Origins: Rome - #106

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

In contrast to New York as The Big Apple, Rome has been called The Big Lasagna, and it’s a perfect description.  Like lasagna, Rome is all about layers -- layers that could easily stand on their own, and yet being together in the same pot has made the entire dish more interesting.

This particular pot is resting in the middle of the Italian peninsula, about fifteen miles inland from the west coast.  Archeologists have found traces of an ancient Roman settlement that dates back to 1200 BC, but most historians like to date the beginning of “real times Roman” as the eighth century before the birth of Christ.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For me, there are five distinct layers to Rome: the first is made up of the ruins and restorations of ancient Rome.  Stuff that’s been at the bottom of the pot for over two thousand years.

Next come the remains of early Christian Rome: buildings that started out as Pagan temples and ended up as some of the earliest Christian churches... works of art that tell the great stories of Christianity.

The third layer is Renaissance Rome --  the extraordinary rebirth of culture that took Europe out of the Middle Ages.  This was the time of Michelangelo, and Raphael.

Then came a period known as the Baroque.  The word “baroque” comes from the Portuguese and means “uneven stone.”  The movement grew as part of the reaction to the Protestant Reformation.  It was designed to restore the power of Rome and the Catholic church.  In Rome itself, some of the greatest examples of the Baroque are the works of Bernini.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And finally I see an ingredient that’s not so much a layer as it as a light dusting on top.  Sometimes it’s like grated cheese ... a little bit salty and demanding.  Other times it’s quite sweet and light like powdered sugar.

It got started in the mid-fifties and is called La Dolce Vita, which means “the sweet life,” and it’s a reference to the lifestyle that was developing in Rome.

In order to understand why a particular dish tastes the way it does, it’s very helpful to have a recipe.  The first ingredient in this Big Lasagna recipe is Ancient Rome.

The Forum was the political, religious, and commercial center of ancient Rome.  As I wandered through the ruins, my guidebook told me of the great structures that stood here some 2,000 years ago.  The Forum was built under the direction of Julius Caesar.  That pile of broken stones... that was the spot where triumphant generals stood when they returned home.  That clump of weeds... the very location of the magnificent House of the Vestal Virgins.  And those columns... the Temple of Saturn.  I can see it all in my mind’s eye.  With my regular glasses, however, the place looks like it needs some serious attention.

Next, the quintessential visual symbol of Rome: The Coliseum.  It was built as a stadium in the first century and held over 50,000 spectators.  It was the center for the contests between the gladiators.  At one point in its history, the building became a source of marble for the local construction companies and it was stripped of its facade.  Some ruins are more ruined than others.

That is The Pantheon.  It is probably in better shape than any other ancient Roman building.  It was built in 27 BC as a temple to all the Roman gods.  Kind of a mutual fund approach to pagan religion.  You spread your veneration over a large group of deities and you reduce your risk of missing out on the powerful one.  The Pantheon seems to have survived the centuries because it was turned into a church in the 600s.  It is set on the lowest point in Rome and was subject to regular flooding.  If you look up you will see the dome of the structure which is bigger than the one on St. Peter’s.  The hole in the center is the only source of light.  Unfortunately it is also the source of water whenever it rains.

The next layer of Rome began to emerge right around the time of the birth of Christ.  One of the most interesting churches in Rome is the Basilica of San Clemente.  My guide is Father Paul Lawlor, who was born in Ireland but is now coordinating the restoration activities of the church.

FATHER PAUL LAWLOR:  Really to explain this you have to understand that San Clemente lies in a valley between two of the hills of Rome.  On this side you’ve got the Celian Hill, on this side the Appian Hill.  And over the centuries the street level rose.  So it was necessary to fill in the lower buildings in order to build a new structure.  And so the buildings underneath were filled in and preserved.

So here we have the center of the, uh, the ground floor which seems to be part of a structure which was built some time in the fourth century before Christ.  One of the few places in Rome where you can see one of the buildings destroyed in the Great Fire of 64.  The building we think then was covered over by the gardens of Nero and then after the death of Nero the whole place was turned into a games area.  The games area was the center of which was the Coliseum and then this building here was part of the same structure.  And it’s a building which goes up something like three stories high.  Here we’re on the ground floor, so this was street level in the fourth century.

So now we’re here on the fourth century level.  And this is where the Christians built a basilica sometime at the end of the fourth century.  And we’ve got records of this church going right up to the twelfth century, but between those periods -- the fourth century and the twelfth century -- every century added something to this building.  From the columns that you see, the mosaic floor -- very simple, typical of the sixth century when they’re reusing marble, to the paintings.  A whole series of paintings, particularly from the eleventh century when they’re trying to show the importance of the papacy.  Gregory VII had been exiled, and they’re trying to show that the papacy had its own importance.

BURT WOLF:  And the column?

FATHER PAUL LAWLOR:  The column itself there is from going back to the fourth century basilica, but again, it’s been reused.  If you look at the different columns, you can see they’re all different.  They come from different structures.

BURT WOLF:  The ecology of architecture.

FATHER PAUL LAWLOR:  Exactly, exactly.  They’re reusing and recycling, and thus particularly true of the mosaic pavement.  You can no longer bring in the red marble from Egypt, the green marble from Greece.  You take it from some other building and reuse it.  So even on the same level you’ve got a whole series of layers of material.

And here we’re at the twelfth century level, the twelfth century basilica.  So again the street level is rising, the lower building becomes dark, damp, damaged by war and is filled in.  And this basilica is built in the twelfth century.  And I suppose one of the great works of art of the Middle Ages we’ve got here in the mosaic.  The mosaic which represents the tree of life.  You’ve got the cross at the center, you see it there planted in the ground and this great tree comes out from the base of the cross.  The tree representing the church, the inscription tells us.  And then you’ve got all these little scenes of daily life of women looking after sheep and goats, feeding chickens, men also as shepherds, hunting scenes, everything being involved in this great tree and everything being brought back up to heaven.  So it’s a powerful, powerful mosaic. 

What’s interesting is, is that if you look at the floor, you see on the floor a design which is laid out by the Cosmoti, this great family of marble workers.  They had learned how to cut columns into slices, like cutting up salami, you know?  And laying out this beautiful pattern, and if you look at the pattern it’s like, again, it weaves in and out like a tree stretching right through the church.  Again, it’s a cross made at the same time as the mosaic, perhaps a reflection of the cross in the mosaic.  But now, by coming in to the church we’re involved, as it were, in the branches of this tree which this time is rooted in the altar.  And the sacrifice of Christ of course on the altar which gave life to this new tree of life which stretches right throughout the church.  It’s a magnificent idea.

BURT WOLF:   You see all the levels of the church in this one room.

FATHER PAUL LAWLOR:  That’s right.  Everything is represented from the early Christian world right through to the twelfth century, then the Renaissance and then the Baroque world right up to our own time.

BURT WOLF:   And still being used...

FATHER PAUL LAWLOR:  And still being used today.

To continue along with the idea of the layers of Rome, a perfect example of how the Renaissance layer was placed on top of everything that went before, is the Capitoline Hill.  It was originally the site of a pair of pre-Christian temples honoring Jupiter and Juno.  But in 1538 it became the home of Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio.  You approach the plaza by walking up a long, gently inclined ramp -- perfect for a grand imperial entrance to Rome, which was Michelangelo’s purpose.  The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was coming to town.  The Emperor would be greeted by two statues of Castor and Pollux, the twin heroes of classical mythology.  And in the center of the Campidoglio, he would be confronted by a magnificent statue of Marcus Aurelius, set on an impressive pedestal.  The statue is no longer there, but the pedestal is -- proving once again that even when the politician is gone, his platform remains.  On two sides of the piazza are museums storing ancient Roman artifacts.  The third building is the Senatorial Palace, which to this day is used by the local government of Rome for the storage of ancient ideas on how the city should be governed.

To explore the next layer of the lasagna of Rome, the Baroque, I turned to Ilaria Barberini.  She is the descendent of a powerful Roman family that included Pope Urban VIII, the man who commissioned the Barberini Palace and the Piazza Barberini.  The family crest is illustrated with three bees as a symbol of how hard the Barberini work.  Ilaria is certainly a perfect example.  She’s part of a cultural association called Citta Nascosta, which means “the hidden city.”  It’s made up of a group of instructors who are specialists in guiding people to the most famous parts of Rome, as well as the more unusual areas.  She’s taking me to see a perfect example of the Baroque style that consumed Rome during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries.

ILARIA BARBERINI:  This is Palazzo Colona that was first built at the time of Pope Martino Quinto who was Pope in Rome from 1417 until 1431.  The palace was then rebuilt in 1730.  This is the gallery which was created to collect paintings and furnitures.  The gallery was created because they need to show the power and the importance and the prestige of the family and it was a very typical thing that powerful families used to do in 16- and 1700s.  And it was easy for the families connected to the pope, or connected with the pope, to buy important artistic treasures.

BURT WOLF:  If you got it, show it.

ILARIA BARBERINI:  Mmm hmm.  Yeah.  And so, we can start and see the rooms that lead to the great ballroom which is the big room -- a very beautiful one.

So in this room, as in all the other rooms, it’s full of beautiful paintings, but this is a particular painting.  It’s very famous and important.  And this painting is very famous because it gives you the idea of reality.  You really can feel, you know, the bread, the man that is eating, the beans... It’s called the Mangia Fagioli in Italian, that means “the bean eater.”

BURT WOLF:  Bean eater.


BURT WOLF:  This is the new style that starts in the 1600s.

ILARIA BARBERINI:  Yes.  This is new style.  It’s realism -- naturalism.  We can see the bread, the red wine, the man that’s sitting.  We feel immediacy, reality.  And we can also see the difference with that painting there that it belongs to the end of the fifteenth century.

BURT WOLF:  Very stylized.


BURT WOLF:  Unrealistic.


BURT WOLF:  And this is the average person.

ILARIA BARBERINI:  Yes.  There’s a big difference.

BURT WOLF:  And it’s a painting that makes you hungry...


BURT WOLF:  ...which is the mark of true art.


We are entering now in the big ballroom, the real gallery and it’s, you know, it’s amazing.  They say that it’s even bigger than the one that is in Versailles.  And here we can find one of the best examples of Roman Baroque.  We have all the elements.  We have the colored marbles, we have those kind of living frescos very rich in action.  And so we see the will to glorify the power of the family, to give importance to the family.  And then we have all those golden stuccos and all the statues around the gallery, the paintings...

BURT WOLF:   What do they actually do in this room?

ILARIA BARBERINI:  Well they... the room was built to collect paintings actually at the middle of the 1600s.  But they also danced in it, they had big balls and that’s...

BURT WOLF:   A little roller-blading was nice...

ILARIA BARBERINI:  Yes, a little roller-blading...

BURT WOLF:   Field hockey... tennis...

ILARIA BARBERINI:  Yes, exactly... tennis... they played sports...

BURT WOLF:   You need a room like this... I understand completely...

The enormously grand style of the Baroque period grew out of a reaction to the Protestant Reformation.  Four hundred years later, as a reaction to the poverty and darkness of the Second World War, Rome came up with La Dolce Vita.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  But instead of being presented in the traditional Roman art forms of painting, sculpture and architecture, La Dolce Vita was brought to us in film.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The master of the form was Fellini, and during the 1950’s he showed us what was happening in Rome as wealth and power returned to the city.  But the sweet life was also captured by still photographers.

For hundreds of years the Catholic Church offered something called an indulgence.  It was a very simple program.  You did something nice for your soul or the church or your fellow man and the church gave you a nice letter of reference for your afterlife.  One of the things you could do to pick up an indulgence was to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  It was a difficult trip, but people were doing it all the time.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Then one day at the end of the 13th century, Pope Boniface VIII was sitting around trying to figure out how he was going to replenish the bank accounts of the church when he came up with a great idea.  He decided to make the year 1300 a Jubilee Holy Year and offer an indulgence to anyone who came to Rome and visited the shrines of St. Peter and St. Paul -- the same kind of indulgence that you would have gotten had you gone all the way to the Middle East.  Well, this may have turned out to be the most important bonus mile program of all time.  During that single year of 1300, over two million people took advantage of the offer and came to Rome.  It was big business for this town.  And so successful that they held the program over for over two hundred years, making Rome the single most important tourist attraction in the western world.

Today tourism in Italy is a bigger business than ever.  Over fifty million tourists come to Italy each year, and they spend billions of dollars.

The most famous streets for shopping in Rome are at the base of the Spanish Steps... the international fashion houses... the great Italian tailors... the jewelry makers.  And although there are plenty of restaurants in the area, it can be tough to find good food at a good price.  A notable exception is the restaurant Il Cantinone, on the Via Vittoria.  Charming... unpretentious... inexpensive.  It’s run by the brothers Zucca, and it serves the specialties of the island of Sardinia -- like Carta de Musica, thin crisp bread named after the ancient paper on which music was printed... or tiny Sardinian pasta in a tomato sauce... ravioli stuffed with cheese and vegetables... grilled squid... grilled cheese with honey... and a knockout selection of Sardinian cookies.

