Travels & Traditions: The Palm Beaches, Florida - #1406

 

Burt:
This is a photograph of me and my uncle Maxwell and my grandmother’s chicken soup. Most people have never seen me without a beard. I’m the one on the right.

Each year, as school was about to close for the Christmas vacation, my uncle would take me to The Palm Beaches. And let me tell you, time on the beach was awesome.

We’d make the trip here on a train called The Silver Meteor. It was the first diesel-powered streamliner to run between New York and Florida. Introduced in 1939, it took about 25 hours to make the trip. The train is still being run. These days, however, it’s operated by AMTRAK and takes two hours longer.

I loved those vacations and to honor that memory, I thought I’d introduce my youngest son Nicholas to a collection of cities and towns in South Florida known as The Palm Beaches.

Because you’re a good student. I was not such a good student. I wasn’t a bad student. But I wasn’t a great student either. I was kinda OK.

Henry Morrison Flagler was born in 1830 and became wealthy beyond my wildest dreams as one of the founders of Standard Oil.

He was also responsible for much of the development of Florida’s east coast.
Starting in the late 1880s, Flagler began to build what he called “The American Riviera.”
He put together a railroad that ran along the entire east coast of Florida. He also began building hotels, including the Palm Beach Inn, which in 1901 was renamed “The Breakers”.

Flagler was also involved in some ground braking legislation. His wife had been in a mental hospital for five years. Then in 1901, he persuaded the Florida Legislature to pass a law that said if you were incurably insane it was grounds for divorce. Now before you get excited, and you want to know more about this law, because you think you’re married to somebody whose elevator doesn’t go to the top floor, forget about it. The law was repealed a year later and Flagler was the only one who was divorced under that law.

After being granted the divorce, he remarried and with his new wife moved into his newly built home, known as Whitehall. These days Whitehall is the Flagler Museum. It’s a 75-room mansion that’s considered a National Historic Landmark and open to the public.

John Blades:
We’re in the grand hall of Whitehall. It's about five thousand square feet. So it's the largest room... single room of any home of this period. This was really built as a... to evoke a sense of temple to Apollo. So, you’d see this huge ceiling painting here.

Burt:
Did they paint that on the ceiling?

John:
No, they painted on canvas then put it on. That was typical of the time period.

This is the drawing room... and it's really the room that Flagler probably put more of himself into than any other room in Whitehall because it was going to be a room that his wife used most often.

Well, this is the Flagler Kenan Pavilion which the museum built a few years ago in order to house the railcar you see. The railcar is even older than Whitehall. It was built in 1886 for Flagler. It's one of his private railcars and railcars were a big deal back then. Railroads were a big deal. They were the biggest industry in the country at the time and it's one of the two cars he took down to Key West to celebrate the opening of the oversea railroad. The completion of the oversea railroad in 1912. 10,000 people turned out to welcome Flagler when he arrived in Key West... and it was really the... he basically said he could die happy at that point. He'd accomplish everything he had hoped to accomplish.

Burt:
Extraordinary woodwork. It's good to be king.

John:
Well this was the most luxurious form of travel back in those days. And we’re in the sitting room, which is where he could entertain his guests. It also doubled as a bit of an office or a study. There's a fold down desk here.

Burt:
Beautiful.

John:
It's amazing it survived. It's great to see.

Burt:
I feel the same way about me.

Burt:
Ralph Norton was the head of the Acme Steel Company of Chicago, which at the beginning of the 20th century was one of America’s largest industrial corporations.

He had a sizable collection of art and when he retired and moved to The Palm Beaches in 1941, he decided to share his collection with the public. The result is The Norton Museum of Art, with over 7,000 works that concentrate on European, American and Chinese art.

Scott Bernarde:
And this exhibition which we call “Going Places,” focuses on the way designers have depicted transportation and developed transportation.

Burt:
And you got old... great old footage.

Scott:
Fantastic! Our curator put together great footage from old movies to show that the American public has always had a great romance related to moving around the country. Going places.

Burt:
Flying wings.

Scott:
Flying, trains, and of course the great American obsession with cars.

Burt:
Oh, what’s this stuff?

Scott:
Well... so, one of the most interesting things that has come up through Fred’s collection is that the marketing of cars, and especially car interiors in the case of these drawings were looking at here, had a great deal to do with fashion and they linked it to fashion. So, strangely the illustrators for these wonderful car interiors... and these are just prototypes for car interiors... these are the designers dreaming for what it might be... have in many cases shown beautiful women sort of hovering ghostlike in the background of these images. And so it talks about the... the tremendous connection between the automotive industry and fashion, making the cars fashionable... changing every year so the people have to buy new models.

Burt:
Right.

Scott:
So, these drawings are an example of drawings that ordinarily would have been lost. And in many cases the designers themselves... there were these great stories of them smuggling drawings out of the... out of the workroom because they were the intellectual property of GM or whoever they were working for.

Burt:
Right.

Scott:
And there was... people were so concerned back in those days that's someone... a secret might leak.

Burt:
Ah, right.

Scott:
A design element might leak... that they were often destroyed. So, these are in many cases very rare drawings. And these show ways of looking at... you know... the same car with different tail fins, with different headlights and things like that. So this was the way they studied them. And interestingly of course, now we do this all with computer. But, these are all real drawings done with marker, watercolor, pen and ink.

Burt:
It’s beautiful. It’s a Cadillac.

Scott:
Yea, fantastic Cadillac showing how glamorous and elegant the front of that grill could be.

Burt:
During the 1920s, Addison Mizner was America’ s best-known architect.
He specialized in resort buildings that had a Mediterranean and Spanish Revival look and his favorite locations were in South Florida.

His buildings were well suited to the Florida climate and he soon became the favorite architect of the neighborhoods rich and not so famous. He even built his own factory to produce the tiles, stones, columns and wrought iron for his structures. Eventually he even manufactured the furniture for his buildings.

One of his classic structures is the Boca Raton Resort and Beach Club. 

It still has the feeling of a Mizner resort but it’s been updated to meet 21st century taste.

There are private docks, so you can tie up and stay as quests of the hotel either in the hotel rooms or on your yacht.

There are 11 different places to eat. MORIMOTO is their Japanese restaurant.

I once took a class in sushi making but I was never able to focus the ingredients in the very center of the rice. In fact, I was so bad, that I had to spend part of my summer in remedial sushi class.

LUCCA is the Italian Restaurant and the chef is Adam Pile.
One of his favorite dishes is Sweet Potato Gnocchi apples and onions.

BLUE identifies itself as having elevated American cuisine. Which makes perfect sense.
The restaurant is on the 23rd floor.

501 East is a restaurant devoted to burgers, salads, steaks and a great brunch.

The hotels spa is often rated by publications like Conde Nast as number one.
There trademark procedure is called the ritual baths.

I used to take a ritual bath every Saturday night when I a teenager whether I liked it or not.

My son Nicholas was particularly fascinated by the FlowRider, where he was given has first class in surfing.

I figured if it was so much fun for Nico, I’d give it a try.

The original property is on the intercostal water, but the hotel has a second half, which is on the beach. And you can travel between the two by boat.

1492, when Columbus arrived in the Americas, there where no horses. The first horses to arrive in what is now the United State where brought to Florida by Spanish explorers. They had an extraordinary impact on the local culture and they still do.

Each year, The Palm Beaches host an International Equestrian Festival.

Show jumping, and dressage demonstrated by the best riders in each class.
It’s a 12-week event that takes place on 140 acres of specially built facilities. It looks like polo got started in China or Persia about 2,000 years ago. The game was originally used to train cavalry. By the 1500s, it was being played throughout the eastern world. The British first saw it in India and Burma and in 1862, founded the first polo club. Private clubs have always been a big thing with the English. British officers and tea planters introduced the sport to the west.

John Wash:
We go every Sunday but we play other days of the week. Sunday’s game is the day with all the pomp and circumstance. So, we start out at the beginning of January and we go until the end of April.

Burt:
The field is 300 yards long and 160 yards wide. There are two goalposts one at either end of the field and there are two teams. There are four players on each team, and each player rides one horse at a time. If a player is riding two horses at the same time it’s considered cheating.

The actual game is a lot like soccer. The objective is to drive the ball downfield and between the opponents goalposts. The game is divided into 6 seven and a half minute play periods called “chukkers.” When the ball passes between the goalpost a point is scored and the team switches to opposite end of the field.

If the team you are rooting for scores a point, you may have a glass of champagne. If you are not affiliated with either team, which is my case, you could have a glass of champagne no matter who scores. Now coach I’m ready!

The Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida is named after the man who opened the first automobile megadealership in Florida. His namesake stadium is the only stadium in Florida to host two Major League Baseball teams for their annual spring training: the Miami Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Over the years, I’ve noted that many of our famous sports teams are named after animals. Cardinals, Marlins, Bulls, Bears, Lions, Eagles, Dolphins, Seahawks. And in many cases these teams have earned the right to be named after these intelligent and sometimes aggressive creatures. Though in some cases, the more appropriate name would be “ The Turkeys.” I leave it to you to designate the deserving organizations.

Phil Foster was one of the earliest residents of The Palm Beaches and one of the first to build a tourist court.

For those unfamiliar with the term “tourist court” it refers to a facility similar to a motel and is in no way associated with the federal, state or local judicial system.

Foster lived for here for 32 years until he died in 1917. The park was opened in 1953 and dedicated to his memory.

You can rent kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling gear. And more important, especially for me, you can also rent guides who will show you how to use the kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling gear.

Actually, I’m a certified SCUBA diver. However, my wife has warned me that if I continue to dive in open waters, she is going to have me re -certified as a nutcase. And sadly it’s only one of many reasons she could use for my re-certification.

The parks Blue Heron Bridge area is recognized internationally by scientists, scuba divers, underwater photographers, and snorkelers for its unique marine life. There is a snorkeling trail of limestone boulders and prefabricated reefs that run for two acres in a zone where the water is only 6 to 10 feet deep.

Peter Friedman:
Let’s go ahead and get geared up and get in the water.

Burt:
In todays performance, the part of the fearless dive team will be played by Nicholas Wolf and his mother who you may well not remember from the many Jacque Cousteau films in which they did not appear.

Peter Friedman:
A lot of folks consider this the premier shore dive not just in the United States but possibly the world. Part of it is ease of access... you have relatively shallow water but you have an incredible bio-diversity here. And then along that snorkel trail you have a lot of stuff that’s just basically come in here and developed a home... and it acts as a nursery of some sort for some of the other species of fish. Things like angel fish, rays, you’ll see eels down there as well. A lot of folks here come here specifically for sea horses. We also have a lot of aero crabs, we have the yellow rays that are very common in this area. And the bat fish here are also very popular, some you don’t see very commonly out in the reefs. This is one of the best places in the world to dive... but for folks who want ease of access, great bio-diversity, Palm Beach County has a lot of that.

Burt:
Each winter, during what is officially know as “the season” Palm Beach holds an antique jewelry and art show at the Convention Center. The season is a reference to the period of time during which the famous, infamous and just us folks come to the area to enjoy the climate both meteorologically and socially.

The Antique Jewelry & Art Show fills the Convention Center with exhibitors who have something to sell and visitors looking for something to buy or just looking.

Scott Diament:
Collectors, interior designers, art advisors, museum curators fly in from all over the world... all at one place all at one time, to be here in Palm Beach. Now what make’s it very special and really unlike any other event in the world is that we have a combination of wealth, the wealth that’s cultured, the wealth that collects, and wealth that you can basically walk from your front door to this convention center.

Burt:
In 1906, at the age of 19, George Morikami emigrated from his native Japan to Palm Beach, Florida. He came here to join the Yamato Colony, which was an experimental Japanese farming community.

In exchange for the cost of his passage and a little spending money he had agreed to work for three years. At the end of which he was to receive $500 and a little bit of land. His plan was to sell the land take the money and head back to Japan. But, his sponsor died and he never got the land and he never got the money so he kept on working. Towards the end of the Second World War he was able to buy his own piece of land, which he farmed for 30 years.

In 1973, he donated his 200-acre farm to Palm Beach County, who turned it into a center for Japanese arts and culture. There are galleries with changing exhibits, a classic Japanese garden, a bonsai garden, a library, and a gift shop.

I actually filmed here many years ago and I bought a bathrobe and now that I’m back I’m gonna buy another one, what do you think? I was also going to buy a headband to hold my hair back but umm I don’t have that much hair anymore.

They also have an excellent Japanese restaurant.
This is a photograph that was taken many years ago when I first filmed here. It shows the chief and his wife. And they are still here. And their cooking is better than ever. We had two bento boxes --- a classic and a vegetarian. Baked mussels with an herbed mayonnaise. Yellow tail sashimi on a bed of seaweed salad. And Crab Cakes and Bang Bang shrimp. Awesome.

Depending on when you are visiting Palm Beaches, you might enjoy a free concert or Opera at the Meyer Amphitheater on the Intracoastal Waterway. Stretch out on a blanket, open your picnic basket, pop a cork and listen to some of the great operatic arias.

For the past few years I’ve been living in Switzerland. And when you say culture in Switzerland it is usually a reference to cheese because in fact they make some of the greatest cheeses in the world. But if you say culture in The Palm Beaches, it’s usually a reference to the Kravis Center For The Performing Arts. In which I have uh... apparently attracted a smaller audience than I had hoped for.

Starting in the 1950s, the resident of this area became interested in building a facility for the performing arts. In 1985, after 35 years of unsuccessfully trying to raise the necessary funds, Alexander Dreyfoos began a private fundraising initiative with a gift of one million dollars from his company, the Photo Electronics Corporation/WPEC TV-12.

Much of Mr. Dreyfoos’s work has been in the area of photograph and television production. In fact his Video Color Negative Analyzer won an Academy Award and many of his inventions are on permanent display in Smithsonian.

Being technically impaired, I have no idea of what a Video Color Negative Analyzer does, but my friends tell me it’s very important.

Raymond F. Kravis was a prominent Oklahoma geologist who wintered in The Palm Beaches. Shortly after the Dryfoos gift, a group was formed to raise additional funds and name the center in honor of their friend Mr. Kravis.

Judy Mitchell:
It was a community wide effort, it took the leadership of Mr. Dreyfoos and a very dedicated group of board members who really mobilized the community to fund this preforming art center.

Burt:
Today, it is known as the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and it presents an extraordinarily wide selection material. 

And finally, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Originally built in the mid-1800s, it’s 153 feet above sea level and can be seen for 24 nautical miles.

That assumes that the weather is clear and you’re wearing your glasses with the new prescription. They chose this place because it looked like an ideal spot for military defense. And in fact that turned out to be the truth.

In 1940, a navy radio detection station was set up. It was a secret installation designed to intercept German U-boat radio messages and inform US forces as to where the enemy subs could be found and demolished. In May 1943, 30 German submarines were destroyed and in June another 37.

I heard, that if the installation was still in operation, it might have been able to detect the fraudulent and totally disgraceful emission system in the Volkswagen cars.

That’s Travels & Traditions in The Palm Beaches.
Thanks you uncle for making this part of my life. And thank you Nicholas for joining me.
I’m Burt Wolf.

Travels & Traditions: Sailing The Danube - #1405

Europe’s Danube River beings in southwest Germany and flows through nine countries until it empties into the Black Sea. It runs for almost 2,000 miles making it the second longest river in Europe. The longest is the Volga in Russia. The most famous waltz written by Strauss, describes the river as the Blue Danube, which leads me to the conclusion that Strauss would never have passed the color chart test for a drivers license. The river is brown or brownish-yellow because the current is constantly stirring up the lime and mud on the riverbed.

Nuremberg is in the German state of Bavaria. Bavaria covers all of southeastern Germany and is the nation’s largest state. But Bavaria is also a state of mind. It’s Europe’s epicenter for partying and its held that title for over 500 years. During the 1500s, the rulers of Bavaria spent so much money building magnificent churches and palaces that they almost ran out of cash. Nuremberg Castle dates back to the Middle Ages. From 1050 to 1571, every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire spent part of their reign in the Nuremberg Castle. Many of the rooms have their original paneling and are furnished with paintings, tapestries and furniture from the 15 and 1600s. For thousands of years, if you were looking for a safe place to build your castle you need a spot that was high enough so you could see what was happening around you and to make it difficult for your enemies to get near. You also had to have a dependable source of water, particularly if your castle was under siege. The shaft of the Nuremberg castle well was driven through 50 yards of sold rock.

The castle was built in stages on a sandstone hill on the north side of Nuremberg’s old city. The German emperors never had a home base. They moved around the country from one castle to another, but the castle at Nuremberg was a favorite and they appear to have spent more time there than anywhere else. The local government of Nuremberg was responsible for the cost of maintaining the castle, but in exchange they had the right to live there when the emperor was out of town. Hey Moe, it’s Curley. Barbarossa just left for his summer place. The castle is ours till September. Let’s get in today. In order to find a new source of revenue, the chief accountant for the Duke of Bavaria suggested that instead of buying beer from an out-of-state brewery, a royal brewery be set up right in Munich and it was a great idea. It kept all the cash in town and resulted in the introduction of the first Hofbrauhaus.

The beer is served in a liter mug called a mass. If you are the designated driver you might skip the mass and have a radler, which was designed for people going about on bicycles. It’s half beer and half lemonade. After our beer break, we headed into Nuremburg to tour the city. Nuremburg got rich during the 12th and 13th centuries as a commercial and craft center and the undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 1400s, it became a favorite city for artists living in northern Europe. The most famous was Albrecht Durer who was born in Nuremberg in 1471. For anyone interest in the history of art the Durer House is fascinating. It is a half-timbered building that was constructed in the 1400s, and is the only completely preserved Gothic house in the city. Exhibits inside the house are devoted to Dürer's life and works. A series of large woodcuts illustrating the Revelations of St. John was an immediate success. The horrors of doomsday had never been visualized with such power. Durer’s St. Michael is not standing in a traditional pose. This is real hand-to-hand combat between good and evil. Durer clearly had a fantastic imagination and the ability to present it in his works. But he was also devoted to the beauty of nature. His drawing of a hare makes the point. And so does his painting of a small patch of earth.

Nuremberg was at the center of the European trade routes and by the early 1600s, it was at the height of its economic and cultural development, but nothing lasts forever and by the early 1800s it was broke. My immediate assumption was that its decline was the result of an early form of credit default swap. But in fact, it was caused by Columbus. After the discovery of America, world trade routes shifted from the land to the sea. Nuremburg began to deteriorate. And Protestants killing Catholics and Catholics killing Protestants for 30 years during the Thirty Year’s War didn’t help either. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 1800’s, when the German railroads were being built that Nuremburg made a comeback as an industrial powerhouse.

Our next stop was Regensburg. Like most of the towns in Western Europe, Regensburg began as a Celtic settlement that dates back to about 500 BC. When the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius came through he took over the area and made it his power center for the upper Danube.

The Regensburg Cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter is a prime example of the Gothic architecture of southern Germany. Ribbing that reduces the weight of the roof. Arches that allowed for the introduction of larger windows. Buttressing that made it possible to build larger and taller churches than ever before. The dark heaviness that was typical of the earlier churches gave way to the light open warmth of the Gothic. These structures were meant to illustrate the wealth and influence of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. It was built on the site of the north gate of an ancient Roman fort.

The Romans were great judges of real estate. When they saw something in a good spot, they took it. Even it if it needed a little work. Regensburg sustained little damage during the Second World War and many of its ancient structures are still standing. It’s most famous is the Stone Bridge that was built in 1146 on the base of 16 huge arches. It’s been in continual use for over 800 years. At the base of the bridge is a little house where sausages are cooked and served at nearby tables. This simple outdoor restaurant was actually set up in the 12th century to feed the men who were working on the bridge.

Next, we sailed through the Danube Gorge. It’s only a 20 minute trip on a small tour boat but it passes through some of the most interesting scenery in Europe. Millions of years ago, during what Stephen Spielberg made famous as the Jurassic period, the Danube carved its course through the hard limestone rock of the Swabian Alps. At some points the river is only 350 feet wide with cliffs on either side that are 250 feet high. There are a number of rock formations on the walls that have been given special names. There’s the Bishops Mitre, the Beehive and Napoleon’s Suitcase. Unless you live in the neighborhood or have just finished 3 or 4 shots of the local brandy these forms maybe a bit hard to recognize. The area is also filled with ancient fossils, present company excluded. In fact, the oldest musical instrument, a flute carved from the tusk of a mammoth that dates back over 37,000 years was found in the Swabian Alps. Over the centuries rain has slowly been dissolving the entire mountain range. It’s loosing about 2 inches a year. So you better get here as fast as you can.

Salzburg means salt castle, which is a reference to the nearby salt mines. For centuries salt was the best way to preserve food through the winter and it was extraordinarily valuable. It was what made Salzburg important. People have been living here since the 5th century BC. When Rome collapsed so did Salzburg. But during the 8th century, St. Rupert put Salzburg back on the map. Apparently, Rupert had the only good map and he put on whatever he wanted. Today, Salzburg is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and the old town has many of its original baroque buildings. During the 1600s, Italian architects were invited to work in the city and the most beautiful squares and buildings were the result of their work. It’s most famous building, however is at Getreidegasse number 9, where on the 27th of January 1756, at 8 O’clock in the evening Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and cried his first note. (Baby Cries) It was a C sharp.

Getreidegasse is the main shopping street and it’s lined with dozens of shops. One of my favorite spots in Salzburg is the restaurant St. Peter. It was built into the walls of a mountain and is considered to be one of the oldest, still functioning restaurants in Europe. We all went there for lunch. As the Danube River runs west from the Austrian city of Vienna it passes through some of the most picturesque scenery in Europe. For over 35,000 years people have been living on these shores. They were originally attracted to the area because of the mild climate and the ideal conditions for farming. The ancient Romans occupied the region and when Christianity became the official religion of Rome the local population slowly gave up its pagan beliefs and built dozens of monasteries on the hills. 

But a monastery was not just a center for religious activities. The monks were skilled craftsmen, architects, and technicians. They set up permanent facilities that organized the peasants and showed them how to improve their farming, how to build better houses and upgrade the construction of roads and bridges. When a ruler donated land and money for the creation of a monastery it may or may not have improved the rulers’ value to the Almighty but it was definitely a mighty improvement in the value of the lands that the ruler ruled.

The town of Melk was founded as a Roman garrison at the point where the Melk River joins up with the Danube about 50 miles west of Vienna. In the year 976 the Emperor of Germany chose the Babenberg family to rule the neighborhood, which they did from a series of fortified castles. The castle at Melk was their most important stronghold and became the cradle of Austrian history. The Babenbergs decided to bury their ancestors at Melk and to make sure that the family burial site was cared for properly they set up a monastery inside the castle. The Babenbergs ruled for just over 100 years, at which point the castle and the surrounding lands were turned into a Benedictine monastery and Benedictine monks have been living and working here ever since. For centuries Melk was able to support itself with taxes from the local peasants and a profitable agricultural program on its own land. These days, however, the major source of income is tourism. Each year almost five hundred thousand people visit Melk.

St. Benedict’s motto was pray, work and read and the physical structure of Melk is designed to serve these functions. Up until that time monks were primarily hermits living separately in huts and caves. St. Benedict did that for a while but then he decided that monks should be together in a community. The Benedictine model is to bring people together in a life of holiness, but at the same time it should be a life of wholeness. He promoted a balanced personality of work, spiritual life, and intellectual advancement. The Benedictine communities became an oasis of learning within Europe, an oasis that preserved the idea of scholarship that was so much a part of the European tradition. The Rule of St. Benedict requires that nothing be more important than the worship service and the Melk Abbey church clearly reflects that instruction. Work on the church began at the beginning of the 1700s, under the direction of Abbot Dietmayr. Dietmayer decided that the subject matter of the artwork should be based on the idea that without a just battle there is no victory. And that theme is reflected throughout the interior.

Vienna was built at the crossroads of two major trade routes. The north-south axis was the Amber Road that went from Northern Germany to Greece. The east-west traffic was handled by the Danube River. The Danube was essential for the growth of international trade. Vienna got rich because the city controlled the traffic heading down river. And Vienna was controlled by the Hapsburgs. The Hapsburg family came to power at end of the 1200s and hung onto it for almost 700 years. This is Schonbrunn Palace, it was their summer place. Now, most royal families increased their land and their power by using military might, but the Hapsburgs used marriage. It all started when Maximilian married Mary, the daughter of the

Duke of Burgundy, which added the Netherlands and Luxembourg to his lands in Austria. Then Max’s son Phil married Joan, the heiress of Castile. And that got him Spain and Naples and Sicily and Sardinia and all the newly conquered Spanish lands in the Americas.
These guys were getting married all over the place and getting all the places where they got married. But at one point they made a fatal mistake. In order to avoid anybody marrying a Hapsburg and getting their land they started marrying each other--- a genetic disaster. It’s good to have a close family but not that close.
Swimming in the same gene pool made them weirder and weirder and in the end they lost everything. Fortunately, what they lost is now on display to the public.

Robert Tidmarsh has been a senior guide to Schonbrunn Palace for over twenty years. Tidmarsh: This room is the so called Marie Antoinette Room; it dates back to the time of the Emperor. What we've done is to try to show the public what a dining room was like at the time of the Emperor.
The napkins are the so called Kaiser Serviette. They're shaped similar to a fleur d'lys, and they were used, or are used for the head of state.
Even today when we have a state reception, if the President of Austria gives the reception then they will use the Kaiser Serviette. If it's the Chancellor, then they don't.
The Master of Ceremonies chose the length of the candles. So if it was going to be a long reception he would use long candles, if it was going to be a short reception, the short ones. Most of the people that came to a state reception were Austrians that had been to thousands of receptions before, and they would automatically look at the chandeliers to see how long the reception was going to take. The Emperor ate very quickly, which is not quite true. If he did, he would have looked like me. He ate very little and finished very quickly, and that led to a problem. As soon as the Emperor stopped eating everybody else was obliged to stop.

Most of the restaurants near to the Schonbrunn or near to the Hofburg or the hotels, knew about the problem. They knew that the reception would be over very quickly, and they were getting ready for the end of the reception. And the end of the reception would have been that moment, as soon as the Emperor stopped eating and everybody left the Hofburg or Schonbrunn and went to the next best hotel for a meal.

The last day of the cruise was was spent in Budapest, which is actually made up of three cities: Buda, Pest and Obuda. These days Budapest is a peaceful, beautiful and culturally interesting city, which has managed to hold on to much of its history while adapting to the needs of a modern capital. This is the Castle Hill area. The capital of Hungary was originally a few miles up the river on a flat plain that was almost impossible to defend. During the middle of the 1200s, the Mongol Tartars, who had become wealthy as a result of their invention of tartar sauce, invaded the town and destroyed it. So the next time a town was built in the neighborhood it was put up on a steep hill. Good move, safer neighborhood. The hill is about 200 feet high and about 5,000 feet long and it holds an entire city district filled with historic houses. The district also contains the Mathias Church. The original church on this site was put up in 1255 for use by the German residents of Buda. At the time it was known as the Church of Our Lady but people started calling it the Mathias Church after it was used for the first wedding of King Mathias in 1463. Mathias used it again for his second wedding to Beatrice of Naples. And I’m sure if he had a third wedding he would have been here too. He loved getting married in this Church and he was getting a fabulous deal from the florist.

Next to the church is an equestrian statue of St. Stephen who converted to Christianity in the year 1,000 and became the first king of Hungary. There is a story that the number of legs connected to the ground on an equestrian statue is related to the way in which the rider died: one hoof raised means the rider was wounded in battle; two hooves raised means death in battle. All four hooves on the ground means the rider survived all battles unharmed.

This is a popular story but not always true. It depends on when and where the statue was made and who made it. Behind the statue is an area known as the Fishermen’s Bastion. During the 1200s each group of tradesmen were responsible for defending a part of the city wall and this was the part defended by the fishermen. The spot has a great view of the Danube and Pest. The building that dominates the Pest bank is the Parliament. Well, that’s river cruising on the Danube. For Travels & Traditions, I’m Burt Wolf.

