its preparation, I also found out that although the cassava bread in the Pitt-Rivers Museum was listed in its collection in 1908, it is still a very contemporary snack in Guiana, and a part of the local food habits. It is the understanding that there are no borders inside the Amazon Forrest that led me to research the different ways the same cassava roots was used by local populations, and by the newly arrived Europeans, Africans and in the case of the Guiana, also newcomers from India. Distinct colonial powers, from the sixteenth until the twentieth century, influenced the way cassava was adapted in local contemporary kitchens. In Brazil the root is used as flour, as starch, it is mixed with sugar and eggs in different cakes and puddings, with hundreds of regional deserts and savoury uses. The leaves are also used in a stew prepared with salted and jerked meats – maniçoba. In Guyana it migrated from Amerindian food into a contemporary multicultural use, their main recipes are the cassava bread and cassava pone, a soft sweet pudding and cassareep – prepared by boiling for a very long time the juice of bitter cassava with a small amount of sugar and spices, an important ingredient in a stew, the Caribbean Pepper Pot. Cassava was introduced in colonial possessions throughout the Tropical belt, and today Nigeria, in Africa, is the largest producer of the world. After the sixteenth century, soldiers and explorers as they travelled inland the South American continent, they substituted the wheat bread for the cassava staple, they made or bought the flour from local groups, and started to develop new culinary uses as thickener or as flavouring in the Pepper Pot. At this point. At the start of the nineteenth century, cassava was distant from their original users. The ingredient turned out to be the origin of local cakes, sometimes mixed with coconut and sugar obtained from sugar cane, new exotic plant introduced by Europeans, but also mixed with cashew nuts, and spices. Like the cacao tree fruits and corn, cassava and its by products were well known by local groups and it had spread as far as Guatemala, in Central America, where starch grains were found in an archaeological site of the Maya, dated from 600-900 CE. In the following three videos it is possible to watch different ways of preparing cassava bread. In the first one, a group in inland Guiana demonstrates how the cassava dough is prepared, among several implements they use a sieve like the one at the Pitt-Rivers Museum. The video also shows another byproduct made with the leftover water – cassareep, a dark colored molasses like liquid used in stews – pepper pots. https://tinyurl.com/y6xwyu3y


In the two following video recommendations the cassava bread – beiju is prepared in inland the state of Bahia, in the Northwest of Brazil, in two different versions, one with shredded coconut and the other













https://tinyurl.com/y3s8dt6z - https://tinyurl.com/y4233k8y -

1908.13.1-4 Four pieces of Cassava breads, Guyana 1908

RECIPES Guianese cassava bread 2k bitter cassava Salt to taste Peel, wash and grate the cassava roots. Wash them in a huge amount of running water to really expel all their poison. Wringing in a towel until they are almost dry. Spread over a sieve to dry for about half an hour. Pound, sieve and sprinkle with a little salt. Heat a girdle pan, a large one to make prepare more than one, and one metal ring for each bread.

Brazilian beiju with coconut 1 kg sweet cassava 1 cup fresh grated coconut Pinch of salt Peel, grate and wash the cassava. Add the previously shredded coconut. Transfer the mass to a kitchen towel and wring it to extract the largest possible amount of water; press this mass through a sieve and sprinkle with a little salt. Grill the pancakes or beijus, both sides, in a frying pan heated over low flame until very hot.

*Ribeiro, Berta G., 1988: Dicionário do Artesanato Indígena, São Paulo, Editora Itatiaia/EDUSP – Editora da Universidade de São Paulo. 77

BREAD STAMPS by Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir Notes from Nanna R. on object nr. - 1900.13.2: There are several bread stamps in Icelandic museums (some of them can be seen here: http://sarpur.is/Leit.aspx… ) but this is probably the largest and most elaborately carved that I've seen. The text is a verse (read clockwise from the top inwards), rhymed and allitterated:

Sar að grennist sultar naud sjerhver madur romi. Þetta vort a bordi braud blessi herran frómi. Artal 1876 JD

meaning something like:

The sore pain of hunger should diminish so every man should say (pray). This bread that is on our table may the good Lord bless it. Year 1876 JD

The stamp is said to come from the north of Iceland, as do most of the surviving bread stamps I've seen, although that may be a coincidence. The size of the stamp and the elaborate carving indicate that it was likely made for someone who was fairly well off. The letters JD are probably the initials of the owner, rather than the maker, although three letters would have been more common at the time (GJD might stand for Guðrún JónsDóttir, for instance; my own initials wolud have been NRD). But it could also stand for Jóhanna Daníelsdóttir, for instance, or a male name like Jón Daðason. There were almost no ovens in Iceland at the time so the stamp would have been used for so-called pottbrauð (pot bread). The dough (sourdough, usually barley or rye) was made and flattened and often decorated, frequently by pressing a bread stamp down on it. Those breads do not rise much so the pattern would not really have been distorted. At the end of the day, the embers of the fireplace were leveled and the dough was laid carefully on them (sometimes on top of a iron sheet). Then an iron pot/cauldron was inverted over the dough, then covered in moð (leftover hay) or crumbled peat. This would then burn slowly through the night and the bread would bake slowly and gently.


1900.13.2 Stamp for bread design, Iceland (Frรณn) 1900*

1900.13.1 Small stamp for making designs on bread. The text on this one is ALLRA AUGU VONA TIL รžIN meaning Everyone's eyes look towards you in hope.


