Tag Archives: tradition

You can’t buy this in a bottle

Spanish Vermut, what a surprise I found in Spain! You can’t buy this in a bottle from local makers. The best vermut bars create their own secret recipe and store it in huge earthen casks like the two you see behind the bartender below. You have to go there to drink their recipe. They start with sweet white wine and infuse it with their own blend of botanicals and spices. Caramelized sugar added at the end gives it the reddish hue. Vermut originates from the German word wermüt which means wormwood, an ingredient generally regarded as one of the first to be infused into aromatized wines. Wormwood is also the main ingredient in true absinthe.

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Doesn’t he look like a local? As I sat with my friends sipping my first ever Spanish Vermut with tapas I couldn’t help notice the architecture and decor of this building in Granada, including the local people who seemed to come here regularly plus the tourists. I shot almost all of these photos from the hip hoping to get candid authentic images without disturbing the feeling that was going on in the bar. We sat at one of the few tables while many people stood at the bar; there were no bar stools. Later, in Murcia vermut bars, I noticed it is common to have no bar stools and a much smaller bar space. Vermut is a Spanish aperitif and people generally walk to the bar, drink a vermut, perhaps with tapas, and then move on. Standing for this makes sense to me. It’s a temporary stop, no need to sit.

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It looked like some patrons came in to see who’s there that they know, or perhaps they planned a ritual check-in with someone. For many it felt like they were performing their routine. It reminds me of “happy hour” before dinner. In Spain it’s “La Hora de Vermut”.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVermut is served with a thin slice of lemon floating in it or perhaps an orange slice, and maybe stuffed olives for garnish. Tapas might be something pickled.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat has he been thinking about!? And what is she doing on her tablet? Tourists or locals?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow long has he been working here? Is he the owner?

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I walked so many places in Granada, I’m sorry I don’t remember the name of this place. I think it is Bodegas Castanedas because the images I found in my search are very similar but slightly different from mine. It is near the Moroccan shopping area. If you can identify it, please tell me.

Can you buy Spanish Vermut in the US? . . . Maybe. Check out this guide to the Spanish Vermouth Renaissance to learn more about the varieties, then go to your favorite wine dealers and Spanish restaurants and ask.

This post if my response the the Weekly Photo Challenge: Local.

 

 

 

 

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Tom and Jerry Revival

Tom & Jarry Recipe
Olive and Hugh Addington’s recipe for Tom and Jerry.

Every winter I unpack the Tom and Jerry mugs and Grandma’s recipe. I don’t always make the warm drink but today I will. It feels like I should have a large group of family or friends to share the event. In our family tradition preparing and drinking this is a community event and even though it’s most often done at Christmas or New Years celebrations, I truly feel making and drinking Tom and Jerry is an event in itself and should be celebrated through all the cold darkish winter months.

It’s not simply tradition, it’s family revival, bringing to life again the warmth and friendship and security of times when I didn’t know the other edges of family life, the dark things family can do to one another. We need to revive the kind of nourishing memories we may have buried within us. We need to live in the light of loving experiences as often as we can.  Tom and Jerry can do just that. If it’s new to you, think about starting your own family tradition or revival, if you will.

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I remember asking Grandma for the recipe in about 1975 when I was visiting her. I was married and had 2 children by then and as a young home maker, I wanted to be able to share this recipe with my friends and carry on the tradition in my own home. She wrote it for me from memory, asking Grandpa for validation, and gave me the paper. I’ve kept it in my recipe box, and more recently in my trunk full of Christmas decor, until it has yellowed. Reading her handwriting is like hearing her voice, and her laughter, and breathing in the aroma of home and family.

I know there are other ways of making and serving Tom and Jerry’s but I like it this way the best. A recipe is not just what’s in it, it’s the way of preparing and serving the drink. As children Tom and Jerry is one grow-ups drink we were allowed, though I’m not sure we really had alcohol in ours until maybe we were teenagers, if then. Today I’m going to try to portion it down to serve 2, trying for 2 eggs. I wonder why Grandma used 11 eggs to serve 12 drinks. I’m sure my grandparents used their experience in determining the amounts for ingredients.

Guilded little mugs dedicated to the Tom and Jerry
Guilded little mugs dedicated to the Tom and Jerry

The mug bottoms are stamped “made in Japan”. Many types of pottery and mugs were made in Japan after WW2 when the US helped rebuild the nation we had feated.  Imagine the artisans working in factories hand painting the gold guilded letters on each mug. I tried it once and I was far too unsteady to manage a small lettering brush on a rounded surface. Each mug in my set appears to be uniquely lettered, not stenciled or stamped. I may be wrong about that. I broke the punch bowl in clearly more than 100 pieces moving it from Idaho to Wyoming sometime in the 1970s. No matter, I use only the mugs anyway since I keep the yokes and whites in different bowls for Grandma’s recipe.