Travels & Traditions: Cruising The Rhine - Part Two - #1404

 

In part one of this program, I pointed out that river cruising in Europe is becoming more and more popular and the reasons people like it. On a river cruise you get on board, unpack and don’t see your suitcases again until the cruise is over. Unpacking only once is very convenient. The ship sails from town to town; you get to see everything important without moving from hotel to hotel.

I started hosting European River Cruises to raise funds for our public television stations. I’ve hosted over 30 cruises. And I’m still hosting them. I think that anything that any of us can do to help raise funds for public television is a step in the right direction.

The cruise we’re on is run by Scenic, it started in Basel, Switzerland and sailed on the Rhine to Amsterdam. The stretch between Rudesheim and Koblenz is classic. It was the area that inspired the painters and poets of the Romantic period.

To a great extent the Romantic Period was a reaction against the industrial revolution and the Age of Enlightenment. The Romantics were saying, enough with the science and technology, how about putting a little love in your life.

The Romantic Period was at its height during the first half of the 1800s. It was all about confronting nature and responding with intense emotion. It valued simple folk art and ancient customs. In Germany, nature was the thing and the Rhine Valley was the place. It was during this period that the Brothers Grimm wrote their Fairy Tales. And let me tell you, if you look at the original stories, they’re pretty grim. In the first edition of Snow White, it was the mother who was the evil one. Things only softened up later when the stepmother became the evil one. Same with Hansel and Gretel. And the visit by the Prince in Rapunsel, X rated.

As long as we are on the subject of updating things. Let’s talk about the Rhine itself. Originally, the Rhine was a very difficult river for sailors. Lots of shallow spots, tight turns, hidden rocks and long stretches between rest stops.
Nevertheless, the Rhine was an almost perfect natural highway for commercial and recreational traffic, so the authorities cleaned it up,and today it can handle more traffic than route 66.
Stop that.

For thousands of years, people have been using rivers as a primary means of transportation. It was usually easier and safer to move things on a river than on a road. But many rivers were too shallow or too narrow for anything but a small boat.
One way to solve that problem was to build a series of dams. The rivers got deeper and wider but then you had the problem of a river with different levels similar to a set of steps.

The invention that dealt with the steps is called a lock. And as we sailed up the Rhine we passed through a number of them.

There are two types of locks. One is called a caisson lock. A boat sails into a big box, the box is sealed and the box with the boat in it is moved up or down.
The other type of lock is the pound or fixed chambered lock. The ship sails in, the chamber is closed and water is pumped in or out to raise or lower the ship.
The Chinese invented an early form of lock but the system that we use today was developed by the Dutch in 1373.

It has a chamber with gates at both ends. A boat or boats go in, the gates are closed and the water is either pumped into the chamber to raise the boat or pumped out to lower the boat. When the water has reached the proper level one of the gates is opened and the boat sails out.

The earliest locks used in Europe were guillotine locks. The wall was held in a frame and raised or lowered like a guillotine. One day Leonardo da Vinci took a break from painting the Mona Lisa and invented a new and improved lock. Stop that.
The doors on Leonardo’s locks were shaped like a V so the pressure of the river actually helped keep them closed. In 1478 he built six of these locks and they were very successful.

When I started cruising the rivers, I began to understand how complex it is to design a hotel that floats and not only floats, but floats from city to city. Each of the suites has a butler, and these guys are constantly available to help you with stuff and to try and anticipate your needs.

Burt: Yes?
Butler: Good Evening Mr.Wolf
Burt: Good Evening
Butler: Would you like turn down service?
Burt: Oh thank you, but I’ve been turned down enough for one day. I’ve wanted to do that gag for twenty years and I really appreciate you bearing with me

One of our stops was Breisach at the edge of the Black Forest.
Until the 11th century, when monks began to set up isolated monasteries, nobody was interested in entering the Black Forest. It had a reputation for being filled with thieves, and wild-man-eating boars and life insurance salesmen. In the 1500s, farmers along the Rhine began to clear the land and move into the forest.

There's not much left to the thick pine forest and the thieves have gone into the mortgage and investment banking businesses. And as far as the wild boars are concerned most of them are working on television as political analysts. For me, the most important thing about the Black Forest is the Black Forest Cake. The Black Forest Cake is a big deal, but the areas most famous product is probably The Cuckoo Clock.

During the 1600s, Black Forest wood carvers started producing wooden clocks that were sold all over Europe, but there was nothing cuckoo about them. In the 1850s, a local artist designed a clock with a little house on the front. Shortly thereafter, some unknown mastermind placed a bird inside the house, and developed a mechanism that allowed the bird to come out and on the hour, announce its presence by yelling “cuckoo cuckoo”.

I wouldn’t say these clocks were cuckoo, but some of them appear to be a little neurotic.

There are about 160 guests on this ship and each day they are served breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon and evening snacks. Preparing those meals on a level that meets the gastronomic demands of the passengers is not an easy task.

Chef: You buy everything. When you start to buy we don’t stop anymore, as long as you have money you know?

Burt: What’s the biggest challenge of cooking on a ship?

Chef: The biggest challenge when cooking on a ship is actually the organizing before because you’re always traveling and never in the same place. Like at a hotel you’re always at the place, you go shopping and you have fresh stuff on board. There you need to organize ten days ahead, the loadings, how much you need, the freshness, to check to keep this and make sure everything is up to date. That’s the biggest challenge you know? Organizing before.

Burt: How often do you get to actually get off the boat and shop for local stuff?

Chef: For local stuff... As soon as we get the opportunity or we get the chance, we go. It’s like a market, because not every port has a market. But like here you have a market or when we go to Budapest or Vienna they have local markets.

Burt: Right.

Chef: Okay this is a wild asparagus, you can eat everything of it. Just blanche it for one minute and thats it. Mostly you can use it for salads, even for steaks it’s nice.

Burt: Do you put any sauce on it or just straight?

Chef: Sauce hollandaise sauce béarnaise.

Burt: Traditional asperges.

Chef: Traditional.

Chef: First we peel the asparagus because the skin is tough.
Then you put it in water, we salt the water.
We put the lemon in and the most important thing is white bread.
White bread is taking the bitter from the asparagus.
In the mean time we cook the asparagus around approximately five minutes, we make the sauce hollandaise.
Egg yolk.
We heat the egg yolk a little bit, give it some temperature and whisk it.
Butter, slowly. Drops by drops.
You see it’s going creamy now already.
Like a sauce you know.
Then we add some white wine reduction.
be very careful because if you are getting too high the temperature the egg and the butter separating again and then we need to start at zero you know.
A little salt and pepper. And the hollandaise should be done.
For that we melt the butter.
And to test if the asparagus is ready cooking we put the knife in, when it goes very easily through, it’s ready.
Take the asparagus out of the water and straight in here.
Again salt don’t forget and pepper.
One two three.
In the mean time we put wild asparagus just in the water for a few seconds.
Now the wild asparagus id ready just a few seconds.
We just melt it in the butter.
Here we go.
So here we go we have the white asparagus and the wild and the white asparagus, prosciutto ham and sauce hollandaise.

The cruise director told me that the ship offered six different ways of dining.
There’s the main dining room where you can sit up straight, at the bar you can lean forward. Thank You. Or you can have room service twenty four hours a day lying down. You can lounge on the sun deck and dine al fresco, whatever that means. Or you can stand up at the River Cafe which is an all day snack bar.
Thank you Peter. Porta Bello is the ships Italian restaurant so you can eat leaning to right like the Tower of Pisa.

BURT WOLF:
Over night we sailed to Mannheim where we took a bus to Heidelberg. According to archeological research our European ancestors have been living in this neighborhood for over 6,000 years.

Heidelberg was a Celtic settlement, the site of a Roman fort, and for 500 years, starting in the early 1200s, the hometown of the mighty counts who elected the kings of Germany.

The counts were responsible for three of the most important things in Heidelberg. First is their castle, which they started building in the 1300s and finished about 400 years later. What slowed things down was an unending conflict between two factions of the family over window treatments.

The most interesting way to get to the castle is on the funicular. This section of track is the oldest funicular railway in Germany and considered to be a historic landmark. It uses the original wooden cars that were built in 1907. The ride up offers some fabulous views of the Rhine Valley.

The oldest part of the Heidelberg Castle complex is the Gothic House which was the home of the Elector Ruprecht III. The Friedrich Wing dates to the early 1600s and has a classic Renaissance façade decorated with statues of the kings of Germany.

The sculptural decorations in the Otto-Heinrich Wing include Biblical characters, Roman gods and the virtues.

The one thing in the castle that almost everybody feels the need to see is the Heidelberg Tun, a wine vat with a capacity that is given at something in the area of 50,000 gallons. The original vat on this site was built in 1591 and used to collect taxes that were paid in wine.

The one that’s here today was installed about 250 years ago and probably never held any wine at all. Its primary objective appears to be to enclose vast quantities of emptiness-- a concept that fascinates over three million people a year who actually pay to come and look at it.

Our ship also took us to Strasbourg. Strasbourg is the capital city of the Northeast region of France, known as Alsace, the city is crisscrossed by a network of canals that connect it to river systems that run throughout France.

One of my favorite spots in Strasbourg is its Cathedral of Notre-Dame. Construction got started in the 11th century and wasn’t completed until the 15th century. It took 400 years to finish the job.

I am thoroughly convinced that the guys who are presently working on my house are direct decedents of the guys who took 400 years to build this cathedral.

The Cathedral, not my house, is made of red sandstone and in spite of the many architectural styles that went into its construction, it holds together as a harmonious structure.

The cathedral also has an astronomical clock that was originally built in the 1300s and everyday at 12:30 it presents a group of allegorical and mythological figures.

The clock’s body has a planetarium based on the 17th century theories of Copernicus, many of which are similar to the theories used by some of our contemporary economists.

While we were in Cologne, I tested a GPS pocket guide made for the ship. Turn it on and it figures out where you are and what’s around you that is interesting and then it tells you about it. You can take your own GPS guided walking or biking tour. Or you can use it to listen to your guide.

However, it has failed to mention that I am a block away from the Haxenhause beer hall where they serve a great local beer known as Cologne Kolsch.

It comes in a small 8 ounce glass. The brewers in Cologne think that the small glass has a distinct advantage over their competitors in Bavaria who use big steins to serve their beer.

In the small glass the beer stays fresher longer. The waitresses keep bringing you glasses until you've had enough but they don’t always know when you've had enough so you put this little coaster on top of your glass, and that tells them that you’ve finished ---- for the time being.

Apparently, the Scenic GPS guides are designed to address the more uplifting cultural aspects of the area. But don’t worry; the bartender on the ship can fill you in on the finer points of the local gastronomy.

Our final port was Amsterdam.
If you consult the travel guides that include Amsterdam you will undoubtedly find a selection of the city’s great museum.
They’ll recommend the Van Gogh, which has the world’s largest collection of works by Van Gogh.
They’ll stress the contemporary museum which has 90,000 contemporary works.
They’ll suggest the Rijkesmuseum, which is the offical state museum and truly has one of the greatest museum collections in the world.
Every few years, I visit all of them. Usually on the internet.
They have amazing sites.
The site for the Rijkemuseum is outstanding.
However, my favorite museum in Amsterdam is the Museum of Handbags and Purses.
It has over 4,000 objects with some that date back to the 14th century.
The collection was started by Hendrikje Ivo. Today it’s run by her daughter Sigrid.
My mother, she was an antique dealer traveling through Europe to find her antiques, small silver items on the table. Cutlery and those kinds of things.
And then she saw a very beautiful bag made of tortoise shell inlaid with mother-of-pearl and she fell in love.
Her mother spent over 30 years collecting handbags and displaying them in her home on the outskirts of Amsterdam, but eventually she needed a bigger space.
And we spoke a lot with the local government but that didn't work out. And then she put a sign on the door ... and ... saying ... "S.O.S. Who can help us for a new location?" And she asked also a lot of people, "Can you help me with a new location.
Do you know a millionaire? I don't like to have them only for myself. But half of it maybe."
And then one Sunday afternoon a millionaire came along, visited the museum, read the sign, and bought them a building in the middle of Amsterdam. The museum illustrates the history of the handbag from the 14th century to the present. The earliest women’s handbags were worn under their dresses. They had a ribbon with two pockets hanging on it. And then you have two or three underskirts. Then this ribbon goes around your waist. And then your nice dress goes over it and there's an opening in the dress. So you could reach your pockets.
In the late 19thcentury it changed because the fashion got very slim. And we are looking back to the Greek and Roman periods and the waist goes up into the breast.
And then you get very slim tiny dresses. They have to look like a Greek dress.
Because that was fashionable in that period.
And they were made of fine muslin, a very fine material, sometimes very transparent.
So then you can't wear these pockets inside. Then you see that the ladies wear, for the first time the bag in the hand.
And what did they put in their bag?
A coin purse, you had a letter case for your letters. They were writing a lot. Maybe also the card, a calling card holder. Because when you went to visit somebody, you go there and then you say to the servant I would like to visit the lady of the house.
Then she's giving the calling card to the lady of the house. And she is deciding if she wants to see you.
I've always wondered about the Queen of England. What does she have in her handbag? Cab fare? A Swiss Army Knife? Keys to the Palace? A lottery ticket?
Enquiring minds need to know.
She has never money with her. No, she has a camera because she wants always to show where she is to her children and grandchildren. A lipstick. She has a powder compact because that was given by her husband 50 years ago, 60 years ago.
Sometimes for her dogs things because she likes her dogs.
I also noticed that in the last maybe ten or fifteen years handbags have become a symbol of status.
Until the 60s, you could show that you were rich or you're different by your clothing.
But in the last decades, it's getting more and more difficult. Because what we see in the fashion show in Paris or Milan or New York, you can buy it a little bit later in the shops and you can buy it expensive or cheap. It's copied all over. So it's very difficult to be different.
And that you see that these big brands, they come with handbags because that's something you can show that you can be different. Not everything that’s in fashion will be fit you very nice. But a handbag will always fit you. So the brands have more emphasis on the handbags because everybody can buy a handbag from a brand if you have the money, of course. But it's everybody will shoot a handbag. Everybody will fit a handbag.
I may not be able to get into that dress.
Exactly.
But I certainly can carry that handbag.
Yea. The handbag is the soul of women because all your personal items go into it.
And you don't want to show it to other people.
But there are an also lot of things people, ladies don't want to tell about.
For instance?
That I can't tell you, because that's a secret.
Quite honestly I think this is one of the most interesting museums I've ever seen and I strongly recommend it.

Well, that’s Cruising the Rhine Part Two
I’m Burt Wolf.

Travels & Traditions: Cruising The Rhine - Part One - #1403

Burt Wolf:

Starting in the middle of the 1600’s, European families of wealth and status would send their sons on a tour of Europe. The objective was to expose their children to great works of art and architecture and other families of importance.

In many cases, it also exposed them to a wide selection of socially transmitted diseases, which made certain parts of the tour more exciting, and other parts um less enjoyable.

The tour could last for months or for years. And if you had the budget, you would commission a painting of yourself standing amid ancient works of art. It was an early form of “selfie”.

During the second half of the 1800s Americans started sending their kids. And when transatlantic ships and European railroads made the tour easier and less expensive the middle class joined in.

These days, the most convenient way to take the tour is on a river cruise.
Modern river cruising in Europe began in 1992, with the opening of the Main-Danube Canal. In terms of engineering it was an extraordinary achievement.
The canal itself runs for 106 miles, and connects to an additional 2,000 miles of river.
Suddenly, ships could travel from Amsterdam to Budapest from the North Sea to the Black Sea. And tourists could make those trips in the comfort of specially designed river cruisers.

Basically, a European river cruiser is a floating hotel. They usually have about 70 to 80 cabins. Some are more luxurious than others, but they all offer the convenience of getting on board, unpacking only once, and having your hotel travel from location to location.

That’s an important feature for me. For some reason, I have always disliked packing and unpacking. I know how to do it, and I do it well, but I don’t enjoy it. I feel the same way about flossing. To get on a river cruiser, unpack only once and not see my luggage until the trip is over is really cool.

I learned about river cruising in 2005, when the Public Television Station in New Jersey asked me to host a river cruise to help raise funds for the station. Since then I have hosted cruises for dozens of stations all across the United States. In order to learn as much as I can about river cruising, I’ve used a number of different cruise companies.

The cruise I’m testing this time was organized by Scenic.

Our cruise started in Basel, Switzerland and we sailed along the Rhine to Amsterdam. The town of Basel is at a point where Switzerland, Germany and France come together. It marks the spot were the Rhine becomes a navigable river.
Its citizens are polite, organized and efficient. They speak Swiss-German, have a deep respect for their history and tend to lead lives that are rather conservative.
But that’s only half the story. On the Monday morning after Ash Wednesday, tens of thousands of people gather in the streets. At exactly 4 AM, the lights of the city go out. And huge lanterns go on.

Basel's annual Fasnacht Festival has begun. Each lantern belongs to a group who built it in order to express their thoughts on a specific subject. Both positive and negative feelings are presented.

The festival continues for three days. Like all European festivals that mark the beginning of Lent, Basel's Fasnacht has its roots in ancient celebrations that gave people with less power the opportunity to comment on people with more power. Fasnacht is actually an excellent symbol for Basel, because along with it’s conservative Swiss German structure, it also has a long history of being intellectual, creative, and liberal.

This is Basel’s Town Hall, which was built in the early 1500s in a style that is known as late Burgundian Gothic. You can tell it's Gothic, because the arches are pointed at the top rather than round. You can tell it's Burgundian because it's like the buildings in the Burgundy area of France. They're brightly colored and covered with painted decoration.

It's late, because the guys who built it didn't get here until the Burgundian period was almost over.

Inside there is a courtyard with a statue of Plancus, a Roman general who got here early. He arrived in 44 BC and is given credit for founding the city.
Next to Plancus is a fresco that shows Basel's acceptance into the Swiss Confederation.

The stained glass windows in the council chamber represent the states that were part of Switzerland in 1501, which was the year that Basel joined the Confederation. Basel's window shows King Henry II who is always presented with the cathedral in his left hand because he put up the money to build it.
I was told that during the 1500’s, this room was Basel's divorce court and if you had a complaint about your spouse, you came here and registered it with the authorities.

What's your problem?
My spouse and I (sniffles) have irreconcilable differences!
Thats not gonna be a valid reason for over 500 years. Get over it.
The carvings on the walls were put there to remind everyone that people are not perfect, as if anyone needed reminding.

Just up the hill is Basel's cathedral. The oldest part of the building dates to the 900’s, but most of it was put up during the middle of the 14th century.

It's made of red stone and has two gothic towers. Near the entrance,are two statues designed to send a warning. One is the worldly prince, charming up front, but look behind and you will see that he is covered with evil serpents and symbols the of corruption. He was the prototype for some of our present day politicians.

Standing beside the worldly prince is the foolish virgin, unable to see the danger or resist the seducer, as valid a message today as it was 500 years ago.

The Rhine river divides the city of Basel into little Basel and Big Basel. You can go from one side to the other on one of the bridges, but the most interesting way to cross the Rhine is on a ferry. The idea of having a ferry service came from the chairman of the arts society, who thought it would be a good way to raise money for the group’s exhibition space. His first ferry went into operation in the middle of the 1800’s and was an immediate success, both in terms of public use and as a money maker for the society. Today there are four ferries crossing up and back, and they utilize the river itself as a source of power. The front of the boat has a rod that is connected to a cable, the cable runs across the river from one bank to the other. a lever can position the cable on one side of the boat, or the other. The ferry moves in relation to the cable. The force of the current pushes the boat in the direction it’s pointing, but the lines of the cable keep the boat from going down stream and redirects it’s force so the boat just goes across to the other side. It uses the natural energy of the river, which is perpetually available and free. When one of the large barges comes down the Rhine, the ferryman directs the boat into the current. which keeps it one place,or he can turn it backwards towards the other side. The ferryman has a role in the mythology in almost every society. He takes you from where you are to where you must go. both physically and mentally.

Ferryman: For 3 persons is 4.80

Burt: Will you settle for 5?

Ferryman: Thank You

Burt: I got a deal

It was a ferryman that took the ancient Greeks between life in this world and death in the underworld. It was a ferryman who took Buddha to the place of greater understanding. Ferryman often give travelers important advice.

Ferryman: Eat at the Saffron House, you will like it
Burt: Eat at the Saffron House huh? I wonder what he meant by that. was he using saffron as a symbol for self indulgence? It’s uh, it’s expensive stuff. Or was he telling me to work harder? Saffron’s very difficult to harvest. Or was he just telling me to have lunch in the saffron house? You’ll never know with ferrymen. The waters that give birth to the Rhine pour out of the Swiss Alps. They flow into Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

They run for over 800 miles and finally empty out into the North Sea.
The Rhine connects with dozens of other rivers and canals throughout Europe forming a giant network. You can get to Berlin, Paris even Provence in the south of France on these rivers.

For two thousand years, the Rhine has been a primary transportation route between southern and northern Europe. It was where people came together to trade their stuff. Eventually they started building settlements and became the small towns and villages that presently line the river.

Some of those villages became major cities like Amsterdam, Basel, Strasbourg, and Cologne.

During the 1st century BC, the Romans moved in and built military roads and fortresses. The ancient Romans understood the commercial value of the Rhine and maintained a military fleet to protect its trading boats.

The area became the frontier for the Roman Empire. They believed that the Rhine is where civilization ended and on the other side it was inhabited by wild Germanic tribes, mythical beasts, and the ancestors of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And to their credit, it was the Romans who introduced wine making to the area.

Traditionally Rhine ships are long and sit low in the water. They are long because they can’t be wide, the river’s too narrow. and the locks through which the ships pass are even narrower. Rhine ships sit low in the water because they are not worried about ocean waves and heavy seas. Sea sickness is not a concern on river cruises.

Burt: What makes river cruising so attractive these days?

Lucas: The first thing I would mention is the intimacy on board with only 169 guests and by the end of the 2nd or 3rd day you pretty much know everybody. It’s also very exciting because there is always something too see. It’s like a film without the cut.

Burt: Film without a cut.

Lucas: It’s very relaxing. It’s decelerating and you can almost communicate with people on shore when they see the ships passing by they are happy waving at you or  maybe shouting something. It gives that kind of interaction that you know feeling makes you feel you are in a different country

When I first started to raise funds for our PBS stations by hosting river cruises, I was very focused on getting the lowest base price for all of us traveling together, but that turned out to not be a great idea because things were always aded on. I remember paying for wine at lunch, free at dinner but it cost at lunch. There were special excursions fees. Tips on the boat, tips off the boat. It really began to add up.
These days, I prefer cruises that are all inclusive. I find it extremely frustrating to budget a trip and then find that there are hundreds of dollars of additional expenses. 
For the first time in many years I went bike riding, which was particularly significant to two of my children.

One of my older kids lives in Vietnam, grows a specific type of bamboo and uses it to make bikes

In fact my youngest son didn’t even know that I could ride a bike and when the ride was over, he called my wife to say “Hey! Dad can ride a bike.”

But out of respect, he didn’t mention that the bike was specially designed for this ship and contained an electric motor, which you can kick on if you needed it and I needed it.

The power is hidden, you don’t even know where it comes from and look it was designed in honor of Lance Armstrong.

The Rhine Gorge is the most picturesque part of the river. It runs for about forty miles and has been declared a World Heritage Site.

There are about 40 hilltop castles on this part of the Rhine, with some dating back to the 10th century. A well-placed castle was a great source of income because with the castle came a toll both.

For centuries the romantic castles belonged to a bunch of the nastiest guys in Europe. They were known as the Teutonic knights and they considered themselves independent rulers. You think the guys at the Internal Revenue Service can be frustrating, forget it. If you didn’t pay the tax that the Teutonic knights demanded they took your ship and tossed you into the river.
But wait, there’s more bad news. There’s a part of the river where the soft clay banks change to hard sandstone and that narrows the river to a maximum width of 100 yards and a maximum depth of 20 feet.

This is the home turf of the Lorelei. The legend of the Lorelei tells of a fantastically beautiful woman, with a great voice, and a considerable fortune, which was left to her by her dearly departed husband the Count de Monet.

As you may recall, the Count originated the risk management techniques and mortgage backed securities that led to the French Revolution.
Anyway, Lorelei would sit on top of a rock about 400 feet above the river and sing.
The song she sang sounded a lot like something from the Stones, not the river, the rock group.

The song was so enchanting, that it totally distracted the boatmen, they lost control of their craft and crashed into the stones.

The truth of the matter, is that part of the river was quite dangerous and not every boatman could handle it. They often lost control of their vessel and destroyed their boss’s cargo. Lorelei was a great excuse.

You know that the story of the Lorelei is just a legend, but our captain, being the great seaman that he is, takes no chances, and has tested a number of backup systems.

Burt: You protect yourself against the Lorelei?

Captain: Yes of course. we have protection always on.

Burt: That works?

Captain: Sorry?

Burt: (chuckles)

That’s the kind of attention to detail I like. And it doesn’t hurt to have a captain with a good sense of humor.
These days, the castles just aren’t what they used to be. What with the increasing cost of liability insurance and the difficulty in getting good help, most of the castles have been abandoned and stand as picturesque ruins.

During the night we sailed to Koblenz, Germany. In the year 9 B.C. the ancient Romans set up a camp at the spot where the Rhine river meets the Mosel river. The point where two or more rivers meet is known as a confluence. In latin the word is confluentes, which is what the Romans called their settlement. Over the years the name got shortened to Kolbenz. Koblenz was the home of an archbishop and a prince elector who selected the emperor. As arch bishop he had to defend himself against the devil. And as prince elector he had defend himself against the princes who wanted his land. He had a lot of defending to do, and he made Koblenz his stronghold. Which is why the city has so many defensive castles. Today Koblenz is the cultural and economic center of Germany’s central Rhine valley. The city has a number of bizarre statues. This statue of a young boy looks perfectly normal; however, every two minutes a stream of water shoots from his mouth and drenches unsuspecting viewers. They also have a town clock with a face that sticks it’s tongue out on the hour. It’s all quite strange because the people of Koblenz are quite welcoming, must be a problem with their sculptors You may have noticed that this program has a number of great aerial shots. In the old days, we would have needed a helicopter to get that kind of footage. It was expensive, time consuming, not always dependable and on two occasions I thought I was going to die.

Right after our son Nicholas was born, my wife announced the end of my career as an assistant helicopter cameraman. She said, “No more of that helicopter expletive deleted.” She is a wonderful woman with a very precise way of expressing herself. 

Andy: So this is a..DJI
Burt: a cuisinart Blender, I recognize a blender when I see one.
Andy: This is a Drone. And it’s got a little GoPro camera on the bottom. So we are going to sit it right here. Stand back a little bit.
Burt: Yes
Andy: Ready for lift off. Fly it up and over to the other side of the lock. Can you see?
Burt: Yeah
Andy: Pretty cool huh?
Burt: Very!
Andy: Burt I want you to keep an eye on the drone for me please
Burt: Okay
Andy: You are my spotter. Cause we want to fly safe
Burt: Well it looks like it’s pretty safe. Not being in it of course is the safest part
Andy: now back it up so we can see the locks gate on the other side, now what I’ll do is fly it forward
Burt: Is it going to deliver the books that I ordered from Amazon or not?
Andy: (chuckles)
Burt: The whole things is actually a lot easier then I thought.
Andy: Bring it down a little bit
Burt: Can we send that out for pizza?
Andy: (laughs)
Burt: and don’t forget the extra cheese. And land it on the green patch?
Andy: Gonna catch it.
Burt: Catch it?
Voice off camera: Come on Burt you catch it
Burt: (chuckles) Bye! Awesome

Many of the houses in the small towns along the Rhine are made by building a frame of wood and filling in the wood spaces between the wood beams with clay, brickwork or rubble. The exterior and interior surfaces were usually covered with plaster.
It’s one of the world’s most environmentally responsible, ecologically friendly and aesthetically pleasing architectural styles and it was developed about a thousand years ago in northern Europe.