UYGHUR NAN and SPICY CUMIN KEBABS by Naomi Duguid Object: Breadstamp 1988.43.5. Chicken feathers bound with textile & yarn used for stamping pattern on bread. China. Uyghur Autonomous Region of Sinkiang (Xinjiang Province) Kashgar (Kashi), 1988 RECIPE UYGHUR NAN Makes 8 round flatbreads about 20 cm in diameter This recipe replicates the flatbreads found in Kashgar and other oases of the western Takla Makan desert in Xinjiang, the large westernmost province of China that was formerly referred to as East Turkestan. The Uyghurs, one of the major Turkic populations of Central Asia, are the majority culture here. These yeasted breads are made of white flour, salt, and water only, with no added fat. Stacks of them are made every day and sold in markets and at small streetside stands. This recipe yields nan that are a little smaller than the traditional breads, for ease of handling. (To make larger breads, about 25 cm in diameter, divide the dough into six pieces rather than into eight.) The breads are traditionally baked in a tandoor oven after being flattened by hand into rounds, sprinkled with cumin seed and a little salt, and stamped with a chekitch (bread stamp) so that the centre of the bread stays flattened while it bakes, rather than puffing up pita-style. Often, as well as cumin, the centre is also sprinkled with a little minced green onion, shown as an option here. The best substitute for tandoor baking when working with a western oven is a baking stone or a surface of unglazed quarry tiles, laid on a rack in the top third of the oven, as explained below. You can instead use a baking sheet. 5 ml/1 teaspoon dry yeast 500 ml/2 ½ cups lukewarm water About 850 g/6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour About 15 ml/1 tablespoon salt About 15 ml/1 teaspoon cumin seed About 50 ml/3 tablespoons minced green onion (white and tender green parts), optional Sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve, then stir in about 200 grams (two cups) of flour. Set aside, loosely covered, for half an hour to an hour. Add another 100 grams (one cup) of flour and 10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt and stir in thoroughly, stirring for about a minute in the same direction. This helps develop the gluten. Add more flour gradually, stirring it in, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, incorporating flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking, for 7 to 8 minutes. 80

Wash out the bread bowl and dry it thoroughly, then add the dough, cover with a loose plastic bag or with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise until dubled in volume, about 2 ½ hours. If you wish, you can instead place the dough in a cool place and let it rise overnight. This will give better flavour. Place a rack in the upper half of your oven and place on it a large baking stone or else unglazed quarry tiles arranged to make a continuous surface, and leaving a 3 to 4 cm (1 to 1 ½ inch) space between the edge of the tiles and the oven walls (to allow the air to circulate). If you have neither stone nor tiles, place a baking sheet in the rack. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F/ 240 degrees C/gas mark 9. Gently pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut it into 8 pieces. Using lightly floured hands, flatten each piece into an 8 cm (3 inch) round. Cover the rounds with a dry cloth. Keeping the other rounds covered, shape one piece at a time by rolling it out to a larger round. The dough will spring back as you roll (the gluten strands in the bread are very elastic). Set that first piece aside and roll out one or two more, then go back to the first piece and continue to work like this, alternating between rounds, until they are rolled out to a diameter of 18 to 20 cm (about 8 inches). Cover with a cloth or with plastic wrap while you roll out the other rounds. After the first rounds have rested for fifteen minutes, working with two breads at a time, use a bread stamp or a fork or a docker to prick small holes all over the central area of the bread, leaving a 3 to 4 cm (1 to 1 ½ inch) rim. Sprinkle on a generous pinch of cumin seeds, several pinches of green onion if using, and a generous pinch of salt over the centre of each bread, then lightly spray with water, or else dip your fingertips in water and flick droplets onto the breads. Lightly dust a baker’s peel or the back of a baking sheet with flour. Slide the breads onto the floured surface and then slide off onto the pre-heated stone, tiles, or baking sheet in the oven. (You may find that you have room for a third bread.) Bake until the tops of the breads are touched with brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly, then stack and wrap in a cotton cloth to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings. Serve warm.


RECIPE SPICY CUMIN KEBABS Makes about 15 to 18 skewers of grilled lamb; serves 5 to 6 Throughout Central Asia, from Uzbekistan to Xinjiang to Tajikistan, small pieces of lamb are threaded onto metal or wood skewers, then rubbed with dry spices and grilled with a sprinkling of salt. The spices bake onto the meat, giving it an aromatic bite. About 1 kg/2 to 2 ¼ pounds boneless leg of lamb or lamb shoulder 15 ml/1 tablespoon cumin seed 5 ml/1 teaspoon cayenne 5 ml /1 teaspoon black pepper About 10 ml/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste You will need metal or wooden skewers. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water. Preheat a charcoal or gas grill. Trim off any large pieces of fat. Cut the meat into small chunks about 1 to 1 ½ cm/1/2 inch across. Thread them onto skewers and include pieces of the trimmed fat in among the meat pieces. Combine the cumin, cayenne and black pepper and grind or pound to a powder. Rub the mixture onto the skwered meat.Grill the skewers over hot coals or a gas flame for 5 to 8 minutes, turning them frequently to cook all sides. Partway through cooking, sprinkle salt on the kebabs. Serve hot. Both recipes from: Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas, by Naomi Duguid & Jeffrey Alford (Morrow 1995)


1985.52.208 Amulet, textile heart shape pendant containing pieces of 'yrtos' [Easter Bread], with a cross motif and a loop for suspension. Ukraine. Kiev., 1931

1985.52.207 Amulet containing pieces of ‘yrtos’ (Easter Bread) Ukraine, Kiev 1931

1985.52.206 Amulet containing pieces of ‘yrtos’ (Easter Bread) Ukraine, Kiev 1931


More breads: -1985.52.2339 Amulet, circular discs of 'blessed' bread with a figure moulded onto one side them, in a cylindrical glass jar with a metal lid that does not open. Peru. Copacabana. The glass jar has 'PRODUITS SPECIAUX GRANULES'. it is not possible to see all of the 'blessed loaves' of bread, but there are more than twenty in the jar, which has balls of cottonwool at either end. The figure on the discs of bread is perhaps the Virgin Mary. -1985.51.1061 Circular wafer with crucifix stamped on it. In a glazed frame. Used in the house as a talisman, Belgium. Liège - 1985.52.1735 Amulet, ten discs of bread with religious figures. Bolivia 1985 - 1933.8.2 Festival Christmas cake in the shape of a man with hands on hips. Sweden 1933 - 1924.20.1 Carbonized grain from a large quantity found in a pit-dwelling of La Tene I date at Fyfield Bavant, Wilts. Included in the mass of grain are (1) wheat, (2) 6-eared barley (3) oats, cultivated, and (4) a few seeds of 2 kinds of Bromus ……….Amulet, two circular blessed bread of St. Benedict still joined together. Italy, 1985



