Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Miscellany

Looking back, I remember what an important author the Nobel prize winner John Steinbeck was, particularly to my generation.   Books like The Pearl, The Red Pony and Of Mice and Men were essential to the canon of American literature for young adults. Certainly there was much to be learned about early 20th Century California history and culture, even in his fiction, with Cannery Row, Sweet Thursday, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.
John Steinbeck, who had also dabbled in journalism, ventured into non fiction...or so we thought, with Travels With Charley in Search of America, a travelogue of sorts of his cross country road trip with his dog.
According to Wikipedia
In 1960, Steinbeck bought a pickup truck and had it modified with a custom-built camper top – which was rare at the time – and drove across the United States with his faithful 'blue' standard poodle, Charley. Steinbeck nicknamed his truck Rocinante after Don Quixote's "noble steed". In this sometimes comical, sometimes melancholic book, Steinbeck describes what he sees from Maine to Montana to California, and from there to Texas and Louisiana and back to his home on Long Island. The restored camper truck is on exhibit in the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas.
But, from a recent article in the New York Times A Reality Check for Steinbeck and Charley
we learn that Bill Steigerwald, after extensive research, discovered that most of the book was fabricated.

He added that he was a little surprised that his findings hadn't made more of a ripple among Steinbeck scholars: "'Travels With Charley' for 50 years has been touted, venerated, reviewed, mythologized as a true story, a nonfiction account of John Steinbeck's journey of discovery, driving slowly across America, camping out under the stars alone. Other than the fact that none of that is true, what can I tell you?" He added, "If scholars aren't concerned about this, what are they scholaring about?"

Years ago I knew about Steinbeck's political bias but I never suspected that he would fabricate an entire book?
But now at my very advanced and skeptical age, I'm not surprised to learn this.
The question isn't why he would fabricate a story to fit his social and political narrative, but why no one has caught this before now?
All that reading about Steinbeck inspired me to serve San Francisco style Cioppino, arugula salad, hot ciabatta bread and chianti last night.
Et voila.

Since I didn't have all of the necessary ingredients I improvised.

Here's the super easy recipe.
saute mirepoix in a little olive oil and butter for about 10 minutes
add two small cans of crushed tomatoes (I use the unsalted kind)
add two cups of clam juice
add two cups of wine (next time I would use one cup wine and one water)
add the juice of one lemon
add 1 tsp basil, oregano and red pepper flakes
simmer for 1 hour and add water as necessary
add fish and seafood such as mussels, halibut, clams, lobster tail, shrimp, etc.
(I used cod, shrimp and minced clams)
and cook for another 10 minutes
and enjoy

Finally, sticking with my oceanic theme I decided to wear a pendant today made from a silver coin from the Spanish Galleon the Concepcion which was shipwrecked in 1641.

Here's the close up

The Concepción was one of the most significant Spanish wrecks of all time, serving the Spanish with a loss of over 100 tons of silver and gold treasure. The almiranta of a 21-ship fleet, the Concepción was already in poor repair when the Europe-bound fleet encountered a storm in September, leaving her disabled and navigating under makeshift sails amid disagreement among its pilots about their location. Weeks later, she grounded on a reef in an area now named the Silver Shoals, just to the east of another shoal known as the Abrojos, which the pilots were trying to avoid.

After another storm hit the wrecked ship and the admiral and officers left in the ship’s only longboat, the remaining crew resorted to building rafts from the ship’s timbers. Survivors’ accounts pointed to drowning, starvation and even sharks for the loss of around 300 casualties. In the fallout that ensued, none of the survivors could report the wreck’s location with accuracy, so it sat undisturbed until New England’s William Phipps found it in 1687 and brought home tons of silver and some gold, to the delight of his English backers.

The Concepción was found again in 1978 by Burt Webber, Jr., whose divers recovered some 60,000 silver cobs, mostly Mexican 8 and 4 reales but also some Potosí and rare Colombian cobs (including more from the Cartagena mint than had been found on any other shipwreck). Unlike the Maravillas of just 15 years later, however, the Concepción did not give up any gold cobs in our time, and any significant artifacts found were retained by the government of the Dominican Republic, who oversaw the salvage. The bulk of the silver cobs found on the Concepción were heavily promoted, even in department stores! The site is still being worked from time to time with limited success.

I love jewelry that has a history.
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David Toms said...

So much in this post Belle, too inspire. Dinner sounds delicious and I am going to try that recipe.

A lot of authors celebrities etc fabricated a lot of their auto-biographical works, so that now after the person has died it is hard to tell fact from fiction.

That Tiffany pendant is to die for!

Miss Cavendish said...

Fascinating about Steinbeck; am going to read the article rightnow. And your dinner looks too delicious . . .

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

One of my ambitions is to travel around America, I was thinking more of a road trip with hotels but a camper van could be fun for a bit.

Your dinner looks fabulous. I must try that recipe xx

photoman said...

I might be interested in that pendant for my up coming trip to
Spain. XX Mamam

Jill said...

I've had a long, tiring day. Taxes...enough said. So, I'm not reading, just looking at the pretty pictures. Your table looks beautiful. And I'm starving at the moment and the dinner looks lovely. I read every book of the series you suggested. My mind isn't working...can't remember the title. About the faes. Do you have any other suggestions? I need to escape.

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