England, Denmark, Germany, and parts of France and Switzerland had lots of forests. Timber was in good supply but there was a shortage of stone and the skilled workmen needed to cut the stone.

Face it, if you were a skilled stone cutter you had all the work you could handle building a cathedral. And besides if you worked on a cathedral you might get better accommodations in the after life. You didn’t want to waste your time building a farmers house.

A half-timbered house had many advantages. At the time the basic building material was a tree or a tree stump. All the work was done by hand. The tools were axes and knives and hand powered drills.

A farmer could gradually put the frame together, fill in the walls and end up with a structure capable of handling a great deal of weight with very little of the inside space squandered on internal supports.

And if you wanted to move the house, you could knock out the plaster between the wooden frame, move the beams to a new location, re-erect them, and fill in the space between the beams with new clay. It was a relatively easy process and if your home wasn’t subjected to a credit default swap, you could probably keep your original mortgage.

Well, that’s Cruising the Rhine Part One. I hope you’ll join us for Part Two.
For Travels & Traditions, I’m Burt Wolf.

Travels & Traditions: Hong Kong - Part Two - #1402

Burt Wolf:

I first visited Hong Kong in 1975. And for over a hundred years it had been a British territory. It was clearly pre disposed to British tradition. But in, under and around all that British stuff was over 5,000 years of Chinese culture, and in many ways that’s what dominated the city.

In Hong Kong, Chinese culture is almost always a mixture of something very old with something very new. They keep what works, discard what is no longer relevant and invent or adapt what’s new.

Let’s start with something to eat ---Dim Sum.
A little over 2,000 years ago, merchants began making regular trips from China to the Mediterranean. The route they travel became known as the Silk Road because --- they sold a lot of silk. It ran for over 4,000 miles, and like any well traveled highway it needed rest stops.

At first, the rest stops just offered tea and that was it. After a while, however, they saw business in offering snacks. And eventually, those snacks evolved into today’s Dim Sum.

Dim Sum is made up of an assortment of steamed buns, dumplings, and noodle dishes. In the more elaborate dim sum restaurants you will also find steamed vegetable dishes, roast meats and desserts.

The ancestral home of Dim Sum is in the Cantonese area in southern China, and the epicenter for Dim Sum in Southern China is Hong Kong.

Going to a restaurant for Dim Sum is know as yum cha, which translates as “drink tea” and traditionally the meal starts with the selection of the tea you want to drink with the meal. And, of course, there are rules about how it is to be served.

If you are the designated tea pourer, you pour for everyone else before you pour for yourself. If you are poring for someone on your left you hold the pot in your right hand and pour. If you are pouring for someone on your right you hold the pot on your left and pour. If someone has poured for you the appropriate thing to do is to thank them by curling these two fingers and tapping them on the table. theres an old story that goes along with that. Apparently one day there was an emperor who wanted to pop into town and have tea while disguised. He went in with his entourage of course, and he poured the tea. well everybody thanks the emperor when the emperor does  nothing for them. And the way they thank him is by bowing, but they could not bow in public so they curled their fingers to look like a bow and tapped them on the table.

There are many ways for a restaurant to serve Dim Sum. You can end up in a rather elegant restaurant or a small dim sum parlor or a huge space that accommodates hundreds of eaters at a time. You can spend hours eating Dim Sum, drinking tea and talking, or you can turn it into a fast lunch.

I thought it would be a good idea to go for Dim Sum a couple of hours before I dealt with the subject of Hong Kong’s Tailors. Remember it was Confucius who said, “Eat long before you measure”.

Bespoke tailoring is an English tradition. The word “bespoke” indicates the ordering of something, and in this case refers to clothing that is ordered and made to the specifications of the buyer as opposed to the mass produced stuff you find in a store.

Baron Kay’s Tailoring is a perfect example. Burt:Big chest. Baron Kay’s: Not really. Burt: Not really? That’s what I was afraid of. A bespoke garment goes out where you go out, as opposed to mass-produced clothing which always fails to take into account the results of my grandmothers lasagna. Baron Kay’s: I’m going to measure your stomach. Burt: Don’t tell anyone. Baron Kay’s: Okay, secret , secret. The buyer picks the fabric, the design and the specific features of the garment. Want a special pocket for a Pez dispenser, you got it.

And to show my appreciation for my beloved crew, who suffers with me day after day, I’m going to buy each of the a suit.

There are basically three ways for a guy to buy a garment. The first is called “Off the rack”. You go in you pick out what you want, you’re a 42 regular and somebody has decided this is what a 42 regular is, you pay for it and you’re on your way. It was made in a factory but thats life. Next is called “ Made to measure”. They measure you a little bit, it’s still a factory made garment but this time they’ve altered it so it fits you a little bit better. The ultimate is called “Bespoke tailoring” they measure every part of you, at least those parts that you would allow them to measure. and them they make a garment thats just for you. It goes in where you go in, it goes out where you go out, it’s all about you.

Bespoke Tailoring became part of Hong Kong culture when the English moved in during the 1800s. But no one was in a hurry. Bespoke speed tailoring was introduced to meet the needs of the naval officers on ships.

Hong Kong was and still is a major commercial port. But a ship only stays here until it can offload its cargo and take on a new one.
Burt:When’s it going to be ready?
Baron Kay’s: Today’s Tuesday, I will have it ready Thursday for you.
Burt: So two days? That’s faster than my cleaner.
Baron Kay’s: Thank you
Burt: Thanks a lot, thank you.

During the 1800s, local tailors realized that if they could make a bespoke uniform in two days, they had a whole new market.
Baron Kay’s: Hey good afternoon welcome
Burt: Hi, we’re back live
Baron Kay’s:Your shirt is ready for you, come inside

The naval officers are still coming in, but bespoke tailoring is now designed to meet the needs of tourists.

Fits perfectly, there’s only one problem with bespoke tailoring, it is made to your exact shape. So you better keep that shape. Do I always sound like grouch.

PMQ stands for police married quarters, and that is what these buildings used to be --- the place where young married police officers lived. Eventually, the cops moved out and the creators moved in.

Today, the building houses more than 100 creative entrepreneurs. Each occupies a small retail space. There are jewelers, artists, a shop devoted to things made from bamboo and there is always an emphasis on conservation.

Just down the block from PMQ is the Man Mo Temple. There are a number of Man Mo temples in Hong Kong, but my favorite is the one on Hollywood Road.

It was originally built in 1848 and honors two gods --- Man is the god of literature and Mo is the god of war.

Man is on the right, dressed in red and next to a writing brush. Mo is on the left, dressed in green and next to a blade.

If you were a student about to take the entrance exams for a job in the Imperial government and you wanted to pray for a higher grade point average, this was the place to come. The statues around the sides of the temple represent Buddhist and Taoist deities.
Long coils of incense hang from the celling and burn for days. The length of the burn attracts the attention of the gods. It’s also thought that the smoke from these coils act as food for the spirits in the other world.

In Chinese culture it is believed what ever you need in the present life you will need in the after life including money. So what you do is you go into the temple, you use your regular money to buy magic money. And then you take it to this furnace when you throw it in smoke goes up to heaven, your ancestor receive it, they stop in to the local heavenly credit Suisse and convert it to heavenly money. Here you go Grandma.

Victoria Peak, not to be confused with Victoria’s Secret, who was widely known as Prince Albert, is the highest point in Hong Kong. It tops out at 1,800 feet and offers a spectacular view of the city.

The most interesting way to get to the Peak is the Peak Tram, a funicular railway that opened in 1888. It begins at St. John’s Cathedral and goes up towards heaven. Nice symbolism.

Starting in the 1800s, if you were a European of wealth and status, this was the place to live. It had the great views but it also had a more temperate climate in comparison to the subtropical climate in the city below. At the moment, it is the most expensive real estate on the planet. A nice property can sell for over 250 million U.S. dollars

Originally,people who lived in the peak got to and from their homes by being carried in a sedan chair. Not the most comfortable way to travel. And if you thought on your way to work you were going to drink your coffee or read the news paper, forget about it.

The Victoria Peak Restaurant was originally built for engineers working on the Peak Tramway. In 1901, it became a rest area for the guys who carried the sedan chairs. In 1947, it was rebuilt as a restaurant, and today it’s a rest area for film crews.

I am always fascinated with the way words change their meaning. When I was growing up in the 50’s in New York City and you said someone was “high” it meant that they were very happy about something or had consumed too much alcohol.

In the 60’s it meant that the person in question was passing through a drug induced state, like California.

Now, in Hong Kong, it can mean you’re in a room at the top of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, which tops out on the 118th floor. It’s an amazing experience.

At the time of our filming, the Ritz Carlton’s OZONE bar was the highest bar in the world with a series of signature drinks design to raise you to an appropriate altitude.

The hotels Spa has a great pool.
These days, the ultimate fashion in pools is described as an infinity pool.
For those of us who are bound by the Oxford Dictionary “infinity” means endless, something that goes on indefinitely.
In pool parlance, it appears to mean a pool that is laid out so you can’t see where it ends.
It sets up an illusion where you think you can go on forever, when in fact there is distinct end point coming up. It’s reminiscent of teenage dating patterns --- not quite endless love.
The hotel entrance is on the 9th floor. It’s the launch pad for a 52 second elevator ride to the Lobby, which is on the 103rd floor.

The suites are what you expect in a Ritz Carlton
The surprise is that each suite comes with a telescope.
Look it’s Elvis!

The hotel’s Italian Restaurant, called Tosca, has been awarded a Michelin Star.
It’s named after an opera by Puccini, and it’s rather melodramatic --- the opera not the restaurant.

The opera is set at the time when Napoleon is invading Italy.
The Kingdom of Naples is threatened.
It was a stressful time.
Fresh pasta might be hard to come by.
Mascarpone might go missing.
The restaurant is loved by food lovers.
The opera is loved by opera lovers
I love both, but between you and me I’m always gonna pick pasta over Puccini.
The chef, Pino Lavaria grew up on Italy’s Amalfe coast and demonstrated two of his favorite dishes. He calls the first Sea Tiramisu --- red prawn carpaccio, seared scallops and a parsley cream.

Chef: So I already prepared seared carpaccio, add a little bit of seasoning, olive oil.
Paso spaghetti, I put it around so it can hold everything. It’s a warm spaghetti.
It’s a tartar with quinoa grain so it’s a nutty taste with the quinoa, I use it as a base.
Rice crisps and cereal crisps, it will look like a Tiramisu.
Tiramisu is a base of cookie and then a nice fluffy sauce.
Press it properly so it stays very compact.
Seared scallops just lightly seared.
This is the foam from the sea water from all sea food the muscle clams it’s all in here.
Tuna powder.
So it makes like a cocoa powder on top of the Tiramisu.
Some sorrel to add acidity to the dish.
Always freshly picked.
And we terminate it with the chips of a red prawn.

The second is green spaghetti “ a la chitarra” with swordfish, baby squid and black olive oil.

Chef: Just press on the chitarra, the chitarra comes from central Italy.
Beautiful spaghetti.
Now we make a little sauce, use some butter and lightly melt the butter.
Not too much color, I don’t need too much color.
i add the swordfish
Now I'm cooking the pasta, the pasta will cook shortly.
Not to over cook the pasta because it will absorb the sauce.
freshly diced tomato, nice and crunchy.
And at the end we add the Calamari because it doesn’t have to over cook.
Extra virgin olive oil.
It’s Starting to blow the calamari so the sauce is done.
So we wrap it in a swordfish carpaccio, the carpaccio with the steam of the pasta will start to cook.
And we terminate with a black olive oil.

The hotel’s Chinese restaurant is called Tin Lung Heen.
It has been awarded two Michelin stars, which is a big deal.
The chef prepared three of his favorite dishes.
Barbecued Pork with Honey
Skewered sautéed prawns with ham and vegetables.
Fried rice with diced abalone, duck and shrimp wrapped in lotus leaf.
Lantua Island was one of the first trading posts set up by Europeans to do business in China. It takes about a half-hour to get to Lantau from Hong Kong, and the easiest way is by subway.

The subways in Hong Kong are modern, clean and well designed.
Mike: We are going to the last station, on the last stop, on the yellow line, which is Tung Chung here. Where we are going to get the cable car Ngong ping 360.

Burt: Perfect.
Each car has a sign indicating the rules for seating.
If you walk with a cane, have a child on your lap, or one in your belly, or need assistance moving about --- you have priority.

I understand the government is considering adding aging television journalists to the priority seating. But so far nothings been announced.

Once you arrive on Lantau, you want to take a ride on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car.
It runs for three and a half miles and takes you through some spectacular scenery.
Burt: Someday this will all be yours.

The cable car ride ends near the base of an 85-foot high bronze Buddha, one of the largest outdoor Buddha statues in the world.

The Buddha sits next to the Po Lin Monastery

The monastery has its own vegetarian restaurant that is open to the public.

Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities in the world with over 6,000 people per square kilometer. Accordingly, from time to time you need a brake and Lantau is the place to go.

Over 40% of the island consists of national parks There’s a section on South Lantau Road where you can get a good look at the natural stone steps and the nearby dense woods. It looks like the landscapes in traditional Chinese paintings. The park has a number of campsites, youth hostels and a great beach.

There is a hill on Lantau that is usually engulfed in fog. To warn motorist, they put up a sign that says FOG. Of course you can’t see it because it’s always engulfed in fog.

The first patent for something like an escalator was issue in Massachusetts to Nathan Ames in 1859. It was a design idea that was never built. The first escalator to be used they way we use them now was built in 1892, by Charles Seeberger and the Otis Elevator Company.

Seeberger had a copyright on the name ESCALATOR. It was a combination of the Latin word scala which means steps and elevator which was then a word in common use.

These days the world’s longest outdoor covered escalator system is the Central-Mid-Level system in Hong Kong. It runs for 2,600 feet and was built to provide an easier commute between two districts in the city.

In the mornings, from 6am to 10am the escalators go down taking everyone down to work. At 10am it changes direction and takes everyone up until midnight. From midnight to 6am your on your own. It’s a trip.

The escalators run through some of the most interesting parts of the city --- popular bars, terrific restaurants, remarkable shops. It’s the hip place to visit. Or as my son would say, “ It’s super cool”.

Well, that’s Hong Kong always on its way up.
For Travels & Traditions - I’m Burt Wolf.

Travels & Traditions: Hong Kong - Part One - #1401

Burt Wolf:

Hong Kong is a major commercial and cultural center with considerable influence throughout the world. It is a very modern city that’s continually being built up. Up being the operative word. Yet it has maintained much of what is traditionally Chinese. Which makes it attractive to tourists.

We came to Hong Kong to see what it looks and feels like to have tomorrow being built on top of a 5,000 year old culture

Hong Kong is clearly a modern world-class city. But its contemporary sophistication is supported by centuries of Chinese history. You’ll find an ancient temple. And across the street a starred Michelin Restaurant.

Antique junks sail through the harbor powered by Mercedes diesel engines. As I walked through the streets of Hong Kong, one of the first things I noticed was the enormous amount of signage. It’s like Vegas or Time Square on steroids. And like just about everything else in Hong Kong, you can see the evolution of something ancient into something modern.

Hong Kong has a number of markets in a layout that has been around for thousands of years. Streets filled with open shops where you can easily see what’s for sale. Communication takes place through direct contact. You can see, smell and often touch what is being offered.

When the ancient market became Main Street the products moved behind windows. You couldn’t touch or smell the stuff, but you could look at it. And because you were walking along a street you could stop and control the amount of time and attention you devoted to what was being offered.

These days, most of the merchandise is inside a store, and hundreds of stores are built right next to each other. People are moving through the area inside a car or they are walking quickly on a crowded street, and more and more they are distracted by some form of hand held device.

In that environment, if you want to tell people about a product a huge and dramatic sign does a great job. It’s intense during the day and even more so at night.

This is the Hong Kong Goldfish Market --- block after block lined with shops that sell goldfish. During the Tang Dynasty, starting in the 600’s, people began the selective breeding of carp that had a genetic mutation. The result was a golden fish, and for over a thousand years they have played a role in Chinese culture.

Goldfish are valued for their extraordinary colors, elegant swimming style and quiet temperament. These days there are over 300 different varieties of goldfish. I understand they can be taught to swim in a line, swarm together for feeding, and appreciate the songs of the Rolling Stones --- especially, I CAN’T GET NO SATISFACTION.

Goldfish are a recurring theme in Chinese art. They represent wealth and success, but they also send a signal that it is possible for anyone to achieve whatever they want. If you don’t have an actual goldfish living in your home, the next best thing is a painting of a goldfish. It is considered to have the same effect with a reduced level of maintenance.

The harbor area in Hong Kong is named after Queen Victoria and it dominates the landscape, just like she did. The harbor is a very deep, sheltered waterway --- one of the world’s great natural harbors. In fact, as I was looking out the window of my room, I caught a shot on my iPhone of the Queen Elizabeth sailing through.

The harbor separates the island of Hong Kong from the part of the city that sits on the mainland and is called Kowloon. Its strategic location in the South China Sea made it a major trading center. Today, the harbor offers the most spectacular views of Hong Kong Island from one side and Kowloon from the other. For over a hundred years, the Star Ferry has been running around the harbor. It’s part of the city’s public transportation system, but it’s also a major attraction for tourists. There’s a ferry that runs up and back between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. That’s the commuter.

They also have a ferry that tours the harbor. In English, the word “junk” is used to refer to certain types of bonds and other financial instruments of questionable value, the contents of most kids rooms and clearly everything my Aunt Margaret brings home from the flea market. In China, the word ‘junk” means sailing ship, and it has a very particular and highly successful design that was originally developed over 2,000 years ago. In Hong Kong, a company called Aqualuna offers harbor cruises on a Chinese junk. The ship is a replica of a 19th century design that was used by a local pirate who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Apparently, income inequality was one of his major concerns. It’s one of the few remaining red sail junks and everyday it sails around the harbor. The tour takes about 45 minutes. Each of the sails on a junk has a series of horizontal bamboo strips that run from one side of the sail to the other. They are called battens. At the edge of most of the battens is a rope that allows the crew to control the shape of the sail. The sail plan on a junk also allows one sail to direct the wind into another sail, which makes it possible for the ship to move in more directions and handle better in heavy winds and rough seas. The interior of a junk is divided into separate compartments like a stick of bamboo. Those divisions help prevent flooding and give the hull greater strength. Chinese junks also used stern-mounted rudders hundreds of years before the west.

The phrase feng shui translates as “wind and water”. It is an ancient system for balancing the forces of nature. When feng shui is correct the spirits are happy. But if you have too much feng and not enough shui and you’re in big trouble.

One of the most extraordinary examples of feng shui is Hong Kong’s InterContinental Hotel. During the early stages of its construction a feng shui master was called in to make sure everything in the plan was properly balanced. In general, the design was OK. But the architects were from San Francisco and completely unaware that nine very powerful dragons lived nearby and the hotel was going to block the route they used everyday to go for a swim in the harbor. Fortunately, dragons can easily pass through glass, so all the builders needed to do was put in a row of glass doors at the entrance of the hotel and a big glass wall on the other side of the lobby that looks out on the harbor. Actually, there are eight regular dragons and so there are eight glass doors. The ninth dragon is the emperor who lives with the dragons but tends to bath separately. The feng shui master also suggested that the hotel’s reception desk be placed between the glass doors and the glass wall, which allows the dragons to drop off some of their wealth before they hop in the bay. These days, it serves the same function for the hotel guests.The collaboration between the feng shui master and the architects had some amazing results. In order to avoid blocking the dragon’s route the lobby lounge was created and turned out to be one of Hong Kong’s great spaces. All of the walls had to be aliened with the forces of nature, which had the side effect of giving the rooms a knockout view of the harbor and Hong Kong. The hotel’s Presidential Suite is considered to be one of the world’s most luxurious. In it’s double height living room is a grand piano. U.S. President Harry Truman was an excellent piano player. He would have loved this place. I always identify with presidential suites, you see when I was in the 4th grade I was the class president. Unfortunately I spent most of the term fighting a politically motivated attempt to have me impeached.

In 1900, the tire manufacturers Andre and Edouard Michelin decided to publish a guide for French motorists. At the time, there were only about 3,000 cars on the roads of France and their hope was that their guide would promote the sale of cars and the Michelin tires they road on. During the 1920s, they decided that restaurants should be included in the guides and they hired a bunch of inspectors to make sure only the best restaurants got into their books, with the exception of their cousin Pierre’s place in Leon which really wasn’t very good, but it was a cousin and you know when it’s family the rules change. In 1931, they introduced a rating system based on stars. One star meant it was a very good restaurant. Two stars indicated a level of cooking that warranted a detour from your planned itinerary.

A restaurant with three stars implied a gastronomic level so high that even if you planning on staying in your hotel room and watching reruns of Downton Abbey (or whatever the equivalent was in 1931) you should get up, get in your car (the one with the Michelin tires) and drive to the restaurant.

These days, Hong Kong has more Michelin starred restaurants than any other city in the world with equal population density In fact, three of them are within 50 yards of each other. The Steak House is a wine bar and grill that has been awarded a Michelin star. Its steaks come from the United States, Australia, Canada and Argentina and they are cooked on a charcoal grill. The wine cellar has over 3,000 bottles representing more than 500 labels. But their specialty is the big bottle.

Burt:
One of the very unusual things about this steak house is that you get to choose the knife you are going to use to cut your steak

Guest: So we offer of the steel one, the powerful with the handle, they differ in the sizes as well so when you enjoy the steak, you’re more enjoyable

Burt: And I can pick whatever one I want? and I’ll get a fresh one

Guest: Can Do.

Burt: The other thing they have that I liked a lot, 12 mustards

Guest: Two of them is very strong. It’s like the mustard with the horseradish also the difficulty of the english mustard. The other is a Dijon mustard, the pomme mustard. and also we have onion, green pepper corn, garlic, chili, herbs, balsamic, grapes, horseradish, and also the honey and dill.

Burt: That’s awesome. They also have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 different salts that I can put on my steak or my baked potato or whatever I want. Okay let’s go get a steak.

Guest: Thank You

Burt: Spoon is a Michelin one-star created by Alain Ducasse, the peripatetic French chef.

tSo Today I will do a recipe of pasta so we have two different kinds of dough

Stephane Gortina is the executive chef and he prepared two of his favorite dishes. Homemade pasta with green asparagus and black truffles. And a Cook pot of seasonal vegetables and fruit.

Stephane: So me and my recipe, I decided to do the pasta round. So just we will cut it. So basically I will use only the head of the asparagus for this recipe. This part of course we don’t throw away we keep and we can do a soup ,we can do a puree we can do a lot of things with this part of the asparagus. When you have this part, we use to say epicote remove this part. Red small baby red onion

Burt: I’ve never seen those, a baby red onion

Stephane: Yes

Burt: Far Out

Stephane: Here you will see so we will start with with olive oil, we sweat a little bit of asparagus, we add the onion and we will deglaze with stock so meat is a is a chicken stock

Burt: Okay

Stephane: and when it is Boiling, now we will add our pasta inside

Burt: so different, really interesting

Stephane: Yes

Burt: Because it’s fresh dough it will cook in a minute?

Stephane: Yes it is cooking very very fast. and now you will see them to cook, we will reduce the juice, and every thing will cook together, and all the flavor will stay together. We just missed one thing and that is the truffle. You must to try every time for the seasoning.

Burt: Sure

Stephane: So we have our puree pot. Just I will put at the bottom, so just we will put like this

Burt: Fabulous

Stephane: We will put the juice on what was the inside. Please take a spoon and try

Burt: Mmmm It’s the dish my grandmother never made. We put the finished pasta dish on a table so we could come back later and shoot what we call the beauty shot. However, while we were filmeing, my son ate it. Yan Toh Heen means the place you like to hangout with the great view It has been awarded two stars by Michelin and is considered to be one of the best Chinese restaurants in the world.
Its signature dish is Peking Duck.
The recipe starts with the duck being boiled in water for a while.
Then the duck hangs around in the kitchen for a day or two.
Then it gets roasted in the oven and basted with hot oil
At your table, the skin is sliced off, placed on a freshly cooked pancake and dressed with an assortment of vegetables and sauces.

Many restaurants have a sommelier that advises guests on the selection of wines. This restaurant has a sommelier that advises guests on the selection of tea and which tea goes with which food.I couldn’t cover the restaurant scene in Hong Kong without visiting Nobu.

The Nobu restaurants feature a style of Japanese cooking reminiscent of the countryside in Japan where Nobu grew up.

Years ago, I worked on a great book about cooking equipment called The Cooks’ Catalogue ,and Nobu wrote the section on Japanese equipment. I’ve been a fan ever since. Sean Mell is the executive chef here and he’s going to make two dishes.
The first is Foie Gras with Pickled Cherry on Homemade Boa Toast
The second is Baked King Crab Leg in Sea Urchin Butter

Sean: This is just a house made boa blend. and boa is typically when you are in Asia, and China you get the pork cha sou stuffed inside the boa. I think It’s steamed.

Burt: Yeah

Sean: So same idea only thing that we are doing here is not filling it with anything. Later after it’s steamed and cooled down we’ll use these as actually a play on if you would get a Foie Gras and brioche, at a french restaurant

Burt: right

Sean: So this is I guess just more asian, more Japanese feel to it. Just to kind of ensure they get the smoothness on top we roll them out and then you kind of fold them in and under.

Burt: Got it

Sean: So it kinda tightens the top

Burt: Okay

Sean: See how it kind of smoothes it out? Gets a little flat. And then you just want to pat it down

Burt: I have a distinct feeling I am going to be in remedial dough making

Sean: (chuckles) This is the boa after it is done. These have been steamed already

Burt: Okay

Sean: They are soft, and then once we start cooking these they will actually get softer. So it will soften up quite a bit. This is our foie gras we imported from France, it’s rougie foie so very high quality, very good. In the mean time, this is actually our sweet onion sauce that we got here were gonna start reducing. So this make in house as well. Start off with caramelized onions we deglaze a little sake, a little soy, some mirin, this actually gets a ah cooked in a wagu fat as well, the sweet onion sauce.

Burt: So you just sauté that for a minute or two?

Sean: Yes just a minute just to kinda get the outside charred. We actually start these in the pan where it is a little bit cold still. The reason being is you know you want the boa to get nice and crispy on the outside. Now the boa are just toasted to our liking. Nice little golden brown. We will start building our mini boa here.

Burt: Wow does that smell good

Sean: Thank You. And then this is just a little bit of micro chervil. Gonna to give it a little bit of herbaceousness A little extra balance there. and that is the foie gras toasted boa.

Burt: Fabulous
And this is the Hong Kong Jade Market. It’s made up of a series of booths selling things made of jade and an assortment of souvenirs.Jade has been an important element in Chinese culture for at least 6,000 years. There are two basic types of jade. One is nephrite. The more iron it contains the greener the color. The second is jadeite. It is softer than nephrite and much more difficult to find. We think of jade as being green, but it actually comes in a number of colors including white and black. the Chinese consider jade to be more valuable then gold.
My favorite jade dealer at the Hong Kong market is Alice at stand #148.
Good jade and good English.

Burt: It’s my understanding that different forms of Jade can protect you and help you with things with your life. We’d like to pick out two things. One to protect Nicholas, one to protect me

Alice: You have looking. This one is a different year with a Chinese

Burt: Oh horoscope

Alice: Yes

Alice: What year are you?

Nicholas: Mine is 2005 so the rooster

Alice: Ah rooster Ok rooster is a happy life

Burt: And I am the Year of the Tiger

Alice: Oh Tiger is a long life and good health. This one is a rooster and it’s very nice. Very fun very heavy. And then you have looking the tiger. Tiger is a very stronger. Tiger is a good health and long life. Is very good.

Burt: you want to put it in your pocket or do you want to hang it?