I’m always curious about were words or terms and names originate. I like this version found  in an article published in “The Atlantic”:

“The Tom and Jerry’s origin is a bit of a mystery. Ted Haigh, author of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, says it was probably invented by Pierce Egan, a British journalist who lived in the 1800s and wrote the popular novel The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq. and His Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom (hence Tom and Jerry). Egan is said to have named the drink after his characters as a publicity stunt. Others hold that a famous American bartender, “Professor” Jerry Thomas, concocted the Tom and Jerry in the 1850s. The recipe credited to him calls for 12 eggs and is served with hot water rather than milk; yet another version suggests mixing the booze and batter with coffee. The only Tom and Jerry certainty is that there is no connection between the drink and the cartoon.

However it began, for about a hundred years, the drink was extremely popular in the United States. So popular that you could buy Tom and Jerry sets, with a large bowl for the batter and matching mugs with “Tom and Jerry” written across them in cursive gold. My family owns two of these and you can still buy the mugs on ebay. People could also order a Tom and Jerry when they went out: throughout the winter, bartenders would whip up a mug to warm a chilled patron.”

You can read the full article here.

Here is another version of the recipe, one in which the yokes and whites are mixed together in the punch bowl before serving. This recipe uses a combination of brandy and rum mixed into the punch. I like my grandparents version instead. They let each drinker decide if they wanted whiskey, brandy, or rum and prepared each drink individually.

Do you drink Tom and Jerry? Please tell me your story and share your recipe.

 

Masks Keep Order in Transylvania

I’m always delighted to see hand crafted masks and those I encountered in Romania were most impressive. Masks represent the strange symbolic world. They serve to protect the home by warning off evil or beckoning good wishes. Romanians hang masks on their homes, in the forest, and display them on mantles and walls. They create masks and wear them in ritual dances for life’s greatest passages like birth, marriage, and burial. As the year passes through time, masks worn in ceremonies ease the passage from one world of time, or season, to the other, especially at New Years rituals. I photographed the masks I saw on my tour with the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania. But fear not, the faces I encountered were not all so scary. Some were downright fun. Petre Vlase tells about Romanian masks expertly here if you want to learn more about the tradition.

Wood masks 3Our inn’s host Lorenzo at, Mamacozonacilor Pensuine in Bran set these on the mantle in the dining hall to scare off evil during our writers workshops and tours. These two were hand carved by an elderly man in Bran.

Richard's chairLorenzo gave this mask to Richard Thomas, our guest horror author and instructor in exchange for Richard’s promise to return next summer. Richard took this protection home to guard his writing chair where he composes some wicked tales. Photo by Richard Thomas, enhanced by me.

masks and flowersRomanian masks aren’t all so frightening. These fiber masks hang on homes. The male head of the household wears one in a ceremony and asks for certain wishes or hopes for the home. I found these displayed on ancient homes that were moved from various sites in Romania into Herastrau Park in Bucharest. They are hand crafted from fabric, animal hair, fibers, dried beans, and other materials. The inside where you put your face is all black felt. In some mask wearing traditions the person wearing the mask goes into the void when putting it on, becoming the character of the mask. That’s why masks are often black inside. I don’t know if that’s true in Romanian tradition.

2 masks on treeMany of these furry masks have something dangling off the nose. Most wear this sort of hat attatched.

1 more mask on wallThe teeth are made from dried beans drilled and sewn in.

1 mask on wallFur can be real or otherwise.

3 macrame facesThese look to be more for display than wearing. They are macrame, probably hemp. Now here’s a use for wooden spoons.

4 macrame facesNo two are quite alike.

wall of masksOwls see more than we can, so useful to display on the home.

2 white fur masksThese are the only old man masks I saw. They are at a souvenier shop at an ancient fortress we visited.

blood drooling faceRather absurd, don’t you think? This face is on the wall in Dracula’s birth home, now a bar and restaurant. I couldn’t hold the camera still. Yikes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome masks like this ceramic candle holder in a restaurant in Brasov are just decorative and plain old fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA mask on the wall helps set the tone of the place. Relax and enjoy a pipe

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or whatever.child faceChilren are represented in some masks. The lighter side. It’s not all dark and scary.

horse faceAnimals, too. This is not really a mask. It was made by a film crew that used the Bran Castle as a setting. Now that’s scary. It inspired a new horror story for me. You can’t miss this monster and rider as you enther the fortress.

skull with horns at Bran entranceWe couldn’t figure out the meaning behind this but no doubt it means to be scary. This was at the top of the steep path to Bran Castle.

face in forestFigure out this one. It’s on a hill alongside the road in one of Transylvania’s most haunted forests. We were warned that wolves do live in this forest. If you were in the Horror Writers Workshop Transylvania, dont’ tell what we discoverd about this spooky sight.

I’m thrilled that as soon as I came home from Transylvania I was asked to direct a spooky play this fall. You can be darned sure I will use some of this inspiration for masks, props, and the set.