Another favorite spot for me in Rome is the restaurant Piperno.  It was originally opened in 1860 by Pacifico Piperno, a master chef whose specialty was Jewish cooking.  At the time, this area was the center of the Jewish Ghetto.  These days, the restaurant has an excellent table of appetizers, but my favorite meal at Piperno begins with artichokes cooked in what is called “the Jewish style,” followed by a bowl of chickpea and pasta soup.  And to finish off, an espresso laced with Romana Sambuca and a dollop of whipped cream.

Da Vincenzo is a neighborhood restaurant, virtually unknown to tourists, and even to many Romans who don’t live or work in this particular neighborhood.  It’s one of the few restaurants in Rome that still caters to the old tradition of Gnocchi Thursday.  Gnocchi is a pasta made from potatoes and flour, and for some reason that I have been unable to discover, there are a group of restaurants that make it every Thursday.  Also worth trying at Da’ Vincenzo is a sautéed veal dish called saltimbocca, which means “jump in your mouth.”  And for dessert, panna cotta, a custard flan which in this case is served with fresh berries.  I recommend this place to you, but I don't want you to tell anybody else about it, okay?

Water... soaring up from beneath the earth.  A spring has always had a mystical quality, offering an opportunity to be cleansed and rejuvenated.  It’s an ancient and universal symbol of life and rebirth.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  For thousands of years a natural spring was considered to be a sacred place.  The perfect spot to build a shrine.  And for good reason.  The idea of pure water as a life giving force is not only poetic... it’s practical.  People can live for a couple of months without food... but a couple of weeks without water and life begins to disappear.  So when someone came across fresh, clear, pure water just coming up out of the earth, they knew that they had reached a special place and they honored it.

Ancient civilizations, including the Greeks, planted gardens and built shrines around their springs.  When the builders started to use basins and reservoirs to display and transport the waters, the springs became fountains.  The Romans developed a purely decorative form of fountain that eventually ended up as a monumental sculpture.  The early Christians placed fountains in their basilica as a symbol and a source of purification.  During the Middle Ages, the fountains moved into the courtyards of the monasteries.  But it was in Italy, during the Renaissance, that the fountain took on a form that was dominated by staggering, immense, virtually gargantuan sculpture.  And Rome is the place with the most extraordinary examples of this art.

This is the Piazza Navona, which takes its long, narrow shape from an ancient Roman stadium that once stood here.  There are three fountains in the Piazza Navona, but the most important one is the Fountain of the Rivers.  It was designed by Bernini, who was a great architect of the Baroque period.  The work was finished in 1651, and represents four rivers from four corners of the world: the Danube from Europe, the Ganges from Asia, the Rio de la Plata for the Americas, and the Nile for Africa.  The head of the Nile is covered to show that the source of the Nile was not known at the time the fountain was built.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When Bernini designed this fountain he was in competition with another architect of the time named Borromini.  Borromini designed the front of the St. Agnese Church which is right in front of Bernini’s fountain.

Tourist guides like to tell you that the statues of the Nile and the Plate are holding up their hands in a defensive position in order to protect themselves from the Borromini building -- which they expect to fall on them!

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The truth of the matter is that the church was built a few years after the fountain, but maybe Bernini had seen the plans and knew what was coming.  At any rate, their rivalry is still in evidence.

The most famous fountain in Rome is probably the Trevi Fountain.  During the year 19 BC, thirteen miles of canal were built to bring water into the city, and this is the spot where the water arrived.  The figure in the center represents the ocean, and he is being drawn across the waters by two sea horses and two sea gods.  In the 1959 film, La Dolce Vita, Anita Ekberg took a little dip in these waters, and the place became even more famous.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the middle of the 1600’s Pope Urban VIII began building a fountain here.  He used money that he collected from a tax on wine, which proved to be extraordinarily unpopular.  He ended up being accused of trying to turn wine into water.  He had to give up the tax and his plans for the fountains.  It did get built, however, about a hundred years later by a local sculptor named Nicola Salvi.  Local folklore has it that if you stand in front of the fountain, facing away, and throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain, you will someday return to Rome and your wish will be granted.

[Somebody yells in Italian off-camera as Burt’s coin hits him...]

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA) :  Piace, I’m sorry, sorry.  Terribly sorry.  So much for that wish... for my next wish, I wish that you will join us next time as we travel around the world, looking at the ORIGINS of the things that surround us.  From Rome, I’m Burt Wolf.

Origins: Eleuthera, The Bahamas - #105

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

The Bahamas are a group of 2,700 coral islands. Most of them are small and uninhabited -- little strips of land scattered in a chain that starts off the coast of Florida, and runs down to the tip of Haiti.

The capital city of the Bahamas is Nassau. It’s an important port for Caribbean cruise ships, a center for duty-free shopping and a popular vacation spot.  Most of the tourists coming to the Bahamas end up in Nassau.

But there’s another side to these islands, a side which is quieter, softer and gentler.  A side that will allow you to leave the commercial world behind and just relax. A side that is found on what are known as “the family islands.”

The first European to arrive on a family island in the Bahamas was Christopher Columbus. He looked around, didn’t see any gold and moved on.  And that was pretty much the story for everyone else who came by.  “No gold? No silver? No treasures?  Hey!  Let’s go!”

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The first settlers to show up in the Bahamas with the intention of setting up a permanent colony were a group of Puritans who came down here from Bermuda in 1649.  They were looking for a place where they would be free to practice their religion -- the same situation that sent a different group of Puritans out of England to establish a colony in Massachusetts.  The group that came here were under the leadership of Captain William Sayle.  They were known as the Eleutheran Adventurers.  Eleuthera is the Greek word for freedom.

Their ship was wrecked on the reef out there, but they were lucky enough to be able to make their way to this shore. Their search for shelter led them to a cave just off the beach. They had lost most of their supplies when the ship went down, and were forced to live, as best they could, off the land and the sea. This cave was their only shelter. 

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): Captain Sayle built himself a small sailboat, and with eight of his men headed off to get help from the British colony in Jamestown, Virginia.  And, amazingly, he pulled it off.  He returned with enough supplies to last the Eleutherans for two years, at which time they needed help again.  Not wanting to tap the same source too often, his second request was made to the British colony in Massachusetts.  They responded by sending a shipload of supplies and the Eleutherans thanked them by sending back a shipload of hardwood and a request that some of the proceeds from the sale of the hardwood be used to support the development of Harvard University.

The Eleutheran Adventurers used this cave not only as a place of shelter but as a place of worship. They carved this rock into a form that could be used as a pulpit and conducted their services. With its cathedral shape and light shining down from the holes in the top of the cave, it’s easy to see why they thought themselves blessed. Today it’s called Preacher’s Cave.  

As the early settlers began to spread out, they took up residence on an island called Spanish Wells.  Spanish Wells is just off the northern tip of Eleuthera and it got its name because it was the spot where Spanish ships would stop to take on fresh water just before they made a quick right turn and headed back to Seville with the treasures that they had stolen from the local natives. Almost all of the people who live on Spanish Wells are descendants of the original Eleutherian Adventurers and most of them still speak with a distinct British accent.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Spanish Wells has the distinction of being the wealthiest community in the Bahamas, and they owe it all to changing fashions in food.  For about three hundred years, they tried to earn a living by bringing in the local lobsters.  But for 250 of those years, nobody really cared.  Lobster was considered to be junk seafood.  As a matter of fact, farmers along the Atlantic coast of North America would use lobsters as fertilizer on their farms.  Then, in the early decades of this century, everything changed.  Lobster became the seafood to eat.  Supplies went down, prices went up, and the guys on Spanish Wells got rich.  And if people continue to pay big prices for big lobsters, people on Spanish Wells will remain in ship shape.

And speaking of shapes, Eleuthera has a rather unusual one.  It is 110 miles long and for most of that length it is only about a mile wide. At its widest point it only thickens out to about five miles.  Its thinnest point is about five yards, which is a spot known as the Glass Window.  On one side you have the Atlantic Ocean and on the other the Caribbean Sea. You can stand on this small bridge of land and see the difference between these two bodies of water.  The Atlantic: aggressive, uninviting, often covered with waves and whitecaps. On the other side, the Caribbean: smooth, gentle, inviting you to pull up a beach chair and relax.

Beaches are Eluthera’s big attraction, miles and miles of them, one stretch more beautiful than the next and always uncrowded.

Most tourists to Eleuthera pass their days on Harbour Island.  It’s just off the coast of the mainland of Eleuthera and you get there by water taxi.  The center of Harbour Island is Dunmore Town.  It was named after Lord Dunmore, who was the Governor of the Bahamas during the late 1700s.  Dunmore Town was once a center for shipbuilding, sugar processing, and the production of rum.  The rum business was particularly successful during the period when the United States was under the influence of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution -- the one that outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages.  The law did not extend itself to Eleuthera but Eleuthera did extend its rum distribution to the United States, proving once again that a friend in need is a friend in deed.

I passed a day on Harbour Island walking through the streets, looking at the architecture, talking to the people, and enjoying the food.

FISHERMAN:  Bahamian conch... that’s for conch salad, cracked conch, conch chowder... a delight!  That’s the conch!

One of the more unusual sights in Dunmore Town is called the Aura Corner.  It’s sort of like a giant collage of... well, it’s like a collection of thoughts that... actually, it’s whatever Ralph Sawyer wants it to be.  Sawyer is the curator of Aura Corner.  Uncle Ralph, as he’s called, collects slogans, sayings, words of wisdom, whatever.  He gets them from the visitors who stop by.  Then he paints them on wooden slats and hangs them up in front of his house.  And anyone can leave a memento of their own -- hey, Jimmy Buffett did.  My favorite is Uncle Ralph’s Recipe For A Happy Marriage:  3 cups of love... one cup of forgiveness... one barrel of laughter -- a recipe!  How appropriate.

I began my gastronomic day with a traditional Bahamian breakfast at Angela’s Starfish Restaurant -- pineapple juice, yellowtail fish on grits, and johnnycakes.  Angela Johnson, who runs the place, is also an expert on the science -- and the art -- of using everyday plants as medicines.

ANGELA JOHNSON:  Well, bush medicine began from before my time.  My grandmother, she used to take care of people that were sick.  And she used to boil up medicine and give them medicine to drink.

BURT WOLF:  So you’re making a tea, really.

ANGELA JOHNSON:  Yeah!  I put a little salt in it, like you get the lime, or the sour orange -- a big sour orange -- and you squeeze it in there and you drink that down.  That wakens up that flame...

BURT WOLF:  What are some of the herbs that you use?

ANGELA JOHNSON:  We got the bay leaf, you know the bay leaf is good, too.

BURT WOLF:  What’s that for?

ANGELA JOHNSON:  If you got diarrhea, you can boil that and make a tea, too.  Yeah, here... smell it... It smells real good.  You see?  Mash it... You cook with it...

BURT WOLF:  Mmmm...It smells good!

ANGELA JOHNSON:  Yeah!  It’s good!  And then you got the sweet basil, which you can make tea also, good for the stomach.  And they’re also good to cook with, you know that.


ANGELA JOHNSON:  They grow, I guess, all over America.

BURT WOLF:  Ah, so what does sweet basil do for you as a medicine?

ANGELA JOHNSON:  It’s good... It cleans the stomach.  Yeah, it’s good, mash it!  If you got fish on you -- you been fishin’?

BURT WOLF:  Yeah...

ANGELA JOHNSON:  Wash your hands and the scent not leavin’?  You rub that in your hands, it take away the scent.  But sometimes the fishy scent doesn’t leave for a while, you know?  And you just take that and rub it in the hand there and wash the hand again.

BURT WOLF:  They smell sweet!

ANGELA JOHNSON:  Yeah!  You smell like a loverboy.

BURT WOLF:  Plus, a lot cheaper than Calvin Klein, let me tell you.

ANGELA JOHNSON:  Yeah!  That’s right, it’s good stuff.

If you take a mid-morning coffee break, the place to do it is Arthur’s Bakery.

ROBERT ARTHUR:  Basically, we do about thirty different items every morning.  Our mainstay is bread.  We start with a base of the Bahamian white bread -- we do a lot of Bahamian white bread -- and then we do interesting things with it.  We do a cinnamon raisin bread, we add jalapeño and cheese to it, we do a jalapeño-cheese bread, herbal bread, coconut bread, and that’s the basis of our breads.  We do a nice baguette, and then we get into the pastries.  We do danishes, donuts, cookies, cakes, pies -- we do an excellent key lime pie.  We began in our house.  My wife enjoyed making cheesecakes.  She was an accountant and she was bored, so she started baking cheesecakes. Other people on the island had heard about these wonderful cheesecakes and they started ordering cheesecakes from her.  The people at the Pink Sands Hotel, they heard about it, and they asked if she would come work for them as a baker.  And she said, “No, I don’t want to work for anyone, I’d sell you my goods, though.”  And we started baking out of our little house for the Pink Sands Hotel and other customers, and that’s how Arthur’s Bakery got started.

Well, if Pink Sands is good enough for Arthur’s Bakery, it is certainly good enough for our lunch.  It has a three-mile private stretch of pink beach; it’s pink because of the coral deposits that have broken down and washed ashore.  The resort also has some of the best and most imaginative food in the Bahamas.  The specialties include Tandoori Chicken Spring Rolls with a tamarind and guava dip... Marinated Black Tiger Shrimp on mixed greens with caramelized tropical fruit... and a warm tuna salad.  Chef Stuart Betteridge explains the preparation.