Nicholas: I want something I can wear around my neck

Alice: You have looking very pretty, the rooster

Nicholas: So many different shades of green and light

Alice: Yeah It’s very nice and very pretty

Burt: A friend, who lives in Hong Kong, told me that if you have a jade charm and it breaks, you should be pleased. It means that a piece of bad luck was heading towards you, and the jade protected you by taking the hit.
Over the centuries jade has come to be associated with immortality, beauty, courage, wisdom, justice, and compassion.
A white jade charm is thought to give the wearer special skills, including the ability to accurately forecast the failure rate of mortgage-backed securities.
Apparently, no one at Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s or Fitch Ratings were aware of this bit of folklore.
Well thats Hong Kong. It’s kind of like a layer cake.
The Base is 5,000 years of Chinese culture
and there’s a mid-section of modern.
And a light dusting of the future on top.
For Travels & Traditions, I’m Burt Wolf

What We Eat: Connecting the Dots - #113

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the Americas for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

BURT WOLF: When Columbus first arrived in the Caribbean he entered a world with almost no domesticated animals.  No cattle, no horses, no pigs. However, on his second voyage in 1493 he had a full complement of cattle and pigs.  The animals did well because the local diseases did not affect them; there was an unlimited amount of feed, and few predators.  They reproduced at an extraordinary rate and within 10 years they had taken up residence on most of the Caribbean islands.

Pigs were the first to take on the New World. Sailors would “seed” a remote island by leaving behind a family of pigs. The pigs would reproduce and be ready for dinner when the next group of Europeans stopped in.

On his second voyage Columbus also brought in both cattle and the plow which dramatically altered the landscape and the diet of the Americas.  The oxen were strong enough to pull an iron plow across the plains. The plow transformed the grasslands into fields of wheat and corn. The cattle converted unfarmed grasslands into milk and meat. Native Americans had no animals that gave them this kind of protein. By the 1600s one of the least expensive foods in the Americas was meat.

Of all the animals imported into the Americas the horse was the essential element in the Spanish conquest.

DANIEL GADE ON CAMERA: You could go to the coast in your ship, but then you have to find a way to move up into the highlands in both those cases, Mexico and Peru, and so this is where the horse came into play.  It provided that mobility.  So that was one thing.  Another thing was that a mounted horseman, could sweep down on a foot soldier with great efficiency and speed, and discombobulate that foot soldier so much that it left him vulnerable to being killed.  So it was a very efficient way to kill the Indians. Thirdly, there was a psychological advantage here of having a horse, because native people of the New World had never seen an animal like that.  And so to them, this was some kind of a mythic, supernatural being.

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

BURT WOLF: By the time Columbus arrived in the Americas, wine had become the beverage of choice for the Spanish, it was what Columbus’ crew drank and he had dozens of casks on board.

Considering its importance the Spanish were surprised to find that the Native Americans, who lived in a land filled with grapes, did not make wine.

New Spain’s first attempts to make wine were in Mexico but they failed miserably. They had much better success in their South American colonies where a major wine business eventually developed. English settlers in the Americas were also interested in producing wine. Their new colonies were overrun with native grapes and it seemed obvious that with a little work good wine would be as near as the next harvest. Wrong! The wine they tried to make at Jamestown Virginia was dismal.

But within 200 years the Spanish missions in Mexico were able to make wine that was pretty good. In the middle of the 1700s, the Franciscans moved north to California.

CHARLES SULLIVAN ON CAMERA: In 1769, they brought wine with them.  They needed wine, of course, for the mass.  And there was no successful attempt to produce any vineyards in the early days.  It was just too hazardous a life.  They depended upon imported wine.  But gradually, by the end of the '70s, Father Sera was able to get the officials in Mexico to get the southern missions to send cuttings to San Juan Capistrano.  And by the early 1780s, you had vineyards all the way up to what is today Sonoma.

THE HAND THAT STIRRED THE POT

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: West Africa and the Atlantic Islands off the coast of Africa were the staging areas for Europe’s voyages of discovery. They used the Canary Islands and Madeira to test the plantation system and the use of slave labor. When Christopher Columbus planted the first sugar cane in the Mediterranean he also planted the idea of an enslaved labor force—a labor force that came almost exclusively from Africa.

BURT WOLF: In the areas where slaves were allowed to grow their own food, they planted okra, bananas, watermelon, yams, rice and peanuts.

The slaves came from many different tribes with many different gastronomic traditions. And when they were brought together on the boats and in the plantations they began to exchange those traditions.

JESSSICA HARRIS ON CAMERA: They didn't come from the same place.  They didn't speak the same language.  And so, what happens is, as they are juxtaposed within this New World environment, there is this trade-off, and A may come with B, and B may discover C, and so you get the evolution and the creation of what becomes, I contend, one of the world's original fusion foods, which is Creole food.

When you start to talk about the influence of black cooks in this hemisphere, on the food of this hemisphere, you almost don't know where to start….The soupy stews over starches…the gumbos…leafy greens.  But all of those things are African. You'll find that the whole technique of frying in deep oil, and deep oil, deep fat frying, one of my preferred culinary methods, is arguably, African.

BURT WOLF: As our nation developed, much of the cooking was done by Africans and the hand that stirs the pot usually has a lot to say about what goes into that pot and how it’s cooked.  To a considerable extent American cooking has been shaped by the contributions of African foods and African American cooks.

TAKING THE HIGH GROUNDS

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: There was a French lieutenant named Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu who became obsessed with the idea that he wanted to take a coffee tree to the New World.  He was stationed on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. So, he got hold of a tree from the Paris Botanical Gardens, and he took it on a ship. And the way he tells the story, which is probably a little over-dramatic, you know, he had to give it half of his ration of water because there was a drought.  There was a big storm, and it almost got swept overboard. There was an evil Dutchman who didn't want him to take it, and he ripped off one of the branches.  But eventually, he brought it to Martinique and it flourished, and from that one tree, supposedly, most of the coffee in the Western hemisphere, has descended.

BURT WOLF: The British colonists in North America arrived with a taste for coffee. John Smith, who led the settlers at Jamestown, had traveled in Turkey and he loved coffee.  The coffeehouse also crossed the Atlantic with the colonists; in 1689 Boston opened its first coffeehouse.

As The United States industrialized, coffee found a new role. In the previous two centuries, coffee and coffeehouses had brought thinkers, artists, writers, and politicians together for conversations that initiated social change and political change. But coffee soon became the fuel that powered the industrial laborer. For workers who had to be at the factory or office early in the morning, and often for round-the-clock shift work, coffee became a necessity.

Coffee is the world’s leading cash crop, the second most actively-traded commodity in the world, after oil, and the most widely used psychoactive substance on the planet.

SIMPLE PLEASURES
MEDITERRANEAN FOODS IN THE AMERICAS

BURT WOLF: The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria were filled with biscuits, pork, beef, cod, anchovies, chickpeas, raisins, olive oil and fortified wine—typical provisions for Spanish ships of the period and typical of the diet of the people living on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

 As Spanish and the Portuguese colonists settled down in the Americas the foods they brought with them from the Mediterranean were blended into the foods available in America and a new hybrid cuisine evolved.

ELISABETH ROZIN ON CAMERA: There are several, what I would call, true, long-lasting, forever marriages that occurred after 1492, when the foods of the Old World and the foods of the New World and the culture of both came together.  These are, I think, marriages that occur with the aid, for one, of olive oil, and there is that instant union of olive oil and tomatoes which we know of, as course, primarily from the cooking of Southern Italy and the famous red sauces.  But those red tomato sauces occur throughout the Mediterranean.  The second one is the union of olive oil with the sweet peppers, which, occurs, of course, in the sofrito of Spain and occurs in so many composed and salad dishes and so forth.  The third, I think, wonderful marriage, which occurs is that of the citrus fruits, lemon, lime, sour orange, with the chili peppers of Mexico. And there was an instant alliance formed.  By the way, when you talk about the marriage of certain ingredients, there is one product that we all know and love.  It's become a feature of our festive tables and occurs in every martini.  And that is, of course, the little green unripe Spanish olive, stuffed with a little bit of red pimento.  Now, how palpable a symbol of the union of two worlds can you get?

HOW SWEET IT IS
THE STORY OF SUGAR

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Columbus was well aware that sugar cane was a very valuable crop. His mother-in-law owned a sugar plantation on the island of Madeira and Chris picked up a little extra change transporting sugar from there to the Italian port city of Genoa. On his second voyage in 1493 he planted sugarcane on the island that is now known as the Dominican Republic. It was the first sugarcane planted in the Americas.

BURT WOLF: The Caribbean islands were perfectly suited for the production of sugarcane. They have lots of flat land, plenty of water and a climate that is hot enough but not too dry. By 1640 sugarcane was the crop of choice in Haiti, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba.

SIDNEY MINTZ ON CAMERA: It is said that there were over a million people in that region when it was first discovered in 1492, but certainly by the end of the 17th Century, that population had diminished to nothing, really to nothing.  So it was a pioneer area. The one thing it didn't have was labor. And Europeans understood that if they brought in free labor to work on those plantations, that free labor would simply pick up and walk away.  There would be no way to make those men work as long as there was land to be had for the asking.  The only answer you have under those circumstances is somehow to tie down your labor force.  To pin it down.  And slavery was sort of the natural answer.  And Africa was the nearest place from which to get large numbers of people.  So there's an interesting kind of equilibrium between this sort of production and the enslavement of fellow human beings.

BURT WOLF: Columbus and the European explorers brought sugar, coffee, and the Mediterranean foods of olive oil, wheat, dates, livestock and wine to the Americas. And here’s what they brought back.

SOME LIKE IT HOT
THE STORY OF CHILI PEPPERS

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: When Columbus set sail from Spain one of his objectives was to get King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella into the pepper business. So when he arrived in the Caribbean and the natives gave him a taste of a pungent fruit, he decided to call it pepper.  And he had two good reasons.  First, it did something to his mouth that felt like pepper, and second, and much more important, he was getting paid to find pepper, and so he found it.

BURT WOLF: For thousands of years, hot peppers have been used in Mexico, Central and South America for their medicinal effects. The Aztecs rubbed hot peppers on sore muscles. The Maya made a drink of hot peppers, which they used to cure stomach pains. They also rubbed hot peppers on their gums to stop toothaches.

IRWIN ZIMENT ON CAMERA: Columbus was a magnificent neurotic-deluded neurotic.  And I like to think that probably he also had bronchitis and had a strong personal interest in looking for a better cure for his bronchitis.  And ideally finding the right type of peppers would have been an adequate treatment.   And I don't say this entirely lightly because there’s good evidence from earliest history that peppers were not just used as food flavors they were used as medicines and one of the major things they were always used for in history as hot remedies they were utilized for treating cold diseases.  Namely, the common cold and bronchitis.

BURT WOLF: It appears that one out of every five people on the planet eat hot peppers everyday.  Most of the people say they do that because they like the taste but there may be an additional reason that’s even better.  Scientists have discovered that people who eat hot peppers are generally healthier than people who don’t.  Especially in hot climates.  There’s something in hot pepper and also in garlic that helps kill the microorganisms that spoil food.  So societies that have developed without refrigeration over the past three or four thousand years have incorporated hot peppers into their diet.  And they’re healthier for it.

THE SEED OF LIFE
THE STORY OF CORN

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: On November 4th, 1492, Columbus came ashore on what is now the island of Cuba. The natives greeted him and gave him two gifts. One was tobacco, and one was corn.

BURT WOLF: His diary for the next day contained the following entry:

“There was a great deal of tilled land sown with a sort of bean and a sort of grain they called Mahiz, which tasted good. It was baked or dried and made into flour.”

On one day, the American plants of corn and tobacco were introduced to the rest of the world.  The Indians presented their corn to Columbus because it was a valuable food but also because it was the basis of their civilization.

BETTY FUSSELL ON CAMERA: “They used it for every possible food and for every possible sacred ceremonial use because corn is at the heart of all the mythology, all the calendar, all the religions, all the rituals of Meso-America. The original word corn, mahaiz in Arawak, meant seed of life. Because life in the created universe began with corn, with the corn gods, but it’s really with the seed, the womb of life.  Mother Earth was also Mother Corn, being fertilized really by the sun, by the heavens, by Father Sun.  Out of that, the universe sprouts.  But what sprouts?   A corn tree, the corn tree becomes the axle of the universe. A corn plant, you know, and all the cobs on that tree are heads of gods.  So the corn god is represented in the plant. Man was created from a dough of corn and blood.

TIME TO PLAY KETCHUP
THE STORY OF THE TOMATO

BURT WOLF: Between conquering and trading the Aztecs came in contact with many different cultures and were exposed to dozens of new foods. The Mayans introduced the Aztecs to the tomato, which they immediately accepted because it reminded them of something they were already eating — the husk tomato. They juiced them, added some chili peppers, ground up a little pumpkin seed, and had what we call salsa.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The Spanish were pretty good at conquering too and eventually conquered the Aztecs. The first Spaniards to see a tomato were with Cortez when he invaded Mexico in 1519. They called it a tomate.

BURT WOLF: Tomatoes did well throughout southern Europe—Spain, Southern France and Italy slowly incorporated them into their diets.

PAUL ROZIN ON CAMERA: It took a while to be adopted.  You know, they're sort of bright and sort of frightening looking. It is hard to believe that Mediterranean cuisine didn't have tomatoes before 1600, but they didn't.  It's like the essence of Mediterranean cuisine. They already had a pasta, they already had a well, of course the green pepper or the red pepper that goes with the tomato in the sauce was also coming over from the new world, so the basic sauce that is used in the Mediterranean, except for the olive oil, is actually stuff that is new. And it is in many ways like a meat substitute.  It adds both the color and some of the taste and texture of meat to foods.  So it is widely popular, particularly in cuisines, like in the Mediterranean which is not, which are not high meat cuisines.

THIS SPUD’S FOR YOU
HOW THE POTATO CHANGED THE WORLD

BURT WOLF: It looks like the potato was first cultivated in the Andean Mountains of South America about 7,000 years ago. The great centers of pre-Inca culture were high up, some as high as 12,500 feet above sea level and each night the temperature would drop below freezing. Edible crops were in short supply. But the potato was one of the few crops that could be grown at a high altitude. The Andean farmers came to rely on the potato. They also found an ingenious way of preserving them.

At first, Spanish settlers looked down on the potato and relied on corn. The potato, however, did catch on with sailors, who recognized that eating potatoes prevented scurvy. The first potatoes to reach Europe traveled on Spanish ships returning from South America.

As potatoes spread through Europe, a feedback process was set in motion: more potatoes produced more food, more food produced more people, more people produced more potatoes. The population of northern Europe grew as fast as the potato plants. In fact, the rate of population growth in northern Europe far outstripped what was taking place in other parts of the world.

All across Europe, the potato became the staple food of the poor and the new working classes. It contributed to a population increase that was big enough to provide Europe not only with extra farm laborers, but with the workforce it needed for its transformation into an industrial society.

The extraordinary healthful and nutritional value of the potato has made it a staple of American and European diets for hundreds of years. In one form or another, potatoes have become part of virtually everyone’s diet.

WHEN MONEY GREW ON TREES
THE STORY OF CHOCOLATE

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: In 1502, Columbus set sail on his fourth and final voyage. As usual he was trying to get to Asia.  He believed that the islands of the Caribbean were just off shore from China and Japan. Poor guy—he never had a clue.

BURT WOLF: On this last voyage, his first landfall was in the Bay Islands about 30 miles north of Honduras. As his ship sat at anchor, the crew saw a tremendous dugout canoe.

It was a Maya trading canoe, about 150 feet long and carrying a cargo of cacao beans. Columbus was the first European to come in contact with the source of chocolate.

MICHAEL COE ON CAMERA: When the Spaniards first came to Mexico and they saw people drinking chocolate and were offered it and tried it.  They'd have thought it was horrible.  In fact, one of our sources who was an Italian traveling with him says it was only basically fit for pigs.  It was so bad.  It was bitter.  They didn't like the color of it.  It made your mouth black.  Or if they mixed it up with a spice called achiote, which is red, it made your mouth look red and dyed your lips and they thought it was the most disgusting stuff.  It wasn't until later that they realized how good it was.

BURT WOLF: So chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and chili peppers were what Columbus brought back to Europe. And in the end it was the exchange of plants and animals between the two hemispheres that totally altered the future of the world. Not politics, not religion, not gold, or silver--the events that changed our destiny were the changes in What We Eat. I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: The Story of Wine in the Americas - #112

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the Americas for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU KID
THE STORY OF WINE IN THE AMERICAS

BURT WOLF: In the year 1001, Leif Ericsson pushed his Viking long boat off the Greenland shore, and sailed west.  His landfall was on the northern coast of what we now call Newfoundland.  Ericsson and his crew split up to do some exploring and at the end of the day, one of them, Tyrker the German, reported that he had found wild grapes.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Considering how far north Ericsson and his boys were, it is highly unlikely that they were looking at grapes. What they probably found were cranberries. You know there’s a funny thing about explorers, including Columbus, they have a tendency to find exactly what it was they were looking for, and so Ericsson named the place Vineland.  And figured that within a few years they’d be doing great grapes and making fabulous wine. He wasn’t wrong, he was just off on his estimated time of arrival by about a thousand years.

BURT WOLF: Despite their differences, all of the “classic” wine grape varieties—from cabernet sauvignon to zinfandel—are part of a species that was domesticated about 7,000 years ago. And by the time Columbus arrived in the Americas, wine had become the beverage of choice for the Spanish. It was what Columbus’ crew drank and he had dozens of casks on board.

CHARLES SULLIVAN ON CAMERA: The Spanish were big time wine drinkers.  They drank table wines, sweet wines, fortified wines.  They drank red table wines and white.  They were particularly enamored with wines which were fortified and had a little sweetness to them, like what we would call sherry today. When Columbus arrived in the Americas, there were grapes growing all over, even out in the Caribbean, South America, all the way up to southern Canada.  But nothing that you could make very good wine with. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Considering the importance of wine to the Spanish they were shocked to discover that the Native Americans, who were living in a world filled with grapes, were not making wine. Conservative priests became concerned if God had not given the native Americans the ability to make wine, perhaps this was a part of the world where Christians were not supposed to live.  Settlers less interested in these fine theological points just went ahead and made wine from the grapes and unfortunately the results were dismal.

BURT WOLF: New Spain needed wine. So in 1524, Hernándo Cortés, the commander of New Spain, imported vines from Europe, and ordered the planting of 1,000 grapevines for every 100 native laborers. But the plan didn’t work. The Mexican climate proved to be too harsh and the Spanish settlers never came up with a significant harvest.

The Spanish shelved their plans for the Mexican vineyards and concentrated on South America. A thriving wine industry developed in Peru, Chile, and Argentina. South American vineyards became big business and exported so much wine to Europe that the Spanish vintners back home felt threatened.

DISMAL DREGS

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: America’s first wine makers thought they were going to end up producing something dry and acidic and similar to the wines they knew from Europe. But they were using a grape called labrusca which is also called foxy because it has such a musty scent.  It’s really much better for making grape jelly than making grape wine.  If you’ve ever tasted the Kosher wine made from the Concord grape you have a pretty good idea of what they ended up with.

CHARLES SULLIVAN ON CAMERA: The early attempts to grow wine in the English colonies were not very successful, particularly as you move north.  If you move north of Long Island, and into New England, you can forget it.  They simply had no success whatsoever.  But south of there, particularly in Virginia and the Carolinas, they tried, and they tried, and they tried.  It wasn't very successful.  It went on and on for 200 years.  And by the time of the American Revolution, you've got to say that it had been a series of very admirable failures. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Prospects for American wine were bleak. But that did not deter the wine lovers like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was  a one-man committee promoting wine in America.  We’ve become a nation of hard drinkers and our beverage of choice was whiskey.  Jefferson saw wine as a more “democratic alternative” and throughout his entire life believed that his home state of Virginia was the perfect spot to grow grapes and make them into wine.

PRIMARY MISSION

BURT WOLF: The story of winemaking on the east coast was the story of people trying to make top quality wine in a difficult environment. The story on the West coast—especially in California—was very different.

In Mexico and the Baja, Spanish missionaries were cultivating European vines—without major problems. In the middle of the 1700s, the Franciscans moved north and found California equally hospitable.

CHARLES SULLIVAN ON CAMERA: In 1769, they brought wine with them.  They needed wine, of course, for the mass.  And there was no successful attempt to produce any vineyards in the early days.  It was just too hazardous a life.  They depended upon imported wine.  But gradually, by the end of the '70s, Father Sera was able to get the officials in Mexico to get the southern missions to send cuttings to San Juan Capistrano.  And by the early 1780s, you had vineyards all the way up to what is today Sonoma.

THERE’S GOLD IN THEM THERE GRAPES

BURT WOLF: In 1848, the U.S. took California from Mexico and adventurers poured into the new territory. When gold was discovered, the majority of people arriving were prospectors. A few got rich and moved on, but by the end of the rush most of the prospectors were looking for new ways to earn a living. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Agoston Haraszthy, immigrated from Hungary to California. He worked as a Assayer of gold, County Sheriff and a State Representative.  He believed that northern California was the ideal place to plant grapes and make great wine. So he imported thousands of vines from Europe.  He started his own winery which is still in operation.

BURT WOLF: The California wine industry centered itself around the San Francisco Bay and became the leading wine producing area in the U.S. Much of the work was done by the Chinese laborers who had been building the railroads. California was developing a worldwide reputation for its wines and exports were beginning to grow.

THE FUNGUS AMOUNG US

BURT WOLF: During the 1840s, a North American fungal disease began to infect European vineyards. It reduced the grape yields and almost destroyed the chardonnay and cabaret sauvignon harvests.  It took 20 years before French farmers learned to control the fungus and get back on their feet. But it was only a brief remission. During the 1860s, a far more serious problem appeared.

VINCE BONOTTO ON CAMERA: In the 1860s after they had solved the powdery mildew problem another disease occurred but they didn’t know what it was. The vines went into decline and after they investigated for number of years they realized that there was a root louse that had been attacking the roots of the vines.

BURT WOLF: The louse was named “the devastator,” because it fed on the roots of the vines and slowly killed them. It had probably been brought to Europe in shipments of experimental vine cuttings from North America—the French wine industry was on the brink of total destruction.

VINCE BONOTTO ON CAMERA: They traced it back to the fact that it came from The United States, the Eastern part of the country, and they looked around and they tried to understand what was causing it and how to combat it and then they realized that some of the American species of grapes that they had imported from the Eastern United States back to Europe were seemed to be growing rather well and hearty while the European varieties were in decline. They realized that they could put the European varieties on the roots of the American variety and have a resistant root and still have the same wine quality, the same Chardonnay and Cabernet that they had been growing from the European varieties. So that’s when the concept of grafting from the American variety to the European variety became a common practice.

Grafting is the art of taking one part of a vine and combining it with another part of a vine. For us in the wine industry, what we do is we combine the roots of a resistant plant and the top part or the scion as we call it of a European variety and to start this process we plant the rootstock in the ground and grow it for a year so it develops its root system. Then we come back in the fall and we will cut the top of it off and cut a notch in the side of the truck of this young plant and inject a bud that comes off the scion that we wish to use, wrap it up with a rubber band and cover it up and wait then for it to grow in the spring.

BURT WOLF: What you end up with is an American bottom with a European top. In the end, the entire continent and eventually much of the world, grafted their local vines to the aphid-resistant American roots.

THE DRY YEARS

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: During the second half of the 1800s, there was a wide spread anti-alcohol movement in The United States.  It was pretty much limited to distilled spirits.  Wine was thought of as less as a threat.  The prohibition movement of the early 20th Century however, was much less selective, they saw wine as just another form of demon rum and when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was finally ratified, and alcoholic beverages were outlawed, wine makers were not spared.

BURT WOLF: Prohibition began in 1920 and ended the careers of many winemakers, a few, however, were able to ride out the dry years as producers of sacramental or medicinal wines.

One of the wineries that shifted into the making of sacramental wine was the Beaulieu Vineyards of Rutherford in Napa Valley. During the early 1900s, Georges de Latour, a chemist from a French grape growing family, founded his own winery in Napa Valley. During Prohibition, Beaulieu prospered while other wineries were forced to close. That was because Georges was under contract to supply alter wine to the Catholic Church.

Accordingly, he shipped hundreds of boxcars of his finest wine to churches in the Midwest and along the East Coast. As those boxcars passed through Chicago many of them mysteriously disappeared. Somehow, the fine vintages that were being presented at the mass, were also showing up in the speakeasies.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, Beaulieu was producing quality wines, but Georges was always interested in improving his wines and so in 1938 hired Andre Tchelistcheff, a Russian born, French trained wine expert, who had studied in The Pasteur Institute in Paris. Tchelistcheff revolutionized wine making throughout California.

JOEL AIKEN ON CAMERA: Andre Tchelistcheff was the, a lot of us consider him the father of California winemaking. When he came to California and BV he was really the first trained winemaker, trained in the technical aspects. Everyone else here knew the practical aspects of crushing grapes and letting it ferment but he really understood technology and really helped turn the industry around when there were a lot of spoiled wines at the time, a lot of fortified wines were made at the time because it was easy to keep those from spoiling.

One thing that was great that he did at BV was he always pushed to have open top fermentation for our reds, which is a little bit unusual. Today everyone tends to have closed fermenters that once you finish fermenting red wine in them it can be a storage tank.

Basically when you ferment a red wine, all of the skins rise to the top and that’s what we call a cap and that’s where all your color and your flavor is. So that cap needs to be mixed to extract all of the color and flavor that we get in a red wine. It needs to be gentle so you don’t get too much harsh bitter tannin so these open top tanks where you can see the entire surface and as we punch the cap down or pump juice over the top we get every bit of that surface very gently and completely. If you have a tank that has a tiny opening in an enclosed top it’s really hard to see what you’re doing and get that full extraction. So it’s been a great thing that Andre really kind of brought to Napa Valley and some people finally now are realizing, “Wow, this is something that can help.”

GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

BURT WOLF: Charles Sullivan is the author of A Companion to California Wine which is the definitive work on the history of wine in California.

CHARLES SULLIVAN ON CAMERA: After World War II, if you look at the California wine industry, you see a fairly large institution that's producing huge amounts of dessert wine.  Over three quarters of all the wine produced in California in those years was sherry, port, muscatel and such.  But something happened.  It’s a very complex thing.  Something happened to American taste, at least the taste of Americans who were thinking about living a better life.  And gradually you see the consumption of table wine with meals growing, and growing, and growing.  From the 1940s up until the 1960s.  This process took about 20 years.  By 1966, 67, Americans had turned the corner, you might say, and were drinking slightly more table wine than they were dessert wine. 

BURT WOLF: During the late 1960s and early 1970s hundreds of small boutique wineries were founded in California’s Napa Valley, and neighboring Sonoma County. In the process

California became synonymous with premium American winemaking.

Young winemakers—many of whom were educated at Davis and had started their careers at the larger California wineries became interested in growing premium grapes. They were joined by an increasing number of wealthy hobbyists, who had turned to serious winemaking as second careers.

These winemakers explored various European styles, and defined Napa Valley as the home of artisanal winemaking in The United States. By the mid-1970s, many of them believed their wines could compete with the best European wines.  And soon they were able to prove it.

THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS

BURT WOLF: The new generation of Napa Valley winemakers had been a wealthy one to begin with, but during the 1970s and 1980s money poured into the area. Celebrities bought vineyards and wineries, and larger concerns hired star architects to design major new winery buildings. A perfect example is Sterling.

WAYNE RYAN AND BURT WOLF ON CAMERA:

WAYNE RYAN: Well Sterling was founded in 1969 by Peter Newton who was a very wealthy industrialist. He moved to California, he wasn’t in the wine business previous to this but he fell in love with the place, bought some vineyards and it was he built this fantastic structure here on top of the hill.

