TPoH: Update!

Here and here in english.

WIP of German, Russian, Chinese, Dutch, Polish, Esperanto, Swedish, Latin, Hungarian, Norwegian, French and Spanish translations!

The P-word, Before Anything Else.

As an Australia-born Chinese person, I’ve rarely had cause to feel any less Australian than my ‘white’ peers. I have not felt limited by my ‘Chinese-ness’ in my endeavours, because I’ve always believed that you can either choose to be that objectified stereotype of racialisation, or you can move beyond it and refuse to let it define you.

I know, I know - Australian with a non-white heritage, multiculturalism, racism and other associated woes - just your classic situation down under. Touché, I say, because it’s true that this is a well-worn topic, which begs the question of why it still hasn’t been solved.

Sunday brunch in a well-established, what one might call a traditional, upper middle class suburb. My family and I were queueing for seats, yet the assured ‘it’s a 10 minute wait’ became 15, then 20, and then 30. We saw groups of people in the same number, who arrived after us, and were, if not immediately seated, at least at a table within 10 minutes. We were only seated after I approached the maitre d’, and upon asking to move to a larger, unoccupied table- since the three of us were seated at a table intended for two - the maitre d’ stormed over and gave us a piece of his mind. No, he did not give us a racist rant. He just spoke to us in an entirely disrespectful and accusatory tone about how unnecessarily difficult we had made the situation. In my shock, I could only gape at the suddenness of his outburst.

Quickly, I became angry. Firstly, we had only made a polite request - a reasonable one considering our long wait. Secondly, in a locale like this, we had been treated in an entirely unprofessional manner (not one which any other patron I regarded had been treated with). Needless to say that the rest of the patrons were of Anglo-Saxon or of similar origin; beaming families and couples by the seaside- the idyllic vision of Australia. The idyllic vision of Australia. 60. Years. Ago.

You might wonder if this was all a matter of my interpretation, or if I should have expected anything more considering the area I was in. In answer to the first: I don’t like the conclusion I’ve come to at all, either. But having watched his lighthearted, considerate interaction with other patrons and then noticing the brusque manner with which our table was brushed past, again, and again, I couldn’t deny it. In answer to the latter question, think again. If you are asking this question, doesn’t it affirm your agreement with racism by finding justification for it?

Which brings me to a 3pm Tuesday afternoon on the guards’ carriage on a train at Chatswood. A young, white male, clearly drunk, was trying to pick me up. Naturally, I politely dismissed him. He pressed on:

'Is it because I’m an Aussie bloke and you’re Asian?'

I only shook my head in disbelief, not wanting to aggravate or encourage him any further. It’s not worth detailing the encounter further, except that thankfully, I was only aboard for three stops.

These two incidents exist side by side in my memory because that they happened is less shocking than how quickly these simple people-to-people situations transformed into examples of racialisation. I think I speak on behalf of many of my non-white peers when I say that living in Australia is a blessing, and our everyday interaction does not revolve around our racial background. But it seems that racism and the associated idea of white privilege has infused everyday attitudes; its unexpected appearances emphasise that perhaps it has even become a subconscious stigma or social reflex.

I don’t have a political message. Nor is this my two cents about Tony Abbott telling us that ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia’ (Sorry Tones, no one’s going down that road today).

This is a small, ordinary reminder from a small, ordinary person, that our cultural heritage - just like religion, sexual preference or gender is part of our identity, but not the whole of it. Our day-to-day interaction should not be prefaced by racial attitudes, because at the heart of it, it’s never ‘I talked to Shona the Indian and work with Bill, Paul and Katie the Japs’ but it’s ‘Shona, Bill, Paul and Katie’ - the people in my life.

It’s simple, really. It’s a person of a people, to persons of all peoples, to people from peoples, to people as persons, to persons as people, to a person as a person. The p-word, before anything else.

- Michelle Wang

You must have heard of the phrase “a Pyrrhic victory”; a victory that is obtained with so much loss that it might as well have been a defeat.

