Vaccines: public health good, or conspiratorial ‘delusion and snare’?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post researched and written by Kari Wilson-Allan, Collections Assistant – Archives

As we sit in the midst of a global pandemic, doing our best to meet public health requirements while awaiting that crucial vaccine, it seems timely to take a retrospective look. Anyone who has spent time on social media in the last few years will be aware that vaccination is a contentious subject – but has this always been the case? Hocken holdings illuminate the story particularly strongly in the first decade of the twentieth century, and bring human elements to the mix.

Edward Jenner’s successful 1796 inoculation of a patient with cowpox (thereby granting them immunity to smallpox) laid the Western foundation for vaccination, although a number of Eastern societies had already made progress with immunology.[i]

New Zealand law required vaccination against smallpox of Pākehā infants from 1863, though adherence to the rule was limited for many years.[ii]  In the era I’m investigating, vaccines were administered by scraping back a patch of skin, and applying glycerinated calf lymph to the wound.  

An illustration from C.W. Dixon’s ‘Smallpox’ (J. & A. Churchill, London, 1962, p.291) showing the progression of the vaccine on the body. Dixon had previously been Professor of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Otago.

While, according to the statistics, many children escaped the attention of the Vaccination Inspector, thirteen-month-old Rera Mary Taylor did not. Her father, Dunedin butcher William D. Taylor, received a notice from the Inspector’s Office in March 1904. Whether her elder sister Nina had earlier received her prophylaxis is unknown.

Taylor complied with the order, giving permission for Rera’s vaccination. Had he not, he would have been at risk of a fine not exceeding forty shillings, the equivalent of $366 today, and his ‘failure to take advantage of the means provided by the Government for gratuitous vaccination [would be] a menace to the general safety’. [iii]

Notice to William D. Taylor from the Vaccination Inspector’s Office requiring the vaccination against smallpox of his daughter Rera Mary Taylor (1904), MS-1633/036. Curious eyes might wonder at the mention of the ‘s.s. “Gracchus”’ included in the demand. We will return to this.

While Taylor complied with his obligations, Alexander Miller, an orchardist of East Taieri, proactively bypassed them. In 1906, he applied for – and received – a certificate for exemption from vaccination under the terms of the Public Health Act, 1900, part IV for his daughter, Margaret Winnifred, at the time a baby of one month and nineteen days. Miller had convinced the authorities that he was ‘conscientiously of the opinion that vaccination would be prejudicial’ to the infant. Why he took this stance is unknown to us, but the document exempted him from all liability for any consequences of non-vaccination.

Kidd, Margaret Winnifred : Certificate for exemption from vaccination (1900, 28 November 1906), Misc-MS-0727

In 1900, just over sixteen percent of Pākehā[iv] children born that year were successfully vaccinated.[v] However, a notable jump in the rates occurred in the year 1903, before falling again to under eight percent in 1906, the year Margaret Miller was born. [vi] What happened in 1903 to cause one in four infants to receive the vaccine?[vii]

In May of that year, the Steamer Gracchus came from Calcutta via other ports to Dunedin and finally Lyttelton, with smallpox cases on board. This resulted in several deaths, one of which counts in New Zealand’s statistics as the death occurred at Lyttelton. Bell, the third engineer, had a critical case; the Evening Star recorded that there was no room to place a threepenny piece between the pustules [and] the eyes are nearly closed’.[viii]

Contact tracing was established, and a number of the wharf labourers chose not to have the vaccine, despite the offer of three days paid leave to allow for incapacitation for sore arms. They were instead placed in quarantine. In Dunedin, a woman who had been a passenger aboard the ship also contracted smallpox and passed it to her housemate. Both survived.

The documents pictured above prove that vaccination was clearly part of the public health infrastructure. Yet, as we’re seeing today, public health measures are not universally agreed with. Edwin Cox was one vehement opponent at the century’s turn.

An English migrant, Cox was a dentist and president of the Anti-compulsory Vaccination League of New Zealand. Hocken holds two of his publications, as well as a number of his diaries and extensive autobiographical papers.