BURT WOLF: Unusual architecture

WAYNE RYAN: It is and I think it was considered more unusual back then.  If you think about the fact that most traditional architecture for wineries, stone buildings, chateaux, and here’s this austere, white structure, Newton lived in Mykonos on the Greek Islands for a number of years, loved the whole architecture, the ambience and then when he moved to Napa Valley, our hot, dry Mediterranean climate reminded him so much of that he asked the architect to duplicate that style architecture and this was the result.

BURT WOLF: There was a tasting in Paris in ’76. Tell me about that.

WAYNE RYAN: The Spurrier Tasting.  The Judgment of Paris is what you’re talking about and that certainly did put Napa on the world wine map than it was.  We were making great wines here before that but it focused a lot of attention, so Spurrier, that was the gentlemen’s name, he had a blind tasting in Paris, all top ranked French wine judges and they’re going to be judging California wines.  So these guys are looking down their nose at the California wines but what happens Spurrier also puts top ranked Bordeaux in the tasting as well. They don’t know they’re tasting California versus French.  The end result of the tasting -- the top white wine was a Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and the top red was a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon.  So the French of course called foul -- saying we can’t do this.  They hold the tasting again the next day, the same results come out, and when it hit the press, this was big news and great news for Napa Valley.

WAYNE RYAN: I’ve traveled all around the world and seen a lot of different grape growing regions but there’s no place that has the microclimates that we have here so there’s many different climates available from the cool area in Carneros all the way up here in Calistoga where it’s hot. And you just adjust what grape varietal you’re growing to that climate. It’s like nature’s gift.

BURT WOLF: Napa is one of the great wine making centers in America and the center for Napa’s winemakers is probably Meadowood.  In 1979 Bill Harlan and a couple of his friends purchased a small country club and turned it into a place where local winemakers could get together.

BILL HARLAN ON CAMERA: I was looking for some vineyard land. A place to build a winery and through the 70’s I was looking never quite found what I was looking for but a friend brought me in here and he said, “Let’s just go sit on a deck and look around.” So, saw the place, drove in. It was absolutely beautiful and that was about 5 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. By 5 am on Tuesday I had made a deal to acquire the land.

Our goal was to create a little country resort for people to come to the Napa Valley where they can really enjoy what goes on here in the Napa Valley, meet the people who live here and enjoy the weather and the wine and the food that goes along with it.

BURT WOLF: It was also important to Bill to make Meadowood a common ground to the Napa Valley wine growing community. Every year Meadowood hosts the Napa Valley Wine Auction.

BILL HARLAN ON CAMERA: There are between 1500 and 1700 people who come to the wine auction and they come to enjoy the wine country, to have some parties and to buy wine. And it’s really to raise money for the hospitals. It’s been a fantastic charity event.

BURT WOLF: Meadowood has also built a wine education program for its guests.

BILL HARLAN ON CAMERA: I’d been making wine for a while and all of a sudden I met this fellow--kind of curly haired guy--his head pops up behind some barrels. We started talking and his name is John Thoreen.  He had been a humanities professor but he was really into wine, wine making and drinking the wine and enjoying the wine. And I said, “Well, John, you know we have this little resort, how would you like to come in and teach our guests about wine?” So it wasn’t long before John joined us. We call him the wine tutor and he just puts on wine classes for the people and they love it.

BURT WOLF: Bill Harlan’s a serious sportsman, but he limits his sports to those which don’t interfere with his wine drinking…croquet being a perfect example.

BILL HARLAN ON CAMERA: One of the things we learned is that croquet is a very highly competitive sport and it does not interfere with enjoying nice wine. Whether its sparkling wine or whatever you get to dress up in whites, you can play with friends. They can be young or old, male or female. It’s a level playing field out here and sipping a glass of champagne. It’s a wonderful sport.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: saWe are not yet a nation of wine drinkers but we’re getting pretty close—we make wine in every state but Alaska and Wyoming. Ericsson would be pleased.  Thomas Jefferson would be proud. And Columbus, who brought the first wine grapes to America, would undoubtedly have poured himself a glass. For What We Eat, I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: Simple Pleasures - #111

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the Americas for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

SIMPLE PLEASURES
MEDITERRANEAN FOODS IN THE AMERICAS

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: As Columbus was outfitting his ships, he kept in mind the possibility that he might end up in a strange land without any familiar foods. He had visited the Portuguese colonies on the West coast of Africa and understood that having foods that he knew might be the key to his survival.

BURT WOLF: The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria were filled with water, biscuits, salt pork, dried beef, cod, sardines, anchovies, chickpeas, raisins, olive oil, vinegar and fortified wine—typical provisions for Spanish ships of the period and typical of the diet of the people living on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean is the place where Europe, Africa and Asia meet—the place where people from different cultures come face to face and exchange ideas, goods and food. It was the center of the classic world—ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, Carthage—they were all Mediterranean cultures. One result of this mixing of civilizations is that the food of the Mediterranean has become a blend of very different ingredients and cooking styles.

The Mediterranean is so large and encompasses so many cultures that it is difficult to talk about a Mediterranean cuisine. However, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, and Greece share a history in which three foods have been constant—wheat bread, olive oil and wine. All were central to the diets of the ancient world and not one of them existed in the Americas prior to the arrival of Columbus.

PRESSING ISSUES

MARION NESTLE ON CAMERA: The traditional Mediterranean diet is what's been consumed in the Mediterranean for as long as we can tell.  Two thousand years in the written record.  Four thousand years in the archaeological record, based on bread, wine, and, of course, the olives, which grow mainly in the Mediterranean region, or regions like it.

The wonderful thing about the Mediterranean diet is that it was balanced in calories.  It was extremely based on vegetables.  A lifestyle that had a lot of physical activity in it, and then this olive oil, which, of course, is, as fats go, about as healthy as you can get.

BURT WOLF: The technological skills necessary to cultivate an olive tree, make the olive edible, and produce olive oil, are so complex that the ancient Greeks used “olive knowledge” as a criteria for judging a society’s development. If you could cultivate olives and use them to produce olive oil you were civilized, and your society was in a state of relative harmony. The activity and knowledge necessary to make olive oil were so demanding that in general they could only be undertaken during peaceful times.

Olive trees can live for hundreds of years, and their roots are so deep that even if the tree is cut down, its roots will survive and send out new growth. When people noticed this, the olive tree became a symbol of regeneration, immortality and dependability.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: For thousands of years, olive harvesting and olive oil production was done by sailors during the winter, when rough weather forced them to stay at home. The picture of a sailor working at home reinforced the olive’s image as a symbol of security, safety and a peaceful society that was running well. When you take that and you couple it up with a bird coming back to Noah’s ark with an olive branch in its beak you’ve joined two symbols: one of safety and security with the other which is eventual regeneration.  Pretty powerful stuff.

THE UPPER CRUST

BURT WOLF: The second food in the Mediterranean trilogy is wheat bread. Wheat, oats, barley and rye contain a complex protein known as gluten. When gluten combines with water it produces a sticky substance that makes it easier to knead bread dough and traps the gases that are released into the dough by the yeast. Wheat is the grain with the most gluten and therefore the choice of bakers making raised bread. It was bread made wheat a big deal.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: For thousands of years, wheat bread has had an honored place in European cuisine. The ancient Greeks used the word “companion” to describe someone they shared their bread with. In medieval and Renaissance Europe what bread you ate told people where you were in society. The rich had a white crusty bread, the kind of stuff you find in Italy and France today. And the poor made due with bread that was produced from millet or oats.

BURT WOLF: Wheat bread was the only form of bread approved of by the Catholic Church for use in the Eucharist.

RUBEN MENDOZA ON CAMERA: Well the Eucharist, of course, is the Body and Blood of Christ.  And, of course, in the sacrament that's done every week at Mass, essentially, the pastor tells us, you know, to accept the Body and Blood of Christ.  And this was an invitation of Christ Himself.  And, of course, Christ used bread to symbolize the Body and wine to symbolize the Blood, His Blood and His Body.  And so, in that sense, it is literally a Holy Sacrament.  And it was very central to the Catholic faith, to the Christian Tradition, and, of course, to the missions of California.

BURT WOLF: When the first colonists in the Americas were unable to successfully grow wheat in the Caribbean or the coastal parts of Mexico, more conservative members of the church became concerned that the New World was the Devil’s world. God would certainly not have created a place in which the essential elements of the Eucharist were not being produced.

WHAT WAS COOKING
WHEN COLUMBUS SET SAIL

BURT WOLF: When Columbus set sail on his first voyage Europeans along the Mediterranean were eating a diet that was primarily based on a small number of foods that had been cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans. During their conquest of Spain, the Arabs introduced a wide range of spices, taught the Spanish how to cultivate rice and shared the secret of how to distill alcohol. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The ancient Egyptians were among the first societies to distill alcohol, but they weren’t using it for Happy Hour. They were using it as a solvent to hold charcoal dust which produced the black eye makeup worn by Arab women of the time. The makeup was called al-cohol.

BURT WOLF: In essence, Elizabeth Taylor’s look in Cleopatra was the result of wearing vodka, not drinking it, and it was authentic.

The Moors took over Spain in the 700s, and introduced the distillation process to the local winemakers, who used it to fortify their wines and in the process came up with sherry. Even today, Spain produces and consumes more sherry than any other country. During Seville’s annual fair week more sherry is consumed by the residents of that single city than all the sherry poured in North America during an entire year. 

FIRST EAT YOUR VEGETABLES

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Upper class Europeans living in the Mediterranean valued cattle and game as much as their northern European counterparts, but Mediterranean cooking has always had a greater interest in vegetables than cooking in the north. It’s probably because the Mediterranean growing season is longer and that gives them a chance to produce some extraordinarily good stuff.

BURT WOLF: But it was also the result of the intense seagoing traffic within the area. Southern European ports had centuries of contact with the Ottoman Empire—Arab, Persian and Turkish cooking often favor vegetables over meat. Much of what we consider as Southern European cooking has its origins in the Arab world.

ELISABETH ROZIN ON CAMERA: European cooking is just tremendous not just in Spain but all along the rim of the Northern Mediterranean.  Sicily, for example, is a country that has been heavily, heavily influenced by Arabic foods as well as, of course, the foods of Spain where Arabs came in and lived and influenced the culture in very significant ways.  I think the most important feature that Arabs contributed to Mediterranean cooking is the rice and the composed rice dishes, those elaborate colored, flavored, assemblages of ingredients where the rice is presented with all kinds of little bits of meat and seafood and vegetables and wonderful spices like saffron. 

BURT WOLF: Because of the easy access to the sea, Mediterranean communities had a greater appreciation of fish and seafood which was particularly important in Southern Europe. 

The dominant religion in Mediterranean Europe was Catholicism. And at the time, the Catholic calendar had 166 fast days when meat was not to be eaten. If you could afford them, fish and seafood became the protein source during fast periods. The poorer groups in society turned to beans, peas, and chickpeas for their fast days.

THE IMMIGRANT TREE

BURT WOLF: As Spanish and Portuguese colonists settled down in the Americas the foods they brought with them from the Mediterranean were blended into the foods available in America and a new hybrid cuisine developed. The cooks of Mexico began making tortillas with wheat as well as corn. Olive oil, cheese, garlic and onions from the Mediterranean took up residence next to American foods like corn, chili peppers, tomatoes and chocolate. Today’s Mexican cooking owes as much to the Mediterranean diet of 500 years ago as it does to the kitchens of the Maya and the Aztecs.

North America’s interest in the olive goes back for hundreds of years. Franciscan friars had been cultivating small olive groves in Mexico and when they moved north into California they brought their olive growing technology with them. Their first successful harvest of “mission olives” in North America was in San Diego during the mid-1700s. From then on the Spanish missionaries along the coast of California were in the olive business.

RUBEN MENDOZA ON CAMERA: Olive oil was important for the missionaries because it served a variety of purposes.  For one, it, of course, was part of the holy oil that was used to bless newborns.  In addition, it was also used as a lubricant.  It was used for lighting torches and candles, for maintaining lighting, heating and so forth.  And it was, of course, used for food, which was probably one of the more important functions. 

THE DATING GAME

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: There are ancient sculptures at least seven-thousand years old that show Mediterranean farmers cultivating dates. Some anthropologists believe that dates were the first fruit that we cultivated.  The Arabs taught the Spanish about dates and Spanish missionaries brought them to the Americas.  Eventually the missionaries brought them to California and planted them there.

BURT WOLF: Date palms come in male and female forms, which is great for their social life but doesn’t really work that well for farmers; because it means that half of their land would be given over the male trees that don’t produce any fruit. So date growers do their pollinating by hand and have done so for thousands of years. Because of their sweetness—a dried date can have 70 percent of its weight in sugar—dates have often been thought of as nature’s candy. Today, California is a major producer of dates.

Franciscans monks also experimented with citrus orchards, planting groves of oranges, limes and lemons. During the late 1840s, Anglo settlers rediscovered the mission orchards and by the end of the 1800s, southern California was a center for citrus production, exporting oranges to the rest of The United States.

HOW THE ITALIANS SAVED COOKING IN AMERICA

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Even though West coast farmers were turning California into a second Mediterranean, most of the cooking in The United States was still under the influence of the British—very little seasoning, very few fruits or vegetables, lots of meat and potatoes. Any new foods were usually the result of fads, or what was going on in the health-food industry, or classes that were being taught in home economics.  The sad truth was that most of the food in The United States was still excruciatingly boring.

BURT WOLF: The event that began to alter gastronomy in The United States was the arrival of millions of European immigrants—particularly those from Italy. At first nutritionists from federal, state and city governments tried to convince the Italians that their traditional diet was unhealthy. Cooking classes were set up to teach the immigrants how to prepare foods in the bland, uninteresting style that had become the dominant form in American kitchens.

MARION NESTLE ON CAMERA: When they Italians came, the Americans thought they were eating peasant food, not very healthful.  They were eating all this funny bread, and they were eating all this… these funny tomatoes, and they immediately started talking to them about eating other kinds of foods, converting from olive oil to butter, for example, converting from pasta to steak. So, it's one of the great ironies of American nutrition tradition that what we now think of as one of the most healthful diets in the world was considered not to be very healthful at the time. Some of the Italians immediately converted to the American way and assimilated. But a lot of them started growing tomatoes and basil in their backyards or on their windowsills.  The nutritionists complained at the time that they just couldn't get the Italians to give up their pasta.

BURT WOLF: Fortunately, the Italians held on to their diet and in doing so saved eating in The United States. They added a little more meat to their meals and even invented spaghetti and meatballs but for the most part they ate what they had been accustomed to eating back in Italy.

HASIA DINER ON CAMERA: The Italian-American food connection is much more complicated than just Italian immigrants coming to The United States, reproducing some of their new of their traditional food ways, or the food ways of the rich people they knew back home, and elaborating them with American ingredients, particularly meat, but as well as sugar and all sorts of other new ingredients.  But the food exchange was actually much more complicated, because about one-third of all Italian immigrants who came to The United States actually went back and repatriated to, home towns or to other places in Italy.  And they brought with them American ideas about eating.  So that dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or pizza were in fact as much gifts from the Italian-American food culture back to Italy, as they were Italian dishes.  Pizza in Naples, before the giant migration to The United States, was a disk of bread, a flat bread with a bit of olive oil and some herbs on it.  But returned Americans, known as Americani in Italy, went back to places like Naples and they brought American style pizza.  It needed tomato sauce.  It needed cheese.  It needed meat on it. 

BURT WOLF: Pizza in one form or another has been part of Mediterranean cooking for thousands of years and could have come to America with a number of immigrant groups. But it didn’t. It came with the Italians. In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi from Naples opened the first pizzeria in New York City.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The ancient Romans had a type of pizza and they even served it from storefront shops. If Julius Cesar showed up in New York City today he would understand exactly what was going on and he’d probably go for the anchovies and extra cheese. At the beginning of the 20th century more and more Americanized Italian food was being made available to the general public and they loved it.

FERMENTING CHANGE

BURT WOLF: One of the more bazaar undertakings by our federal government was the introduction of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which tried to put an end to the use of alcoholic beverages in The United States. For 10 years starting in 1920, our federal state and local governments wasted millions of dollars and gave organized crime its first big chance to get organized.

However, it did have a few side benefits. A number of winemakers in California went into the cheese making business under the theory that if you could ferment grape juice you could just as easily ferment milk and today California is a major center for the production of top quality cheeses. And some are being made by the same families that made wine before prohibition.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The other positive result of prohibition was that it introduced many middle class Americans to Italian food. The story went something like this. In those days many police officers lived in the neighborhood they worked. And it was highly unlikely that a police officer, no matter how devoted he was to enforcing the law, was going to tell his uncle Tony that he couldn’t make a little home made wine or home made grappa to serve in his rooming house dining room.

BURT WOLF: Homemade wine and grappa were often available in small neighborhood Italian restaurants. Non-Italians started going to these restaurants because they knew they could get a few glasses of wine with dinner and a glass of grappa afterwards. And they ended up loving the food, too.

ELISABETH ROZIN ON CAMERA: The Italian influence on wine drinking in America I think is the best one. I like it because it is not so much a, quote, gourmet, or haute cuisine kind of tradition but one which like the Italians themselves says, "Let us enjoy ourselves.  Let us be happy. Food and drink are to be enjoyed with family, with friends, in abundance."  And this, I think, is what Italians brought to the wine drinking scene.  After all, most of the Italian wines that were originally made by immigrants were made in their basements or their back yards or their garages and were probably not the highest quality. But they were meant to be enjoyed, to bring an added dimension to the joys of the table, which, I think, the Italians have always celebrated with abundance.

BURT WOLF: When prohibition ended many of the cooks in the small Italian neighborhood restaurants and rooming house kitchens opened more elaborate restaurants in non-Italian neighborhoods in order to cater to their old customers. Italian restaurants soon became the most popular restaurants in America. Even today, if you ask people what kind of restaurant they would like to go out to, they will usually answer Italian.  

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: At the end of the Second World War tens of thousands of American soldiers who had spent time in Italy and had learned to love Italian food returned to The United States. By this time there were also large Italian communities in the northeast and in San Francisco. Good Italian cooking was easily available and throughout the 1950’s Italian food became more and more popular.

HASIA DINER ON CAMERA: One of the really remarkable phenomenon of history of modern cuisine is the way in which Italian food from the end of the 19th Century onward first became universalized, so that one can find something called Italian food on, I'd say, probably every continent, with the exception, I guess, of, you know, Antarctica and, who knows, it's probably available there also, but that is the Italian migration to South America, to Australia, to Britain, universalized this food and or these foods that came to be understood as Italian and developed a kind of world recognition as food of quality, Italians in a way capitalized upon this.  They understood that this cuisine was something that set them apart from other people but in a positive way. So, most of the ways in which immigrants tend to feel stigmatized by food by social or cultural practices, and it makes them seem different and alien and not accepted acceptable to their host society, Italian food was sort of the opposite. Italians took pride in the fact that they had food that nobody else had.  And they took pride in the fact that, as they understood it, they had food that was better than other people had.

BURT WOLF: During the 1970s, there was a dramatic increase in the number of Americans traveling to Italy—Rome had become the most popular destination for American tourists. In Italy, they were learning about dishes with complex flavors, real pasta, good wine, good bread, and the use of olive oil instead of butter.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: So it was Christopher Columbus who introduced Mediterranean foods to the Americas. Without him this entire hemisphere might be forced to live without pizza, or pasta, or those wonderful little olives that go into the Martinis. Today some of the most popular foods in America come from the Mediterranean. For What We Eat, I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: Africa Foods in America - #110

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the Americas for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

THE HAND THAT STIRRED THE POT
AFRICAN FOODS IN AMERICA

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: West Africa and the Atlantic Islands off the coast of Africa were the staging areas for Europe’s voyages of discovery. They used the Canary Islands and Madeira, to test the plantation system and the use of slave labor. When Christopher Columbus planted the first sugar cane in the Mediterranean he also planted the idea of an enslaved labor force—a labor force that came almost exclusively from Africa.

JESSICA HARRIS ON CAMERA: I believe, that a lot of what happened happened because one of the things that we don't realize is that the slave traders really did understand, however peculiar that may sound, African cultures and, certainly, the cultures of West Africa, in ways that we do not today. I mean, and if you read the logs, you realize that they knew that people from this region ate yams and they would not eat corn mush or rice or other things, even on the voyage.  And other people ate rice. And they knew what those civilizations and cultures were.  So, as they came, and as the people were brought, things to feed the people were also brought.

BURT WOLF: In the areas where slaves were allowed to grow their own food there was the question of what they wanted to plant. And what they wanted to plant was okra, bananas, watermelon, yams, rice and peanuts.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The adaptation of African foods to the Americas took place in two different stages. The first was the result of the fact that the slaves came from many different tribes with many different gastronomic traditions. And when they were brought together on the boats and in the plantations they began to exchange those traditions.

JESSSICA HARRIS ON CAMERA: They didn't come from the same place.  They didn't speak the same language.  And so, what happens is, as they are juxtaposed within this New World environment, there is this trade-off and A may come with B, and B may discover C, and, so you get the evolution and the creation of what becomes, I contend, one of the world's original fusion foods, which is Creole food.

BURT WOLF: The next stage in the adaptation of African foods to the Americas involved the process of substituting readily available American ingredients for the foods of Africa that were no longer at hand. In the process, Africans played a major role in the creation of American cuisine, particularly in the Caribbean and the southern United States.

MORE FROM THE PEANUT GALLERY

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: A thousand years ago the Aztecs were using a peanut paste very similar to peanut butter. But they weren’t using it as a food; they were using it to brush their teeth.

BURT WOLF: A peanut is not a nut; it is a legume like a pea or a bean. But unlike peas and beans peanuts are oily, not starchy, and they have an unusual way of growing. As soon as the plant starts to germinate it grows down into the ground where it matures in its pod.

Archaeologists report that ancient Peruvians ate peanuts as a snack food and their city streets were littered with peanut shells not unlike the stands of our modern baseball parks.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: In addition to sailing down the east coast of Brazil the Portuguese were sailing down the west coast of Africa. On both sides of the Atlantic, their objective was the same—find a new route to the Far East. And as part of their plan to supply these ships they planted peanuts in Africa. And by 1510, peanuts were a major African crop.

JESSICA HARRIS ON CAMERA: Well, peanuts are one of those things that for years people thought came from Africa.  Because they were confused about the route, if you will, that the nut took.  But one of the things that happened was peanuts originate probably in, in Brazil, in that area, in that whole kind of crucible, and, you know, possibly Peru; but Brazil, Peru somewhere around there.  And they go to Western Africa early.  And one of the things that happens in Western Africa is, they already have something called a Bambara groundnut.

And that Bambara groundnut is like a pea.  But is used also liked a nut, so it's a legume. Once the peanut gets there, the peanut takes over from the Bambara groundnut, and becomes the, if you will, the nut de préfèrence.

BURT WOLF: In the Bantu language the Bambara nut was known as a “goober;” Africans used the old word to describe the new food and when they traveled across the Atlantic they took the old name and the new food with them. They ate peanuts raw, or roasted, or boiled—they prepared them in soups and stews and used peanut oil for frying.

When slaves grew their own food, peanuts were always part of the crop. A few white planters, including Thomas Jefferson, attempted to grow peanuts as a cash crop. Most whites used them for hog feed, but Africans were doing the cooking in many white households, and they slowly introduced peanuts into the cuisine of the south.

HASIA DINER ON CAMERA: In early America, African women, some men but primarily women, did the cooking, in the plantation homes, the homes of their employers, owners, I guess, we have to say.  And what's notable is the degree to which they superimposed upon what were basically Anglo-American food ways, the spices and tastes and, indeed, ingredients, like rice, like yams, of Africa into the diet of people who weren't necessarily adventurous, who weren't necessarily interested in experimentation in food.  Peanuts, like rice, like yams, were products of Africa.  They did grow naturally in the American South.  African, slaves brought to the New World had a whole repertoire of recipes and knowledge about what to do with peanuts that the Anglo-American, white, both owning and non-owning class had no idea what to do with them.  So, it was an example of the Africans using knowledge that they brought with them to transform the lives of those people who kept them in slavery.

BURT WOLF: In 1791, a slave rebellion in Haiti sent hundreds of French planters and their household slaves to Philadelphia. The household servants brought a taste for peanuts with them and peanut recipes soon began to show up in early American cookbooks.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Low budget theatergoers would munch peanuts during a performance and litter the seats around them with peanut shells. Critics began to complain about the “peanut eating geniuses” in the cheap seats, and the idea of the “peanut gallery” was born.

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: Peanuts became part of Southern cookery during the American Civil War.  At this point, the Northern blockade of the South prevented normal food products from getting into the South.  So, Southerners all of a sudden, discovered this new product called peanuts.  They immediately substituted ground peanuts for coffee.  They immediately used peanuts as a snack food.  They used peanuts in virtually every capacity that you can think of, including oil, which they used to grease their artillery and grease their locomotives.  At that point, whale oil, the main oil used in America …they were not able to get access to it and hence, peanut oil was substituted for that.

Northerners, of course, were not exposed to peanuts until the Civil War, when Northern armies marched into the South and found this whole new food now not only consumed by African-American slaves but also consumed by the white aristocracy of the South. And consequently, Northern troops took their excitement about peanuts back to the North and demanded peanuts after they returned home.  So, peanuts really become an important snack food in America after the American Civil War.

THE ULTIMATE PEANUT MAN

BURT WOLF: George Washington Carver was born in Missouri in 1864 and for 50 years was the head of the Department of Agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute. He was also the greatest champion of the peanut in the history of the U.S.

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: The interesting thing about George Washington Carver is that he really didn't know much about peanuts.  He ran into them quite by accident, in 1916.  He came out with a little booklet that had a few things about peanuts and the home economics department of Tuskeegee University came through with 101 peanut recipes.  And all of a sudden, this little booklet put out by the experiment station in Tuskeegee became famous all over America.  And so, he said "This is a great idea.  I'd better do some experimentation with it."  And that's virtually his beginning.  He had to put out a booklet because they were required by their grant to do that.  And all of a sudden he became associated with peanuts.  And because he was very good at what he did, he became very popular.  He was among the first African-Americans to address all white audiences in the South: agricultural conferences and programs. He was one of the most popular African-Americans in the south.

George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter as frequently said in many books.  However, he did invent over 300 ways of using the peanuts.  And henceforth, he became a major popularizer of peanuts and not only among African-American farmers but also among Americans in general. 

Ground peanuts have been a product that had been used both in South America as well as Africa as well as the American South. Of course, no one got credit for it until a great white man, John Harvey Kellogg comes through with grinding peanuts and makes the decision that this is the health product of America.  He of course was a vegetarian.  And his interest was to create a substitute for cow's butter. And consequently, began grinding all sorts of things.  One of the things that he ground happened to be peanuts.  He invented the term "peanut butter," which was initially a vegetarian conspiracy.  Vegetarian groups throughout America all of a sudden adopted it and took it to their non-vegetarian friends and said, "This was the great food of the future." 

THE BANANA SPLITS FOR THE AMERICAS

BURT WOLF: Arab traders who made their way to Malaysia in the 1600s were the first to introduce the banana to Africa and early on, the banana became part of Islamic legend. Koranic scholars identified the banana—not the apple—as the forbidden fruit in Paradise. According to their interpretation, Europeans, in their translation of Genesis, may have confused the banana with the Middle Eastern fig and—if Adam and Eve were looking for something to cover their nakedness, a huge banana leaf made more sense as a loincloth, than a fig leaf.

Bananas spread quickly across the African continent, and became an important food crop wherever they were grown. It picked up the name banana in West Africa. And that’s where Europeans had their first significant contact with them.  Even though the banana plant can reach a height of 30 feet, it is not really a tree. It’s actually a gigantic herb, related to the lily or the orchid. The “trunk” of the banana plant is no more than a bunch of tightly rolled leaves. It’s a tropical plant and refuses to bear much fruit in any area that is north of 30º latitude, which is about level with New Orleans.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: In West Africa the Portuguese began to understand the importance of the banana and brought them to their sugar plantations on Madeira.  The Spanish followed suit and planted bananas on the Canary Islands.  As the European powers began to move their plantations to the Caribbean they brought along the bananas and the Portuguese provisioned their slave ships out of West Africa with bananas.  Bananas loved the Caribbean, the tropics were perfect for them and soon they became a staple crop in both South America and Central America.