The phrase stems from the Pyrrhic War (280-275 BC), a war of shifting alliances between the Greeks, Romans, and Carthaginians. Pyrrhus of Epirus, a Greek state in the western Balkans, battled the Romans in 280 BC and 279 BC, at Heraclea and Asculum respectively. He suffered incredible losses, but won both battles simply by virtue of having lost less men than the Romans. However, because Rome had a much larger supply of men, the damage that was done to their war-effort was less than the damage to Pyrrhus’ supplies. 

In a report, Plutarch attributes the following quote to Pyrrhus: “[O]ne more such victory would utterly undo [me]”.

Whether or not this is the bloodiest conflict we can’t be certain, but it has definitely become a representation of a win at such an incredibly high toll that it takes away any sense of achievement or profit.

Just received a dove, it told me someone will not be able to come out today. Alright, enjoy it with a nice cup can solve every problem. Good Sunday!

It was not all oral tradition. The Kingdom of Kush (situated in Sudan) for instance, had its own writing system. This Meroitic language is named after the capital of the kingdom, Meroë. Because Kush had close ties to Egypt, Meroitic seems to be derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. It is an alphabetical language that has been deciphered in 1909, but has not yet been translated. 

Like the Egyptian language, Meroitic has different forms depending on the application. There was a monumental script that corresponds to hieroglyphs, and a script used for writing that was more akin to Demotic Egyptian. It has been in use from around 300 B.C. to 600 A.D., and is likely to be the parent system to Old Nubian, which was used from the 8th to the 15th century.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The egg cream mystery solved?A chance find prompts me to stray from the usual focus of this blog (early medieval food and French bread history). It concerns a drink long known to New Yorkers, but probably to few other Americans: the egg cream.

If you are unfamiliar with the egg cream, you might reasonably imagine it to contain both eggs and cream; the fact that it contains neither is a source of mischievous pride to native New Yorkers. What


it contain? Seltzer, milk and chocolate syrup. The most dreary description of it is as “an ice cream soda without the ice cream”. That such a concoction can, arguably, attain perfection – exemplified for many by that made at the Gem Spa, on Second Avenue – is one of New York’s true mysteries.

The other of course is how the drink came to be; notably how, lacking both egg and cream, it came to be under that particular name.

The drink’s association with New York Jewish culture is such that searches for an answer have always focused there. Writes Joy Parks:

One theory is that in the 1880s, Yiddish theater pioneer Boris Thomashevsky asked a New York City soda fountain to reproduce a drink he had discovered in Paris, but the French chocolat et crème got lost in translation. Others say the name is an Americanization of echt keem, Yiddish for “pure sweetness,” and some suggest it’s simply Brooklynese for “a cream.”The most common story is that sometime in the 1890s, candy shop owner Louis Auster concocted the drink by accident. It’s said he sold thousands a day. But when Auster refused to sell the rights to the drink to an ice cream chain, a company executive called him an anti-Semitic slur and he vowed to take the formula to his grave. Without Auster’s special syrup, other soda fountains relied on a Brooklyn original: Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup, containing water, sugar, corn sweeteners, cocoa and some “secret things.”

Jennifer Schiff Berg’s article in the 2007 edition of the

Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink

begins: “The egg cream, originally a drink associated with eastern European Jewish immigrants, quickly became a beverage so linked to New York that it serves as one of the city’s most recognizable icons “ Her article in the 2013 

Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America

essentially repeats the same idea.

Berg does refer to a 1906 text which “includes a preparation with egg yolks, cream syrup, seltzer and vanilla”, adding however that “few cream enthusiasts give much credence to this recipe.” In fact, as it turns out, this last version comes closest to what seems to be the real original egg cream. Which, however, appears to be neither specifically Jewish nor from New York.

In the

The Housewife’s Library

, an 1885 work probably printed in Philadelphia and surveying a wide range of generally American specialties, George A. Peltz offers this recipe: “Egg Cream.—Beat a raw egg to a stiff froth; add a tablespoonful of white sugar and a half wineglass of good blackberry wine; add half a glass of cream; beat together thoroughly, and use at once.”

A supplement to

Scientific American

, dated, October 2, 1896, provides formulas for several “Summer Beverages”, including thisone for “Egg Cream”:

Cream….. 4 ounces.

Four egg yolks.