Ground stone mortar in the form of jaguar, Panama 1950

-1928.9.61 Cob of black maize, used for making PIKI (thin wafer sheets of maize bread). New Mexico Santa Ana. - 1911.86.36 Fragments of waferbread made from blue corn, New Mexico 1911 - 1928.9.86 Thin waferbreads made from (blue) maize meal , New Mexico 1926 (Pueblo) - 1928.9.85 Powder obtained from limestone (perrok-yauna), ready for use as ‘baking powder’ in making ‘paper bread’ (piki).USA. New Mexico Arizona (SW Pueblo) 1928 The powder contains magnesium carbonate, calcium carbonate, lithium, barium and silica.


1895.38.1 . Ancient Peruvian woman's work basket. Peru, 1882 “The basket contains spindles, needles, combs, string and worsted, woven materials, food stuffs, and a spoon. The work-basket donated by Enrico Hillyer Giglioli, is probably one of the 18 such baskets described in the Catalogue of an Archaeological Collection formed in Central and South America by Professor Comm. Ernesto Mazzei, published by Giglioli in 1891. This basket and its contents is illustrated in black and white as Plate 2 on page 130 of 'Pre-Columbian Work Baskets', by Penny Dransart, in Journal of Museum Ethnography, number 4 (December 1993), pp. 123-42. It is also discussed briefly on page 135: 'One of the four baskets in the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum (1895.38.1) was discovered in a grave in AncĂłn in 1882. It is full to the brim, containing cotton and camelid fibre yarns, spindles, needles, combs, pieces of fabrics, food stuffs and a gourd container. The comb shown here is a single-sided one, made of spines or thorns held together with decorative lashing.'



VI. MEDICINES AND NARCOTICS It’s not easy to live knowing that you are going to die’ (Harari, Y.N. (2016). Homo Deus: A Brief history of tomorrow. London: Random House).


1912.34.36 Sand-timer /hourglass, UK 1912


Show case Pitt Rivers Museum



“Look, over there sir.” The attendant who guided me through the semi-darkness of the main hall of the Pitt Rivers museum whispered in my ear. His voice was hushed and reverent. He nodded in the direction of a shadowy person moving between the display cabinets on the far side of the hall. She seemed quite insignificant, a lean black figure lost in the unlit corridors moving past like a ghostly vision. “There is Miss Blackwood, sir. She still comes here regularly, you know.” From his demeanor I guessed that this was a sight of special significance, more significant in his eyes than the treasures on display in the museum, let alone the mundane objects I was looking for. Also there was no doubt that this shadowy appearance was out of bounds for ordinary mortels such as me. I was only a young anthropology student of 23. I was just visiting while on an internship at some London museum, and from abroad as well. Even if I had dared, there was no question of approaching her and she moved out of my life as silently as she had appeared. The chance encounter with the legendary Miss Beatrice Blackwood could hardly have been more theatrical. It was like an apparition. For the first time I felt within touching distance of history, like Charly Brown of Peanuts fame who sees Pig Pen passing by, carrying ’the dust of ancient civilizations’. In his typical Charlie Brown kind of way he then dryly notes that ‘history is passing before my eyes’. His reflection is moving in a melancoly way. At the time I truly felt I had catched a glimps of history. Anyway, Charlie Brown’s musings are very apt in evoking the ephemeral nature of the world around us. History often is indeed ‘passing before our very eyes’. Such as when I look at the photo in front of me of a rather scrappy cupboard that is hidden somewhere in the Pitt Rivers museum. It shows an assortment of small bottles and vials containing what we normally would call grimy dirt and slimy muck. If we found this unsightly mess under the sink of an abandoned home, we would pick it up with a latex glove and throw it away. If we found it exhibited in a securely locked display cabinet, that would be in the hall of the Food Standards Agency with an educational warning. But if we find it in an anthropological museum, we surely must be looking to specimen of traditional products: food, condiments, the stuff of survival. And indeed we are. Moreover, on two of the yellowish labels I recognise the name of Miss Blackwood. We meet again, after 50 years.

If you have to survive on the food available in the Pitt Rivers museum, a pinch of salt will not come amiss. Much of the fare that can be collected from the museum’s exhibits will certainly need kick to make them palatable, besides the obvious fact that salt is in itself a basic ingredient of the human diet. So this rather unpalatable looking cabinet would be an essential find for any locked-in 88

survivalist. Two of the items on display apparently contain salt or a salty substance: the tiny label-less bottle in the centre (nr. 1938.36.793) and the larger tube on the far right (nr. 1913.5.51). While the first one might be the most convenient to use in case of an emergency, the last one is the more interesting to contemplate. It also looks by far the most obnoxious of the two. That is only to be expected for it does not contain salt per sĂŠ, but ‘saline ash’, collected in 1908 from the Kikuyu (present day Kenya) by the anthropologist William Routledge.