BURT WOLF: A group of fruit merchants based in the United States began importing bananas from Panama, Costa Rica, and Jamaica and introduced them to the North American public at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. At first it was a luxury item but as shipping methods and refrigeration improved and prices dropped the banana became equally popular with the working classes.

HASIA DINER ON CAMERA: Bananas were, interestingly, one of the first foods that immigrants from Europe talked about as strange, not knowing what to do with it, not even sure what class of thing it was.  Immigrant memoirs are full of encounters with bananas, particularly Northern, Central, East European immigrants. They don't know, "What do you do with the skin? Is that edible or not edible?"  A woman who came to America, after her husband had been in the United States for a few years, recalled how he had played a trick with her and put a banana on a plate with a knife and fork on either side of the plate and a salt shaker and a pepper shaker next to it, and she thought you were supposed to sprinkle these on the banana.  And she said, "I'd never eat a banana after that.  I was so humiliated.”

BURT WOLF: Eventually, the fruit merchants joined together and became the United Fruit Company. During the first half of the 20th century, United Fruit exercised tremendous influence over the nations of Central and South America.

JESSICA HARRIS ON CAMERA: Although they had been slave food fodder, they become virtually and certainly, in the case of Jamaica, the post-Emancipation salvation after cane pretty much goes bust with the sugar beet in Europe; and so you'll find that what you've got is this banana that now is growing in Jamaica, growing in Cuba.  A sea captain, I think it's 1866, comes and is going to Cuba to get a load of bananas but stops in Jamaica and picks up Jamaican bananas, takes them to Boston.  Suddenly, you end up with the fruit company which becomes the United Fruit Company, and you've got bananas as the monoculture that then supplant cane and become part of the history of the Caribbean.

IT’S THE PITS

BURT WOLF: The watermelon was first domesticated in Africa, probably in the region around the Kalahari Desert. Wall paintings of watermelons, along with actual watermelon seeds, have been found in Egyptian tombs that date back over 5,000 years.  Filled with both water and nutrients, watermelons became nature’s canteens throughout Africa and Arab traders spread watermelons wherever they traveled including India and China.

The Moors cultivated watermelons during their occupation of Spain, and by the early 1600s watermelons were being grown in European gardens as far north as England. Unlike some of the other plants imported to Europe, the watermelon was widely accepted.  Around the same time that the watermelon was becoming popular in Europe, it was introduced to the Americas. The Spanish were growing watermelons in Florida as early as 1576, and 50 years later they showed up in Massachusetts.

Africans spread the fruit throughout the South, the Caribbean, and South America.  In the Southern United States, watermelons became stereotypically associated with enslaved African-Americans.

JESSICA HARRIS ON CAMERA: People sort of think watermelon, and they see mentally all of those hideous images of early 20th century, late 19th century, African-Americans being lampooned, being denigrated in print, in image, with, you know, watermelon.  And, and yet watermelon certainly started out as something so positive.  Because watermelon was liquid, it was what you needed, it was what you craved, if you worked in the sun.  It was a simple, easy functional way of getting the liquid that you couldn't survive without.  The other thing though, is it originated in Africa.  So it's one of those things that really is ours, no matter how denigrating it may have become. 

BURT WOLF: Despite this legacy the watermelon, indisputably African, has become essentially American; an enduring summer dessert for Americans of every racial and ethnic background.

TASTY AND SO NICE

BURT WOLF: About half the world’s population depends on rice. It’s thought to have originated in India, and has been grown in China for some 3,000 years; cultures all over Asia began growing rice soon after it reached China. In Europe, rice has been known since Alexander The Great returned from India.

In West Africa, a native rice species, was domesticated independently of the Asian varieties, and has been cultivated there since 1500 BC—hundreds of years before its Asian cousins were grown in China. In the tidal lowlands of the Senegal and Gambia Rivers, an area that became known as the “Grain Coast” or “Rice Coast” African farmers developed a system of wetlands rice cultivation that resembles the paddy system used in Asia. On the Rice Coast, men did the heavy work of building the irrigation systems, but women were responsible for planting and raising the rice.

In the Americas, colonists began growing rice on dry land that was only irrigated by rainfall. At first it was food for the slave population, but they soon began growing it for export. South Carolina emerged as the center of rice-growing production in North America. The plantation owners were well aware of African rice-growing traditions. The rice economy that developed in the American South was almost totally dependent on African labor and African technology.

JESSICA HARRIS ON CAMERA: From southern Senegal to Liberia is rice growing.  There is an indigenous African rice, that is a wet rice.  It is grown in water, according to a certain system.  The good Carolina planters knew that.  And went and specifically and particularly got those folks.  And those folks built the rice of Carolina.  So you find the Mande, the Vai, the Diola, all of those people out of those areas were brought, and were valuable slaves, valued at another rate because of their know-how.  And so the entire rice system of Carolina is based on an African task system of labor.

BURT WOLF: In the process the slaves made “Carolina Rice” an important export for Europe; they also made the South Carolina planters some of the richest people in North America. Europeans were so enamored of Carolina rice that when the British took Charleston during the Revolutionary War, they removed the entire rice crop and shipped it back home to England.

Rice and beans, fried chicken, gumbo, peanut butter, watermelon, sweet potato pie, and a banana split…

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: What could be more American? 

Nothing as long as you remember that an essential ingredient in each of those dishes was brought here by African slaves.  As American cooking developed, a lot of that cooking was done by Africans and the hand that stirs the pot has a lot to say about what goes into that pot and how it’s cooked.  Today’s American food owes a lot to African ingredients and African-American cooks. For WHAT WE EAT, I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: The Story of Coffee - #109

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the Americas for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

TAKING THE HIGH GROUNDS
THE STORY OF COFFEE

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The most famous story about the discovery of coffee tells of an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed that when his goats ate the berries of a specific bush, they became highly energized. He tasted those berries and found that they excited him, too. Then a local monk stopped in and joined the experiment – had the same effect on him. The berries became a regular part of the diet at the monastery and were considered a gift from God because they helped keep the brothers awake during late night prayers.

BURT WOLF: The word coffee comes from an Arabic word for wine and Islamic law forbids the consumption of wine. So in many ways the Islamic world has chosen coffee to take its place. The first serious cultivation of coffee as a cash crop took place in Yemen during the 1400s. Religious pilgrims visiting Mecca spread the news about coffee throughout the Arab world, and coffee houses soon became part of every Islamic community.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: At first, the acceptance of coffee was questioned by conservative scholars; they felt it was like wine and should be outlawed. But a much larger group of scholars liked it. They felt its effect was the opposite of wine. It opened your mind, it loosened your tongue, it kept you awake during long hours of prayer.  By the early 1500s, there were shops that sold coffee and made it for you to drink, all over Arabia. 

BURT WOLF: A Dutch traveler described Middle Eastern coffeehouses as “large halls, with floors covered with straw mats. At night the rooms were lit with lamps. The customers are served with smoking pipes and cups of coffee. Scholars sit in these establishments and tell tales, deliver speeches on various subjects and receive small contributions from the audience for their efforts.”  A French traveler pointed out that “the guests mingle without distinction of rank or creed” — everyone talking to everyone else. The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, and in these ancient Arab coffeehouses it stimulated original thought, a sense of freedom, and a desire to discuss politics and social change. But by the early 1500s things were getting out of hand.

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: The coffee houses were sort of centers of prostitution and gaming and writing fantastically funny, satirical verses about the Governor of Mecca, whose name was Cayar Beg.  And he heard some of these things. And he didn't like it.  So, he decided he was gonna close the coffee houses.  There's too much stuff goin' on there.  Seditious literature, et cetera.  And so, he got his advisors to say that coffee was like wine, which is illegal for Muslims, and, so, he banned it.  It didn't last very long.  The guy in Cairo, who was above him, said, "Forget that.  I like coffee."  And so ... but it was the first time that they had closed the ... a coffee house. But it wasn't the last time, by any means. It kept happening over periods of time, because people tend to become irreverent, when they drink coffee.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The Ottoman Turks controlled the trade between Europe and the Arab world and they were very careful to protect their coffee monopoly. It was against the law to ship a fertile seed to their customers in Europe or Asia. During the 1600s, however, a Muslim pilgrim from India was able to get his hands on a couple of seeds, tape them to his chest, and return home without them being discovered. He started a coffee farm.  He didn’t have much commercial success, but he did prove that it was possible to grow coffee beans outside of the Middle East.

HOUSES OF EXCITATION

EDWARD BRAMAH ON CAMERA: Coffee houses in London is a very exciting story, because... a traveler, a business traveler, came back with his servant, and brought coffee back, and was making coffee in his home.  And all his friends came round to taste the new drink.  But he said, oh dear, I can't have this anymore, we'll ... and he asked his servant to open ... a chap called Pasqua Rosee, to open up a little bar, which he did, off Corn Hill, in Saint Michael's Alley.  And it was called Pasqua Rosee’s coffee house.  That was 1652.  More coffee houses were opened, and between Corn Hill and Lombard Street, in that area, between 1700, or by 1700, there were over 20 coffee houses, which were, of course, the kingpin of the social and the commercial life of the city of London.

They were the intellectual aspect, of course, of coffee houses were ... that they were called the penny university.  You paid your penny, and you could listen to the main orators of the day, holding forth on their pet subject.  But, you know, there was no television in those days.  There were no cinemas, there was no where to go, except your coffee house.  They met a demand of the time.  And the traders, the stock brokers, were in one coffee house, the medical men in another, the estate agents in others, the shipping people in the Baltic, and so on.  And so you had coffee houses to cater for particular trades, and of course they were absolutely essential.  And, you wanted also to know what on earth was happening in the capital.  You know, if you'd recently chopped the king's head off, you wanted to know whose head it was next.

BURT WOLF: Up until the 1600s, most of what we think of as big business was done by governments—most small businesses were run out of people’s homes. The coffeehouses provided homes away from home for a new breed of capitalists, who were busy building private industry.  In England, the coffeehouse became known as the place where businessmen did business. And slowly, coffee houses began to percolate in Europe.

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: Oh, there's a great story about coffee coming to Vienna also. That was in 1683.  The Turks were besieging Vienna.  They needed to have somebody sneak through the lines, the enemy lines, to get reinforcements, and there was a guy named Franz George Kolschitsky who had actually lived in Arab countries, and, so, he dressed himself up to look like an Arab, and he snuck through the lines, and he was the great savior, and the Polish troops came and drove off the Turks and drove them off very quickly, so they left everything, and among the things they left were many bags of unroasted coffee beans.  Nobody knew what these things were.  They thought they were camel fodder, or something. So, they were burning them, and Kolschitsky smells it and says, "Ah! it's coffee. Stop. What are you doing?  Don't burn that. If you don't want 'em, I'll take 'em."  And he started the first coffee house in Vienna, and since then the Viennese, as you know, have really taken to coffee. 

Coffee houses have always been a place where people can come to talk, to gather, to plan.  Because coffee is a social beverage that sort of makes people have bright ideas, the American Revolution was planned in a coffee house. The French Revolution was planned in coffee houses.  They've always been breeding grounds for trouble of one sort or another.  During the Vietnam War, there were GI coffee houses that were set up outside Army bases where people were protesting the war. So, it has continued to this day.

SEEDS OF SEDUCTION

BURT WOLF: Eager to capitalize on the demand for coffee, European entrepreneurs were always on the lookout for new sources of the bean. The Dutch, like the Turks before them, did their best to prevent other interests from getting their hands on live coffee plants.

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: There was a French lieutenant named Gabriel Mathieu de Clieu who became obsessed with the idea that he wanted to take a coffee tree to the New World.  He was stationed on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean. So, he got hold of a tree from the Paris Botanical Gardens, and he took it on a ship. And the way he tells the story, which is probably a little over-dramatic, you know, he had to give it half of his ration of water because there was a drought.  There was a big storm, and it almost got swept overboard. There was an evil Dutchman who didn't want him to take it, and he ripped off one of the branches.  But eventually, he brought it to Martinique and it flourished, and from that one tree, supposedly, most of the coffee in the Western hemisphere, has descended.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The story of how coffee got to Brazil is equally stimulating. The Brazilians wanted to plant coffee, but they were having a hard time getting their hands on a live coffee plant – that was something that nobody wanted to share. Then in 1727, there was a land dispute between French Guiana and Dutch Guiana and a Brazilian official was sent in to broker the problem, which he did, and at the same time conducted an extraordinary secret love affair with the French governor’s wife. As he headed home to Brazil she gave him a gift of a huge bouquet of flowers—in the center of which was hidden a live coffee plant.  When he got home to Brazil, he planted the plant and that was the beginning of the Brazilian coffee industry.

BURT WOLF: The British colonists in North America arrived with a taste for coffee. John Smith, who led the settlers at Jamestown, had traveled in Turkey and loved coffee.  Coffeehouses also crossed the Atlantic with the colonists; in 1689 Boston opened its first coffeehouse.

COFFEE IN THE COLONIES

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: Ironically, the British who had become fanatical coffee drinkers during the late 17th Century eventually switched to tea by the late 18th century.  And ... a lot of that is because of economic factors. They wanted to ... they had ... were doing quite well with the British East India Company. So, the British were getting a lot of their money by taxing the goods that they were selling to the American colonies. The colonies objected.  The British withdrew most of their taxes. But they left the tax on tea, and, of course, the Americans were ... they were British.  They loved tea.  They weren't into coffee particularly. But they were very upset about this tax, and in 1773, there was the very famous Boston Tea Party, where they threw all the tea overboard.  Now, from that moment on, it became very unpatriotic to drink tea and very patriotic to drink coffee.  And that was really the origin of the American obsession with coffee.

BURT WOLF: When the United States of America went to war with England for a second time in 1812, the supply of English tea was cut off again.  Americans went back to drinking coffee, but this time the coffee came up from Latin America rather than Asia or Africa. Its source was nearby, it was inexpensive and the quality was top notch.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The choice was very simple: bad, very expensive tea or good, very inexpensive coffee. In the end, politics plays a very small role in what people eat or drink. Price is the determining factor.

BURT WOLF: Turning to Latin America and the Caribbean for its coffee, the United States became the world’s largest consumer of coffee, and South and Central America its biggest suppliers. Coffee became a major crop in the Western Hemisphere.

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: During the Civil War, the South couldn't get any coffee at all. There was a blockade, and, so, they went nuts. They had to make fake coffee out of everything conceivable from acorns to figs to little roadside weeds, and, so, the effect, after the War, was that everyone in the South wanted coffee more than you could possibly imagine. I mean there's a story how an Atlanta jeweler got hold of a real coffee bean and set it, because it ... during the Civil War ... because it was so valuable.  Meanwhile, the Union troops were getting as much coffee as they wanted. They got 36 pounds per soldier per year, and it was a very valuable commodity. They would have coffee. Every time they stopped, they would start fires, and they would grind their little coffee beans and divide them all up within their company.  There are innumerable stories about what coffee meant to the Union soldiers, and, so, again, it really implanted this idea that Americans should drink lots of coffee. It should be strong, black, boiled, ruined.  They made terrible coffee.

TAKE A BREAK

BURT WOLF: As the United States industrialized, coffee found a new role. In the previous two centuries, coffee and coffeehouses had brought thinkers, artists, writers, and politicians together for conversations that initiated social and political change. But coffee soon became the fuel that powered the industrial laborer. For workers who had to be at the factory or office early in the morning, and often for round-the-clock shift work, coffee became a necessity.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: On March 17th, 1930, at three-thirty in the afternoon, the owners of the Mississippi steamship company called their employees together for the first company-sponsored coffee break in the history of America.

BURT WOLF: Executives of the steamship line had seen something like a coffee break in Brazil, and they liked the effect it had on the morale of the workers. It also improved the morale of the workers in New Orleans, so they made the coffee break a permanent part of their operations. Even without corporate sponsorship, the coffee break has become a central part of the American work day.

Edward Bramah has one of the world’s largest collections of antique coffee brewing devices.

EDWARD BRAMAH ON CAMERA: When it comes to coffee-making machines, the first coffee pot was Ethiopian.  They call it the Jabena; it’s a combined coffee-maker and pouring pot.  And the coffee is pulverized and held in the palm of the hand and you just feed the coffee into the top with the water and when it’s on the fire, it froths up.  But because it’s frothing, you can see it coming out the top; you can take it off without any…wasting any coffee in the fire.  This is where the tall height of a coffee pot came from.  From Ethiopia, in Africa.

Rumford, an American – he made a coffee pot in 1812.  The French were very active with their drip pots.  But before long, that word again, “steam,” comes into the story, because they realized that perhaps if you could use the steam power to force the water up a tube and maybe through the coffee, and so you’ve got hot water coming up through the coffee, and then it hits the under side of the lid and you can see now where the beginnings of the percolator came from.  Well, what can I say about the cafetière locomotive?  I mean, it’s the pièce de résistance of the coffee-maker. It goes back as early as 1840s.  The railways were going out of Paris to the suburbs. I think it was 1832.  But this particular machine wasn’t automatic too much, except that water, hot water, was in the central tank; coffee was put in the funnel, here, in the usual way of a coffee filter machine; and then there’s a spirit heater underneath which will create the pressure to force the water up this tube, over the coffee.  So it was a drip filter into the coffee compartment, here, so that you could then turn the tap and have…and coffee, made coffee, coming out of there.

FEDERAL ESPRESSO

BURT WOLF: By the turn of the 20th century, Europe was a hotpot of coffee innovation and the city of Trieste on the shore of the Adriatic Sea in the northeast corner of Italy became one of the world’s epicenters for great coffee. It was once part of the Austrian Empire and supplied Vienna with its coffee. A perfect place to look at Trieste’s balancing and blending between the traditions of Italy and those of the Austrian Empire is a coffee company called Illy Caffe.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The founder of the firm was Francesco Illy, an Austrian accountant who had been drafted into the Austrian army during the First World War, and stationed in Trieste.  At the end of the war he decided to stay on here and go into the coffee business. In 1935 his analytical mind led him to the development of the first automatic espresso machine that used compressed air instead of steam. And that was a big deal, because up to that point most of the coffee in Europe had been made by boiling water and coffee together and holding it in a huge urn.  Very often when you got your coffee, it had been sitting in that urn for hours.

BURT WOLF: At the beginning of the 20th Century, Italy introduced the idea of made-to-order coffee and called it “espresso.” The word “espresso” means fast, as in “Federal Espresso.” But in terms of coffee it means “a single cup made for you when you order it.” In the beginning espresso was only made in coffeehouses.  Unfortunately, the early machines used steam, which extracted negative flavor elements from the beans.

At the end of the Second World War, Illy was taken over by Francesco’s son Ernesto. Ernesto is one of the leading chemists in Italy and his passion is the science of coffee. He knew that he could make a great cup of espresso, but he wanted to understand the scientific principles that caused the flavor. And he wanted to be able to calibrate those principles so he could produce the same level of excellence every time. So he built a lab and is figuring out how to get DNA fingerprints from coffee beans.

DR. ERNESTO ILLY ON CAMERA: Espresso, contrary to regular coffee, is mainly olfaction; maybe sixty percent is the nose, and only forty percent is the taste.  In regular coffee you have eighty percent taste and only twenty percent olfaction, if the coffee is freshly-brewed.  So the slightest defect is perceivable. Because if something is in a bean, it has been expressed by a gene that is in the DNA of the plant.  We will be able to understand the excellence of a cup by looking to the DNA.

BURT WOLF: Espresso and the espresso bar, manned by a knowledgeable barista, became popular throughout Italy, and after the First World War, quickly spread across the Continent.

DECAFFEINATION

BURT WOLF TO CAMERA: By the late 1800s, coffee had become an established drink throughout the world, but because of its caffeine content, people were becoming concerned about its effect on good health.

BURT WOLF: They saw what caffeine did to some people and were very worried.

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: Decaffeinated coffee actually began with a guy named Ludwig Roselius in Bremen, Germany.  His father was a coffee taster and died at a relatively young age, and Ludwig blamed coffee. He thought it was bad for you, and, so he developed the first decaffeinated coffee.  And he called it dekaffa, and in France, when he sold it, he called it Sanka, sans café.  And so, that was the origin of decaffeinated coffee.  In the early 1980s, in the United States, people actually were predicting that 50 percent of our coffee would be decaffeinated because there was this huge health scare. At that time, people thought that coffee caused pancreatic cancer, breast lumps, birth defects, all kinds of horrible things.  Those studies, none of them have stood the test of time, and now coffee has a fairly clean bill of health, as long as it's ... you have moderate consumption. But it really did push the consumption of decaffeinated coffee, and it's still quite popular with some people.

CUPPA JOE

BURT WOLF: Soldiers serving in World War I  had a great thirst for coffee. But transporting the beans was a logistical nightmare. G. Washington, a New York-based coffee roaster, responded to the problem by developing the first successful instant coffee. Washington’s crystallized coffee was a huge success with the troops, and by 1918 the U.S. Army had requisitioned the firm’s entire output. During the First World War they consumed over 75 million pounds of coffee. And coffee was equally important during the Second World War.

MARK PENDERGRAST ON CAMERA: During the war, there were all kinds of names made up for the coffee that the GIs were getting in their foxholes.  Many of them, pejorative, such as mud, but it was also known as a cuppa joe because G.I. Joe, this was his coffee, and that's the origin of why coffee is called cuppa joe.  I thought one of the funniest things that I found from World War Two was that the British decided that they would break the morale of the German people by bombing them with coffee beans, and that they would show them:  Look! if you would only give up, you could get real coffee. I thought it was ingenious and devious. But it didn't work.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Currently coffee is the world’s largest cash crop, the most actively-traded commodity, after oil, and the most widely used psychoactive substance on the planet. For What We Eat, I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: The Story of Cheese - #108

 BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the America’s for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

 MILK’S LEAP TOWARD IMMORTALITY*
THE STORY OF CHEESE IN CALIFORNIA
*with thanks and apologies to Clifton Fadiman
BULLION FOR BUTTER

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: When Columbus arrived in America, there were no cows, no goats, no sheep, no cheese—the pizza, the cheeseburger, even the nacho was yet to evolve. He dropped off the first cattle on the island of Hispaniola. And the settlers who followed him soon began using the cattle’s milk to make cheese.

BURT WOLF: At the end of the 1600s, Dominican Friars set up a mission in Lower California. It was their first settlement on the California coast and they stocked it with cattle brought up from Mexico. During the middle of the 1700s, Franciscan missionaries moved part of the herd to northern California and used them to breed hundreds of thousands of cattle which they used to supply hides and tallow for a large export business.

The first significant demand for dairy products came along with the prospectors who arrived in 1849. Many of the families who rushed west searching for gold traveled across the country with their family cows. When they reached California the men started prospecting; the women started milking the cows and making butter and cheese. Finding gold was an “iffy” business; trading dairy for gold was very reliable. Successful prospectors paid big bucks for fresh milk, butter and cheese. These early farmers became the nucleus of the California dairy industry

Today California has the largest dairy industry in the United States, producing nearly 4 billion gallons of milk each year. And almost half of that milk goes into the making of cheese. Most of California’s dairies are located near the cheese makers. The milk that makes the cheese is usually less than 24 hours old, which gives many of the cheeses a fresh milk flavor. The state has about 65 cheese makers —some are small artisan operations that make only 50 pounds of cheese a day.

Other California cheese makers have major facilities. Hilmar is the largest cheese making complex in the world. It was put together by 12 local dairy producers in 1984. The founders were simply trying to find a use for the milk they were producing on their farms.

Hilmar makes Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella — and they make one million pounds of these cheeses every day.

One hundred and twenty-five thousand cows have joined together and are presently devoting their entire careers to supplying Hilmar with 9 million pounds of milk each day.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Historians tell me that people have been making cheese for over 5,000 years. There are even drawings of cheese-makers on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs.  It's pretty easy to see the advantages of cheese over milk.  First of all it lasts longer; it's also easy to travel with; and it takes up much less space -- about a tenth of the volume of the milk that was used to make the cheese.

NORTH COAST

BURT WOLF: The counties just above San Francisco make up the oldest dairy district in the state with an environment that is perfect. The cool ocean air and fog that come in off the Pacific Ocean give the region an even temperature throughout the year and the soil is ideal for the clovers and grasses that dairy cattle feed on. And the long rainy season lengthens the time that the cattle can feed on natural pasture.

The mother of the California cheese industry was Clarissa Steele. Originally from New England, she came West with a family recipe for making cheddar.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The recipe had traveled across the Atlantic with Clarissa's ancestors but it was based on milk from the easy-going English cows. The cows that surrounded Clarissa’s farm had come up with a Spanish herd from Mexico and were really not into being milked. She had to figure out how to capture the cow and then how to milk it.  But the cheese she made from that milk was so good that it convinced her husband and her three cousins to go into the dairy business. And in the 1850s Steele Brothers became the first successful cheese-making operation in California.

Just one more thing.  I wouldn't want to cause any dissention.  But I'm curious.  If it was her recipe and she figured out how to capture the cow and how to milk the cow and she made the cheese, why was it called Steele Brothers Dairy?  Just curious. 

BURT WOLF: Cheese and butter makers along the coast had been sending their products to San Francisco by boat. But the unreliable schedules, temperature changes, salt air and shipboard moisture made the operation a tricky one. So most dairy products stayed in the neighborhood where they were made.

The exception was the cheese made by David Jacks.  During the 1870s, Jacks acquired over 60,000 acres of land in Monterey and Salinas Valley. He also bought 14 dairy farms in Monterey and Big Sur. In partnership with Swiss and Portuguese dairymen, he dominated the dairy business throughout Monterey. Jacks was able to get his buddies in the railroad business to run a line from Monterey to San Francisco so he could make regular cheese shipments by train. Jacks' cheeses were soft, white and based on an old California Mission recipe.

NANCY FLETCHER ON CAMERA: When David Jacks shipped the cheese, he put it in a box, he stamped his name, David Jacks from Monterey, California.  So that's where Monterey Jack got its name.  And many people think it's the most important cheese that's been created in the United States and it was created right here in California.

BURT WOLF: During the First World War Monterey Jack took on a second form. A San Francisco cheese wholesaler, had left a surplus shipment of Monterey Jack sitting in his warehouse. When he finally opened the crates, he discovered that the cheese had aged quite nicely.  It had lost most of its moisture and was as hard as Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.  It had also acquired a nutty flavor--but that was all just fine.  The war had cut off the supply of cheese from Italy and the large Italian community in San Francisco needed a replacement.  Dry Jack was quickly accepted by Italian-American cooks.

CLASSIC CHEESE MAKING

BURT WOLF: The process of making cheese starts when the cheese-maker adds a starter culture. The culture causes the lactose sugar, which is found naturally in milk, to turn into lactic acid.

Rennet is added which causes the proteins in the milk to clump together, forming curds.

The solid curd mixture is cut up and the liquid whey is drained off. Larger curds usually produce a softer and moister cheese.

If the cheese being made is a cheddar-style cheese, the curds will be cheddared,  which means that blocks of curd will be piled on top of each other and pressed together, then piled on top of each other again and pressed again.  The cheddaring process releases the liquid whey; the result is a semi-firm, dry cheese with a fine texture.

To get a totally different type of cheese, the curds are cooked and stirred, which turns the clumps of protein molecules into strands. The texture of a string cheese or Mozzarella is the result of being cooked.

The curds are put into a form that gives the cheese its shape. Some are pressed to take out more whey which will give you a firmer cheese. Some are not pressed at all which will give you a softer cheese.

At this point, the cheese is ripened in a storage room where the temperature and the humidity can be controlled. The butterfat in cheese tends to sink to the bottom, so the cheeses are turned regularly to redistribute it.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Letting wine sit around in wooden barrels is a form of ripening-- controlled aging. Letting cheese sit around in a ripening room is also a form of controlled aging. I myself am ripening, but with very little control. 