Extract vanilla….. 1

Sirup….. 12 “

Evora Bucknum Perkins’ 1911 

Laurel Health Cookery

includes a whole section on egg creams, beginning with this statement:

Egg creams, in their great variety, are the most delightful ways of serving uncooked eggs, both for desserts and for invalids.For preparing them, the ingredients and all utensils and dishes should be as nearly ice cold as possible.The white of the egg should be beaten very stiff. The milk and cream should have been sterilized.The creams must be prepared just at the time of serving as they become liquid and lose their creamy consistency very soon.

This is followed by recipes for lemon, raspberry, banana, vanilla, almond, and maple or honey egg creams.By all evidence then, the egg cream was originally a drink with no specific cultural or regional association and it was called an egg cream because it contained, yes, both egg and cream. Its froth came from beating the egg whites, not from any added seltzer.

How did it come to be a drink containing neither egg nor cream, but always seltzer?

Such evolutions are in fact quite familiar in food history. Blancmange – literally, “white food” - was originally made with chicken and almonds, yet over the centuries it became a simple pudding (in the American sense). The croissant – that is, in French, “crescent’ – was originally named for its shape; yet the word today is used for things like the chocolate croissant, which is square, though made with the same dough. Maraschino cherries, writes Linda Ziedrich, originally:

were Marasca cherries – a small Morello type that grow in Italy and Croatia – preserved in maraschino liqueur, a clear liqueur distilled from the same cherries and flavored with their crushed pits. What Americans now call maraschino cherries were developed in the 1920s… as a way of using locally grown Royal Anne cherries… Maraschino cherries couldn’t be imported during Prohibition, and domestic cherries couldn’t legally be preserved in alcohol.

And so the American cherries were put into brine, colored with red dye (being naturally yellowish), and flavored with almond extract. With the result that few Americans today would recognize an original Maraschino cherry as such.

Similar changes can be imagined for the egg cream.

The original version was not the only drink to be made with eggs. Consider this 1888 recipe for egg lemonade:

Egg Lemonade—This is only prepared for the dispensing counter as follows: Into a pint tumbler put a tablespoonful of powdered sugar, the juice of one lemon, add a little water and one egg, and fill up with broken ice. Then place another tumbler tightly over the top of the first one, shake briskly until the combination is perfected. It is usually sipped through a rye straw in the same manner as a cobbler. This beverage is an all-year-round drink, a healthful beverage, and very nutritious.

As for using cream in a frothy drink, here is Hannah Wolley’s 1672 instruction:

To make whipt Sillibub._Take half a Pint of Rhenish Wine or white Wine, put it into a Pint of Cream, with the Whites of three Eggs, season it with Sugar, and beat it as you do Snow-Cream, with Birchen Rods, and take off the Froth as it ariseth, and put it into your Pot, so do till it be beaten to a Froth, let it stand two or three hours till it do settle, and then it will eat finely.

Did later concerns about using eggs, in particular, in fountain drinks lead to replacing these in egg creams, just as concerns about alcohol led to changes in maraschino cherries? And was it simple economy that led to cream being replaced with milk? Such changes made, seltzer would have been a natural replacement for the whipping of either of the original ingredients to create foam.

The exact steps in the change, or where they occurred, may never be known; nor is it clear why the drink “took root” in New York City, and that city alone. But the origin of the egg cream can now be firmly traced, beyond New York or any one group, to a drink that originally contained both ingredients and whose name then was as logical as it is paradoxical now.

UPDATE December 12, 2014

First, a discovery which backdates the egg cream (with eggs and cream), even further; to 1850 -

How to Make Egg Cream. Take the yolk of an egg, with a dessert spoonful of cream or new milk, and, if convenient, add two drops of oil of cinnamon.(Blake) \

Otherwise, stepping further back (to 1843), one finds a yet another kind of egg cream:

One morning at breakfast, when I got up from my chair to manufacture some egg-cream, and had a large tea-kettle full of boiling water in one hand, and a glass with the egg in another, the ship gave a fearful roll, sending me and my kettle to  the other side of the cabin.