Display Pitt Rivers Museum

While the need for and hankering after salt is universal, its availability in pure form is patchy. Many pre-industrial societies could only suplete their dietary insufficiencies of salt by barter or by the local production of salty substances in roundabout ways. And, as traded salt usually was prohibitively expensive, these last methods often stayed alive as traditional alternatives. Such could have been the case for the Kikuyu. For the Kukukuku in Papua New Guinea, where Miss Blackwood undertook her research into the technology of a stone age people, salt from vegetable ashes was a well known and important technology. In the posthumous compilation of her articles and fieldnotes (The Kukukuku of 89

the Upper Watut, 1978) there are numerous entries on salt alone plus a concise description of the technique used. A lengthy quote is by far the shortest way to illustrate the method. As such it might be helpfull for the aspiring survivalist who has no ready access to any source of salt, including those available in museum cabinets. The whole plant, including the root is burnt; the ashes are collected in a pandanus leaf, water is poured over them, and they are then pushed into a length of bamboo and heated over a fire until thoroughly dry, when the powder is stored in bamboo containers for use as required. The resulting product looks not unlike very brown sugar and has a slightly bitter taste. (The Kukukuku of the Upper Watut, 1978: 41) Of course, Miss Blackwood has recorded the plants used for making this form of native salt. Most of them turn out to belong to the Impatiens family, of which the Policeman’s Helmet (Impatiens glandulifera) is a widespread representative in Western Europe. It could mean the technique might also be useful in England and Europe; a question of careful experiment. The local production of salt-like substances might have looked like this in many places of (inland) New Guinea. Among the Bedamuni, a group of semi-nomadic horticulturalist-hunters in the rainforests of the Western Province, cristaline salt was bartered irregularly from the Highlands. The supply was always scanty at the most, however, and people generally depended on the production of vegetable ashes. These would be sprinkled over food when they ‘had a craving for it’. Interestingly, they would use the same expression in describing the urge to go on a cannibalistic raid to an enemy hamlet. Whatever that indicates, it certainly shows the importance attributed to saline sources in this particular society. In fact, there is an addition to the story of salt with these Bedamuni that highlights this status of salt in an unexpected and quite remarkable way. It will involve delving into the initiation of boys, ritual homosexuality and the growth of pigs… But this, unfortunately, is all we have time for at the moment. I hope we will meet again at the next instalment.

Bayliss-Smith, Timothy and Richard Feachem - Susistence and Survival. Rural Ecology in the Pacific. London, Academic Press 1977 Blackwood, Beatrice - The Kukukuku of the Upper Watut. Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum 1978 Beek, A.G.van - The Way Of All Flesh: Hunting and Ideology of the Bedamuni on the Great Papuan Plateau. Leiden University 1987


1913.5.51 .1 and 1913.5.51 .2 Two jars of saline ash used in place of salt in cookery. Kenya, Kikuyu 1908


1938.36.1333 Film container with salt sample inside. Papua New Guinea, 1938

2002.85.14 .1 2002.85.14 .2 Bottle [.1] with lid [.2] containing lime, made from a film container inside casing of a battery. Papua New Guinea 2002

More salt: - 1938.36.793 Bottle containing plant ashes. Used as salt.Papua New Guinea, 1938 - 1903.55.173 Salt wrapped in plant leaf and bound in plant fibre, Papua New Guinea 1903 - 1913.5.51.1-2 Two jars [.1,.2] of saline ash used in place of salt in cookery. Kenya 1913 - 1904.44.1 Salt-bar wrapped in palm fibre(?), Eritrea 1904 - 1928.69.827 Round cake of salt, India (Nagaland) 1928 - 1936.16.143 Cloves (stored in a round clear lidded box), Somalia 1936 - 1923.84.104 Cake of salt wrapped in palm leaf, India (Nagaland) 1915 - 1923.1.11 Salt from natural spring, obtained by evaporation, India (Nagaland) 1923 - 1903.19.73 Salt made from burnt twigs and leaves, Paraguay 1903 - no inv. nr.


Massala (spices) ‘used in winter in eating pân leaves and betel nut’ India 1896

GYOPHAGY - Linda Roodenburg There are several samples of edible clay in the Pitt Rivers Collection, from different parts of the world.Gyophagy is the word for eating clay. Indonesians distinguished different kinds of ampo, which they prepared with great care. First, they washed the clay and removed sand and stones. After soaking it an overnight in water, the clay was kneaded into flat cookies or small pipes. Then they were salted and finally roasted. In his manual for comparative ethnology of the Dutch East Indies (1883), Dr. G.A. Wilken wrote about eating clay: ‘Many wild and semi-civilized Asian tribes, Negros tribes in Africa, American Indians and even people in South- Europe eat clay’.

People eat clay, not only when they are very hungry, but also because it contains healthy minerals. If it is darkish red, it is full of iron and specific kinds of clay contain salt, calcium and magnesium. Pregnant women all over the world eat clay. In Java, women told Wilken that it helps against sickness in the first months of pregnancy. Dr. Wilken also mentioned that the miners of the Oranje-Nassau Mine on Borneo changed their opium addiction for an addiction to clay containing 28% bitumen: ‘…their faces are pale and swollen; their eyelids are inflamed. They are lethargic, constipated and because of that melancholic as well.’ 1921.6.43 Earth cake, Zanzibar

- 1920.68.8 Edible earth pounded and cooked, Malaysia 1920 - 1918.11.7 Edible earth eaten by pregnant women and young children, Australia 1918 - 1902.88.534. 1-5 Edible earth, Thailand, 1902


“This large medicine basket belonged to an Iban manang, or shaman healer, from the Sarawak region of Borneo. The basket contained a variety of treatments. These included both charms – which were designed to protect the patient from attacks by evil spirits, and also medicines or remedies – which had medicinal qualities. The basket itself has a number of charms and remedies hanging from it, including bear’s teeth charms to make the manang bold when attacking evil spirits.” 1917.53.614

Tip of human tongue, UK 1917

1897.83.3 Dried potato (charm) used as a cure for rheumatism. UK. England Oxfordshire Oxford Cowley


-1917.53.784 .1-2 Mole feet carried as an amulet against toothache. UK. England Staffordshire Wheaton Aston, 1902. Mentioned in Ellen Ettlinger, Folklorevol 54, no. 1, (March 1943) pp 227-249, '"In the Pitt Rivers Museum there are furthermore two amulets made from parts of animals: A pair of forefeet of a mole "cut from the animal while alive, which was then allowed to go away. This specimen was carried, in 1902, in the pocket of an old man in Wheaton Aston, Staffs, in the belief that he would be permanently freed from tooth-ache." Originally mole's feet were supposed to be helpful in bringing out the first teeth of small children; this was later forgotten and so we find mole's feet applied not only for every kind of toothache but even for cramp.' 1917.53.600 Bull's heart pierced with nails and thorns. UK. England Somerset Chipstable Shutes Hill Farm 1917 'Here is one of the famous hearts stuck through with pins which are to be hung up in chimneys of country cottages, with the idea that, as the heart shrivels in the smoke, so the victim will shrivel away; and as the pins stuck through and through penetrate deeply, so pains and disease and agony and death will go to the person to be attacked. “

1911.75.1 Sheep’s heart, UK. S.Devon 1911 Sheep’s heart stuck with nails and pins. Model made by an old womn who in youth prepared hearts thus to break evil spells.