STUART BETTERIDGE:  Okay, we start off with some locally grown cucumber, which is sliced, we arrange this on the plate.  We then use some of the Eleutheran tomatoes that a farmer locally grows for me.  We then have some warm wedge potatoes that have been marinated in garlic and thyme that have been roasted through the oven.  We also add some eggs; this is a sort of a play on the classic Niçoise Salad that we’ve just broken down with the same ingredients, only actually we’ve made it our way.  The plate looks like that -- then we take some home-grown red lettuce that we grow in our garden here at Pink Sands... this just finishes off the dish.  And then we get the tuna; it is a yellowfin tuna that’s caught locally, and we have that cooked medium-rare.  Thank you, Terence.  That goes on the center of the plate, giving it a very nice decoration.  This is kept medium-rare to keep all of the moisture inside of the fish.  We then finish it off with a balsamic and caper vinaigrette.  Thank you, sir.  We put the vinaigrette and the capers over the top of the tuna, this gives it a nice flavor and also keeps in the juices.  Then pouring it around the plate, and over the top of the salad and all of the ingredients.  And the final touch we use is crispy yams that we get locally grown and this adds a little bit of sweetness to take away from the sour of the vinegar.  And then some nice fresh lime wedges just to squeeze onto the fish.  And that is the warm fish salad.

The Landing was built in 1800 by a wealthy fruitgrower and remained a private home until 1992, when it became an eight-room hotel and a restaurant.  We settled in for supper and started with conch salad... followed by lobster with a Catalan sauce, which is made with olives, capers, tomatoes and celery... tuna with shrimp, served on a bed of rice... lobster with homemade fettucini... and for dessert, poached pears, crepes suzette, and strawberry cheesecake.  (There were six of us and we split everything.  I don’t want you to think that was just for me.)

The water taxi from Eleuthera crosses the harbor in four minutes and ends up at the dock of the Romora Bay Club.  There are thirty-eight small houses on the property, lots of local vegetation, a few tennis players, and a very laid-back main lounge.  As a matter of fact, the whole place is laid-back and quiet.  Rosie and Goldie are the two noisiest guests, and fortunately they have a very limited vocabulary.

ROSIE:  Hello!

Everyone I saw at Romora Bay was taking it easy, with the exception of the guests that were taking to the sea.  Romora Bay has an exceptional watersports program, under the direction of Jeff Fox and his diving dog!

BURT WOLF:   So that’s the famous diving dog, huh?

JEFF FOX:  This is the famous diving dog.

BURT WOLF:  How did he learn to dive?

JEFF FOX:  Well, we do a introductory SCUBA program here that teaches people to dive in shallow water.  And during the shallow water diving section, he would swim out and circle the divers as they were down below.  Eventually, one day we were teaching, and he swam by!

BURT WOLF:  Just dove down?

JEFF FOX:  Dove down, swam by, went on up -- which obviously caught everybody’s attention.  And we’ve progressed from that point using weights or swimming masks -- anything that we could -- to get him to retrieve.  He would swim out, circle, and eventually go down to get it.

BURT WOLF:  That’s amazing!

JEFF FOX:  And we’d move it deeper, and deeper, until he finally got down to close to twenty feet.

BURT WOLF:  So at some point he actually had to grasp the idea of holding his breath...

JEFF FOX:  Oh yeah!

BURT WOLF:  ...and not trying to breath underwater.

JEFF FOX:  That’s the amazing thing; he coordinates a running, jumping entry, times his breath hold, fights his way down against the buoyancy of the saltwater, and picks up, sometimes, a four-pound lead weight.  So, we tell everyone, if they can do that, they’re certified.

BURT WOLF:  So let’s see him dive!

JEFF FOX:  Sure!  Bri, you up for a little diving today?  All right!

BURT WOLF:  He certainly is up!

JEFF FOX:  Oh yeah!  Come on, Bri, you ready?  All set for this?

BRI:  Woof!

JEFF FOX:  Okay... Look at the object...See that mask, Bri?  You see that?  Wait for it to go all the way down.... Go!  Good man, Bri!  Excellent!  Good man!  All right, Bri, go on to the shore, now.  Okay, there you have it, guys.

For many years Eleuthera was a major center for pineapple production. It has a number of large pineapple plantations and because the pineapples are allowed to ripen slowly without chemical assistance they’re extremely sweet.

FRANCES THOMPSON:  There are two different kind of pineapples, so the pineapples that you get in the Bahamas are not the pineapples you would get in the United States.

BURT WOLF:  Ahh...

FRANCES THOMPSON:  So there is a difference.  In the United States, they’re from Hawaii and they’re very chewy; they have less juice.  But the ones you get from the Bahamas, they are very meaty, and they have a lot of juice, and they are very sweet.  They don’t grow as big as the ones that you get in Hawaii.

BURT WOLF:  But they taste better.

FRANCES THOMPSON:  One hundred percent better.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Every June, Eleuthera has a pineapple festival during which they celebrate the history, folklore, and culture of the pineapple.  There is an Olympic-like Pine-a-thon in which they do a little running, and a little swimming, and a little bicycle riding.  There are pineapple growing contests, and pineapple cooking contests, and the dreaded whole pineapple bobbing contest.

Pineapples have been cultivated in the Caribbean for thousands of years. Scientists have reached that conclusion because the Caribbean pineapple no longer produces seeds, and that is a sign that the fruit has been farmed by man for so long that it no longer feels responsible for its own reproduction.  Talk about getting lazy.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The Caribe Indians would hang a pineapple in front of their hut as a sign that they were home and visitors would be welcome.  But they would also plant a row of pineapples at the edge of their village so that the sharp edges on the pineapple leaves would keep intruders away.  Another sign with a mixed message.

Pineapples are high in vitamin C,  which made them perfect fruit for sailors who wanted to take something along to prevent scurvy. They also discovered that the tops of the pineapple could be planted in the sandy soil of tropical islands, and when they would sail back months later there would be a fresh crop. Even then they knew how important it was to plan for dessert.

BURT WOLF:   Do you ever get tired of eating Eleutheran pineapples?

FRANCES THOMPSON:  Well, to tell you the truth, me myself, I can only eat the core of the pineapple.  I don’t eat the meat of the pineapple, just the core.

BURT WOLF:  How come?

FRANCES THOMPSON:  Because I’m just sick and tired of them.

The job now is to have the chef at the Romora Bay Club come up with a few recipes that use the local seafood and the local pineapples.  Ludovic Jarland, who is from France, is the chef at the Romora Bay Club and today he is going to prepare a freshly-caught grouper.  It’s presented in a tomato-based sauce with scales of zucchini.

He starts by taking two zucchinis that have been carefully washed and sliced into rounds that are about an eighth of an inch thick. You should end up with about two cups’ worth, which are transferred into a pan of boiling water for two minutes. At which point they are drained from the pan, run under cold water to stop the cooking, and set aside.

Now Ludovic starts the sauce. An onion is diced. Two tablespoons of vegetable oil are heated in a saucepan. The diced onion is added and cooked for three minutes. Four cups of canned tomatoes and their juices are added to the onions.  A little salt and a little pepper go in, plus some fresh thyme and ten leaves of fresh basil. All those ingredients cook together for about ten minutes.

While the sauce is cooking the fish is prepared. A boneless, skinless fillet of grouper is salted and peppered and placed into a non-stick sauté pan. The zucchini slices are placed onto the fish, forming an overlapping pattern that looks a lot like the scales of a fish. A little more salt and pepper are added and a half cup of dry white wine. Wine is optional; you could do this with chicken stock or fish stock or plain water.  The pan goes onto the range top and gets heated until the wine starts to boil. Then a cover of aluminum foil is carefully formed over the pan and the pan is placed into a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes.

While the fish is cooking, the sauce goes into a blender and is processed into a smooth puree.   A serving plate is given a light coating of the sauce. The fish is taken out of the oven and carefully transferred onto the sauce. The dish is ready to serve.

The chef’s second recipe is for a pineapple upside-down tart.  It starts off with a few pineapples being peeled, cut in half, cored and sliced into pieces that are about a half-inch thick. Then three ounces of sweet butter go into a hot sauté pan. As soon as the butter is melted, a cup of sugar is added and the mixture cooks for about three minutes.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  At first the mixture looks very dry, but the heat causes the water inside the sugar to come out, and everything gets liquid again.  Then, the heat and the water combine to turn the sugar brown.  That’s caramelization.

When the sugar has caramelized the pineapple slices are layered into the pan and allowed to cook for ten minutes.

While the pineapples are cooking, a standard pie dough is rolled out to a thickness of about an eighth of an inch. The pan of pineapple is taken off the heat. The disc of dough is placed on top, trimmed to the edges of the pan and tucked in around the pineapples. Then the pan goes into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for an hour.  When it comes out, a serving dish is placed on top and the tart is flipped over and out. The pineapples end up on the top and the tart is ready to serve.

Well, that’s a brief look at Eleuthera in the Bahamas; please join us next time as we travel around the world.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Origins: Milan - #104

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

Milan has been an important city for well over 2,000 years. It was a significant political and commercial center for the Roman Empire, and it has maintained that position ever since.  The name Milan comes from an ancient word meaning “the center of the plain.”  It’s a reference to the fact that Milan was built in the middle of the Po Valley plain, a crossing point for a number of roads that came down out of the Alps and connected to the commercial trade routes in what is now Italy. 

Today, Milan is an industrial powerhouse. It is the financial and commercial center of Italy, a focus for electronics, publishing, television, textiles, international trade-fairs and fashion. This is the fashion center of the world.

But why?

OTTAVIO MISSONI:  It is very easy why -- Milano is Milano!

True, but Milan became the fashion center of Europe right after the Second World War.  Americans were the only people with enough money to buy good clothes, and they wanted things that were easy to wear and not expensive.  Paris wanted to stay with the costly stuff.  Italy saw their chance and started making fashionable clothes at half the price of the French.  And they were able to keep pace with the... changing fashions.

The commercial tone for the city of Milan was set all the way back in the Middle Ages.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  During the 300s a bishop by  the name of Ambrose was also governor of Milan. He was a talented administrator with a very clear idea of how things should be done.  He built a strong and powerful administration with one major objective:  to get rich.  He also didn’t think much of the idea of separating church and state.  He felt he had to control everything that was going on in the government and everything that was going on in the church.  And clearly that was okay to the people of Milan because today he is known as Saint Ambrose, and he is the patron saint of the city.

The church of Sant’Ambrogio was originally founded in the year 379 and is an excellent example of medieval architecture.  Saint Ambrose felt that acquiring wealth during your lifetime was not only acceptable in heaven, but if you spent some of your money on good works for the church you might even end up with superior accommodations in the afterlife... a thought which led the wealthiest families of Milan to put up the money for the construction of some splendid churches and some magnificent religious art.  It made good business sense -- put a little aside now and enjoy it later.  It was sort of a pension plan for Paradise.

As I travel around the world, I have come to realize that each city has at least two levels.  One is out in the open, and made available to the tourists.  It’s easy to find.

The other city is usually just a few streets away.  It’s not on the tourist maps because the residents want it for themselves.

The surface stuff is easy.  Most tourists stop by at the Duomo.  It’s Milan’s great Gothic cathedral and the third largest church in Europe.  They started building it in the middle of the 1300s and, as you can see, they’re still working on it.  Over 700 years and they are still trying to finish off the punch list.  There are 135 pinnacles and over 2,000 marble statues.  The local guides claim that the French stole the design for The Statue of Liberty from the one on the front there.  Hmm.  Could be.

Tourists pop into the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It was built in 1865 and it is one of the earliest buildings to use a system of holding glass in place with cast iron. It was the prototype for the covered malls of the 20th century.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Most visitors also stop by for a look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of  “The Last Supper.”  Let me save you a little trouble here. There are usually long lines in front, when you get in front of the painting they move you along quickly.  And most important, when Leonardo was working on this painting, he was experimenting with a new form of paint.  A form of paint that did not work out so well, and the picture has been disappearing ever since.  Now, it’s thirty feet long and fifteen feet high and that’s impressive. But if you are interested in seeing the detail of the painting, you’re probably better off buying a color postcard from the guy who’s working out in front here.  You can look at it as long as you want and really see what’s going on.  So much for the stuff that’s on the tourist map of Milan.  Now let me give you an insight to the other Milan -- the Milan of the people who live here and love it.

This is Via Monte Napoleone, and every day it attracts thousands of tourists looking for something with a designer label.  But if you’re looking for great design without a label, let me suggest a short detour.

Just 100 yards down a side street at Via Gesu Number 5 is the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi.  It’s a 16th century Italian palazzo, filled with authentic furnishings and objects from the Renaissance.  During the middle of the 1800s, two brothers, Fausto and Giuseppe Bagatti Valsecchi decided that they wanted to live in a place that was just like a noble family’s household during the Renaissance.  This is what they built.  It’s open to the public and it’s the real thing.

DR. LUCIA DINA:  It was built personally by the two brothers, they superintended all of the work of the building, restoration, furnishings...

Dr. Lucia Dina is a specialist in Italian Renaissance art, and she’s guiding us through the building.

