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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 January 2019 Linda Roodenburg (concept) Liz Wilding (projectmanager)


Preview virtual exhibition The Pitt Rivers Food Objects.


Contributors: Gosewijn van Beek Adrian Bregazzi Voltaire Cang Naomi Duguid Christine Elliott Len Fisher Vicky Hayward Olia Hercules Elisabeth Luard Allison Reynolds Nanna Rรถgdvaldordรณttir Linda Roodenburg Or Rosenboim Helen Saberi Franklin Sciacca Susan Weingarten Marcia Zoladz


MENU (all titles are working titles) Introduction : The Pitt Rivers Food Collection I. Fire Linda Roodenburg: Fire Myths Voltaire Cang - Fire, Rice and Ritual in Japan *** 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 COFFEE *** III. Proteins EGGS Len Fisher: Preserved Eggs Elisabeth Luard: Sooty Tern Eggs BUTTER/FAT CHEESE Franklin Sciacca – Cheese Horse Adrian Bregazzi – Reindeer Milk Cheese INSECTS CHINESE DELICACIES Len Fisher: Fish Bladder from the Yellow-Bellied ‘Wong’Fish Nanna Rögdvaldordóttir: Swimbladders in Iceland *** IV. Vitamins and Minerals FRUITS Susan Weingarten: Figs from the Pharaohs Christine Elliott: The Immortal Apple MINERALS Gosewijn van Beek – The Gost of Beatrice Blackwood And The Spirit Of Salt Linda Roodenburg – Gyogaphy Or Eating Dirt 4

V. Carbs THE PITT RIVER’S WORLD BAKERY Allison Reynolds: Hot Cross Buns Voltaire Cang: Potato Bread Marcia Zoladz: Cassava Bread and Sieve Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir: Breadstamps Olia Hercules: Ukranian Easter Bread Franklin Sciacca: Italian St. Nicolas cookies Naomi Duguid: Uygur flat bread MAIZE RICE Voltaire Cang – Holy Rice *** VI. Medicines and Narcotics THE PITT RIVER’S WORLD PHARMACY Gosewijn van Beek - Kava Kola Nuts TOBACCO AND CANNABIS

*** Register List of recipes Bibliography


Introduction The Pitt Rivers Food Collection (summary) 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…



I. FIRE Fire Myths – Linda Roodenburg Summary: 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. Other myths: Doru the Magician(Africa); The Fire and the Spider(North America); The Boy and the Jaguar (South America); The Boy and the Snake(Oceania); The Women and the Fire(Australia)


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.


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)


Voltaire Cang – Fire, Rice and Ritual

1892.21.5 Sacred fire drill and hearth used in 1879 in the great temple of Izumo,Yashiro, Japan. (Shin-o-sai,festival) Summary: The objects appear to be a wooden hearth slab and a drill used in the Shinjosai, an ancient harvest ritual in Izumo in western Japan. Shinjosai is associated with the Niinamesai, the series of rice harvest ceremonial rites conducted with the Emperor as prime celebrant and among the most important in the Imperial Shinto calendar. The article briefly discusses these festivals as it describes how these museum objects were (and still are) used in the ritual preparation and consumption of rice during the ceremonies. The author is very curious on how these sacred objects came to be into the possession of Pitt Rivers

1938.35.1-5. Fire drill with three spare drills & hearth, Australia 1938 1928.48.3 Fire drill, wooden stick with smooth rounded end, Kenya 1928


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

1938.35.1181.2 Sulphur matches Belgium 1897

More objects: - 1911.47.1-3 Fire making apparatus, split stick with 2 flexible saws of rattan (West-Papua) - 1903.49.14.1 Spindle of pine wood, part of a fire-making set, Canada 1903 - 1911.29.35.1 Wooden tinder box and lid with steel,flint, matches, tinder and damper, UK 1911 - 1928.69.43 Two flints and steel in bamboo box covered with skin of goat’s testicle.Tinder of palm scurf, India (Nagaland) 1928 - 1923.88.33 Flint & steel, Peru 1923



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


WINE - Amos Tutuola - The Palm Wine Drinkard (1953): “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.”

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

1935.6.1 Wine vessel, Iran 1935


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 beermaking. South Africa, Natal 1905


WATER THE SPANISH BOTIJO - Vicky Hayward Summary: When Julian Pitt-Rivers published The People of the Sierra(1952), his study of life in a small southern Spanish town,he included close to the book’s opening a photograph of pottery water-bottles. Among them was a botijo or self-cooling bottle, a domestic item of lasting use around Spain. The earliest known example, a cylindrical black bottle excavated in Murcia,dates back to the Bronze Age. Today’s botijos, usually rounded with a small circular base, a wide mouth and narrow spout, are not so very different. Made of porous clay, they cool water by up to 13°C and may be found wherever drinking water needs fetching, from farms to petrol station forecourts. An unexpected guest in the Pitt Rivers Museum has the chance to discover just how useful a botijocan be. There are four in the collection. By trial and error anyone can learnhow to fill and carry one drink or pour from it, keep it where the water remains coolest, and adapt taps to refill it. In this way a visitor can have a 24-hour portable supply of cool quality water and could take this learning back to their home life.