1917.53.776 Onion stuck with pins and a metal coil, used in sympathetic magic UK. England Somerset near Wellington Rockwell Green, 1891 The onion has a piece of paper wrapped around it. “... It is an onion stuck full of pins, and bearing on a label the name of a certain John Milton, a shoemaker in Rockwell Green, the hamlet where the onion was prepared to bewitch him. In a low cottage-alehouse there, certain men were sitting round the fire of logs on the hearth, during the open hours of a Sunday afternoon, drinking, when there was a gust of wind; something rustled and rattled in the wide old chimney, and a number of objects rolled into the room. The men who were there knew perfectly what they were, caught them up, and carried them off. I became possessed of four of them, but three have disappeared mysteriously. One which has gone had on it the name of a brother magistrate of mine, whom the wizard, who was the alehouse-keeper, held in particular hatred as being a strong advocate of temperance, and therefore likely to interfere with his malpractices, and whom apparently he / designed to get rid of by stabbing and roasting an onion representing him. My friend, apparently, was never the worse, but when next year his wife had an attack of fever, there was shaking of heads among the wise. That publican-magician was a man to have seen. He was a thorough-going sorcerer of the old bad sort, and the neighbours told strange stories about him. One I have in my mind now. At night, when the cottage was shut up, and after the wife had gone to bed, there would be strange noises hard, till the neighbours were terrified about the goings on. One night his wife plucked up courage and crept downstairs to peep through the key-hole, and there she saw the old man solemnly dancing before the bench, on which sat "a little boy, black all over, a crowdin' (fiddling) to 'un."' This is presumably one of the 'Charms' listed under Tylor's name on page 460 of 'Catalogue of the Exhibition of Objects Connected with Folk-Lore in the Rooms of the Society of Antiquaries, Burlington House: Prepared by the Chairman of the Entertainment Committee', same publication, pp. 433-60. [JC 23 11 2007, 7 12 2007]


More objects: - 1896.62.99.1 Samples of ginseng in metal boxes, China 1896 - 1954.6.116.15 Pounded salt amulet against sickness & death, Tibet 1954 - 1884.60. 1-26 Medicines from Nicobar and Andaman Islands (India) 1884 - 1884.60. 27 Quinoa seeds in a stopperede tube (medicine) South America, 1884 - 1884.60.28 Plant root, medicine, Canada (?), 1884 - 1884.140.854 Mineral specimen mixed with oil, Andaman Isl. 1884 - 1896.62.99.1-6 Samples of ginseng in metal boxes , China 1896 - 1931.86.344 Plant root and leaves, in stoppered tube, Papua New Guinea 1931 (Blackwood) - 1903.41.1.47 Bettel nut - 1896.62.99.1-6 Six samples of ginseng, China 1896 - 1911.86.118 Piece of angelica root (o’sapu), Arizona Mohave-Apache Reservation 1910

1954.6.116.15 Pounded salt (Ga-ma-badoong tsa) wrapped in paper, Tibet 1954 An amulet against sickness & death.

1914.55.11 Skin of hedgehog, salted and dried, against headache. Morocco, 1914


1884.6.3. Wooden bowl in the form of a broad shouldered human figure. The shallow bowl is carved from one piece of wood. Fiji <1874 “They were used as ibuburau for drinking yaqona (kava) by the burau method, usually with a straw. 'Some food dishes are made to be used by a specific type of person, often of high status. This shallow Fijian dish was made to be used by a priest. Kava was drunk from specials dishes via a straw by the priest before he was 'possessed' by his god. It was taken from a temple (burekalou) in Noco, Rewa, when the priest or bete converted to Christianity, and given to Rev Royce. Christian missionaries did away with the practise of drinking kava in this way because of its link to old religion, kava was restricted to elders, priests and chiefs only in the temples. The missionaries allowed the Tongan version of sitting around drinking the kava as it is done now, thinking that it was a more innocuous way than the one practised in the old religion” © Fiji Museum — bij Fiji Museum. 98

KAVA by Gosewijn van Beek As customs vary, so do attitudes towards life’s more relaxing pleasures. Therefore, like all anthropological museums worth their stuff, the Pitt Rivers Museum is full of sinful substances. Take the kava root for example, collected in 1902 from the island of Fiji (1902-4-1). Because of its size it would probably serve all the participants on a Pitt Rivers survival expedition as an after-dinner relaxant. The brew made of the kava root (Piper methysticum) has important cultural significance in many parts of Oceania. Its use is often ceremonial, as in Fiji, and associated with the use of special implements (http://objects.prm.ox.ac.uk/pages/PRMUID124831.html). Kava’s sedative and euphorant effect makes it eminently suitable for inducing shamanistic trances, as shown by its use elsewhere in the Melanesian region. The preparation of the sophoriphic drink is easily adaptable to the museum environment. It only requires chewing the root, spitting it out in the bowl and letting it ferment for a while. This was demonstrated in the 1960ties by the daugther of a Fijian chief in the museum in Leiden when she presided over a kava ceremony for the benefit of the author and his fellow interns. This contribution aims to clarify kava’s cultural background and to give some practical pointers to its use.