DR. LUCIA DINA:  For example, here we have an arch which was built in the nineteenth century and it was in the Renaissance style... you see the classical round arch and the two columns, but then, what they did was they inserted those two medallions you see.  Those are authentic.  They were made in the fifteenth century and they were bought by the two brothers in the antique market.  So instead of just putting them on the wall, they really gave them life again and they framed it in and out.  And they personally designed the arch and setting of all the things inside here.

BURT WOLF:  But they weren’t architects, they were lawyers.

DR. LUCIA DINA:  Exactly, yes, they were not, they had not a degree in architecture, but they were very good at drawings and they were very passionate of art.  So here we are in Fausto’s bedroom and this is his bed.  It was made in northern Italy in sixteenth century.  Quite comfortable.

BURT WOLF:  But the pillow is square...

DR. LUCIA DINA:  Yes that’s the way it was actually.  And it was actually a part of an altar which was then transformed into a bed.  So it’s really a work of art.  You can see Christ’s ascent to Calvary.  You can see it was something which belonged to a church actually.  And I know this room is a bit gloomy...

BURT WOLF:  Yes, gloomy is a good word...

DR. LUCIA DINA:  Isn’t it?

BURT WOLF:  Like a mausoleum.

DR. LUCIA DINA:  It is, it is.  Actually we wanted to preserve it like this with the same atmosphere because it was the taste of the nineteenth century, sort of romantic, dark, gloomy taste.  But we must not think that Fausto was a gloomy person, he was a very lively person.  He was a bachelor.  He had many girlfriends, so...

BURT WOLF:  Girlfriends that would come to this bedroom?

DR. LUCIA DINA:  They were supposed to do so, yes...

BURT WOLF:  Just checking, just checking...

DR. LUCIA DINA:  Maybe they liked it like this, I think it’s not really the taste for us...

BURT WOLF:  It sure is.

DR. LUCIA DINA:  You have to enter this different taste.

And this is the bathroom.  This was Fausto’s private bathroom, and it was not only the tub, but also the shower.

BURT WOLF:  This was his tub?

DR. LUCIA DINA:  Yes, this was his tub.  And on the ceiling, you can see that one of the roses was actually made of iron and it was the shower.


DR. LUCIA DINA:  It was a very modern invention for that time.  And the inspiration came from a very famous painting which is now kept in Brera, the Museum of Brera in Milan, it was made by Piero della Francesca in the fifteenth century, and when the brothers saw the painting they thought it was a good model for their shower and tub.  So this is how the whole thing came out.

So this is the Arms and Armors Gallery.  It was very fashionable in that time to recreate the classical Armors Gallery with all the antique art and armor.

BURT WOLF:  Just a room with all your family’s armor...


BURT WOLF:  That’s wonderful.  Is that an authentic piece?

DR. LUCIA DINA:  Yes, it is.

BURT WOLF:  Ah ha.  So during the Renaissance you had to be very careful about your weight.  You couldn’t just gain a couple of extra pounds and go into the tailor and say “Hey, Tony, would you let it out, I put on a little weight at lunch!”  I guess you could let it out, but it would cost you a fortune.

Bagatti Valsecchi is a little family place.  For a big-budget production, take a look at Castello Sfozesco.

Castello Sfozesco is a huge fortified castle and the 15th century home of the Sforza family.  The most famous of the clan was Francesco, a mercenary who became the Duke of Milan, and would duke it out with anybody if the money was right.  An iron hand in an iron glove.  Today the old homestead is a museum with paintings, sculpture, and craftswork. What most visitors to the Castello don’t see is one of the world’s great collections of antique musical instruments, and its just down the hall.

MARC BELLASAI:  Well this is a harpsichord that was probably built in 1571.  It’s almost entirely the original instrument...

Marc Bellassai is a Fulbright Scholar working at the Castello, and studying the history of Italian music.

MARC BELLASSAI: The museum has given us permission this morning to play it.  I’ve tuned it and I’ve even found a chair from the same period that I can sit in...

BURT WOLF:  Oh... it’s a nice matching set... this little sign says “don’t touch,” but it’s not for us.  Go ahead.

MARC BELLASAI:  Okay let me open up the lid here.  Now, Italian harpsichords from this period were actually two instruments in one.  The inner instrument, which is the real part, the business end, and the outer case, which you can see here is decorated in gilt leather from the 1500s.


MARC BELLASAI:  And, uh, here let’s give it a spin.

BURT WOLF:  Before piano bars, were there harpsichord bars?

MARC BELLASAI:  This is the Renaissance harpsichord bar and while we’re here I’ve got another wonderful instrument to show you.  Here this is an organ built in Naples around the beginning of the nineteenth century.  And it’s got a very peculiar tuning system which I’ll show you in a minute.  But first there’s a small detail -- uh, you’re collecting those...

BURT WOLF:  Yes, “don’t touch.”  Part of my collection.

MARC BELLASAI:  Since electricity costs a lot in Milan, uh, you’ll have to work the bellows.  It’s very simple.  It’s not too strenuous.  You can leave your jacket on.  When you push the one down all the way to the bottom...

BURT WOLF:  Push this one down...

MARC BELLASAI:  All the way down, go ahead...

BURT WOLF:  Okay...

MARC BELLASAI:  To the bottom... now when it gets up to halfway, you let it go, push this one down...

BURT WOLF:  This is the halfway when that gets to halfway, then I push this one down... okay.

MARC BELLASAI:  That’s so the organ doesn’t go “ugh” in the middle of what I’m playing.

BURT WOLF:  I want to talk to my agent about this before we do any more.  All right let’s go...let’s go.

MARC BELLASAI:  Okay, here’s the same piece that I played before. 

BURT WOLF:  You get tipped for this or it’s just a regular set fee?

The antique instrument collection at Castello is only a small part of what Milan has to offer in terms of music.  This is the church of Saint Maurizio.  It was built in 1503 as part of a Benedictine convent. The community of 99 nuns came from the aristocratic families of Milan. They had the walls decorated with frescos that depicted scenes from the Bible, as well as pictures of the countryside. The landscapes brought the outside world into the convent and showed the women places that they were no longer allowed to visit. The organ was commissioned by the nuns under a contract that guaranteed that it would be bigger than any other in Milan.  It has been restored and once again presents the sounds of the Renaissance.  Dr. Alessandro Boccardi is an authority on Milanese music, and is demonstrating the instrument’s range.

Milan is also the home of the most famous opera house in the world, Teatro alla Scala.  It was built on the site of an old church called Santa Maria della Scala, “Saint Mary of the Steps,” and that is the origin of the theater’s name.

BURT WOLF:   You can start whenever you’re ready...    

La Scala opened in 1778 with a work written by Antonio Salieri.  He was the court composer in Vienna, and the teacher of Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt.  But in the end, he will probably be remembered as the bad guy who tried to kill Mozart in the film Amadeus.  Such is the power of the media.

La Scala was the home field for the great composers of Italian opera -- Verdi, Donizetti and Bellini. Puccini used La Scala for the presentation of La Boheme, Tosca, Tourandot, and Madame Butterfly. In 1920 Arturo Toscaninni became the artistic director of La Scala and during a period of reconstruction he took the orchestra on tour to North America. That gave La Scala an international reputation.

Attached to the main theater is a museum that contains an extensive collection of objects relating to the history of Italian opera.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The first Italian opera was presented in 1594.  It had grown out of the little musical spectacles that were being presented in the homes of the aristocracy to mark an important occasion: something like a birth, or a wedding, or a royal visit.  Eventually they became full-blown drama set to music. They also moved out of the homes and into the public theater at which point they became more varied, more dramatic, and more violent.

The opera season at La Scala runs for six months and starts each year on the 7th of December, which is the birthday of St. Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan. Getting a ticket through the box office is almost impossible. But if a visit to La Scala is your dream, you might consider the services of the baggarini.  The baggarini are highly specialized dealers who traffic in opera tickets. They pay students to stand on line at the box office, often for days at a time. The tickets that are purchased by the students are turned over to the dealers, who resell them for between two and five times the original price. That dog, by the way, is a special guide dog.  If you give him the code word, he will lead you to his master, who will sell you a ticket.  An easier system, however, is to consult with the concierge at a good hotel, who can usually direct you to the services of the baggarini.  But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the price!

In 1987 the Four Seasons group purchased an 18th century palazzo in the most fashionable district of Milan, and started converting it into a small hotel.  As the construction got underway the workmen discovered columns that looked considerably older than the palazzo.  Then a fresco showed up that was clearly from the Renaissance. Within days, they realized that beneath the palazzo was a complete cloister that had belonged to a convent founded in 1428.  The original plans for the building were given up. A new design was made and based on the ancient structure. The cloister became the center of the hotel.  The lobby is the original chapel.  The public and private rooms surround a garden that was modeled on 15th century period drawings.

Everything about the hotel is quiet and restful and the nuns would have enjoyed that aspect.  But they were an order that avoided the comforts of life, so there’s no telling how they would have responded to one of the most luxurious properties in Italy.  Twenty-four hour room service. Twenty-four hour concierge service. A staff devoted to comforting their guests. A restaurant that has become a favorite of local food lovers as well as the residents of the hotel.  It’s quite possible that the nuns might have none of this. On the other hand, Saint Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan, was into the good life and he would have loved it. Especially the cooking.

This is executive chef Sergio Mei, and he’s preparing a traditional Milanese dish that he’s adapted for the home kitchen --minestrone alla Milanese, the vegetable soup of Milan.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Let me show you what’s in this recipe:  onions, leeks, celery, carrots, potatoes, green beans, fava beans, savoy cabbage, zucchini, spinach, parsley, tomatoes, tomato sauce, rice and at the end, parmesan cheese.

And here’s what happens to them.  First, a little olive oil goes into a large sauté pan or stock pot.  As soon as the oil is hot, in goes a cup of chopped onion... a cup of chopped leek... a cup of chopped celery... two cups of chopped carrots... two cups of chopped cabbage (if you can get Savoy cabbage it’s best but any cabbage will do).  Then two cups of fava beans go in... followed by one cup of green beans that have been cut into small pieces.  Next, two cups’ worth of potatoes that have been peeled and diced.  A little stirring.  Then one cup of cubed zucchini, a cup of chopped spinach and a half cup of tomato sauce. A little more stirring. The in go six cups of warm chicken broth.  All that simmers for five minutes, at which point two cups of rice go in... a little salt... more stirring and fifteen minutes more of simmering with the cover off.

While that’s cooking, two tablespoons of rosemary are sautéed in an ounce of olive oil and then added to the soup. Then a quarter cup of chopped parsley and a half cup of grated parmesan cheese go in. A quick taste --

BURT WOLF:   Fantastico!

-- and it’s ready to serve.

Sergio’s second recipe is for chicken in a citrus sauce. A little salt goes onto a chicken that has been cut in half and had all of the bones removed expect for those in the legs. When I do this dish at home I will probably use boneless chicken breasts with the skin on.  Life in the kitchen should be as easy as possible.  A few grinds of fresh pepper go on.  A few sprigs of rosemary.  Some sliced garlic.  Some slices of shallot, and a little oil.  The chicken marinates for a moment in those ingredients while a half ounce of olive oil heats up in a sauté pan. The chicken goes in with the marinade ingredients and cooks on one side for five minutes or until the skin has begun to crisp. Then it’s turned over and gets five more minutes of cooking. Two ounces of pine nuts are added. A little white wine... a hit of red wine vinegar... the juices of a lemon, the juices of an orange and three tablespoons of chicken broth are added. Two tablespoons of raisins.  Five minutes of simmering, and it’s into a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes. When it comes out, the chicken is removed from the pan and a sauce is made by adding a little chicken stock and scraping the pan drippings into it. Then the chicken is sliced... placed onto a serving plate with some polenta and topped with the sauce.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Well, that’s a quick look at the Italian city of Milan -- world famous for business and fashion -- but when you get to know the place, you find out that it’s just as important in terms of history, art, music, and great food.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Origins: Cruising Alaska - #103

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these origins help us understand why we live the way we do.

It starts up at the top of the Alaskan panhandle and runs south along the coast of Alaska and the Canadian province of British Columbia. It covers a thousand miles and ends just below the U.S. border at Seattle, Washington.  It’s called the Inside Passage.

And that is precisely what it is:  a sea passage that runs along the northwest coast. But it runs between the coast and a series of islands that protect the route from the open sea. At its southernmost point the course is shielded for three hundred miles by Vancouver Island.  Then the Queen Charlotte Islands take over the defense. And finally the route is safeguarded by the more than one thousand islands that make up the Alexander Archipelago. It is a magnificent stretch of wilderness.

Much of the region is virtually inaccessible by road so the best way, and in some cases the only way, to really see the passage is by boat.

I started my journey from the Canadian city of Vancouver.

My chosen method of transportation for my passage through the Passage was a ship called the Legend Of The Seas. It was built in 1995 for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.  It’s eight hundred and sixty-seven feet long... a hundred and five feet wide... there are eleven decks... nine hundred and two cabins... and it can maintain a speed of twenty-four knots.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   On land we measure speed in miles per hour or kilometers per hour. At sea it is measured in something called a knot. Historians believe that sailors started using the knot during the 1400’s. The technology was pretty primitive. They had a piece of wood, they had a rope tied to that piece of wood, every fifty feet there was a knot tied in the rope.  They also had an hourglass that measured 28 seconds with sand. They would throw the piece of wood over the side of the boat.  When it hit the water, they would start the hourglass.  When the 28 seconds of sand ran out, they counted the number of knots that had gone over the side, and that was the ship’s speed.