In the first pamphlet, dated 1904, The vaccination coup d’etat in New Zealand whereby a mercenary imposture usurped the throne of right, he expounds his theory that vaccinations are essentially a self-justifying make-work scheme. Because, he argues, the Public Health Act requires compulsion, and pushes out ‘pro-vaccinist literature, diagrams and statistics, with disgusting photographs’, and led to the appointment of Health Officers and the construction of lymph factories, all these entities have a ‘vested interest’ to keep the threat of smallpox in the public eye and justify their existence. He suggests they are ‘a Fire Brigade roused by cry of fire’. He asks ‘What if vaccination is not, and never was, a protective against smallpox? What if it is, and never has been anything else, than a “delusion and a snare?”’

Cox’s ‘Vaccination coup d’etat’, 1904

In his more substantial Protest of an anti-vaccinist (1905), we get a better sense of his objection to vaccines. This small volume is a collection of articles and letters he has written and lectures given in New Zealand and England.

Within the pages, he describes how, as a young man, he ‘offered up his arm’ for a new method of vaccination. He then records his ‘months of pain and trouble’ that ensued. He describes how, after twenty-four hours, his arms and trunk were so swollen that his clothing needed to be cut off, as ‘foul diseases, as by conspiracy, like a gang of midnight burglars, went ravaging every organ, poisoning all they touched!’ He continues his report, hopefully hyperbolically, stating that ‘fever, jaundice, stomatitis, racking headache, and insomnia’ were ‘the leaders in this desperate assault’ [and that] ‘for some days as [he was] ill as a man could be’. All this took him to bed for ten days, but he felt he should have rested longer, the ‘filthy Jennerian rite’ also having caused ‘noisome abscesses’. While he ultimately recovered, he declared ‘I believe nothing could have brought me through this horrible complication of maladies but my good constitution, temperate habits, and the devoted nursing of my wife’. Ultimately, his experience was ‘object-lesson’ in vaccination.[ix]

Cox’s ‘Protest’, 1905

While condemning vaccination as a ‘grotesque superstition’ of the medical profession, he rails against compulsion. [x]  His three arguments follow. The first was that ‘vaccination is no protection whatever against small-pox’[xi], the second, that it ‘does not mitigate small-pox’[xii] (not so, according to the Chief Health Officer as reported in the Evening Star[xiii]), and finally, no doubt based on his personal experience, ‘that it is a prolific cause or vehicle of other disease’.[xiv]

His general belief is that sanitation is the solution to everything, and calls smallpox the ‘beggar’s disease’. [xv] He wants smallpox hospitals built, tenements torn down, disinfection and notification, and appeals to public responsibility in order to avoid ‘the odious and cruel ordeal of inoculation’ and to counter the vested state interests mentioned in his earlier pamphlet.[xvi]

While smallpox didn’t take off in 1903, an epidemic did spread through Northland in 1913. The 2000 infected were predominantly Māori, and all 55 who died were.[xvii] Many measures familiar to us today were put in place, and poor living conditions and sanitation in Māori communities were widely blamed in Pākehā newspapers. This, despite Māori being more willing to receive vaccination than Pākehā when it was made widely available in the area.[xviii]

These items highlight the diversity of opinion that is familiar to us today, even if expressed in a different manner.

You may wonder, finally, what became of Rera and Margaret.

Rera, born in 1902, was one of four apparent siblings.  Despite her and her sister having reo Māori names, I have not yet identified anything further to suggest they may have been Māori.  She and her siblings do not appear in our database of local schools, nor do the family appear in Stones or other directories.  Rera and her family appear to have moved to Hamilton eventually, and she later married Harold Edwin Marten.  She died in 1988, aged 85 years.

Margaret attended East Taieri School, going on to take a free evening place at the Technical College, studying dressmaking and millinery. She later married George Wilfred Kidd, and died in 1987.

So each woman lived into her eighties, one vaccinated, the other presumably not. We can only guess at their personal opinions of vaccines and how they addressed the issue with their own children.