1896.16.13 Pieces of kava root strung on a string. Tonga, Polynesia 1895 “Kava ready for use. I procured the root freshly dug up, and cut it up, dried it on a board: it is not usually, though occasionally thus prepeared” ds. N.S. Penguin (?), 1895


Kava root (in museum showcase) 1902.4.1 Kava root, Fiji 1902

1911.86.118 Piece of root, valued medicinally. I’ va ke USA. Arizona Maricopa County Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Reservation [MohaveApache Reservation] . “Root(?) sp. Angelica. Article of native trade, being reckoned an unfailing remedy for all stomach troubles. Directions: scrape of a very small piece, shred it fine, boil in water, and drink some of the decoction at intervals for…”


1900.39.23. Wooden casket, overlaid with brass. In the shape of a cow's or antelope's head. For kola nuts: they are owned by chiefs and used for ceremonial presentations to the Oba. Nigeria 1900

1930.43.151 Specimen of Kola nut. Nigeria 1930



Tobacco, cigarettes and cannabis (bhang) on display “After cultivation the leaves of the tobacco plant are dried, prepred and stored. As these objects show, tobacco can be ingsted in various ways. It may be smoked in a pipe, rolled in paper or leaves and smoked, chewed, or powdered and sniffed. In differnet cultures, different ways are favoured although smoking is the most common. The ancient Mayans of Mesoamerica were probably the first to burn tobacco and inhale the smoke, using it both medicinally and ceremially. The plant Nicotiana tabacum, was introduced to Europe by early explorars and was named after Jean Nicot, a French amabssador who sent tobacco seeds to Paris in 1550. Despite its well-known ill effects, the plant is now cultivated in over 120 countries and used worldwide.” 1995.52.1 Packet of 22 cigarettes, probably from India 1905.38.21.1-15 Cigarettes Kenya 1905 1920.101.34 Circular cake of tobacco Uganda 1920 1932.8.3 Woman’s cigarette Myanmar 1932

1930.11.11 Tobacco-box made from recycled Dutch guilders Bali 1830(?)


CANNABIS 1895.21.2 1884.101.97 2004.22.1 1921.6.43 1896.1.60 1901.45.21

"Hashish" smoking mixture. Morocco. Tanger, 1895. Hemp Plant Cannabis sativa in packet W AFRICA? 1884 Specimen of cannabis sativa in round metal glass topped box. W AFRICA. 2004 Specimen of baked hemp, Tanzania. Zanzibar 1921 Hemp used for smoking, Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Republic of Congo 1896 Hashish, smoking hemp, Morocco 1901

1999.41.1 Waterpipe for smoking marijuhana. Oxfordshire 1999

1896.31.1-9 Sweetmeat and herb mictures containing bhang India 1896 1900.55.306 DUBOISIA HOPWOODI. Leaves are traded as narcotic for human use and put in places where emus drink to stupefy them. Australia. 1900 1961.6.24 .1 1961.6.24 .2 Narcotic box consisting of 2 basketry trays. SE ASIA. Indonesia. Java, 1961. Pandanus Plant / Plant Leaf ?. Processes: Decorated ?. Dimensions 1905.15.6 Hashish pipe with incised and coloured stem and pottery bowl. N AFRICA?, 1905. Cultural Group: Muslim [Moor] Bamboo Plant / Pigment / Clay / 1914.55.1 .1 Pouch for hashish and matches. Morocco. Near Safis 1914; Animal Leather Skin, metal


HASHISH by Paul Levy I don’t know if he ever smoked or ate hashish (or “haschish,” as he spelled it) but my cultural hero, Lytton Strachey, would almost certainly have been in favour of legalising the drug. We can be confident of this because of a poem he wrote about it sometime between September 1906 and December 1908. If he didn’t take it himself, someone must have given him a particularly graphic and accurate account of the drug. [I am quoting from my own published 1972 commentary on the poem – I am literary co-executor of the Strachey estate.] The delight in ambiguity, the pleasure in discovering a contradiction and passively witnessing its mystical resolution, the aphrodisiacal heightening of sexual fantasies and experiences, the visions, and the feeling that each of one’s senses is doing the job of one of the others, are all phenomena reported by users of cannabis resin. The use of this drug was not so common in Strachey’s day as it is at present, but there were then no penalties. It is obvious not only from the positive attitude manifested towards the drug in this poem, but also from his general social views, that were Lytton Strachey alive today his voice would be added to the chorus of voices deploring the existing laws on soft drugs. “The Haschish” carries on a bit

Oh, let me dream, and let me know no more The sun’s harsh sight and life’s discordant roar; Let me eclipse my being in a swoon,… Where vague remembrance finds delicious fare – Looks that are felt, and lusts as light as air, And curious embraces… And love’s last kiss, exquisitely withdrawn, And copulations dimmer than the dawn…. Of all occult and unimagined joys Waves into vision – forms of golden boys Embraced seraphically in far lands By languid lover, linking marvellous hands With early virgins crowned with quiet wreaths Of lily, frailer than the air that breathes The memory of Sappho all day long Through Lesbian shades of fragmentary song,…