Eventually the knot became standardized as the nautical mile, which is 6,080 feet... about fifteen percent longer than a land mile. So when a ship is doing twenty knots, it’s the equivalent of about twenty-three miles per hour. When sailors talk about a ship’s speed they just say “twenty knots,” never “twenty knots per hour.” Both the distance and the time measurement are included in the idea of a knot.

And while The Legend Of The Seas is maintaining its speed of twenty-four knots, the passengers can maintain themselves in a number of ways. There’s a spa, a sauna, one outdoor pool, and one pool that is both outdoor and indoor. The outdoor/indoor pool was designed for people who can’t make up their mind what they want. There’s a library where you can maintain your intellect... and an 18-hole miniature golf course for maintaining your putting skill.  A miniature golf course  is quite appropriate for a ship. The first miniature golf course was actually designed for use on a trans-Atlantic ocean liner.

BURT WOLF:  The water hazards on this course are just murder.

And finally, there is a Stargazing Area...  “Look -- there’s Elvis!”

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  When the Elvis years passed away, along with the original Elvis, he became a symbol.  A symbol of an easier time.  Less frightening, more understandable.  And when anyone or anything becomes a symbol it can be used to evoke a response in other people.  Psychologists have been studying this from a scientific point of view, but business people have been using the information for over a hundred years.   Let’s take a look at the case in point: the ocean liner or the cruise ship.

When luxury ocean liners first came on the scene at the beginning of the 20th century they wanted to market their first class services to upper-class families. One of the simplest ways to work toward that goal was to reproduce things on the ship that reminded the passengers of the good life on shore.

How about a grand ballroom with a majestic staircase -- a staircase that could be used by the female passengers to make a grand entrance in a magnificent new dress, a dress tastefully dusted in recently-acquired diamonds. And while you were at it, you could make the grand ballroom a replica of one of the famous hotel ballrooms in Paris or London. Then you could put in an orchestra that everyone was familiar with... one that was associated with good times.  And lots of food -- luxurious food that speaks of opulence and happiness.  Create a feeling that is somewhat like the important public events of a social season... or like an ongoing wedding party. You could also have a few rooms that reminded the male passengers of the private clubs that were popular at the time. And all of that is precisely what many of the original ocean liners did. And it worked. The passengers began to feel secure, even though they were hundreds of miles at sea.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  And it still works. Not quite as formal as it used to be. A seven day cruise on the Legend Of The Seas has three formal nights out of seven and black-tie is optional. In the old days it was black-tie every night. The dining rooms are no longer reproductions of the Dorchester or the Ritz, but they’re still pretty wonderful. And music that harkens back to an earlier time? It’s here. The cruise has a 50’s/60’s night which tries to reproduce the feeling of those two great decades. And Elvis is in the air again.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  But I am not here to step on anybody’s blue suede shoes. I want to step on land, land that few people have stepped on before. I want to commune with nature. I want to be close to the wild. But not too close.

Glacier Bay National Park is close enough.  The ship slowly eases into the narrow passages that run between the mountains of ice that make up this 3.3 million acre national park.  Sixteen huge glaciers flow out of the Fairweather mountain range.  Their forward edges melt and break off into the icy waters of the fjords that cut their way in from the open sea.

When large hunks of ice rip away from the glacier, it is called “calving,” and the sound that they make as they pull away is called “white thunder.”

The crackling sound actually comes from the bursting of thousands of air bubbles that were trapped in the ice.

Archeologists believe that native tribes have been living in the Glacier Bay area for at least 10,000 years.  The first Europeans to explore the territory were the Russians, who sailed through during the 1740s.  About fifty years later the French stopped in to check things out.  By the 1880s, tour boats were coming in to take a look.  Glacier Bay is truly one of the fascinating places in Alaska.

This morning’s port of call is the town of Skagway. The name Skagway comes from a native American word meaning “the windy place.”  It’s located at the northernmost point on the Inside Passage. The area was never a permanent settlement for any of the tribes, but it had been used for hundreds of years as a seasonal ground for hunting and fishing.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  The first European to take a serious interest in Skagway was a retired steamboat captain by the name of William Moore.  In 1887, he staked a claim for 160 acres of land and with the help of his son he built a small cabin. He knew the area so well that the Canadian government asked him to help their surveyors find a pass through the mountains.  He did, and it eventually became known as “The White Pass.”  Moore had been watching all of the mining activity going around in the territory and he firmly believed that it was just a question of time before there was a major gold strike. He also believed that when that strike came, Skagway would become the seaport for the gold rush.

And boy, was he right! When word of the Bonanza Creek gold strike got out, over 100,000 people set out to seek their fortune in the Yukon, and the route they took to get there started with a ship to Skagway.  In the end, only about 30,000 people got here but they turned the place into the classic gold rush boomtown.  In 1898 Skagway had almost one hundred saloons filled with gamblers, thieves and umm, ladies of perpetual availability.

These days Skagway has about 800 permanent residents, and a great nostalgia about its past.  Much of the original commercial district has managed to survive and the United States Park Service conducts guided walking tours through the historic areas of the town.  My guide today is Rick Fields.

RICK FIELDS:  Burt, this is The Red Onion Saloon, that actually was a saloon and bordello during the time of the Gold Rush.  Downstairs’s the saloon, upstairs the ladies of the evening. Uh, actually, during the time of the Gold Rush, if a gentleman wanted any kind of woman’s accompaniment, he could walk into that saloon and behind the bar was a display case with dolls dressed in like of the ladies that were working the floor that evening.  And so if a gentleman had any particular lady in mind, he could actually look behind the bar and if the doll was standing that she was very much available for your accompaniment.  If she was laying down, well... she was busy.

RICK FIELDS:  The AB Hall here, Burt, was also an original structure. It was a fraternal organization that was developed by the stampeders as a kind of social club, if you will.  There’s over 10,000 pieces of driftwood actually nailed onto the face of that building.  The last known member to ever join the Arctic Brotherhood here in Skagway was Warren G. Harding, our president.  In 1923 he came to visit us for three short hours. We then initiated him into our Arctic Brotherhood Lodge. 

BURT WOLF:  What goes on in the Arctic Brotherhood?

RICK FIELDS:  Today it’s actually our city museum.  Actually we have a fine arts museum of some of the old paraphernalia you might have found during the time of the Gold Rush all inside our museum and it’s set up as a display so that you can go in and spend a few minutes and enjoy.

BURT WOLF:  You know like little kids they like to take matchsticks and build things out of them and that’s what happens when those kids grow up.

RICK FIELDS:  That’s right.


RICK FIELDS:  They just make bigger piles, don’t they?

RICK FIELDS:  Well this is actually the Mascot Saloon, and the Mascot has  actually been set up as a display only by our National Parks Service, so the kind of saloon you’d actually see during the turn of the century here in Skagway; it’s got the old hardwood floors and the lighting as it was back in 1898.  Actually, the bar I could never seem to ever be served at here.  I keep trying, but it’s just not ever happened, but some of the old cigars that you might, would have found as you would have come here.  We’ve actually restored all of these buildings along this block back all to their original condition: wallpaper, paint, colors, everything is back to its original condition.  It’s really a pleasure to be in a community that had such community pride of their buildings.  I really do enjoy living here.

RICK FIELDS:  Well, Burt, this is Kirmse’s Curios.  Actually Herman Kirmse was one of the very first pioneers that came into Skagway when the words of the Klondike Gold Rush happened throughout the country.  And Herman, actually, instead of traveling over the pass and heading for the gold 600 miles away from here, he actually stopped here and established his jewelry business.  He was quite an entrepreneur, like many that had to travel the trail up here.

BURT WOLF:  I get the feeling that the real gold was in the retail business and not in the creeks.

RICK FIELDS:  I’m gonna have to agree with you, Burt.  It seems as though the guy that made a living and a good one up here was the packer, the storekeeper, the guy who sold you services.

When the prospectors headed out of Skagway they had to choose between two routes to the gold. One was the Chilkoot Trail.  That’s what it looked like during 1897 and ‘98 when some 30,000 prospectors made the six-hour climb up what came to be known as the “Golden Stairs.” And because each of them was transporting a minimum of 1,000 pounds of supplies, they made that trip at least twenty times. 

The other Skagway trail used by the gold seekers to get to a claim was the White Pass.  It was less steep than the Chilkoot but no less dangerous.

In 1900, things got a lot easier. That was the year that the White Pass and Yukon Railroad opened and connected Skagway to the town of Frazer in the Canadian Yukon.  The rails run through some of the most rugged terrain in North America.


The roadbeds were carved along sheer rock cliffs. Tunnels were hammered through solid granite. When it was completed, it was considered to be one of the engineering marvels of its time. Today it’s a marvelous guided tour for visitors to Skagway -- and the guide is Sharon Hannon.

SHARON HANNON:  Okay, we’re coming up now to the Denver Glacier Bridge.  This is mile-post 5.8 on your railmaps.  We’re going to be crossing over the east fork of the Skagway River.  As we make a real sharp left curve over the bridge, you’ll have a nice opportunity to view the train -- all fifteen parlor cars that we’re pulling.  It’s just amazing to think that this railroad that we’re traveling on this morning is nearly one hundred years old.  And how they built it back then is absolutely incredible.  What they did was, these workers were roped together while hanging on the slopes.  And the smooth granite obviously offered no footholds whatsoever.  So in hazardous winter weather, these men chipped all of this granite with hand tools in order to plant the 450 tons of blasting powder.  This was obviously extremely hard, very dangerous work, for thirty cents an hour.  And they say that this was a railroad that was impossible to build.  There is very little advanced planning involved.  Now there was no rolling stock, there was no construction materials or heavy-duty equipment.  There was no means of feeding or housing the work crews, and remember a total of 35,000 men worked on the line.  Also, the site was more than a thousand miles from the closest supply base which was in Seattle, Washington.  So the railroad had to compete for ship cargo space with the thousands of stampeders that were also headed up north.  And I mentioned earlier the workforce, highly educated professional men, but by no means skilled railroad laborers.  So this railroad was built against all odds and it was completed in only two years, two months, and one day -- all built by hand.  And it cost ten million dollars to build it, and then another two million dollars to outfit it for service.  And it’s an international railroad.  It was financed by the British, contracted by the Canadians, and engineered by the Americans.

The White Pass and Yukon Railroad certainly made the trip from Alaska to the Yukon easier.  What you’re looking at is the last remaining section of the original pass that the prospectors used.  Can you imagine hiking thirty-five miles, carrying hundreds of pounds of gear on your back, on a path that narrow?  And by the time the railroad was finished... the gold rush was over.

About an hour boat ride south of Skagway is the town of Haines.  It started out as settlement for the Native Alaskan Tlingit tribe, and they still play a very active role in the community.  A non-profit association called Alaska Indian Arts has dedicated itself to the revival and perpetuation of native craft and culture and in Haines they present the Chilkat Dancers,  a group whose authentic performances have given them a worldwide reputation.

While we were here, one of the dances told the story of a monster who had been eating the children of the tribe.  The chief decided to trap the monster by digging a deep hole, covering it with twigs, and sending a young girl to attract the monster over the hole.  As the monster chased the girl, she passed over the twigs; she was light.  When the monster ran over the twigs, his weight sent him to the bottom.

The tribe quickly gathered around, threw branches on top of the monster and set them on fire.  As the flames came up, the monster yelled that no matter what the tribe did, he would always drink their blood.  After thirty days, the tribe let the fire go out.  As they poked the ashes, they saw that the monster had been consumed, but out of the holes in the ashes a new creature appeared -- thousands of them.  They were mosquitoes.

The next day our crew was filming in an area filled with mosquitoes, mosquitoes who were feasting on us.  But somehow we all felt less aggravated by their presence, because we knew it was only the monster trying for his revenge.  The tribal dances connect the people with their heritage and to the environment in which they live -- and that makes life more understandable and easier.

The Haines area has always been important to the native tribes. It was the end point for the ancient trail into the interior, and it was also the site of the gathering of the eagles. Today the region covers 48,000 acres and is known as the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Each year some 4,000 bald eagles take up residence along a five-mile stretch of the Chilkat River. They’re attracted to the spot by an annual late run of spawning salmon. In addition, warm water upwellings in the river bottom keep parts of the river ice-free during the winter, providing even more fish for the eagles, at a time when many other food sources are exhausted. This is nature throwing an all-you-can-eat buffet for the eagle, and it’s been going on for thousands of years.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   But it almost came to an end in 1917 when someone in the government decided that the eagles were eating too many salmon and began to offer a bounty on them.  Over a hundred and twenty thousand eagles were shot for a dollar or two dollars each before someone realized that in fact the eagles were not doing any damage at all.  Just another episode in the endless saga of government stupidity.

Fortunately the eagle is now protected.  It is a federal crime to harm or possess a bald eagle and with any luck, the law is being enforced.