 

[i] https://www.immune.org.nz/vaccines/vaccine-development/brief-history-vaccination  accessed 21 July 2020

[ii] This was the only vaccine available at the time

[iii] https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/monetary-policy/inflation-calculator accessed 20 August 2020

[iv] Children born to Māori parents were not included in the statistics, nor were their births registered at this time

[v] New Zealand Official Year-Book, 1901, p.302

[vi] Ibid., 1907, p.468

[vii] Ibid., 1904, p.285

[viii] Evening Star, 3 September 1902, p.4

[ix] Protest of an anti-vaccinist, p.9

[x] Ibid., p.14

[xi] Ibid., p.12

[xii] Ibid., p.15

[xiii] Evening Star, 3 September 1902, p.4

[xiv] Protest of an anti-vaccinist, p.16

[xv] Ibid., p.45

[xvi] Ibid., p.67

[xvii] https://teara.govt.nz/en/epidemics/page-4 accessed 24 July 2020

[xviii] Ibid.

 

Stirring up the stacks #6 – pumpkin pie

Thursday, November 28th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Andrew Lorey, Collections Assistant (Researcher Services)

I faced a daunting challenge as I started thinking about what to cook for my contribution to the Hocken Collections ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’ series. Over the last year my colleagues have fermented sauerkraut from scratch, deciphered German-language cooking notes, recreated 1960s party starters, provided a perfectly prepared peach parfait, and concocted lovely jelly-stabilised variety salads for vegans and omnivores alike.

I would describe myself as an unskilled cook at even the best of times, and as such, I struggled to think of a dish that I could contribute to a morning tea or lunchtime without subjecting my workmates to bland tastes and unpalatable textures. As you might expect, I ended up thinking about the types of foods that I enjoy, and particularly the types of dishes that my parents and grandparents cooked when I was a child growing up in America.

 

Figure 1 – Two Hocken Collections cookbooks offering recipes of ‘American Dishes for New Zealand’.1, 2

Different Cultures and Different Cuisines

It is an indisputable fact that all of us have our own personal favourite foods, whether they come in the form of hāngī, vegetarian dishes featuring perfectly cooked tofu or after-dinner treats like ginger nuts and vanilla ice cream. But food plays a much more important role in our lives than simply providing us with nutritional nourishment and energy. I think Emma Johnson captures the multi-dimensional importance of food in her introduction to Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa:

Food is a confluence of things: a web of weather systems; the lay of the land; stories of arrival, trade, economics and politics; histories and empires; domestic and urban practices. It is all connected and culminates in each of us. All of these systems, stories and politics become deeply personal, as food becomes part of us.3 (emphasis added)

In an increasingly global world, it may come as no surprise that people are consuming increasingly global foods. Recent census statistics published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa show that 27.4 per cent of the people residing in New Zealand during the 2018 Census were born outside of the country4, and it follows that most New Zealand immigrants have transported their home countries’ cuisines along with them. When reflecting upon my own identity as an immigrant, I realised that it would be interesting to search for cookbooks at the Hocken Collections that provide instructions for dishes that may not traditionally be associated with New Zealand.

Figure 2 – This adaptation of a figure published by Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa illustrates the proportions of New Zealand immigrants as reported during the 2018 Census.5

I am pleased to say that I did not have any trouble finding cookbooks related to the immigrant experience here at the Hocken Collections. Interestingly, I found a series of cookbooks published by Wellington’s Price Milburn publishing house between the late 1950s and early 1970s that provided recipes from a wide variety of international cuisines. The two American recipe books shown in Figure 1 come from this Price Milburn series, but the publisher also included volumes dedicated to Chinese, Turkish, French and South East Asian dishes.