Unfortunately, this sailor was interrupted before making his egg cream with boiling water, as well as an egg, but apparently… no cream.. Luckily however recipes from much later (the early twentieth century) provide some insight into where he was headed:

Two eggs, 2 tablespoons of sugar, juice and grated rind of half a lemon. Separate the yolks of the eggs from the whites, and beat them with the sugar in a bowl until both are well mixed. Then put in the lemon juice and rind and place the bowl in a dish of boiling water on the fire. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken, then add the stiff whites and cook until the whole resembles very thick cream, stirring all the time; pour into custard cups and set away to get cold.

(Nursing World) Juice of half a lemon, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoonfuls of sugar. Separate yolks and whites ; beat yolks with sugar until well mixed; add lemon juice and place bowl in a dish of hot water over the fire. Stir slowly until mixture begins to thicken; then add beaten whites and stir until the whole forms a thick cream. Remove from the fire, pour into dishes, and set aside to cool.


This variant of the egg cream, in other words, did not use eggs WITH cream; it used them to MAKE a sort of cream.

It is very unlikely that this version (which clearly took on a medical purpose) had anything to do with the modern New York drink. But its very existence notably expands the surprisingly large field of egg cream lore.


Parks, Joy, “Sweet Egg-nigma: The elusive history of an American classic.”,

Imbibe: Liquid Culture

Berg, Jennifer Schiff, “Egg Cream”,

The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink,

 ed. Andrew F. Smith 2007

Berg, Jennifer Schiff, “Egg Cream”,

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America,

Volume 1 ed Andrew Smith, Bruce Kraig 2013

Peltz, George A,

The Housewife’s Library: (many Volumes in One) : Furnishing the Very Best


“Selected Formulae”,

Scientific American Supplement

, October 2, 1896

Perkins, Evora Bucknum,

The Laurel Health Cookery: A Collection of Practical Suggestions and Recipes for the Preparation of Non-flesh Foods in Palatable and Attractive Ways


Ziedrich, Linda,

The Joy of Jams, Jellies and Other Sweet Preserves: 200 Classic and.

.. 2010

Sulz, Charles Herman,

Sulz’s Compendium of Flavorings


Wolley, Hannah,

The Queen-like Closet or Rich Cabinet


Blake, John Lauris,

The Farmer’s Every-day Book: Or, Sketches of Social Life in the Country

… 1850

Henry, Walter,

Events of a military life: being recollections after servicein

…, Volume 1 1843

Nursing World, Volumes 27-28


Beck, Amanda Kathryn,

A Reference Hand-book for Nurses


AMA Sunday: Ask us Ancient History Questions!

Hey guys!

Since we’ve been getting a lot of general ancient history questions over the past few weeks we thought it might be a good idea to alternate Sundays between “AMA: Ancient History Questions” (We might call it “Solve it Sunday”…) and Suggestion Sunday. 

So here is our first AMA Sunday! If you have any questions about Ancient History i.e. You’re not sure on something or there has always been a question you just want to ask, now is the time to do it! 

We, of course, won’t be able to answer everything (we’re good but not that good!) but we’ll try our best to answer things. Don’t take it to heart if we don’t/can’t answer your question, it may inspire us to go and research the subject and produce a long post on it in the future. 

Just a final note; If we feel that your question is to do with an essay topic/homework etc we will not answer it. We hope you’ll abide by the same honour code we do by which we mean the concept of plagiarism. We ask you to remember this “Would you like it if you were being exploited for someone else’s gain?” We make no money from this blog and we run it as a hobby in our spare time so can we please ask you to respect us and the work that we do. We know that 99% of you already do so it’s just a reminder :)

The ask box can be found here (x)

The Ancient Peoples Team 

Solve it Sunday!

Solve-it Sunday is now opened! For the next hour you can ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask about the ancient world. We will try to answer as many questions as possible but please remember that your admin is also only human. 

We also ask you to read our FAQ regarding limitations and periods of time we will cover and check tags to see if we have covered the topic of your question previously.

Happy hunting all!! 

Dual Suggestion Sunday/Solve it Sunday

Hey guys! 