And if you’ve ever wanted to see Alaska from an eagle’s eye view, take a look at this.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  One of the nice things about seeing southern Alaska from a cruise ship is than on certain days you can go ashore and pursue your own  individual interests.  Then in the evenings you come back to the ship and you get the feeling that you’re joining old friends.  And speaking of joining old friends, I hope you will join us next time as we travel around the world, looking at the ORIGINS of some of the things that surround us.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Origins: The Cayman Islands - #102

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

As Christopher Columbus was sailing back to Spain at the end of his fourth and final voyage to the New World, a storm came up between Panama and Haiti and pushed him off course. It pushed him to the west, directly into the islands that are now known as Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. His ship’s log for May 10th, 1503 reports the following:  “We came upon two very small islands full of tortoises, as was the sea around them -- so many tortoises that they looked like little rocks.” Columbus marked the islands on his map with the name Las Tortugas -- the turtles.  Las Tortugas has become The Cayman Islands, and now there are three of them:  Grand Cayman... Cayman Brac... and Little Cayman.  They lie about 180 miles west of Jamaica and 480 miles south of Miami.

The total population of the three islands is about 30,000 and the people come from a mixture of African and European backgrounds. The residents of the Cayman Islands have one of the highest standards of living in the Caribbean. The average household income is almost 70,000 US dollars per year. The government is stable and the country’s banks, insurance companies and mutual fund operations have made it the fifth largest financial center in the world.

The nation’s banks are significant, but the nation’s beaches are even more important. The Cayman Islands are actually the limestone tops of three mountains that come up from the bottom of the sea. The limestone is so porous that none of the islands have any rivers or streams, and therefore no runoff from the land to the sea. The absence of runoff gives the water around the Cayman Islands a clarity and visibility that is over one hundred and twenty feet. The islands are also surrounded by coral reefs that protect the shores. The areas between the reefs and the beaches are perfect for snorkeling. And just on the far side of the reefs are dropoffs that go down for thousands of feet and create ideal conditions for diving.

DIVE INSTRUCTOR:  First thing you want to do is make sure a mask fits to start.  And the way you do that is you expose the seal...

The modern snorkel is a J-shaped tube with a mouthpiece that is attached to a face mask.  It was introduced in the 1930’s and it allowed swimmers to cruise the surface of the sea, face down, while they looked at what was going on below.  But the idea of using some kind of breathing tube while working underwater goes back for thousands of years.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Alexander the Great had a team of underwater divers who used reeds as breathing tubes.  They would swim into an area underwater and clear it of any barriers that had been put in place to damage Alexander’s incoming ships.  The ancient Greeks also had a team of snorkelers that became famous for sinking an enemy fleet.  One night, they swam underwater to the fleet, cut the ropes that held the ships to their anchors.  The ships floated away and crashed on the nearby reefs.

An ancient Roman writer described soldiers who held one end of a leather tube in their mouth while the other end floated on the surface. He compared the apparatus to an elephant lying on its back underwater with its trunk extended to the surface. Our modern word “snorkel” comes from an old German word that means “tube” or “scroll.”  It’s a perfect description of the equipment being used.

The 1930’s also saw the introduction of fins or flippers that increased a swimmer's speed, and weight belts that allowed divers to dive deeper. But the breathing equipment really didn’t permit the divers to stay down for very long and there wasn’t any clothing that would protect them against the cold. And those two problems limited the sport.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Which brings us to the story of SCUBA, five letters that stand for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.  Now, most of the technical problems of staying underwater for a long time and doing some useful work down there had already been solved by 1819 when the diving suit was introduced.

It consisted of the familiar round metal helmet with a glass window in the front, a metal shoulder plate and a waterproof leather jacket. A tube connected the helmet to an air pump on the surface. The pump supplied the diver with an unlimited amount of fresh air. Towards the end of the 1800s a vulcanized rubber suit lined with twill was substituted for the leather jacket. It kept the diver drier and warmer. Eventually modern conveniences like telephones and electronic air compressors made the system safer and more practical. These suits worked well for industrial divers and they set the standard for underwater-wear until the Second World War.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): The naval technology needed during the Second World War led to the development of some new underwater gear.  Basically, there were two systems.  One was known as a rebreather.  It consisted of a cylinder of fresh air and a canister of lime.  The diver would take the fresh air in from the cylinder and exhale it into the canister.  The lime in the canister would remove the carbon dioxide gas from his exhaled breath and then the clean air was recirculated.  The system was wonderful because it was completely self-contained; no bubbles would rise to the surface and that made it very difficult to detect a diver working underneath.  The rebreather systems were issued to crews on German U-boats in case they needed to escape.  There was, however, one major disadvantage.  The system didn’t work very well at depths below 30 feet.  So if your submarine sank in a swimming pool you were all set; otherwise you were in deep trouble.

The second underwater breathing system had an open circuit that allowed the exhaled air to escape. There were tubes for inhaling and exhaling and valves that connected the tanks. This system was good down to a hundred and thirty feet and sometimes even deeper.  In 1942, a young French naval commander named Jacques Cousteau took out a patent for a piece of equipment he called an “Aqua Lung.”  It was based on the open system and featured a series of tanks that contained compressed air. They were strapped to the back of the diver. This was the first modern SCUBA setup.

Soon depth gauges, underwater watches, and wet suits were added. Divers were warm, comfortable and free to move about. When the war ended, SCUBA diving became a popular sport.

BOB SOTO:  Well, I was the first SCUBA diver on this island.  I came here to start a SCUBA diving business because we had about a hundred and thirty rooms on the island and the people just laid around the beach or went fishing, and I thought this would be a wonderful pastime for them to spend the day SCUBA diving.  Of course, everybody thought I was crazy and that these people was going to drown and I was going to drown myself.  And I started with six tanks, it took an hour and twelve minutes to fill a tank, and I had six tanks, so I was up half the night filling tanks to go diving the next day.  Once I introduced somebody to the water, it just blew their mind because they hadn’t seen anything like this in their life.  You got people from all over the U.S. coming here, and they had such a great time because they had beautiful reefs, and caves, and shipwrecks, and turtles, and stingrays -- all sorts of marine life and it was very accessible from the beach because it’s only a couple hundred yards offshore and you’ve got any kind of reef and marine life you would ever dream of seeing.

Water filters the color out of sunlight and by the time you get down to a depth of fifty-two feet everything is green and blue.  Cousteau pioneered a system of artificial underwater lights that allowed a diver to record the extraordinary colors that are found below the sea. Underwater photography began to develop, which made the sport even more popular. And one of the most popular places in the world to practice this sport is in the waters that surround the Cayman Islands.

The most recent innovation in underwater breathing equipment for the sports diver is a combination of SCUBA and snorkel --  called SNUBA.

SNUBA INSTRUCTOR:  What we’ve done on this is very similar to SCUBA diving, the only main difference being that we’ve put the SCUBA tank in the raft, okay?  The raft follows you on the surface, floats on the surface, follows you wherever you go.  You can be connected to it with twenty foot long hoses.  All you’ll be wearing is your fins, mask, small weight belt, and this regulator right here.

The turtles that Columbus saw as he sailed by Cayman turned out to be the basis of the island’s first commercial enterprise. One of the traditional routes for European traders heading home from the Caribbean took them past these islands. The turtles represented an ideal source of fresh meat for the sailors. As long as turtles are supplied with sea water they can stay alive for weeks. The ships would stop in, stock up with turtles, and move on.

These photographs were taken aboard the turtle schooner Adams, which worked in Cayman and the Mosquito Keys during the middle of this century.  Turtling was a major business in this area until 1975, when the United States passed a law against the importation of all turtle products.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   This is the Cayman Turtle Farm.  It was originally set up as a commercial enterprise for the sale of turtle shells and turtle meat.   When the U.S. government decided to ban those products it shifted most of its efforts towards conservation.  It uses a breeding and release program.  Each year it raises thousands of hatchlings and sends them back to the sea where they end up with a survival rate that is actually better than the rate they would have had had they been born in the wild.

Until a few years ago we knew very little about the green sea turtle. Mating takes place at sea. The males rarely leave the water and the females only come ashore to lay their eggs. As soon as the hatchlings are born they head to the sea. Our information was limited to what we could learn from watching the females as they nested on the beaches, and from tagging them as they returned to the sea.  In 1975 the Cayman Turtle Farm began a twenty-four hour watch of green turtle breeding habits, and since then we’ve learned a great deal about these extraordinary creatures.

These days the turtle farm is a major tourist attraction. There is a self-guided tour that takes you through the nursery area where tanks hold thousands of turtles in various stages of growth. There’s even a tank with turtles who appear to have been selected because of their willingness to be photographed with visitors.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): Everything’s pretty informal around here right now, but I’ve been told that things may be changing.  They said that two of the more attractive turtles in the photography tank have already been in touch with Cindy Crawford’s agent, and the big guy over here is already friendly with the manager for the Ninja Turtles.  Now, I wouldn’t have believed any of these stories, except when I came over here to photograph the giant turtle, that piece of paper floated to the surface.

“Show me the money” appears to be a valid request for many people, but my own lead question would be “show me the good food” -- which would soon lead us to a place called Hemingways. The restaurant is named for Ernest Hemingway, who once lived in the Caribbean. It sits directly on the beach, it’s open on three sides, and it has some of the nicest views and best food on the island.

Hemingways is part of the Hyatt resort, which has been built as a low-rise structure in British Colonial style.  Pastel colors.  Open walkways. Lots of gardens. Imperial lions.  A nine hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.  Four freshwater swimming pools, including one with a swim-up bar.  Interesting.  Every country I have ever been to has laws that regulate drinking and driving but none of them seem to care about drinking and swimming.  Personally I’d never go to a swim-up bar without wearing a flotation device.

The Hyatt also has a private waterway that  leads out to Grand Cayman’s North Bay. A public ferry runs up and back across the bay and will deposit you on a fantastic strip of beach called Rum Point.  It’s open to the public and makes a great day trip. The restaurant next to the beach is called the Rum Point Club. It’s operated by the Hyatt and it’s the perfect place for me to get David Brown, the resort’s executive chef, to demonstrate a few recipes.

His first recipe is for a chicken breast stuffed with banana. Very tropical and very easy to prepare in advance of dinner.  Half of a boneless skinless chicken breast is cut almost in half and opened up into a butterfly shape. Then a piece of plastic wrap is placed over the chicken. David uses a pounder to thin out the breast and even out the thickness. A little salt and pepper goes on. A banana is peeled and placed onto the center of the chicken. The ends are folded over and the sides are rolled up. Then it’s into a piece of plastic wrap and off to the refrigerator for an hour.

When it comes out of the refrigerator it’s dipped into flour, then into a mixture of egg and milk, and finally into bread crumbs. Make sure that the chicken is well coated with the crumbs.

Next the sauce is made. Two ounces of butter are melted in a saucepan. A teaspoon of chopped garlic and a teaspoon of chopped shallots are added. Then an apple that has been peeled, cored and cut into small cubes. A little cooking and a little stirring and three tablespoons of curry powder go in. Followed by three tablespoons of flour. Two minutes of cooking and mixing and a cup of chicken broth is added. More cooking. More stirring and another cup and a half of stock which goes in, in half-cup additions. That’s the basis of the sauce, and it simmers for fifteen minutes.

While the sauce is simmering a tablespoon of vegetable oil is heated in a sauté pan. The chicken comes out of the refrigerator and goes into the pan. The bread crumbs are browned on all sides. Then the chicken goes into a 450-degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes.

While the chicken is cooking the sauce is finished by pouring it into blender and blending it into a puree. At which point it is run through a sieve and back into the pan to warm up. David adds two ounces of light cream to give the sauce a richer finish, but this is an optional step. A little salt and white pepper are added and the sauce is ready.

The chicken comes out of the oven and gets sliced into rounds. A mound of rice is set into the middle of the serving plate. The sauce goes around the rice. The chicken goes onto the sauce and a there is a garnish of cilantro to complete the dish.

David’s second recipe is for a tenderloin of pork that’s been prepared with a nutty crust.

The tenderloin of pork, which has been trimmed of extra fat, is rolled in flour, then dipped into a mixture of egg and milk and finally coated with a crust of mixed nuts. David is using one third macadamia nuts, one third pecans and one third hazelnuts.  A little vegetable oil is heated in a sauté pan and the loin is sautéed on all sides until the nuts are browned. Then the loin goes into a 450-degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, a sauce is made. A cup of pureed mango goes into a saucepan followed by a cup of chicken stock. Now, David is actually using veal stock and if you have veal stock in your kitchen you should be teaching this recipe, not watching it!  I will be using canned chicken broth which will be lighter in color and a lot easier to come by. The sauce simmers for a few minutes to thicken up.

A few snow peas and a sliced red bell pepper get heated. Then the pork loin comes out of the oven and is sliced into rounds. The snow peas and peppers go onto a serving plate. The sauce goes around the snow peas. Then the pork slices. David tops off the dish with a mound of sliced leek and sweet potato that has been deep-fried. It’s a nice touch and easy for anyone with a fully staffed professional kitchen. Not that I’m envious or anything...