Figure 3 – Wellington-based publishing house Price Milburn published a series of cookbooks catering to international tastes between the late 1950s and early 1970s.6, 7, 8, 9

Although it is uncertain whether actual New Zealand immigrants were involved with the creation of this Price Milburn series or whether the recipes were put together by New Zealanders who were simply interested in international cuisines, it is clear that an appreciation of international flavours and food literature has persisted in the decades following the Price Milburn publications. For example, recent books like Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar10, Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific11 and “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book12 celebrate and explore the many layers of meaning that exist within the flavours of immigrant experience.

Bringing together dishes from countries as diverse as Rwanda, Chile, Sweden, Vietnam and Vanuatu, books such as these showcase the many vibrant culinary cultures that exist both inside and outside New Zealand while also telling the stories of particular people from particular places. As Therese O’Connell states in her introduction to Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar, “food, the preparation and sharing of it, consistently plays a fundamental role in each of the cultures we encounter.” It was precisely this fondness for sharing that led me to prepare a dish that pays homage to the culturally American cuisine that I grew up with – the not-too-savoury and not-too-sweet pumpkin pie.

As American as… Pumpkin Pie?

Pumpkin pie is a popular American dessert during autumn, particularly during the months of November and December, when many people observe holidays like Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday of November) and Christmas. During my recipe search, I consulted three separate cookbooks that included recipes for pumpkin pie in a quest to discover the finest list of ingredients and the most fool-proof instructions. Although one of the recipes came from a ‘foods demonstration’ undertaken by the University of Otago Department of University Extension13, I ultimately decided to use a recipe for ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ that appeared in one of the Price Milburn booklets shown in Figure 1.

Figure 4 – American recipes for Thanksgiving, including the instructions used for the ‘Hot Pumpkin Pie’ eaten recently at the Hocken Collections.

Hot Pumpkin Pie

8 oz [227 g] flour
2 oz [57 g] butter
2 oz [57 g] lard
½ teaspoon salt
cold water
1½ cups [368 g] mashed cooked pumpkin
2 eggs
6 oz [170 g] brown sugar
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup [237 ml] milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

METHOD:—Sift flour with salt and rub in butter and lard. Cut in just sufficient cold water to bind to a stiff paste. Turn out and roll and line a pie plate with one inch overlapping. Turn overlapping edge under. Prick the bottom and bake for ten minutes in a fairly hot oven, then fill and return to bake for a further three-quarters of an hour in a more moderate oven, until the filling is set and browned. To make the filling, steam pumpkin until tender and sieve enough to make 1½ cups puree. Beat in eggs, brown sugar, spices, and milk. Turn into pie shell and dust with additional nutmeg.

 

As you can see, the recipe provides instructions for making both the pie crust (using the first five ingredients) and the filling (using the final eight ingredients). The instructions do, however leave some things open for interpretation when it comes to the quantity of cold water necessary to create the perfect crust and the cooking temperatures that should be used in the oven (I could not locate settings for ‘fairly hot’ or ‘more moderate’ on my oven at home…). Where possible, I have calculated metric conversions for the ingredients and included those above.

Although the recipe does not explain this portion of pumpkin pie preparations, I began my cooking by washing my pumpkins under cool water, slicing them in half, scooping out the seeds and roasting them for about 60 minutes at 170˚C. To decide whether they were ready to be sieved, drained and pureed, I tried to pierce their rinds with the tines of a fork.

Waiting for your pumpkins to soften in the oven provides ample time to make the pie crust, although I must confess that I had saved some pre-made shortcrust in the freezer for this occasion. If you have a tried-and-tested family recipe for pie crusts, then you should feel free to use that too!

After pre-baking your pie crust if you wish (see the recipe method above) and creating your pumpkin mash puree, then the rest of the recipe is quite straightforward. Just beat in eggs, brown sugar, milk and spices (I doubled the suggested amounts of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger), fill up your pie crust with this mixture and then cook for about 60 minutes (or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean) at 175˚C.

Figure 5 – One of the two pumpkin pies cooked as part of this instalment of ‘Stirring Up the Stacks’.