THE DAIRY MAIDS

BURT WOLF: The traditional division of labor in dairying goes back for thousands of years.  Men would herd the sheep, goats and cows, while women did the milking and made the butter and cheese.  In Colonial America, making cheese became a skill that was passed from mother to daughter and selling their cheese gave farm women an independent source of income.  Rural women also set up small factories to produce cheese for urban markets.  The profits from these enterprises helped cheese-making families educate their daughters.

In the last thirty years, American women have started small cheese-making companies that offer a superior product.  And that tradition is taking hold in California. In 1997, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith started The Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes, just north of San Francisco. There are two parts to their business.

The first is Tomales Bay Foods which is a retail shop offering locally made products—jams, mustards, chutneys, and produce from nearby farms. They also age and sell cheese from small local cheese makers. 

PEGGY SMITH ON CAMERA: Let me give you a taste of this Dry Jack.  This cheese is 18 months old and he's become really famous for this cheese.  As you get close to the rind, you can really taste the cocoa and the black pepper. 

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Oh I like the rind.

PEGGY SMITH ON CAMERA: It gets a little bit spicy.

BURT WOLF: The second part of the business is The Cowgirl Creamery

SUE CONLEY ON CAMERA: The cheeses we make here are primarily fresh cheeses and that's because in Europe, in France and in England, the cheese shops always make their own fresh cheeses on site and then they bring in the aged cheeses and take care of them in an aging facility.

BURT WOLF: All their cheeses are produced in the most traditional way. Conley realized that people coming in to shop would have a better understanding of what they were eating if they saw the cheese being made. So they built the cheese making room behind a glass wall. Shoppers can now see how fresh milk becomes cheese.

SUE CONLEY ON CAMERA: We chose the name Cowgirl Creamery because we realized we're out here in the most Western point of California.  It's really like the Wild West.  We thought, well, maybe we're just a couple of cowgirls tryin' to make cheese.  Even though we're really kind of afraid of horses. But we like the outfits very much.

BURT WOLF: In the same general area north of San Francisco, is the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. Bob Giacomini wanted to reduce the size of his dairy herd. But he didn’t want to reduce his income.  He was also looking for a way to bring some of his daughters back to the family farm. He accomplished both objectives and, in the bargain, produced California’s first blue cheese.

The herd is smaller now and his daughters, Karen, Lynn and Jill are working at home again. Actually, Karen is out selling cheese today, but Lynn and Jill are still here.

LYNNE GIACOMINI STRAY ON CAMERA: My sisters and I, we were never really interested in the actual dairying end.  But when we started talking about cheese and expanding the business, we all love food and to cook, and so we got very excited about it. 

JILL GIACOMINI BASCH ON CAMERA: Also, coming into the family business was a way to really kind of carry on our parent’s legacy.  They built this farm from scratch and it's our way to deliver it to the next generation. 

We did leave the cheese-making up to a true expert, and our cheese-maker, Monte McIntyre, came to us with over 15 years of cheese experience, specifically in blue cheese.  And when he came on board we said, this is the kind of cheese we want to make.  We want it to be very full-flavored and creamy, very reminiscent of some of the French Roqueforts, and he nailed it. 

We start with pumping our morning milk into our cheese plant.  And then into that we add our starter culture, our penicillium roqueforti, which is the blue mold, the salt, and rennet, which is the coagulant that helps to separate the curds from the whey, the solids from the liquid matter.  After that process is complete, the curds are separated from the whey, the curds go into cheese forms, and that's where the actual wheels of cheese are set up. 

The following day, we begin a salting process where we hand salt the wheels three days in a row and then we actually punch the wheels with needles to introduce oxygen into the body of the cheese.  That's really where the magic happens.  That's with the oxygen mixing with the mold; it activates the blue veining process that creates the beautiful blue color inside of the wheels of cheese.  Then following the curing stage, we actually age the cheese for about 6 to 8 months in our aging room.

LYNNE GIACOMINI STRAY ON CAMERA: It's easy 'cause we know each other so well.  We know our personalities.  We know how to deal with each other.  And it can be a lot of fun.  Especially because it's something we all love.  But then it's always just the dynamics of it-- and it gets loud -- especially with my father around.

JILL GIACOMINI BASCH ON CAMERA: Yeah.  I don't know what's worse: working with your sisters or working for your father!

BURT WOLF: The tradition of women as the pioneers of cheese making has continued. Laura Chenel loves goats and goats love Laura Chenel. So, during the 1970s, they combined their mutual affection in a goat cheese business.

LAURA CHENEL ON CAMERA: I was experimenting with different cheeses at home with my goats milk and every one of them turned out to be inedible.  And I tried many, many different varieties.  Cottage cheese and jack and cheddar.  And then I was lucky enough to taste some French goat cheese.  And when I tasted that I knew that that was the highest and best use of my goats' milk.

BURT WOLF: She spent three months in France learning how to properly make goat cheese and then returned to a nation that had no interest in goat cheese and no facilities for manufacturing it. Fortunately, both goats and goat lovers have a tendency to be stubborn.

LAURA CHENEL ON CAMERA: Initially, I made the cheeses in my home.  I lived in a large house and there was a basement I could convert to a small fromagerie.  So it was a month of making cheese every day and having it fail everyday and having to throw out that failure.  And then finally a batch took and then it just got better and better.  What I really wanted was, I wanted to live the way I lived in France.  I get to be with my goats, that was my goal.  To keep them in my life.  And I have more of them than I every dreamed would be in my life.  When I first started experimenting with cheese I had about 20 goats and now I have close to 500.  There are many, many people making goat cheese now.  I never would have dreamed this.  This went way beyond anything I would have thought.  And now there's a goat cheese industry.

BURT WOLF: Laura taught stainless-steel manufacturers to make the equipment she needed; then she taught Americans to appreciate goat cheese. She became a pioneer for today’s artisan cheese-makers.

THE SPANISH INFLUENCE

BURT WOLF: The cheese-making tradition in California goes back to the early Spanish and Mexican settlers. Today California is the country's largest producer of Hispanic-style cheeses. The restaurant Maya in San Francisco is named after the Maya Indians who were the great eaters of Mexico and Central America, before the arrival of Columbus.

The owner and the chef is Richard Sandoval who got his first taste of the kitchen working for his parents, who owned two restaurants in Acapulco. He uses Hispanic cheeses in many of his dishes. These cheeses are usually not table cheeses. You wouldn’t eat them on their own — they were developed to be cooked. The cheeses themselves add salt, and a milky flavor to counterbalance other ingredients that add heat, and texture.

A signature dish at Maya is Chile Relleno—A roasted poblano chile is split and filled with a mixture of scallops, squid and shrimp. Oaxaca cheese is added and the stuffed chile is baked.

RICHARD SANDOVAL ON CAMERA: I like to compare this to a regular mozzarella or a string cheese. It pulls apart very nicely, it's not too overpowering, and it also melts very well.

BURT WOLF: Chile Rellenos is an excellent example of Europe meets the Americas.  The chili is indigenous to Mesoamerica; the cheese is Old World.

 THE CENTRAL VALLEY

BURT WOLF: California’s great valley region runs between the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on the east and the Coastal Range on the west. It’s about 400 miles long and 40 to 60 miles wide. During the 1870s, William Chapman, one of the largest landowners in the state, sold 80,000 acres of the Central Valley to a group of German settlers and encouraged them to grow alfalfa. The crop was so successful that it became the primary feed for the dairy industry in central and southern California. After the railroads arrived, the central valley became the state’s largest dairy region.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Wisconsin was traditionally thought of as the dairy-making state.  But during the early 1990s, in an upset victory, California became the state producing the most milk in the country.  In order to improve their profits, the milk men began making artisanal cheeses.  Their objective is to do for milk what Napa did for wine.  [TO COWS]  How do you feel about that?  Let me get a nice Pinot for you.  I think that's where you'd start.

BURT WOLF: A good example of a small farmstead producer is the Three Sisters Farmstead Cheese. The sisters are Marisa, Lindsay and Hannah Hilarides. Marisa and her father Rob decided that they needed to do more with their milk from their herd and started attending classes at a State University. With their formal training completed they began production.

MARISA HILARIDES ON CAMERA: The aging process is what amazes me and what I'm really learning about right now.  As you can probably see behind me we've got lots of cheese and its always -- it needs constant care.  It takes a lot of oiling to keep from forming cracks, and Hannah likes to help with that.  We also, when we have the cheese on our wooden racks, they need to be turned constantly and Lindsay helps out a lot with that.  So they've been a big help to me.

BURT WOLF: Within a year their Serena Cheese, which is a cross between Parmigiano and aged Gouda, won a Silver Medal at the World Cheese Awards.

MARISA HILARIDES ON CAMERA: It's really neat to be able to see the end process when people are actually tasting the cheese and we're getting compliments on it.  That -- it really makes you feel like your work is worth something -- it's paid off.

 THE SOUTHERN COAST

BURT WOLF: The southern California coastal region starts in Los Angeles, runs south to San Diego and has a couple dozen cheese makers.

For several decades, Jules Wesselink has been a successful dairy farmer with a herd of Holsteins.  In 1996, he decided to begin making cheese from his herds’ milk. He’s of Dutch descent and went back to Holland to learn the traditional Dutch techniques for making Gouda cheese.

JULES WESSELINK ON CAMERA: When I was in Holland and I saw them make the cheese, then I decided that was it.  I saw the beautiful cheeses and I tasted the good cheese and I thought, this is it.  If I can do that, then it'll be fine.

BURT WOLF: When he returned, he convinced his daughter and her husband to become cheesemakers.

JULES WESSELINK ON CAMERA: I thought I knew how to make it.  But when I came back here in the United States and I started it wasn't all a success at the beginning.  It became later on.  But it -- you have to make some changes. It is when you make it then you find out what is right and what is wrong.  You have to learn it.  It's different every day.

BURT WOLF: They produce a farmhouse gouda that is offered at several stages of ripeness as well as goudas flavored with cumin, jalapeno peppers or herbs. 

JULES WESSELINK ON CAMERA: There is nothing greater than having your family around, having your kids and your grandkids around to work with.  Maybe one day I can retire and just watch from an easy chair and see how things are going.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The cattle that Columbus brought to the Caribbean introduced the idea of dairying to the Americas.  And today, The United States is producing cheeses that are up to the quality of the great cheeses of Europe.  But perhaps more important, without Columbus’ cattle and the development of the dairy industry we might never have had the cheeseburger and I, for one, would feel the loss.  For What We Eat, I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: The Story of Corn - #107

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

 BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the America’s for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

THE SEED OF LIFE
THE STORY OF CORN

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: On November 4th, 1492, Columbus came ashore on what is now the island of Cuba. The natives greeted him and gave him two gifts. One was tobacco, and one was corn. His diary for the next day contained the following entry:

BURT WOLF: “There was a great deal of tilled land sown with a sort of bean and a sort of grain they called Mahiz, which tasted good. It was baked or dried and made into flour.”

On one day, the American plants of corn and tobacco were introduced to the rest of the world.  The Indians presented their corn to Columbus because it was a valuable food but also because it was the basis of their civilization.

BETTY FUSSELL ON CAMERA: “They used it for every possible food and for every possible sacred ceremonial use because corn is at the heart of all the mythology, all the calendar, all the religions, all the rituals of Meso-America. The original word corn, mahaiz in Arawak, meant seed of life. Because life in the created universe began with corn, with the corn gods, but it’s really with the seed, the womb of life.  Mother Earth was also Mother Corn, being fertilized really by the sun, by the heavens, by Father Sun.  Out of that, the universe sprouts.  But what sprouts?   A corn tree, the corn tree becomes the axle of the universe. A corn plant, you know, and all the cobs on that tree are heads of gods.  So the corn god is represented in the plant. Man was created from a dough of corn and blood.

BURT WOLF: The Indians of Meso-America showed the Spaniards how to grow and store corn. It was a strong plant; it traveled well, grew fast, provided plenty of food and quickly spread throughout the world.

BETTY  FUSSELL ON CAMERA: Corn is amazing in that it changed the way the world eats instantly, that it went around the world, which was after Columbus.  And it - with great speed it developed everywhere it went, because it grows every place.  Every place but the North and South Poles.  So it has this capacity to adapt itself to all kinds of climates and ecologies and, damp, dry, high, low.  So first of all, it could grow everywhere.   Secondly, it could be eaten by both men and animals.  That’s enormously important.  Corn has ended up with this kind of double purpose, as the world’s best animal feed.

JOHNNY CAKES, SPOON BREAD AND POLENTA

BURT WOLF: During the 15 and 1600s, European farmers used oxen to clear their land and then planted their fields by scattering handfuls of grain over the earth. The grains started growing wherever they fell. Farmers waited for the weeds to come up with the crop, then pulled up the weeds.

Native Americans had a very different approach. Before the arrival of the Europeans in America there were no draft animals to help with the farming. Land was cleared by hand using a technique called “slash and burn”. The only tools available were axes and sticks and hoes with blades and points that were made of wood, sea shells, deer antlers, and the shoulder-blades of large animals. 

MARGARET VISSER ON CAMERA: When Europeans got to North America and Central America and South America, they were astounded at the way the Indians did al ... agriculture. They found the Indians had made little mounds, like a ... they had a checkerboard design.  Huge fields, miles and miles and miles in extent.  And each little mound was in its ... exactly in its mathematical place in rows.  And in the mound the Indians would plant a few ... always sort of a religious number, four or six grains in the mound.  So this is all immaculately done, everything clean and clear.

BURT WOLF: Corn, beans, and squash were always planted together and eaten together.

BURT WOLF TO CAMERA: The natives considered them three inseparable sisters, like the Supremes when they first got started. The corn would grow up; the beans would grow up around the corn stalk; and the squash would sit in the land between the corn, helping to hold down the weeds. In some places, they would plant a fish into the mound.  It was considered sacred.  If you didn’t put in the fish, the corn refused to come up. Somehow the natives had figured out that the corn plant needed an enormous number of nutrients and that the fish would supply those nutrients.

BURT WOLF: The Indians always ate corn, beans and squash at the same time and they always added a little burnt wood, or burnt shell during the cooking.

MARGARET VISSER ON CAMERA: And we now know that this is an incredibly intelligent thing to do, that if the Indians had not done that, corn would never have been their staple, because corn is lacking in various nutritional ingredients, you know, things that human beings need. Some of the things it hasn't got and beans and squash add those.  And other things, one particular thing, niacin, is in corn, but human beings can't digest it.  So, the Indians used to add ash to every pot of corn that they cooked. It's recently been discovered that that lime, which is what it is, alkali, that alkali loosened this essential vitamin, niacin, so that human beings can digest it. And it's extraordinary because the Indians used to offer corn to the gods, their sacred food. And they never added ash when they offered it to the gods.  They somehow knew that it was human beings who needed the ash. The gods didn't need it.

BURT  WOLF ON CAMERA: If you try to live on corn alone without the addition of beans, squash and ash you’re going to end up undernourished and eventually develop a disease known as pellagra. In spite of the nutritional advantages of corn, however, it was never really accepted by the Europeans and very few countries got it into their national cuisine. The French still think it’s only fit for animals, and the Irish ignored it until they were almost starving.

BARBARA WHEATON ON CAMERA: The story of corn coming into Europe. It ricochets around the Mediterranean and it gets carried up the rivers, and it… it finds the habitats where it can be happy.  It displaces a grain that had been in very wide use, since at least Roman times, and that's millet, which now survives in this country, I think largely in birdseed mixtures.  Though you can get it in whole food stores, and I like to throw a handful of it into a soup sometimes, just for old times sake.  But in Northern Italy, where they had been making polenta for centuries, they'd been making it with millet.  And, and one of the rules, really, for, for new foodstuffs coming in is, if it looks like something you know, then try cooking it like the thing you know.  And quite often, that works. 

I think one of the things that has made it hard for Europeans to get used to the idea of eating corn is that they have absolutely no understanding there, that there is a difference between field corn and sweet corn.  And again and again, they would plant field corn, and it worked fine if they ground it, but when they would try eating it, they would say it's fit only for animal fodder. 

BURT WOLF: European settlers to North America quickly incorporated corn into their diet.  It was easy to bake corn on a griddle. The result was a firm disc that could be carried on a journey — which is how they came to be called journey cakes, which eventually became Johnnycakes. Pone was the Indian word for corn batter cooked on hot stones. Whipped egg whites were added to produce a corn soufflé called spoon bread. And coarsely ground white cornmeal was called grits. In Mexico, Central and South America corn that had been ground into fine flour was baked into tortillas or fried to make enchiladas.

PAUL ROZIN ON CAMERA: The corn that the Mexicans use that was brought to Europe is very bland.  It isn't like our sweet corn. It isn't that tasty. The corn tortilla was a way of making it a little more tasty and more palatable and, of course, making into a bread basically.  Only women in Mexico know how to make tortillas in villages.  And the interesting thing is that Cortez did not have a woman with him when he went to Mexico.   So what happened was that none of his guys learned how to make tortillas.  So they brought back the corn, they brought back the world's stalest tortillas after, I don't know, a month on the sea.  But they didn't bring back the magic formula to make their corn into such a tasty thing that the Mexicans have.

So, I don't think this is the whole account, but I think part of it is that the Europeans didn't get corn the way Mexicans were eating it.  Because of the absence of a culinarily-oriented person, i.e., woman. 

THE SEX LIFE OF CORN

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: If you look up the word corn in a dictionary, you will find that it is used to describe the primary grain of a country. If you make a daily bread in wheat then wheat is your corn. Rye is the corn of Sweden. Oats are the corn of Ireland. When the first English-speaking colonists arrived in the New World they realized that the native American Indians were using maize.  And so they called maize “Indian corn.”

BURT WOLF: Maize is a giant grass which produces very large seeds.  Each kernel is really a fruit with an oily seed surrounded by starchy nutrients that are held in a hull. The corn cob and its seed is covered with a husk which makes it easy to harvest, easy to feed to livestock, easy to transport, and easy to store. It could be considered as one of the original packaged foods.

BETTY FUSSELL ON CAMERA: Of the three staples of the world, wheat, rice and corn, they're all from the same family of grasses; that's what we mean by cereal grains. The reason they are staples is that they can be dried, and then you can eat them in the winter time, so it's not just spring. But corn is the only one that you can eat also fresh, as a vegetable.  Because you eat those seeds from the seed bud, which is the ear of corn.   We’re the only country in the world who really developed sweet corn; we're the only people who want corn on the cob, consider that a delicacy…a treat, a necessity for summer.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Corn sounds like the most perfect plant on the planet, so what’s the problem? As is so often the case in relationships — it’s sex. The husk on corn is so strong and so tight that it can’t seed itself.

MARGARET VISSER ON CAMERA: We have this unbelievable plant which has all these soft kernels side by side stuck in a cob with a sheath covering them all.  They are close together, they are tightly held to the cob, and the sheath cannot be removed by nature.  If you let it lie on the ground, it would just simply rot and that's the end of it.  Even if you took the sheath off and threw it on the ground, it would not grow. So corn absolutely and totally depends on human beings to survive.

LOVE AT FIRST BITE

BURT WOLF: Today there are six major varieties of corn — the oldest is popcorn. Popcorn has a hard hull. When it’s heated, the starch inside the skin of the kernel fills with steam until it bursts. With other types of corn the steam leaks out which is why they don’t pop. Some historians believe that the accidental popping of a hard grain in a fire gave ancient man, or more likely ancient woman, the idea that cereals were edible.

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: You have the popcorn beginning as an important American product in New England about 1820, 1830.  And it becomes the celebrity product of this time, with-- with Henry David Thoreau popping corn and writing about it in his journal.  And Emerson saying it’s a wonderful thing to give to the kiddies at Christmastime; it gets them away from the adults.  And you have all these other great Americans talking about the importance of popcorn, which they all considered to be something new and exciting.  So it enters into America from the top down.

When the Depression comes all of a sudden movie owners are confronted with going out of business, or establishing a new revenue stream.  And by far, you make the most amount of money as a snack…out of popcorn. And the price of admission was decreased so that they would get people in so that they would buy popcorn so the theatres could make money.

ORVILLE REDENBACHER ON CAMERA: Hello.  I’m Orville Redenbacher.  If you’ve got forty….

BURT WOLF: The superhero of popcorn, however, was Orville Redenbacher. Orville was an agricultural extension agent in Indiana who came up with a kernel that popped bigger than any kernel had ever popped — fifty times bigger than the kernel.  Until then, kernels had only popped up to thirty-five or forty times their size.

ORVILLE REDENBACHER ON CAMERA: I’d suggest you start with a corn patch.  You want to try about 500,000 cross-pollinations…

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: Popcorn is one of the few foods that’s purchased by weight. So if you increase the volume, you increase your sales. And consequently Orville Redenbacher concluded this was something that was going to revolutionize the popcorn business.  He decided that he needed some marketing help, hired a public relations firm in Chicago, paid them $18,000 and said, “I need help with a name for this.” And after considering this very carefully for about two and a half hours they said, we have the right name for your new popcorn. And Orville said “What is it?” And they said, “Orville Redenbacher Gourmet Popping Corn.” And Orville kind of scratched his head and said, “Well, my mother thought that was a good name, so therefore it should be a good name for my product, too.” Now, there were not gourmet foods at that time. But in one way, Orville Redenbacher created the market for gourmet food.

KERNELS OF TRUTH

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Corn is the plant with the ultimate shelf life. Scientists have been able to pop corn kernels that are over a thousand years old. Native American Indians would hide corn kernels under mounds of earth for use during the winter or during periods of war. As a matter of fact, the English colonists who where starving to death during the winter of 1620, were able to survive because they came upon hidden hoards of Indian corn.

BURT WOLF: The world’s largest corn crop is called dent, which is a reference to the dimple in the top edge of every kernel. It’s sweet and starchy. Native Americans thought of it as a prime symbol of the female and maternal aspect of the goddess of corn.

In a healthy cornfield, the plants grow slowly during the day but fast at night. Under ideal conditions a corn plant will grow four and a half inches within 24 hours.

MARGARET VISSER ON CAMERA: A lot of American farmers have said that they heard their corn growing, and people sort of say, "Oh, come on."  It's a plant which is very large... its growth involves unfurling leaves.  So if it's growing, a leaf will suddenly unfurl, and it makes a sound, and it scrapes the stalk.  And if ... you can hear it.  And in fact I actually have heard it.  It has to be the peak growing season, and you've got to have patience as well. You've got to sit there for a while.  But you can hear these unfurling leaves, it's really quite eerie.

SHE WHO SUSTAINS US

BURT WOLF: During the 1930s and 40s, farmers in the United States and Canada began to alter their operations so that much of the work could be done by machine. The United States started producing more than half of the world’s corn, over 250 million metric tons per year. And eighty percent of that crop was grown in the Corn Belt, an area of 350,000 square miles that runs from western Ohio to eastern Nebraska, with the largest tonnage coming from Iowa and Illinois.

American chicken and beef are fed on corn and cornstalks which means that both meat and milk are part corn. Even the stamp on meat that marks its grade is made with corn oil. In fact, 85 percent of the corn grown in the United States is used to feed animals.

BETTY  FUSSELL ON CAMERA: Columbus’s discovery of corn in the New World changed the diet of the world. Because when this kind of fodder became available to animals, it really tipped the balance in America, where we have all this space for animals - it tipped the balance toward a diet of meat, replacing grain.  Meat and dairy.  So we became the giant meat eaters, and that became the model, in a way, for the rest of the world.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: It’s almost impossible to buy anything in an American supermarket that hasn’t been affected by American corn.

The golden color that we associate with our soft drinks comes from corn syrup.  Almost all of our frozen foods contain corn starch or corn oil.  Candies are formed in corn starch.  Soap contains corn oil.  Everything that goes into a can, or almost everything that goes into a can, is given a light coating of corn oil to keep it from sticking.  Beers, vodka, gin often contain corn. And all the packaging, the plastic bags, the boxes that our pasta go into, contains corn.

BURT WOLF: A key corn product is corn starch.  A white, odorless, tasteless powder, it’s used in the production of thousands of products —toothpastes, detergents, match heads, charcoal briquettes.

MARGARET VISSER ON CAMERA: Corn is useful when you want something to stick.  You make glue with corn.  It is also useful when you don't ... when you want something not to stick, so molds use it to prevent it from sticking.  You know, you dust candies with it to prevent them from being sticky.  You add it to instant coffee to help it pour.  It ... you know, it ... it does everything.  It sticks, it doesn't stick, it's thick, it holds, it ... it lasts.  It's the dream stuff.

BURT WOLF: During the early 1800s, a Russian chemist name G. S. C. Kirchoff, accidentally over- heated some corn starch and invented corn syrup. Sweet, easily available and inexpensive, corn syrup began to replace sugar. The power of sweetness which had belonged almost exclusively to cane sugar was suddenly being shared. Today, corn syrup is used in more products than sugar — from soda to ketchup, corn syrup is the source of our sweet life.

MARGARET VISSER ON CAMERA: Everywhere you look you have corn.  You ... you're not aware of it, but underneath it all, it's a driving wheel of the entire American economy. Now, Americans could have used something else for their starch, turning starch into modern technological uses of starch. But in fact, they turned to corn, because they had corn.  Therefore, corn becomes essential to modern technological societies all over the world. This technological revolution that took place enabled America to be way out ahead. It gave them a fantastic advantage.

BURT WOLF: In the 1700s, Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels wrote that “Whoever could make two ears of corn grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service than the whole race of politicians put together.”

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: What would Swift have thought about the scientists who gave us American corn? In four months a single grain can multiply itself eight hundred times. It’s easy to plant, easy to grow, easy to harvest and easy to sell.   For What We Eat, I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: How the Spud Changed the World - #106

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

 BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the America’s for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

THIS SPUD’S FOR YOU
HOW THE POTATO CHANGED THE WORLD

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: On two occasions the potato changed the course of world history. The first time was when it supplied the primary source of energy for the great Inca Empire and the Spanish colonists that conquered them. The second time was when the potato fed an expanding population in Europe, which allowed a few small Northern European nations to dominate the rest of the world—which they did for over 200 years.

BURT WOLF: It looks like the potato was first cultivated in the Andean Mountains of South America about 7,000 years ago. The great centers of pre-Inca culture were high up, some as high as 12,500 feet above sea level and each night the temperature would drop below freezing. Edible crops were in short supply. But the potato was one of the few crops that could be grown at high altitudes. The Andean farmers came to rely on the potato. They also found an ingenious way of preserving them.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Raw potatoes don’t store very well, but by squeezing out their moisture and exposing them to the cold night air, Andean farmers were able to produce freeze-dried potatoes, and they stored them in giant underground vaults where they held their nutrients for many years. Now potatoes are packed with nutrients and, except for calcium and vitamins A and D, they’ll give you enough stuff to live on for quite a few years.

BURT WOLF: The Inca government collected the freeze-dried potatoes as tribute, kept them in warehouses and distributed them to workers who were employed on official projects.

In 1545, Spanish colonists discovered silver in what is now southern Bolivia. Thousands of Incan laborers were forced to work the mines. An inexpensive food was needed to keep them alive—so the Spanish adopted the Inca’s use of the freeze-dried potato.  The potato fed the workers who, in turn, fed the world’s appetite for precious metal.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The silver that came out of the South American mines flooded the world. In Europe, it allowed Philip II of Spain to pay for his imperial fleets and his imperial armies that sailed on them. The windfall lasted for about a hundred years; and then the ore ran out and so did much of Spain’s power.  A second effect of all of that silver floating around was massive inflation. Without an Alan Greenspan around to control the situation, prices began to rise and both the moral and economic standings of the countries began to change.  People who were fabulously wealthy became incredibly poor, and people who were incredibly poor became fabulously wealthy.