Each year hundreds of thousands of people show up on the Cayman Islands to enjoy the sea and the sun, but the idea of sunbathing is very new.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): In societies where the majority of the population was light-skinned, it was fashionable to do everything you could to avoid getting a suntan.  Only common laborers who were forced to work outside, like farm workers or television reporters, ended up with a suntan.  And if a woman had a suntan, it was a clear indication that she was from a lower station in life.  When women of society went out, they did everything they could to avoid getting a suntan.

During the 1920s, however, things began to change.  Lots of people were getting rich and looking for new and fashionable places to spend their money.  The yachting crowd arrived.  And what was the point of owning a great yacht if you couldn’t walk along the deck in plain view of your friends -- or even more important, in plain view of your enemies?  And then there were the promenades at the new seaside resorts along the east and west coasts of the United States and in France.  Designers started to show collections of beachwear.  During the 1930s, railroads introduced special trains that would take people to the beach, and real estate developers began building beachfront resorts.  Bathing suits became more revealing, and for the first time in history it was suddenly fashionable to have a tan.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   But when a suntan turns into a sunburn, you’ve got a problem.  And this became an increasingly significant issue during the Second World War for our troops fighting in North Africa and the Pacific.  The United States government felt they had to come up with something that would protect the skin of our troops.  The agent that seemed to work the best was a red pigment that was left as a residue after gasoline was extracted from crude oil.  One of the people working on this experiment was a man named Dr. Benjamin Green.

Dr. Green believed that their was a huge market for a product that would protect people from the sun and at the same time help give them a tan. After the war, he took the technology that he had helped develop and produced a creamy white suntan lotion scented with jasmine. The product gave the user a copper-colored skin tone, which led Dr. Green to call his new invention Coppertone.

Sunbathing as a leisure time activity is very modern, but some of the people here are passing their leisure time with an activity that is 8,000 years old. It is a board game called Waurie, and it is played with slight variations around the world.

WOMAN #1:  The object of the game is to get all of these seeds, like, in this pouch.

WOMAN #2:  It’s the other person’s turn unless your last seed ends up in your own pouch.

WOMAN #1:  But you have to go all the way around the board

WOMAN #2:  And you skip the other person’s pouch.

WOMAN #1:  And when you pick them up, you’re dropping one in each one as you go around. 

WOMAN #2:  And since I -- I’m just telling you -- since I landed on this one, then I get to pick up all of hers across from it since it was my only one in there.

WOMAN #1:  Okay.

WOMAN #2:  I win!

These particular waurie boards were made just down the road by a woodcarver known as Caribbean Charlie. But Charlie Ebanks’ claim to fame really comes from his birdhouses. Charlie makes them and his wife Elaine explains them.

ELAINE EBANKS:  We make several different kinds of birdhouses... like this one is called “Fences.”  And it’s called “Fences” because it has the gardens and the hand-painted fences that go all the way around.  Each one is signed and dated on the bottom.  We primarily work with the colors of the Caribbean: pink is for the conch shell, green for the sea, blue for the sky, and yellow for the sun.  This is a traditional Cayman roof.  You know, we have no city water at all out here, we totally rely on the rainwater for our water supply.  And this roof line makes it easier for collection.  Each old-time house had a little gingerbread on the roof, a palm tree, and a hammock.  So this is Charlie’s version of a Cayman house.  He does try to do a different one every year for the people that collect his houses from year to year.  Couple years ago, he started his version of the old Rum Point Bar.  We put on it everything that we felt the old bar was famous for.  Charlie numbers his larger houses, everyone signs for their number, and we know where each and every house went.  This year’s house is the dive shop.  And we’ve made it to mount on the wall, and the owner’s name is put on top of the dive sign to personalize.  Of course, that’s numbered and accounted for also.  All the houses are made of wood, they’re all nailed, countersunk and filled, nothing is glued on them, they’re all painted with exterior house paint, they are weather worthy. 

Burt, I’d love to show you my garden.  Come on through.  Let me show you what grows here.  This tree here is a breadfruit tree.  Breadfruit is round and green; it’s very much like a potato.  You can bake it, mash it, boil it -- it’s a starch.  The leaves... we wait ‘til the leaves -- the brown leaves -- fall to the ground, harvest them, wash them, and brew them in a tea, for a tea.  Everything in nature has a reason for being.  God put everything here for us, it’s up to us to find what it’s for.  The breadfruit leaves, they say, are very good for high blood pressure.  And this is the breadfruit tea from the breadfruit tree that we spoke about.  I hope you enjoy it.

BURT WOLF:  Thank you.  Thank you, Charlie.


BURT WOLF:  I feel my blood pressure going down already.

Well... that’s a brief look at the island of Grand Cayman and its history. Five hundred years have slipped by since Columbus passed through the neighborhood but the turtles are still here. The kind of treasure that Chris was looking for wasn’t here during his visit but it sure is now. That gold is in the banks.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA): For me the real treasures on these islands are to be found in the natural beauty of the place and the attitudes of the people who live here.  I could actually settle down on this beach for quite a while, but I hear the call of the wild.  In this case it’s my crew that’s going wild because I am stalling this segment -- I wanna see the sun go down!  But now I must join them, and I hope you will join me next time as we travel around the world.  I’m Burt Wolf.

Origins: The Yukon Territory - #101

Every place in the world has a series of things that give that spot a special character... and make it different from every other place.  When you look at the ORIGINS of these things, you often end up with a better appreciation of the territory -- and that makes it a lot more interesting to visit.  And sometimes, these ORIGINS help us understand why we live the way we do.

The legend of El Dorado tells of a land filled with gold where men find their fortunes.  In 1896, part of the Canadian Yukon became known as El Dorado, and for some people it delivered a fortune in gold.  It’s just to the east of the town of Dawson and it was home to some of the richest strikes during the great Klondike gold rush.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   The gold is still here, though it’s not as easy to get to as it was about a hundred years ago. Though it really wasn’t so easy to get to even then. The town of Dawson that was built with that gold is still here, and it’s easier to get to than ever. At the height of the gold rush 16,000 people lived in Dawson and 20,000 people lived in the creeks surrounding it.

During the summer of 1898 Dawson was in some ways the center of the world.  Gold poured into town with the prospectors who were working in the nearby creeks.  And stories about the wild life in Dawson poured out to the rest of the world.  There were very few actual miners among the stampeders who rushed here to find gold.  Most of them were white-collar workers who thought they saw a chance to change their lives for the better.  The trip to Dawson had been an agony and the work in the gold creeks was exhausting.  When someone was lucky enough to get his hands on enough gold to head into town and live it up... he did.  When they really struck it rich there was no end to their excess.  A miner by the name of Johansen purchased a dance hall queen for her weight in gold.  Unfortunately, she came with a very limited warranty and soon returned to her original boyfriend.  Of course, she did retain poor Johansen’s gold.  Even then it was important to check the fine print in a purchase agreement.

The town was wild, but not lawless.  The mounties saw to that.  During that amazing year of madness there were no murders and no major thefts.

Today the population of Dawson is about two thousand.  But it is very much the way it was physically during the days of the gold rush.  The sidewalks on the main streets are made from wooden boards.  The roadways are unpaved and hard-packed gravel.  This particular gravel comes from the creek beds and is gold-bearing.  So if you wanted to say that the streets of Dawson were paved with gold, there’d be a technical truth to your statement.

GLENDA BOLT:  Okay, one of the buildings that we’re just coming up on, this green one here, this is Madame Tromblay’s store.  Now, Madame Tromblay came over the Chilkoot trail with her husband on their honeymoon.  Nice guy.  I guess everything must’ve been booked for Hawaii.

Glenda Bolt is a guide for the Klondike National Historic Sites of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

GLENDA BOLT:  When you think that they’re almost one hundred years old, these buildings are doing quite well.  These are, in fact, excellent examples of turn-of-the-century construction.  You see, during the Klondike gold rush the prospectors and early day miners didn’t know about permafrost.  That’s permanently frozen ground left over from the last ice age.  So when they came into this area, they took green timbers, first mistake, and hastily constructed their buildings and their shelters.  But what they didn’t know is as they heated these buildings, they were melting the ground underneath them that had never ever been melted.  And it’s like black Jell-O, it’s ooze and the buildings would sink down and then the weather would change and the building would heave up.  And it would sink and heave and sink and heave until you get to the present condition that a lot of Dawson buildings remain today.

BURT WOLF:  It’s a real fixer-upper...

GLENDA BOLT:  Yeah, bring your checkbook.  Now you’ll see the natural scar in the hillside here...

BURT WOLF:  Yeah...

GLENDA BOLT:  That’s called Moose Hide Slide, and now a lot of the early prospectors or explorers like Shwatka, when they were traveling down the mighty Yukon River, they made note of this scar in their notes -- and little did they know how close they were to a major gold discovery.  Now, you might be wondering, why is that Moose Hide?

BURT WOLF:  Why is that Moose Hide?

GLENDA BOLT:  Tilt your head a little bit and you can easily see that it looks like a moose’s hide that is stretched out for tanning. 



GLENDA BOLT:  I’ve been looking at this thing ten years,  I’ve never seen it.  Nevertheless, they still call it Moose Hide.

BURT WOLF:  Right.  Well, okay maybe I’m not tilting enough.

GLENDA BOLT:  You gotta squint.

BURT WOLF:  Actually, you see as soon as you close your eyes you can see it perfectly.  It’s an intense squint.  So tell me more.

GLENDA BOLT:  How about the Palace Grand Theater?  Did you get an opportunity to go into the theater?


GLENDA BOLT:  Oh, it’s a great building.  It was originally built in 1899 by a wild west performer named Arizona Charlie Meadows and his charming wife May Melbourne, a seasoned performer in her own right.  They were able to amass enough money, enough fortune from the investments in the gold fields to be able to build the largest, most grand frontier opera theater in the north.  And the type of show that they would put on there is a vaudeville, variety show, and you might think that performers who came here were, in fact, at the end of their career or perhaps third- or second-rate, but it’s not so.  In fact people took it as their opportunity to come to the Klondike, to the Paris of the North and perform.  There was one woman who took it as her big opportunity, she came from Philadelphia, she loved it.  She could wear shorter skirts and sing bawdy songs and have a little fun.

            At night the dancing and gambling still goes on at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.   The profits, however, all go to support the charitable and public works of the community.

For the folks rushing to the gold, Dawson was a spot were they stopped to dry their socks after getting through the Whitehorse rapids... that is, if they had any socks left.  Today Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon Territory and has a population of about 23,000.

Development in the Whitehorse area began in 1897.  Twenty-five thousand people were on their way to the Klondike.  The most dangerous part of the trip was the passage through the Whitehorse rapids.  The area got its name because the standing waves on the rapids reminded people of the mane on a white horse.  The town of Whitehorse developed as a resting place for those who survived the passage.  Whitehorse outlived the gold rush because in 1900, copper mines were discovered.  And it got a third lease on life when it became a transportation hub for the United States Army during the second World War.  Many of the original buildings are still in place.

This structure is known as the Whitehorse three-story skyscraper.  It was built in 1947, when every hotel room in Whitehorse was packed with military personnel.  The shortage of accommodations led 70-year-old Martin Berrigan to construct a series of multi-story log houses which have been continuously rented since their completion.

In 1900, the “Apostle of the North,” Bishop William C. Bompas, became the first resident Anglican priest in Whitehorse.  The log church and rectory was the home of their ministry, and in use until 1960.  The poet Robert W. Service was the secretary to the vestry, and his minute books are on display.

David Neufeld is a historian with Parks Canada, and a specialist on the Klondike gold rush.  He’s based in Whitehorse, and he’s put together a group of photographs that were taken during the period.  They show us how people really ate on the Chilkoot Trail.

DAVID NEUFELD:  What’s incredible about the whole experience of the gold rush is how much stuff came up.  They had bananas come in from Latin America, or South America.  They were brought up in refrigerator ships and dropped off and then packed over the trail, and you can buy fresh fruit into the interior of what’s this wilderness area.  Now, to keep these guys supplied and happy, you needed good meals, and fresh meat was something that was difficult to get.  Wild game was gone.  Soon as these 30,000 stampeders showed up the bear, moose, and even the fish tended to disappear.  Either they got picked off right away or they just went back in the bush.  So they brought everything with them and what we’ve got here is a horse pack train heading over the trail that is crated up with live turkeys.  And there was also herds of cattle that were brought in and herds of sheep that were stampeded over the trail as well.

BURT WOLF:   So these guys were really in business.  They were bringing things up to sell to the prospectors.  It was kind of like a moveable mall.


BURT WOLF:   And that was common, I gather.

DAVID NEUFELD:  There is quite a few people who saw this as a business venture, you know, supplying the gold rush miners and everybody else who was going up.  There was mounties, there was government administrators, there was miners, and then there was the other storekeepers.

BURT WOLF:  ‘Cause we only see these pictures of everybody starving on the Chilkoot, but that wasn’t completely true.

DAVID NEUFELD:  Most of them were pretty well fed, certainly they were well equipped.

BURT WOLF:  Nice little town...

DAVID NEUFELD:  Yeah, this is Bennett, British Columbia, and Bennett’s right at the end of the Chilkoot Pass.  And what’s interesting, I guess, is all the restaurants that you can see coming down the street here.  This one here, the Arctic Restaurant, we have some reviews of that and it was run by Donald Trump’s grandfather.