But it does link us nicely to my “new” (1987) edition of The Alice B Toklas Cook Book “with extra recipes and introduction by Paul Levy,” which, in truth, contains only one celebrated recipe, “Bryan Gysen’s Haschich Fudge.” Miss Toklas spelled the drug as “haschich,” whereas the author of the recipe actually spelled his name “Brion Gysin” (1916-86). He was a performance poet and painter of the Beat school, and the discoverer of the “cut-up technique” adopted by his friend, William S. Burroughs. Alice B. Toklas regarded herself as the wife of Gertrude Stein, and was the principal cook in the household. She appears to think the recipe easy to execute, one “which anyone could whip up on a rainy day.” “This is the food of Paradise – of Baudelaire’s Artificial Paradises; it might provide an entertaining refreshment for a Ladies’ Bridge Club or a chapter meeting,” she continues with heavy irony, “of the DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution].” Her descriptions of the effects of ingesting the dish are positively Stracheyean: “Euphoria and brilliant storms of laughter; ecstatic reveries and extensions of one’s personality on several simultaneous planes are to be complacently expected. Almost anything Saint Theresa did, you can do better if you can bear to be ravished by ‘un évanouissement réveillé’.” As for the recipe itself, I’d imagine you can use any of the specimens of processed hemp held by the Pitt Rivers. You start by finely grinding peppercorns, nutmeg, coriander and cinnamon, adding the spices to pitted dates, dried figs, almonds and peanuts, plus the Cannabis sativa (she gives no real quantities for the fruits, nuts or hash). You combine the mixture with sugar and butter. Made into a cake or shaped as walnut-sized balls, and eaten with care, “two pieces are quite sufficient.” Rereading Miss Toklas, I am pleased to learn that I had some confusion about the two species of hemp, C sativa and Cannabis indica, and that it is the more common and normally more potent C sativa that was grown for rope. During the First World War, my Russian-Jewish grandfather grew it in Lexington, KY, USA, as his cash crop and contribution to the War effort. The cannabis crop was later extirpated to make way for the family farms’ mainstay, burley tobacco; but in 1966, when I visited there with several friends from Harvard, the cannabis still grew as volunteers around and under the fencing. We naturally tried to smoke the easily identified green plants, but to no effect, except for that of hyperventilation. A couple of years later, there was enough of the real thing available, that in Cambridge, MA, I unwittingly ate a large portion of “Brion Gysin’s Haschisch Fudge” on the eve of an important examination at Harvard. Its effects resulted in a performance that startled the examiners, as it did me. In retrospect, I should, of course, have recognised the recipe.



1892.29.13 Holy rice in paper. Japan, 1892


HOLY RICE, IN PAPER WRAPPING WITH PRINTED INSCRIPTION by Voltaire Cang Basil Hall Chamberlain (1850-1935), British Japanologist and professor of Japanese in Tokyo, described this object briefly as a ‘little arrow-head-shaped parcel of rice that has been offered to the goddess. The Japanese call it o semmai, and eat it with reverence’. He includes this among ‘the remains of the daily offerings made by the priests, as part of their morning service’, including other foods, tea, and water. These are ‘partaken of by the faithful’ as part of their meals, although they sometimes use them for other purposes, such as applying them onto afflicted or diseased areas of the body. This rice packet is included among the trinkets and ‘charms from the large and popular Buddhist temple of Asakusa, in Tōkyō’ that are also ‘typical specimens of those sold at hundreds of shrines all over the land’. Indeed, the large printed characters on the wrapping read as ‘o sen mai’ 御 洗米, with ‘o’ as the honorific, ‘sen’ meaning ‘washed or purified’, and ‘mai’ as the character for rice. The smaller inscription refer to its source, Sensōji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple and one of the most important. Sensōji still sells holy rice today in similarly shaped and printed packets. [Note: Present-day photos may be available.] Their purpose and function, however, have changed slightly from a century ago. Today, Asakusa holy rice is bought by and for expecting mothers as part of a ‘good luck package’ that also includes a small paper charm that they are instructed to tie to their sash or insert in their mother-child handbook (used by pregnant women in Japan before and after giving birth), and a larger paper amulet to be hung or displayed on the family altar. The small handful of purified rice is to be boiled together with the regular rice meal and consumed ten days before the scheduled date of birth, all to assure a safe delivery for the mother. Many other temples in Japan sell rice previously offered to Buddha or the saints in small packets for use as charms, not necessarily for expecting mothers only. As in Chamberlain’s time and his holy rice from Asakusa, these are partaken of by the mainly Buddhist faithful as part of their regular meal, in prayer and gratitude for health and a happy life for oneself and family


RECIPES (to be completed) Spicy Cumin Kebab (Naomi Duguid) Bean Biombo cooked in front of the fire (Vicky Hayward) Oven-baked biombo (Vicky Hayward) Cocido beans (Vicky Hayward) Beans with borage or wild garlic (Vicky Hayward) Broad bean gazpacho (Vicky Hayward) Century egg with pork congee (Len Fisher) Festive Fish Maw Soup (Len Fisher/ Courtesy of My Wok Life) Nyona Fish Maw Soup (Len Fisher/courtesy https://noobcook.com/nyonya-fish-maw-soup/; Wikimedia Commons) Sooty Tern Eggs (Elisabeth Luard) Henk Shaw´s Crispy Fish Skin Chicharrons (Len Fisher) Figs in ouzo (Susan Weingarten) Cassava bread (Marcia Zoladz) Brazilian beiju with coconut (Marcia Zoladz) Uyghur Nan and Spicy Cumin Kebab (Naomi Duguid) Samarkand Non Bread (Or Rosenboim) Bryan Gysen’s Haschisch Fudge (Alice B. Toklas /Paul Levy)


BIBLIOGRAPHY (to be completed) Recipes from Around the World Inspired by the Collections, by The Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum (no place [Oxford], no publisher [Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum], no date [2007]). Fire Goudsblom, J. (1992). On Fire and Civilization. London: Penguin Books. Levi Strauss, C. (1969). The Raw and the Cooked. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Drinks Teabricks/Helen Saberi: Kit Chow & Ione Kramer, All the Tea in China (San Francisco, 1990) Lu Yü, The Classic of Tea, intro. And trans. Francis Ross Carpenter (Boston, 1974) Rupert Falkner (ed), Tea East and West (London, 2003) Ken Bressett, Tea Money of China, [http://www.charm.ru/coins/misc/teamoney.shtml] Table cover/Or Rosenboim: John Gillow, Textiles of the Islamic world , Thames and Hudson, 2010, p 190. Janet Harvey, Traditional textiles of Central Asia, Thames and Hudson, 1996, p. 93. Bojito/Vicky Hayward Barandiaran, J.M., y Manterola, A (dir), La Alimentación Domestica en Vasconia (Atlas Etnografico de Vasconia), Etniker Euskalerria y Eusko Jaurlaritza, Bilbao, 1990 Carretero Pérez, A., Ceramica Popular de Andalucía, Dirección General de Bellas Artes, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1981 Columella, L. Moderato, Los Doce Libros de Agricultura, translated by Castro, C.J., notes by Aguilera, Emiliano, E.M., Editorial Iberia, 1959 Escardó, A. L., La ceramica del agua y su relación con la aridez, XIV Jornadas de la Asociación Metereológica de España, 1984 Herrera, A., Agricultural General, prologue by Terrón, E., MAPA, Madrid, 1996 Vossen, R., Seseña, N., Köpke, W., Guía de los alfares de España, Editorial Nacional, Madrid, 1975 Proteins Butterchurn: www.patrimoines-lourdes-gavarnie.fr/patrimoine-artisanal/47-patrimoine-artisanal www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwEgPkJdHYQ Haklilt: Arab medicine & surgery : a study of the healing art in Algeria by Hilton-Simpson, M. W. (Melville William), 1881-1938. n 79056294 (1922, Oxford University Press) Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 1999 (2000). Milk: Beyond the Dairy. London: Prospect Books. Kindstedt, P. (2012). Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Publishing. Dalby, A. (2000). Dangerous tastes. The story of spices. Berkley-Los Angeles: University of California Press. Mekro, V. (2014). Food, delicacies and carpenter worms. Sunday Post. [Online]. 29 September. Available from: https://nagalandpost.com/SundayPost/ArticleShow.aspx?sid=UzEwMDAwMDQ4Nw%3D%3D

