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Showing posts from April, 2013

Mr White Watson of Bakewell

Once upon a time, back in 1795 or so, lived a man who was always asking questions.  The kind of questions like, "Why is glass transparent?" or "Why do fruit trees grow better in that place than in this place?" or "What does the earth look like underneath the surface?"  This last question was one that he was particularly interested in, and he went so far as to work out what the rock layers looked like where he lived, and draw little pictures of them.  Now he was a marble sculptor by trade (as well as fossil hunter, mineral seller, and a few other things) so he thought it would be even better to make his little pictures in stone.  That way he could represent the layers using the actual rocks they were composed of.  Over the course of his lifetime he made almost 100 of these tablets, as he called them. Then he died.  And no one else was quite as interested in all those rocks and minerals as he was.  His collection was sold off, bit by bit, and the tablets w

Bakewell pudding

Once upon a time (so the story goes), the owner of a hotel in a little town named Bakewell asked his cook to make a jam tart.  The cook, being rather dim, managed to spread a layer of jam over the pastry shell, and then dollop some kind of eggy almondy mixture on top.  "How do you manage to screw up a simple jam tart?" cried the hotel owner.  However, being a pragmatic type, he poured some custard on it and sent it out to table 3 anyway.  The guests rather liked the new specialit√© du maison and bingo! the Bakewell pudding was born. What the story doesn't tell you is that the cook was always doing things like that. "You're supposed to put the fruit on the top , dammit!" turned into pineapple upside-down cake.  "Would you like to explain exactly why you poured a mug of hot cocoa over a perfectly good chocolate cake?" led to the self-saucing chocolate pudding.  But by the third attempt, some genius had hit on the idea of naming the latest bodge-