BURT WOLF:  Wait, wait, wait...The Arctic Restaurant and Hotel was owned by Donald Trump’s grandfather?

DAVID NEUFELD:  Grandfather.  Yeah, he came up here with a partner and they ran this restaurant here.

BURT WOLF:  I love that!

DAVID NEUFELD:  Well, it gets even better.  When -- the town tended to close down when the railway went through, this kind of disappeared, nobody came on the  trail, so they took the restaurant, and put it on a barge and floated it over to the railway and then set it up again for another couple of years.

BURT WOLF:  So Donald comes by his entrepreneurship quite honestly.

DAVID NEUFELD:  Quite honestly, yeah...It’s in the family.

One of the most important methods of transportation in the Yukon Territory was the riverboat.  The most famous of these was the S.S. Klondike.  Today it’s been restored as a museum and sits at the side of the river in Whitehorse.

ODETTE LLOYD:  The S.S. Klondike was originally built here in Whitehorse in 1929 and she worked on the Yukon River mainly between here and Dawson City.  Now this was the biggest freight ship that ever operated here in the Yukon, which was owned and operated by a company called the B.Y.N., which is the British Yukon Navigation Company.  And the name S.S. Klondike, the S.S. actually stands for steam ship, so everything was powered by steam.  At this end of the boiler there’s a door that opens up, and this opens into the fire pit.  So standing on some boards where we’ve got the walkway now there’d always be one person on duty.  He was called the fire man and his job was just to keep stoking the fire.  Now the Klondike would burn on average between about a cord and a cord and a half of wood an hour.  Now one cord of wood is a measurement, it’s four feet, by four feet by eight.  So this pile here, it’s actually a little bit closer to a cord and a half of wood.  This just gives you an idea of how much they needed to burn for one hour with the ship out on the river...


ODETTE LLOYD:  What that actually meant for the fire man was that he had to throw this door open, pitch one of those logs in, and close it just about once every thirty seconds. 

BURT WOLF:  A log like this?

ODETTE LLOYD:  Well this one here, it would have been cut the same length,  four feet like this, but it probably would have been split in two.  Another part of the deck hand’s job was to be constantly running all that wood forward to the boiler so they wouldn’t run out.  So it was what you might, uh, consider a demanding job physically, and that’s why the fire man only had to work a four hour shift, then he’d have eight hours off while everybody else in the crew was working twelve hours on and twelve hours off...

BURT WOLF:  Must’ve been in great shape.

ODETTE LLOYD:  Nice burly strong men.  A lot of people would call this kind of boiler a locomotive-style boiler ‘cause it’s the same kind you’ll find on most steam trains.  We usually call it a fire tube boiler, though, and that’s ‘cause inside here you’ve got two hundred and forty-two of those fire tubes.  So what was happening inside the boiler here is the fire was getting sucked down through those tubes and that heats the water.  All the water’s in the big cylinder there, around and in between all those tubes, and then of course when you heat water enough you get steam.  And that meant that after every other trip they had to clean this whole thing out.  First of all, you’d have to run out and find the most recently hired deck hand, he’s like the lowest guy on the totem pole, and he would dress himself up in five or six layers of clothing, maybe tie some wet rags around his head, he’d throw a board across the pump in here and then he’d have to crawl right into the boiler.  He’d have big wire brushes to punch out all those tubes and buckets to clean the sump and the pit at the other end.  His buddies would stand out here and they’d throw water on him to keep him cool.  After a minute or two, he was allowed to crawl back out and catch his breath, take a moment to cool down.  Then he’d have to get right back in and keep working until it was done.  It might take him up to about six hours and by the time he finished his board was smokin’ and red hot and he was due for a trip into town. 

Okay, so all the cargo that we’re seeing down here right now, this is all a pretty good example of what the Klondike would have carried from Whitehorse into Dawson City on the first run of the year, because of course, before we had highways in the north Dawson was really isolated over the winter.  So in the summer when your first steamboat made it through it would always bring in, first of all, a big load of liquor, then the food, and then the other supplies.  Now, one thing on board too that I always like to show to people -- it’s right up here, and we’ve got an order of gasoline on the ship right now... and this really shouldn’t be here.  You see, in the Yukon, it’s actually against the law for a ship that carries passengers on board to be carrying anything flammable or explosive in their cargo hold.  But when it came to the British Yukon Navigation Company, they really didn’t like to lose any money, whether it was on the passenger tickets they could sell or on the cargo they could move.  So they devised a system to get around the law.  Now, when they had something like this to move, they’d load onto the ship anyway.  It might be a gasoline or empty oil barrels.  They might even have kegs of gunpowder down here.  They’d load it on to the ship and then sell tickets to all the passengers anyway, but then they’d give each passenger one dollar back, they would say “This is your salary, for this trip you are part of the crew.”

BURT WOLF:  What a cheap shot!

ODETTE LLOYD:  So we got a little change of scenery up here.  These are the passenger decks.

BURT WOLF:  The wheel house.

ODETTE LLOYD:  So right in here of course this is the control center for the whole ship.  Incidentally, we are now at the top of the tallest building in Whitehorse.  Now, in here a couple of things you can see,  they have the top end of the telegraph system up here, so that’s the handle the master used to send the orders down to the engine room.  Now, you’ll notice in here, too, this is one of the only places on the ship where they’ve got heating.  When the S.S. Klondike was out on the river, they actually kept all these windows open all the way around so you could hear everything happening around you.  So that’s also what the canvas was for here, just a little wind dodger helps to keep the wind and the bugs out of your teeth when you’re steering the ship.  Now, my personal very favorite thing on the entire S.S. Klondike is also up here in the wheel house.  Just down in the corner there, we’ve got a beautiful brass compass.  Now, navigational law again says that every ship must have a compass in the wheel house, right?  But if you think about that, if you’re actually gettin’ lost going up and down a river, I’m sure you’ve probably got bigger problems to worry about.

When the glaciers of the last ice age passed through Canada about 10,000 years ago, they missed a small pocket of the Yukon -- and that has given this part of the territory a somewhat unique geography.  The absence of the glaciers allowed the gold in the earth to concentrate.

The glacier-free zone also had an effect on the rivers.  Most of the northern rivers of Canada, having had a previous encounter with a glacier, ended up with either deep canyon walls, whitewater rapids, or vertical waterfalls.

But that is not the case for most of the Yukon River.  Most of the Yukon, having slipped through the icy fingers of the glaciers, has none of that rough stuff; it flows peacefully through its valley.  Which makes it a perfect place for rafting, canoeing and fishing.  There are still large runs of salmon that swim up thousands of miles from the Pacific Ocean... and all for love.

The soil is rich and sustains a wide variety of plants, which in turn support an equally wide variety of animals.

In the end, the great treasure of the Yukon may be its natural beauty, and that beauty’s accessibility to the tourist.  And one way into that beauty is by highway.  The roads of the Yukon are perfect for viewing the local wildlife.  Animals roam free in their natural and unspoiled habitat.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   There are major animal migrations in the Yukon which change the wildlife population throughout the year.  A hundred and sixty thousand caribou winter here, then they pop across the border to Alaska to calve. Tens of thousands of birds migrate over the area.  Waterfowl include ducks and geese, loons and swans.  The official bird of the Yukon is the raven; very important from a spiritual and cultural point of view for the people of the First Nations.  As you drive along the highway, you’ll come to signs like this; they’re a reminder to get out of your car and take your camera and get a picture of the wildlife. . . . Sorry... wrong kind of wildlife.  Maybe we’ll just go down the road and take a look at the gastronomic life.

This is a little cafe called The Chocolate Claim.  It was started by a woman named Jose Janssen, who came here from Holland in 1974.  She heard The Call Of The Wild.  When she got here she started earning a living by baking muffins in her home kitchen and selling them door-to-door.  Today she owns one of the most respected bakeries in the territory.

JOSE JANSSEN: Today we’re going to make triple berry muffins.

BURT WOLF:  Triple berry muffins!  Let’s do it!

JOSE JANSSEN:  Excellent.  Okay, we’ve got two and a half cups of eggs...

BURT WOLF:  How many is that like in real eggs?

JOSE JANSSEN:  In real eggs?  That’s about a dozen eggs...


JOSE JANSSEN:  All right.  And then we’re going to have two and a half cups of brown sugar.


JOSE JANSSEN:  Okay, we’re going to mix the brown sugar with the eggs until that’s all together.  Nice and frothy, thick.  Now we’re going to add two cups of oil.  Vegetable oil will be just fine.  Want to help me?

BURT WOLF:  Sure, why not.

JOSE JANSSEN:  Okay, why don’t you pour in the oil...

BURT WOLF:  Okay...

JOSE JANSSEN:  All right, there we go...

BURT WOLF:  Just one shot...everything in at one --

 JOSE JANSSEN:  Excellent.  Okay, now we’re gonna add two cups of milk.  Excellent.  Okay, next we’re going to add four cups of whole wheat flour and we’re going to move to a wooden spoon cause it’s gonna get thick now.  Okay?

BURT WOLF:  Alright.  A little bit at a time?

JOSE JANSSEN:  You may dump this in...

BURT WOLF:  Dump that in...

JOSE JANSSEN:  Dump the whole thing..

BURT WOLF:  You got it...

JOSE JANSSEN:  Excellent.

BURT WOLF:  White flour next?

JOSE JANSSEN:  Next we’re gonna do white flour, four cups of white flour, great.  We’re gonna mix this until it’s thick like mud.  You like mud?

BURT WOLF:  I love mud.

JOSE JANSSEN:  Then we mix in half a cup of bran.  We’ll go easy on bran.  Okay, got a hand on that bowl, baking powder, baking soda...

BURT WOLF:  You bet...

JOSE JANSSEN:  We mix that in.  Alright.  And we’re making this triple berry.  We’re gonna put in raspberries, blueberries and we got some cranberries. 

BURT WOLF:  How many?

JOSE JANSSEN:  About three quarter cup.  It’s thick enough now.  We’re gonna let it sit for about ten minutes to thicken it a little bit more.  And then we’ll scoop it in the muffin pans.

BURT WOLF:  We can do that.

JOSE JANSSEN:  There’s a little bit of batter left.  Okay, good, good...Okay, I’m gonna put a sprinkle of brown sugar on top of the muffins and that will give it a nice crust.  Right on.  Good...

BURT WOLF:  We’re ready...

JOSE JANSSEN:  Twenty-five minutes, three hundred and seventy-five degrees until they’re done.

BURT WOLF:  Let’s go have a coffee.

JOSE JANSSEN:  Hey, let’s go for coffee.

As I was driving along I noticed a small airstrip and a sign indicating that people landed here for cinnamon buns.  That was clearly enough to get my attention.  Surely one of the more unusual places where I have dined is the Braeburn Lodge on the highway between Whitehorse and Dawson.  Steve Watson is a biker turned baker, a man who went from the Harley to the hearth, from bikes to buns -- and he’s proud of it.

BURT WOLF:  Steve is famous for big food, right?  Big country, big people, big heart.  This is your standard cinnamon bun?

STEVE WATSON:  Yeah, it is.

BURT WOLF:  How much does that sell for?

STEVE WATSON:  Five dollars...

BURT WOLF:  You know how much it weighs?

STEVE WATSON:  No, not at all.

BURT WOLF:  Okay.  Why is the food so big?

STEVE WATSON:  It’s a tradition.  They get bigger in the summer when it’s warmer.

BURT WOLF:  Why is that?

STEVE WATSON:  They rise a bit more...

BURT WOLF:  Okay, and people come and eat’s a standard, big...

STEVE WATSON:  They’re world-famous...

BURT WOLF:  ...cinnamon bun... I’ll bet they are... people fly in in their planes for this?


BURT WOLF:  That’s amazing.  I want to show you a hamburger.  Mike... let me see the hamburger that I ordered.  Okay.  Take a look at that.  That is your standard hamburger?


CUSTOMER 1:  You see, they got a little sign up there that says “if you can finish a hamburger deluxe, you get the next one free...”

BURT WOLF:  And did you?

CUSTOMER 1:  No, no way.

CUSTOMER 2:  We go through quite often to Whitehorse and we always stop here.

BURT WOLF:  I hear he makes a great chocolate soufflé.

CUSTOMER 3:  No.  No, he doesn’t.

CUSTOMER 4:  The soufflé, yes, is quite good.  But his foie gras is magnificent in port wine sauce...

CUSTOMER 5:  Well, that’s superb, but, uh, his Grand Marnier cake is probably his finest creation.

CUSTOMER 2:  Well, not like his chicken cordon bleu...

BURT WOLF:  Steve, that was really great.  Thanks a lot.  But, uh, before I go, what’s the real word on the chocolate soufflé?

STEVE WATSON:  You know Burt, they just don’t appreciate it.

BURT WOLF:  That’s life.  Take care.


BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):  Robert Service, the great poet of the Yukon gold rush wrote the following:

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,

A race that can’t stay still;

So they break the hearts of kith and kin,

And they roam the world at will.

BURT WOLF (ON CAMERA):   Well... I am pretty sure that I’m not breaking the hearts of any kith or kin, but I am definitely roaming the world at will.  And I hope that you will roam along with me next time as we take a look at the ORIGINS of the things that surround us.  I’m Burt Wolf.