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.


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 17

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. 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 18

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: ‘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.


THE AFTERLIFE OF THE TEA WHISK AND OTHER KITCHEN IMPLEMENTS – Voltaire Cang 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. 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]


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



1920.101.88 Coffee-berries (some whole, some powdered) in cylindrical finely coiled basket with lid. 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


More objects: 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

1952.5.1 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 by Len Fisher 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. Boththe white and yolk are coagulated; the white is brown, more or less like cof fee 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 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! ( 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. CENTURY EGG WITH PORK CONGEE (recipe adapted from To make the congee (a thickish, hot Chinese comfort food, usually eaten in the morning): Pick your stock. 24

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)

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


1916.36.332 Three Sooty Tern eggs, altogether 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. “ Note from Elisabeth Luard: 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. CHEESE Adrian Bregazzi – Reindeer Milk Cheese /Renost 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 26

Cheese horse - Franklin Sciacca

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 -


More objects: -

“Fattening bowl�, Nigeria, 2016

- 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

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.



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 South-East 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 fryup. 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! 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 (1) Heat pot with oil over medium fire. Sauté garlic till browned. Add chicken stock and bring it to a boil. (2) 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. (3) 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. 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 31

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 1. Marinade minced pork with (A) for at least 10 minutes in the fridge. Use a spoon to roughly shape them into small balls. 2. 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. 3. Add fish balls, marinated meat balls and baby abalone. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the fish balls float to the surface. 4. Ladle soup to serving bowls and top with fried shallots and spring onions. (courtesy; Wikimedia Commons)

SWIM BLADDERS – Notes from Nanna Rögnvaldardóttir Note on swin bladders in Iceland foodculture: : "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 becam e 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, carameliz ed 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."


1915.32.9 Edible bird’s nests, Sumatra, 1915



Shark’s fins, China, 1896

INSECTS - 2002.9.1-4 - 1953.10.49 - 1923.85.669

Edible ants, Oxford, 2002 Edible wood beetle, Nagaland 1953 Hornet, the grubs of which are eaten as delicacies, India (Nagaland) 1923

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

1993.48.1 Wrapped bar of chocolate (no image), USA Alaska Juneau. NW Coast Tlingit, 1993 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



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 – 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 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 35

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: 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!

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. 36

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 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.

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).


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


THE IMMORTAL APPLE by Christine Elliott 1910.54.1 Apple for New Year’s Day, UK (Wales) 1910

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. 39

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 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 cottage-trees 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


MINERALS THE GOST OF BEATRICE BLACKWOOD AND THE SPIRIT OF SALT by Gosewijn van Beek Summary: It must have been in 1973 or thereabouts that I saw Beatrice Blackwood for the first and only time. I was a young student searching the wondrous collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum. Suddenly the assistant tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a slim shadow passing behind the dark display cases. "Miss Blackwood" he wispered. She floated by like a ghost. I was awed. This was the author of those classics about the Kukukuku, walking by like that, in the wild. In one of the display cases of the museum an unassuming jar with an unassuming content testifies of the reputation of Beatrice Blackwood. It contains a small sample of edible earth. If this seems a very meagre testimonial to a reputation, appearances are deceptive. In many places on earth, such as in Papua New Guinea, eating earth was crucial in supplementing nutrients such as salt and other minerals to deficient diets. And in times of extreme scarcity it helped to stem the worst feeling of hunger. Dr. Blackwood was I am going to dig for further ethnographical knowledge on the eating of dirt, being aided by my own experience with the Bedamuni, a group not too far from the Kukukuku. It is the enduring legacy of Beatrice Blackwood to have recognized the importance of collecting and documenting such apparently trivial evidence of human survival. Someone trying to survive in the Pitt Rivers Museum would certainly want some assistance in surviving the ordeal. Let's hope the spirit of salt contained in the little jar may conjure up the spirit of Miss Blackwood, or at least make anything else from the display cases more palatable.

1938.36.793 1903.55.173


Bottle containing plant ashes. Used as salt.Papua New Guinea, 1938 Salt wrapped in plant leaf and bound in plant fibre, Papua New Guinea 1903

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: - 1913.5.51.1-2 T wo 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 Summary: There are several samples of edible clay in the Pitt Rivers Collection, from different parts of the world.Geophagy 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



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 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.” 46

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.’ (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

Wild Potato Bread 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. 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 49

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.

CASSAVA BREAD AND SIEVE – Marcia Zoladz 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.