We’re opening Suggestion Sunday/Solve it Sunday for a couple of hours (until 7pm BST or whatever the equivalent is in your time zone but roughly 2 1/2 hours from now) so please feel free to ask away! We’re sorry it’s been such a long time since we’ve done this but admin have had academic commitments and personal problems which have prevented us from being available.

If you don’t want to us to know/publish your url then please either use anon or ask us specifically not to publish your question and we’ll respect that. Otherwise the questions will be published like usual (unless we’re overwhelmed, in which case some of you may get private responses)

Our ask box is here, and as always please remember that we deal with any history (this includes Pre-History) up until AD 500.  

Happy Inboxing!

Solve it Sunday: Now Open

Hey guys, 

Once again we’ve opened up the ask box for general Ancient History questions. So if you’ve got any burning questions about an aspect of Ancient History then please submit them!

Any questions we have received about Ancient History since the last Solve it Sunday will now be answered as well so don’t be surprised if the question you asked 2 weeks ago suddenly appears!

We, of course, don’t know everything. So if we can’t answer your question we’ll let you know :) 

The askbox is here (x)

Happy inboxing!

The Ancient Peoples Team

anonymous asked:

Ok, the question about the Ptolemies made me think of this. I know a bit about them including their family tree. I always wondered with a family as inbred as theirs how they managed to keep having children let alone children that were functioning. Is there anyway any of them could've been adopted from concubines then said they were the queens. Or do we know for sure that their parents were who we think they are? Sorry if I'm making myself look like an idiot, I don't know that much about them.

To be honest, we can’t really know for certain who fathered or mothered certain children of the Ptolemaic Dynasty short of a very extensive genetic research. It is of course possible that some children were indeed begotten by a concubine rather than the queen, but again we can’t know for certain. They didn’t exactly keep a record of this if it happened. 

And don’t worry, you don’t look like an idiot for asking this! There’s no such thing as a stupid question, and we’re here to answer all you might have. :)

ETA: mywifebeatsme sent us this inbox answer which we’ll post here;

First of all, this blog is great and I read it everyday. Second of all I read the Ptolemaic inbreeding question and I may be off base here but they might, and probably did suffer from some form of inbreeding depression but if I understand it correctly introducing another bloodline like (Antiochus III of Syria  would completely reset the genetic depression process. 

Household Notice

Hey guys,

We’re still getting history questions in our inbox, and while we’re glad our first ever Solve It Sunday has been such a success, the AMA has been closed since yesterday, and it’s not our intention to answer questions throughout the week. We’ll do this once every two weeks, and post the answers on Sunday and Monday (this because we run Solve It Sunday late in the afternoon/evening for us, so answering all the questions on Sunday is not feasible). 

We hope you understand that while we love receiving all of your questions, we would like to ask you to save them for two weeks hence. We’re being a bit lenient with it this week, but on next installments of Solve It Sunday, any asks received after the cut-off point for the AMA will not be answered until the next edition. 

The Ancient Peoples Team

Solve it Sunday Now Closed

We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of asks we’ve received tonight so we’re bringing Solve it Sunday to a close early this evening. Please no more questions tonight!

Thank you for all your wonderful questions and we’ll now answer the remaining few we have in the inbox just to clear up any questions people do have. 

The Ancient Peoples Team

Suggestion Sunday/Solve it Sunday: Now Open

Hey guys!

We’re going to tentatively open Suggestion Sunday/Solve it Sunday for a bit so feel free to ask us questions. Please bear in mind our time frame when asking questions (and if you’re unsure please check out the FAQ) and that we may not be able to answer all the questions asked today. 

There are only 2 admin available to answer questions as of now, though more may be available later as they wake up/come online, so please be gentle with us!

The Ancient Peoples Team

AMA Sunday is now closed!

We’ve had a veritable flood of questions this evening! Thank you all for participating in our first AMA/Solve it Sunday and making it such a success!

Please can we ask for no more questions to be sent to us for the time being as we’re still dealing with the ones we have! Any questions we do get after this point will be answered during the week. 

If your question has not yet been answered never fear! Some questions require more thought and/or more research before we can answer them so these will be answered in due course (probably over the next week or so)

Thank you so much again!

The Exhausted Ancient Peoples Team