Fruits Figs from the Pharaos/Susan Weingarten: Ancient sources: Amos 7:14-14 Theophrastus Historia Plantarum iv i 5- iv ii 2 Modern sources: J. Galil (1967) 'Sycomore Wasps from Ancient Egyptian Tombs' Israel Journal of Entomology 2, 1-10


J. Galil (1968) 'An Ancient Technique for Ripening Sycomore Fruit in East-Mediterranean Countries' Economic Botany 22, 178-90 J. Galil, M. Stein and A. Horovitz (1976) 'On the origin of the sycomore fig (Ficus sycomorus L) in the Middle East Gardens' Bulletin 29, 191-205 A. de Morgan (1872) A Budget of Paradoxes W.M. Flinders Petrie (1901) The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties part II (London) D. Zohary, M Hopf (2000) Domestication of Plants in the Old World: the origin and spread of cultivated rd plants in West Asia, Europe and the Nile Valley (Oxford, 3 ed), 164-165 The Bakery Hot Cross Buns/Allison Reynolds: Ayrton, Elizabeth. The Cookery of England. First published Andre Deutsch, 1974, London: Penguin Books, 1977, 503. Bailey, Adrian. The Cooking of the British Isles. Netherlands: Time-Life Books, First published Time Inc 1969, Third Printing 1974, 38, 188. Beeton, Isabella. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. First published 1861, New Edition, London: Ward Lock, 1906, 1420. Beeton, Isabella. Mrs Beeton’s All About Cookery. London: Ward Lock, 1907, 297. Boermans, Mary-Anne. Great British Bakes. London: Random House, 2013, 302 -305. Colquhoun, Kate. Taste: The Story of Britain Through its Cooking. London: Bloomsbury, 2017, 39. David, Elizabeth. English Bread and Yeast Cookery. First published Allen Lane 1977, London: Penguin Books, 1979, 477. Davidson, Alan. The Penguin Companion to Food. 2nd edn London: Penguin Books 2002, 137. Grigson, Jane. English Food. London: Macmillan, 1974, 263. Hartley, Dorothy. Food In England. First published 1954, London: Time Warner Books, 1999, 511. Mason, Laura and Catherine Brown. The Taste of Britain. London: Harper Press, 2006, 417. Cassave Bread /Marcia Zoladz: Ribeiro, Berta G., 1988: Dicionário do Artesanato Indígena, São Paulo, Editora Itatiaia/EDUSP – Editora da Universidade de São Paulo. Medicines and Narcotics Salt/ Gosewijn van Beek: Bayliss-Smith, Timothy and Richard Feachem (1977) - Susistence and Survival. Rural Ecology in the Pacific. London, Academic Press Blackwood, Beatrice (1978) - The Kukukuku of the Upper Watut. Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum Beek, A.G.van (1987) - The Way Of All Flesh: Hunting and Ideology of the Bedamuni on the Great Papuan Plateau. Leiden University More salt: Kurlansky, M. (2002). Salt: A world history. New York: Walker and Co. Gyophagy or Eating Dirt/Linda Roodenburg: Wilken, G.A. (1893). Handleiding voor de vergelijkende volkenkunde van Nederlandsch- Indië. Leiden: E.J. Brill. Eat White Dirt. (2014). [documentary]. USA: Adam Forrester. Laufer, B. (1930). Geophagy. Field Museum of Natural History: Anthropological series. 18. Galen. De simplicium medicamentorum temperamentis ac facultatibus, 9.1 (2nd C. AD) Allport , S. (2002). Women Who Eat Dirt. Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies. 2(2), pp.10-22. Available from: https://content.ucpress.edu/chapters/11342.ch01.pdf Hooper,D. ;Mann H.H.(1906). Earth eating habit in India. Memoirs of the Asiatic society of Bengal Calcutta, 1 p. 249-270 Hooper, D. (1937) Useful plants and drugs of Iran and Iraq. Field museum of Natural History: Chicago publ. 387 Holy Rice /Voltaire Cang: Basil Hall Chamberlain, Notes on Some Minor Japanese Religious Practices, The Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 22 (1893), pp. 355-370.


1946.6.104 Vessel painted in bright colours on a red ground, with a border of birds. Inside is depicted a hunting scene including men, horses and possibly a dog or deer. There is the inscription 'adios amor mio' painted in yellow on the base Mexico. Tehuantepec, Xicalpestl 1946


Profile for Linda Roodenburg

The Pitt Rivers Survival Cookbook - a work in progress  

Cross-cultural reflection and celebrating human creativity, global interconnectedness and cultural diversity.

The Pitt Rivers Survival Cookbook - a work in progress  

Cross-cultural reflection and celebrating human creativity, global interconnectedness and cultural diversity.