BURT WOLF: But in the end, it wasn’t the silver that would prove most valuable to Europeans—it was the potato. At first, Spanish settlers looked down on the potato and relied on corn. The potato, however, did catch on with sailors, who recognized that eating potatoes prevented scurvy. The first potatoes to reach Europe traveled on Spanish ships returning from South America.

Spain introduced the potato to the rest of Europe. For most of the 16th century, parts of Northern Italy and the Netherlands were under Spanish rule.

The route used by Spanish troops to connect these two imperial provinces became known as the “Spanish Road.” Potatoes took root in peasant gardens all along its path.

In those days armies were expected to supply themselves with food from the countryside in which they were operating. Stores of grain piled up in barns were easy pickings. Wherever the local population depended on stored grain for their survival, starvation was the usual and expected result of any major military campaign.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: One of the reasons that potatoes were so popular with peasants along the “Spanish Road,” was that they realized that the potato growing underground could help protect them from the ruthless requisitioning of the soldiers moving above-ground. During the 16th and 17th centuries soldiers loved pillaging— I mean, it was in keeping with their sense of who they were—it had style.  But digging potatoes out of the ground with a shovel—I mean, after all, that’s embarrassing; there’s the image of the uniform that has to be upheld.

BARBARA WHEATON  ON CAMERA: The story of potatoes arriving in Europe is a very interesting one.  They were taken up early in Germany.  And in the British Isles, not just in Ireland.  The French were very loathe to try them.  It didn't look like anything they were used to eating.  And, in the late eight, seventeen hundreds, when people were trying to get the French away from their fixation on bread as the staff of life, the French scientist and agronomist, Parmentier, tried to substitute potato starch for wheat flour in bread, and it was a complete failure. He got around this eventually, by planting a great field of potatoes, setting armed guards around it, and then, when the potatoes were ready for harvest, he removed the guards, and of course, the peasants had all been watching this thing, which was obviously so valuable.  And they all raced in and stole the potatoes and took them home and planted them.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: In spite of its slow start, the potato eventually got out of the kitchen gardens and into the open fields. And as it reached those open fields, it once again changed the course of world history.  Only this time it needed a little help from the governments.  Somewhere around 1750, the ruling powers in Europe teamed up with the landowners and began pressuring the peasants to plant potatoes. They realized that, in spite of constant warfare and re-occuring famine, the potato would keep the peasants alive. And, quite frankly, what is the point of being a King if you don't have peasants?

THE POTATO IN IRELAND

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: At least a hundred years before Columbus wandered into the Caribbean, Basque fishermen were harvesting cod just off the coast of Canada. On the way home, they would usually stop on the west coast of Ireland to dry their catch. As soon as the potato was introduced to Spain, the Basque fishermen began to put it aboard their ships.  Sometime in the late 1500s, or early 1600s, they introduced it to the west coast of Ireland. During the middle of the 1600’s, when the Irish were fighting the English and were forced back to the west coast of Ireland, they learned to live on the potato.

DAVID DICKSON ON CAMERA: The potato really thrived in the very maritime ecology of Ireland.  It needed seaweed or it needed the animal dung.  It fitted into a pastoral society, a society that had previously been very much dependent on things like butter, milk for the diet, at least in ... in winter time.  This is a society that has always boiled its food more than baked its food, and the potato slipped into that almost seamlessly in the 1600s.  And I think this early success of the potato was because it didn't require a revolution either in cultivation methods or certainly in cooking habits.  In other words, the pot inside which the potato was boiled had been there before the potato.

BURT WOLF: In 1650, the English, under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, sent troops to Ireland to put down a rebellion. Storehouses, mills, and fields were burned. It was in this setting that the value of the potato stood out. Potatoes grew underground, in small wet plots that were difficult to burn. They stored safely and in concealed places within a farmer’s cottage. They didn’t need to be milled or processed. Planting didn’t even require a plough—a family could plant an adequate crop using nothing more than a spade.  The Irish were eventually defeated, but they weren’t starved out. They were, however, forced off their land, which was given to Cromwell’s veterans.  The new English landlords concentrated on raising beef cattle and growing grain for export to Europe, and they used cheap Irish labor to get it done.        

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: As the 17th century wore on, speculators, who were only interested in making a buck, ended up buying almost all of the land that had previously belonged to  Cromwell’s veterans. Raising cattle had always been a safety net for Irish farmers; but the speculators realized that the fastest way for them to make a buck was to raise cattle.  They put an end to this kind of general farming and went for the beef. They’d raise it, ship it to Cork or Dublin for slaughter and then for export. By the beginning of the 18th century, Ireland was Europe’s largest exporter of beef.

BURT WOLF: The underpaid Irish labor force learned to make do on a diet of potatoes and milk. A single acre of potatoes and a single cow could feed an entire Irish family. And given the small amount of land still available for rent, it wasn’t uncommon for an Irish family to find itself with only a single acre. And often that acre was owned by an English landlord.

DAVID DICKSON ON CAMERA: The land owners and the land holders, the cattle owners, did relatively well and indeed Ireland becomes a very successful food-producing economy for Britain in particular.  And in which it was dependent on a vast army of cheap labor.  That cheap labor lived on the potato, but it did an awful lot of the work, producing the food surpluses, pastoral, cereal food surpluses that fed its industrial neighbor. Perhaps upwards of half the population by the 1830s, 1840s, were agricultural laborers dependent on insecure employment and on a potato which turned out to be viciously insecure. But it is important to know that up until '45, up until the Great Hunger, the potato was probably more reliable year on year than other types of foodstuffs like oats, rye or wheat.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: During the first half of the 19th century, tension between the English and the Irish continued to grow. The English passed a series of trade laws and tariffs that favored English industry and agriculture over the Irish and Irish wages continued to drop even further. Trapped by both economics and politics, the Irish began living exclusively on potatoes.  And when the potato crop failed in 1845, a famine followed that was truly disastrous.

DAVID DICKSON ON CAMERA: The Great Hunger or the Great Famine is the largest event in modern Irish history, certainly up to the twentieth century, in that one eighth of the population, inside of six years, died.  We have an excess mortality of about a million or a little over a million, and more than 1 million of Ireland's 8 emigrate between the beginnings of that famine and the early 1850s. An extraordinary artist-cum-reporter, who was working in London and working for the Illustrated London News, produced a series of quite extraordinary images in 1846 and '47.  And really he was a kind of CNN of the Irish Great Hunger because his images were coming through very quickly.  They're quite small, but they bear very close examination and there is extraordinary pathos in some of those faces. By the third or the fourth year of the famine, there’s hardly a social group in Ireland, even among the very wealthiest, who weren't directly affected, partly because the diseases that associated with the famine did not recognize class barriers.  But I think for the very poor, who depended entirely on the potato, the crisis was very real by the end of year one; in other words, by the fall of 1846.

BURT WOLF: The battle against potato blight is still going on and Irish potato farmer, Jerry Flynn, is in the trenches.

JERRY FLYNN ON CAMERA: In the 1840s and 50s, if this was a field back then, there would be nothing left, it would be totally gone.

And this is what the people were digging back in the Famine.  They had no sprays to combat the blight, and this was what they found when they dug up.  There.  And that’s…that’s what blight—actually the spores aren’t there now—that’s what blight will do to a perfectly good crop of potatoes.  In two days.

Today’s blight is black leg. And we have no problem finding black leg in this field, because 60% of this crop is…is full of black leg.  These potatoes might look good, but because of the infection—there’s one of the potatoes there at you  infected with black leg—that will run through the plant. When that damp part hits off another potato, that infected area would hit off a perfectly good…that’s not infected yet…perfectly good potato.  Once that hits off that, it transfers the bacteria from that onto that.

There’s no chemicals, there’s no cure, there’s no seed treatment. There’s absolutely nothing we can do about black leg.   Only sunshine.  It’s like a cancer.  Everybody has it, but in a wet year, it comes out.

We’re still fighting this battle against blight.  And we’re still losing. 

THE IRISH IN AMERICA

BURT WOLF: English tariffs of the 1840s prevented the emergency importation of substitute grains. Relief efforts eventually got underway, but they were too little, and too late. For many, there was no choice but to emigrate. By 1850 over a million people had left Ireland, with most immigrating to the United States. 

One of the distinguishing aspects of the immigration of the Irish to America is that there were almost the same number of men as women and that allowed the immediate formation of families. The Irish American community developed a strong identity from the moment they arrived in America.

EDWARD T. O’DONNELL ON CAMERA: Now, the Irish, of course, have been coming for… since the Colonial period. But their biggest wave was certainly in the 19th century, and their contribution, one of their biggest contributions, was that they arrived in such huge numbers, and really shocked America—forced America to really think about what it meant to be an American, and kind of expanded the definition. America was not particularly pleased with the arrival of the Irish and gradually, over time—it took a couple of generations—accepted them as Americans.

And you could look at something like the St. Patrick's Day Parade. It's held all across the country now. Every year on March 17th. It's a celebration of Irish identity. But it's been copied and replicated by every immigrant group since.

Other contributions by the Irish, probably the most evident one, is in the role that they played in building the American economy as laborers. They came with very few skills, with almost no money for the most part, but they did arrive with the need to work and the willingness to work…

…and if you look across America, the great infrastructure that was built, that made America the greatest economy in the world by the early 20th century—the railroads, the canals, the great projects like the Brooklyn Bridge—all were built overwhelmingly with Irish labor. Many other groups too, but Irish really were the key contributors to that development.

FRENCH FRIES & ENGLISH CHIPS

BARBARA WHEATON ON CAMERA: The potato doesn't make it into the upper class until after the French Revolution in the early 1800s.  After they have fled France, and their cooks have fled France, because people like them were having their heads cut off, which is something nobody much cares for.  And, they fled to parts of Europe where potatoes were already the ordinary fare for every class of society.  Switzerland, and parts of Germany, and the low countries, and the British Isles.  And so when everybody returned, the upper class knew how to eat potatoes, and were used to them, and the chefs had learned how to cook them. One little clue that I have found is that the great chef, Carème, has a recipe in his cookbook, which he publishes in Paris, I think in 1815, for what he calls, in his beautiful English, “mesha potatas,” which I take to be mashed potatoes.  You know, so it had everybody's blessing.  And then it was all right, even for the middle class to eat, because the upper class was eating them.

BURT WOLF: During the 1800’s street vendors in Paris started offering slices of fried potato. They were shaped like a quarter moon and called New Bridge Potatoes after one of the bridges that crossed the River Seine.

By 1870, they had made their way across the channel to England, where they were put together with fried fish to create England’s national fast food.  At about the same time, they probably came over to the United States. What Americans call French fried potatoes are known as chips in England and what we call chips in America are called crisps in England, which of course makes perfect sense when you remember that George Bernard Shaw pointed out that the Americans and the English are two peoples “divided by a common language.”

THE POWER BEHIND THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: But the most important worldwide impact of the potato during the last 250 years is the way it allowed a small number of northern European countries to build a military, political and industrial base which allowed them to dominate the planet.

BURT WOLF: Take a look at a large scale potato operation and you can see what was happening. Potatoes yield two to four times as much nourishment per acre as grain.

As potatoes spread through Europe, a feedback process was set in motion: more potatoes produced more food, more food produced more people, more people produced more potatoes. The population of northern Europe grew as fast as the potato plants. In fact, the rate of population growth in northern Europe far outstripped what was taking place in other parts of the world.

All across Europe, the potato became the staple food of the poor—and the new working classes. It contributed to a population increase that was big enough to provide Europe not only with extra farm laborers, but with the workforce it needed for its transformation into an industrial society.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The expanding European population also filled the ranks of the imperial armies and navies, and their successes allowed Europeans to emigrate all over the world. The potato also fed the Russians and the Germans and, without the potato, it is highly unlikely that either of those countries would have become the industrial and military powers that they eventually became.

THE POTATO IN AMERICA

BURT WOLF: Fries, however, did not become very popular with Americans until the end of the First World War when American troops returned from the French front with a love of French fries. Americans eat most of their potatoes in the form of the French fry. Each year, Americans consume over thirty pounds of French fries per person. 

They became even more popular during the 1930s when people started driving around the country in their own automobiles. Roadside restaurants began to serve fries because they were easily eaten in a car.

At the end of the Second World War there was a fantastic growth in the use of frozen foods, and the French fried potato became a major item in the new frozen food cases that were being introduced in supermarkets.

They also became the most popular food item in the restaurant business—for decades they have been the most profitable offering in fast food.

The extraordinary healthful and nutritional value of the potato has made it a staple of the American and European diets for hundreds of years. In one form or another, potatoes have become part of virtually everyone’s diet.

This lesson has not been lost on the developing world. Today, the potato is catching on in Africa and Asia, where nations struggling to feed hundreds of thousands of hungry people have been turning to the potato. In South Asia and in some parts of Africa, potato consumption has replaced rice and millet. These days, Rwandans eat more potatoes than the Irish.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: So there you have it—the story of the potato.  It fed the great Inca Empire and the Spanish who conquered it.  In Ireland, it tried to keep a starving population alive.  In northern Europe, it fed an expanding population, which allowed a handful of countries to dominate the world for 200 years.  It became a staple in Asia and Africa and the most profitable item on American restaurant menus.  For What We Eat, I’m Burt Wolf.

What We Eat: The Story of the Tomato - #105

BURT WOLF: What We Eat, the true story of why we put sugar in our coffee and ketchup on our fries.

Originally, all life that lived on land lived on one giant continent.  Then forces inside the earth started breaking that land mass into the continents we have today and pushing them apart.

Slightly over 500 years ago a counter force appeared and started pulling everything back together. Only this time it wasn’t a geological force, it was the force of human culture and the point man was Christopher Columbus. During the ten years between Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 and his final trip in 1502, new forces totally changed the course of history.

Millions of people moved from one continent to another, governments changed and religions were exported. But surprisingly, the most important changes were not the result of politics or religion; they were the result of plants and animals being exchanged between two worlds.

 BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: We call them the Old World and the New World, but I think what we really had were two old worlds. After all, people have been living in the America’s for 35,000 years. Even to a man my age that’s a considerable length of time. I think what Columbus did was introduce the two Old Worlds and in the process create one new one.  And the exchange of plants and animals that took place altered the way people ate and that changed everything on the planet. What our series does is look at those changes and how they continue to affect our lives everyday in ways you wouldn’t imagine.

 TIME TO PLAY KETCHUP
THE STORY OF THE TOMATO

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: When the first Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico it was being ruled by the Aztecs. The Aztecs had controlled Mexico and Central America since 1325. The Aztecs loved conquering their neighbors; it was a great way to spend the day— out in the fresh air, lots of good exercise, tons of looted treasure. But if they couldn’t conquer you they had a great fall back position. Let’s do a little business. Want to trade something.

BURT WOLF: Between conquering and trading the Aztecs came in contact with many different cultures and were exposed to dozens of new foods. The Mayans introduced the Aztecs to the tomato, which they immediately accepted because it reminded them of something they were already eating — the husk tomato. They juiced them, added some chili peppers, ground up a little pumpkin seed, and had what we call salsa.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The Spanish were pretty good at conquering too and eventually conquered the Aztecs. The first Spaniards to see a tomato were with Cortez when he invaded Mexico in 1519. They called it a tomate.

BURT WOLF: The earliest published description of a tomato in Europe appeared in Italy in 1544. It was called a pomidoro, which means golden apple and suggests that the first tomatoes in Italy were yellow. Yellow tomatoes were associated with the yellow fruit of the mandrake plant, which was described in the Bible as an aphrodisiac. In many European countries the tomato became known as a “love apple”.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: The English first encountered the tomato in Jamaica and corrupted the Spanish word for it into tomahto. But Noah Webster, who compiled Webster’s Dictionary, thought the word should rhyme with potato; so Americans call them tomatoes while the English still call them tomahtoes.

THE TOMATO CONQUERS EUROPE

BURT WOLF: Tomatoes did well throughout southern Europe—Spain, Southern France and Italy slowly incorporated them into their diets.

PAUL ROZIN ON CAMERA: It took a while to be adopted.  You know, they're sort of bright and sort of frightening looking. It is hard to believe that Mediterranean cuisine didn't have tomatoes before 1600, but they didn't.  It's like the essence of Mediterranean cuisine. They already had a pasta, they already had a. well, of course the green pepper or the red pepper that goes with the tomato in the sauce was also coming over from the new world, so the basic sauce that is used in the Mediterranean, except for the olive oil, is actually stuff that is new. And it is in many ways like a meat substitute.  It adds both the color and some of the taste and texture of meat to foods.  So it is widely popular, particularly in cuisines, like in the Mediterranean which is not, which are not high meat cuisines.

BURT  WOLF: The tomato was around but no big deal. That changed however during the 1700s when famine swept through Italy. Suddenly they were hot stuff.

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: When famines occurred, they needed foods quickly and the tomato has the interesting characteristic that you put it in the ground, and three months later you have a plant bearing fruit. And so therefore, the southern Italians very quickly found out that one, they liked the tomato, and in addition to that, it was a famine food and in addition to that it could be used in so many different ways.

BURT WOLF: But tomatoes weren’t popular in northern Europe. The English had a particular dislike for them. They were different from the other fruits and vegetables that grew in Great Britain. And they didn’t match up with the diet recommended by most physicians.

For centuries doctors had practiced Humoral Medicine. All foods were divided into two groups—hot and cold. Doctors used these foods to balance the humors of the body. If you were having a hot time, doctors prescribed cool foods to bring you into line. If you were too cool, then hot foods were given to warm you up. In general, the more water a food held the cooler it was. Tomatoes were very cool.

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: And for the humoral system of medicine, what you do not want to do is eat a cold food in a cold country.  And they identified England and northern Europe as cold countries, and so therefore you wouldn't want to eat them.  But it was perfectly all right for an English man to go to Italy or to Spain and eat a tomato, because then they were in a hot country, and so therefore the balance between the hot country and the cold product was one that was good.

BURT WOLF: The English often took their holidays along the Mediterranean coast where tomatoes were part of the everyday menu.  When they returned home they brought back a taste for the tomato. And by the mid 1700s, the tomato, as an edible plant, was being cultivated in England. Within a few decades most other Northern European countries added the tomato to their ingredient list.

THE TOMATO PILL

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Back in America, the acceptance of the tomato was pretty much divided along the Mason- Dixon line. In the South, it was a regular part of the daily diet. In New England, however, it was not very important. They didn't grow well, took a long time to mature, and didn’t remind the New Englanders of anything they were already eating.  Who needed it!

DEB FRIEDMAN ON CAMERA: Most people would find them something that were difficult to grow, and don't know how to use them readily. One of my favorite stories is of a girl named Susan Blunt, whose father brought tomato seeds home, grew the tomatoes, her mother used the tomatoes to make a pie.  The family didn't like it.  They fed the pie to the pig.  The pig didn't like it.  So, they decided not to grow tomatoes any more.  For the most part, you find that,  people knew what they were, but they weren't willing to put the time and effort into them, to grow them, because they don't last long.  They have to be processed into something.  Whereas a carrot buried in a bin of sand will last for several months, a tomato has to be made into a preserve, into a catsup, into a pie, pretty soon.  And so, it demands a lot of attention very quickly

BURT WOLF: But the tomato’s hard time came to an end in 1834 when Dr. John Cook Bennett declared that the tomato would cure just about everything from dyspepsia to cholera. His claims were published in newspapers and magazines throughout the country. Bennet took a bunch of theories that had been circulating in the medical community and created a popular craze.

At one point Dr. Bennett met Dr. Alexander Miles who was busy selling a patent medicine called the “American Hygiene Pill”. Bennett suggested to Miles that he change the name of his pill to “Extract of Tomato.” 

Miles began advertising his extract of tomato and virtually every newspaper in the country began publishing articles about miraculous tomato cures. They used the slogan “Tomato Pills Will Cure All Your Ills.”

A media wave surged through every region of the nation and all Americans--lower, middle and upper class--were infected with tomato mania. Even those who did not believe in tomato miracles believed that the tomato was a wholesome and delicious food.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: In 1840, the medical Community decided to investigate the tomato pills and find out what was really inside them.  After an exhaustive period of research they concluded that in fact there were no tomatoes in the tomato pill or in the liquid medicine. But that wasn’t important. What was important was that Americans were eating more and more tomatoes.

THE QUEEN OF AMERICA’S VEGETABLES

BURT WOLF: Tomatoes became even more important in North American cuisine when thousands of southern Italians immigrated to the U.S. after the Civil War. They planted tomatoes in their gardens, ate them raw, cooked them, and introduced them to their non-Italian neighbors. Many Italian immigrants worked in grocery stores and restaurants and continued to spread the tomato. But it had to be in a form that was acceptable to mainstream America—Italian-American cuisine was born.

By 1900 the first pizza parlors opened in New York City and the tomato hit the top of the charts. And the grocer’s shelves

PAUL ROZIN ON CAMERA: Pizza is the, probably the most popular food in the United States.  It's not an American food.  It’d be hard to know that.  Any anthropologist who came and studied the globe would assume that pizza was the great native American food, and after all it's even made with tomatoes which are from our half of the world.

BURT WOLF: The tomato had become the “Queen of American Vegetables,” which was very bizarre because the tomato is a fruit not a vegetable. The definition is very straightforward. If the part we eat does not have a seed used for reproduction, it’s a vegetable — carrots, celery, lettuce, beets— no seeds. If the part that we eat has a seed used for reproduction, it’s a fruit — apples, pears, grapes, watermelon, all come with seeds. We eat the tomato and its seed; therefore, hence, ergo and accordingly, the tomato is a fruit.

Tomatoes are still the “Queen of America’s Vegetables” and although they won’t cure all your ills, they can help. They are full of vitamins A and C and contain an antioxident called lycopene. Lycopene is what gives tomatoes their vibrant red color and is found almost exclusively in tomatoes. Since 1995, research has shown a correlation between the intake of tomatoes and tomato-based foods and the diminished risk of certain forms of cancer, as well as heart disease.

California and Florida are the top two tomato producing states in the U.S. Each year, Florida dedicates approximately 42,000 acres of prime land to growing them.

In California there are nearly 200 farming families growing tomatoes.

About 3.7 billion pounds of tomatoes are produced in the United States each year.

Florida and California tomatoes grow up in a warm and sunny climate, and they like that kind of environment.  So, don't put them in your refrigerator.  Once a tomato is brought below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it permanently loses the enzymes that create the flavor. The water inside begins to expand.  The cell walls burst, and the texture becomes mealy.  And store them stem side up.  That's the way they grew.  And like many of us, they don't enjoy standing on their heads.

 HOW A FRUIT BECAME A VEGETABLE

BURT WOLF: Before the Civil War most commercially grown tomatoes were raised in Florida and transported to northern cities. During the war that supply was cut off so farmers in the Bahamas and other parts of the Caribbean started planting tomatoes and exporting them to the States. After the war, the Caribbean tomato trade expanded and began to threaten the profits of many U.S. growers. To protect American growers against this competition, Congress passed the Tariff Act of 1883. It levied a ten percent duty on imported vegetables.

In the spring of 1886 John Nix imported a shipment of tomatoes from the Caribbean to New York City, maintaining that they were a fruit rather than a vegetable. Nix paid the duty, under protest, and then brought suit to get his money back.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: After six years of winding its way through the court system, Nix v. Hedden ended up being argued in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. And with its supreme knowledge, it decided that even though the tomato was botanically a fruit, it disguised itself as a vegetable as it moved through commerce and, being a tender vegetable, it needed to be protected. A ten percent duty was its protection. And so the Supreme Court of the United States turned a fruit into a vegetable. And isn’t that what justice is all about.

TIME TO PLAY KETCHUP

BURT WOLF: The word ketchup comes with an image of a thick, sweet, tomato-based condiment, which is poured, spooned and squirted on many of our foods. While it’s standard op for restaurants in the United States to have bottles of tomato ketchup, Americans neither created ketchup, nor, in its origin, was it a thick, sweet or tomato-based food. 

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: The word  ketchup is originally Chinese.  And it's cats-y-ap is the original word.  And it originally meant, fermented fish sauce, or fermented soy sauce...a very thin liquid-y sauce that was used mainly in cooking.  It was not used as a condiment.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: An ingredient.

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: It was used as an ingredient in the cooking and migrated from China into Southeast Asia, and into what's today Indonesia.  And the Indonesians fell in love with this product, and which is now called ca-chop. And is available in all sorts of different variations in Indonesia today.

BURT WOLF: British explorers, traders and colonists moving through Asia came into contact with cachop. And when they got home they attempted to recreate the recipe, which became ketchup.  Soybeans did not grow easily in Europe, so British cooks substituted other products, like anchovies, mushrooms, kidney beans, and later in the eighteenth century, walnuts. British colonists then brought their ketchup recipes to America.

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: And it's really not until about 1800 that Americans start fooling around with other products, just like the British did, and created a whole series of other ketchups ... all the fruit ketchups, apple ketchup, cherry ketchup, peach ketchup, and somebody went around and, and found that tomatoes made good ketchup, too.  And up until about the Civil War, the three main ketchups, which were all gourmet foods--- you would have walnut ketchup, mushroom ketchup, and tomato ketchup.  And at the bottom of menus from this period, they proudly announced that they had all three of these ketchups would be available if you went into the best restaurants of America at that time.

BURT WOLF: After the Civil War, the price of tomatoes dropped dramatically. What was originally three and a half dollars a pint for tomato ketchup became ten cents for a quart. The price of mushrooms and walnuts however remained the same. By 1896, The New York Tribune declared “Tomato Ketchup: America’s National Condiment.”

ARCHIVAL CLIP OF NEWSPAPER BOY ON CAMERA: EXTRA, EXTRA, read all about it…

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: Emily Aronson has been my producer for almost 30 years.  And we get along pretty well.  But we differ on ketchup.  First of all, we do agree that it's the best sauce in the world.  But she feels it has to be stored outside the refrigerator, where somewhere I came upon the idea that it should be stored in the refrigerator. 

ANDY SMITH ON CAMERA: Emily is a very wise woman.  You can just determine that not only by her love of ketchup, but in addition to that, ketchup does not need to be refrigerated.  And in fact, I think cold ketchup is not as tasty as, as ketchup that comes in right at room temperature.

SOUP’S ON

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: At the end of the 1800s ketchup was only one of the foods being mass-produced. The War Between the States had created an enormous demand for foods that would stay fresh and travel. The American canning industry came of age and one of their most successful products was canned soup.

BURT WOLF: Tomato soup would have been just one soup among many had it not been for John T. Dorrance. In 1895, he began producing condensed soups. He sold five flavors in his first year: tomato, vegetable, chicken, consommé and oxtail. By 1904 however his company was making 21 different flavors and selling 16 million cans a year. The business of canned soups flourished and tomato soup was by far the most important.

When the Depression hit in the early 1930’s, soup became the main meal. At twelve cents per can, canned soups were healthy and inexpensive. Even if you bought fresh tomatoes and made your own soup you couldn’t do it as cheaply. During the 1930’s tomato soup became the most consumed canned food item in America.

SOME JUICY TOMATO

BURT WOLF: During the summer of 1917, Louis Perrin, was the French-American chef at a resort in French Lick Springs, Indiana. One day he started serving his guests tomato juice.

It was just an experiment but Chicago businessmen loved it and spread the word: Tomato juice was great stuff.

By the 1920s, tomato juice was being promoted as a health drink. Canned tomato drinks were getting more popular, but none of the products yielded the juice with just the right color and flavor. And the tomato solids settled to the bottom of the can, or glass—not what the public wanted.

BURT WOLF ON CAMERA: In 1924, Ralph Kemp of Frankfort, Indiana started looking for a way to break up tomato pulp into tiny little particles that would float in tomato juice but not an easy thing to do.  It took him four hears of experimentation.  Finally ended up using something called a viscolizer which had previously been used in the making of ice cream.  Then in 1928 he introduced the first true tomato juice with a national ad campaign and it became an instant success.

BURT WOLF: One reason tomato juice was so successful was that it arrived as prohibition left. A cocktail made of tomato juice and vod