Two different objects at the data-base of the Pitt-Rivers Museum, in Oxford, called my attention, one of them is edible, a cassava bread, object 1908.13.2, the other one is a flat square sieve used to hold cassava roots, object 1990.47.3, and it is decorated with geometrical patterns. They belong to two different Amazonian groups, one of them - the Caribs originally from inland Guyana, the other one lives in Brazil – the Sataré-Maué. The text will explain how the geographical coincidence, and the fact that the sieve is used in the preparation of cassava roots for the bread, writing about both allows a possibility of a better view of the spread and the many uses of cassava since pre-Columbian times. Thus, enriching the understanding of the importance of both objects in the Pitt-Rivers Museum with the Amazon Forest as a background. The article will explain in detail what is cassava, also called manioc (manihot esculenta). Cassava is a poisonous species, different kinds have higher or lower contents of cyanide in their roots, however local cultures changed it into an everyday staple still in pre-Columbian times. The breads including the one at the Pitt-Rivers Museum have a high starch content, and according how they are prepared can be soft and chewy, or pudding like or very dry like biscuits, there are also pancakes prepared with the starch obtained as the roots are washed and squeezed in order to eliminate de poison. Therefore, this is also an opportunity to understand the technique of the processing the cassava roots and the manufacturing of the cassava/manioc flour. The leaves are also an ingredient in some dishes, and the text will show a recipe. It will also explain how to make a cassava bread at home, and bring other culinary possibilities as the ingredient was later mixed with sugarcane – an important colonial product at the area. 50

The second object at the Pitt-Rivers Museum, the flat sieve, is used during the process of washing the poison out of the cassava roots; and the text will provide explanations about the decorations on its surface, such as what a jaguar is doing there, the squares with circle inside are their paws, what kind of palm tree is used to make them or what ink is used to paint its surface. The object at the Museum is a contemporary one, it is made just like very old ones. And most important, this is an object that has a very old memory as its origins are the pre-Columbian groups from the huge area in the North of South America, including the countries bordering the Caribbean Sea and the States of Amazon, Pará and Maranhão, located in the North of Brazil. And the jaguar is an important element of the Amerindian culture in Brazil’s Amerindian groups. The square sieve and the cassava bread are good examples of the use of cassava plant and the material culture it generated in different ethnic groups.

1908.13.1-4 Four pieces of Cassava breads, Guyana 1908


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:… ) 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 (Frón) 1900*

1900.13.1 Small stamp for making designs on bread. The text on this one is ALLRA AUGU VONA TIL ÞIN meaning Everyone's eyes look towards you in hope. 52

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. 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. 53

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)


UKRAINIAN EASTER BREAD by Olia Hercules 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.'



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.


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


The Pitt Rivers’ World Pharmacy

“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.

KAVA by Gosewijn van Beek Summary: 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 ( 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. 66

1896.16.13 Pieces of kava root strung on a string. Tonga, Polynesia 1895 â&#x20AC;&#x153;Kava ready for use. I procured the root freshly dug up, and cut it up, dried it on a board: it is not usually, thoughoccasionally thus prepearedâ&#x20AC;? ds. N.S. Penguin (?), 1895

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


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

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…”



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(?)


1999.41.1 Waterpipe for smoking marijuhana. Oxfordshire 1999

1896.31.1-9 1896.1.60 1901.45.21 1921.6.43 70

Sweetmeat and herb mictures containing bhang India 1896 Hemp used for smoking, Peope Republic of Congo 1896 Hashish, smoking hemp, Morocco 1901 Baked hemp, Zanzibar 1921

RECIPES (to be completed) Fire Spicy Cumin Kebab (Naomi Duguid) Aragonese unsoaked bean stew cooked as a working lunch over a small wood fire (Vicky Hayward) Drinks Proteins Century egg with pork congee (Len Fisher) Sooty Tern Eggs (Elisabeth Luard) Festive Fish Maw Soup (Len Fisher/ Courtesy of My Wok Life ( Nyona Fish Maw Soup (Len Fisher/courtesy; Wikimedia Commons)

Vitamins and Minerals Figs in ouzo (Susan Weingarten) Andalusian marinated olives, softened raw in water before flavouring (Vicky Hayward) Carbs Cassava bread (Marcia Zoladz) Uyghur Nan and Spicy Cumin Kebab (Naomi Duguid)


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 YĂź, 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, [] Proteins Butterchurn: Fish Maw soup recipe/Len Fisher: maw-soup%E9%87%91%E7%8E%89%E6%BB%A1%E5%A0%82.html) 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. Mekro, V. (2014). Food, delicacies and carpenter worms. Sunday Post. [Online]. 29 September. Available from: Vitamins and Minerals: Kurlansky, M. (2002). Salt: A world history. New York: Walker and Co. 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 Gyophagy or Eating Dirt/Linda Roodenburg: Wilken, G.A. (1893). Handleiding voor de vergelijkende volkenkunde van Nederlandsch- IndiĂŤ. 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: 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 Carbs: The Pitt Rivers World 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 Beetonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Book of Household Management. First published 1861, New Edition, London: Ward Lock, 1906, 1420. Beeton, Isabella. Mrs Beetonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;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. 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.

Dalby, A.Dangerous tastes. The story of spices. Berkley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2000


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.