Reactions from colleagues about the pumpkin pies that I prepared were generally favourable, although several comments did remark that sweet pumpkin dishes remain somewhat foreign to the New Zealand palate:

“Transcendent”
“Delicious! A lovely blend of spices”
“Texture was a fluffy dream!!”
“Is it a main? Is it dessert? Could be both. All day eating.”
“I still find the concept of pumpkin as a sweet dish hard to wrap my head around, but this pumpkin pie was delicious!”
“Best pumpkin pie!”
“Yum!”

It seems fitting that this blog post has been published only shortly after Thanksgiving, and I hope that many of you who read it decide to give this recipe a try!

Figure 6 – I think one of my colleagues put it best when she said, “Yum!”.

[1] Elizabeth Messenger’s American Dishes for New Zealand (1962). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[2] American Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[3] Johnson, Emma (2017). Kai and culture: Food stories from Aotearoa. Christchurch: Freerange Press.
[4] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). 2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights. https://www.stats.govt.nz/information-releases/2018-census-totals-by-topic-national-highlights[5] Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa (2019). New Zealand as a village of 100 people. https://www.stats.govt.nz/infographics/new-zealand-as-a-village-of-100-people-2018-census-data[6] 50 Chinese Dishes you can make (1958). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[7] Harris, Patricia (n.d.). Fit for a Sultan: Turkish Food for Other Kitchens. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[8] French Dishes for New Zealand (n.d.). Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited.
[9] Heuer, Berys (n.d.). South East Asian Dishes for New Zealand. Wellington: Price Milburn & Company Limited
[10] Reid, Robyn (1999). Lift the Lid of the Cumin Jar: refugees and immigrants talk about their lives and food. Wellington: Wellington ESOL Home Tutor Service Inc.
[11] Oliver, Robert (2010). Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific. Auckland: Random House New Zealand.
[12] Refugee and Migrant Service (1998). “Dinner at my place”: The great Refugee and Migrant cook book. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: Refugee & Migrant Service.
[13] University of Otago Department of University Extension (n.d.). Ideas from Overseas American Food. Foods Demonstration. Dunedin: University of Otago.

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #5: – sauerkraut roll

Stirring up the stacks #4: a “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Stirring up the stacks #5 – sauerkraut roll

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Alex Scahill, Collections Assistant, Publications

I came up with this idea upon spotting a recent children’s book by Gavin Bishop, Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook, appear on the new arrivals shelf at the Hocken. What caught my eye was that the cook in question, John Thompson, only had one hand. What a challenge it must have been for Thompson, attempting to prepare meals for dozens of men, on a ship being rolled around by the merciless ocean, using 18th century technology and ingredients that often did not store well or were opportunistically harvested along the way, many of which most of us would turn our noses up at today (anyone keen for penguin, seal or turtle?). Actually, I think that’d make for a great contemporary cooking show. Let’s chuck Gordon Ramsay into a cramped little box that pitches and rolls around like a ride at an amusement park, and make him cook haute cuisine for dozens of amused onlookers using an assortment of random (and questionably fresh) ingredients using nothing but a woodfire oven… with one hand tied behind his back. I’d watch that!

Cook’s cook: the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Hocken G246.C7 BH57 2018

What attracted me to cooking something in the realm of what may have been served on board these voyages was that at the time I spied this book I was also (temporarily) one handed, having recently broken my elbow. So I endeavoured (insert cheesy dad joke grin) to become a one handed cook myself and see if the food served aboard the ships was really as bad as it sounds. Admittedly, extended preparation time of my dish, combined with a rather unfortunate mishap which set me back a few weeks (keep reading), meant that by the time it actually came to serve my dish to my colleagues my elbow was fully healed.

So what type of fare was typical on board Cook’s voyages to New Zealand? Cook set out with provisions for a two year voyage, unsure of where and when they may have the opportunity to resupply with fresh water and food. Eighteenth century sailors were a hardy bunch, and there was little room for fussiness when it came to food. Eat what you were served or perish.

Provisions list from Cook’s journal for July 1772 for the Resolution and Adventure (total 201 men). Burkhardt et al. 1978. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

While Cook had loaded his vessels with a variety of livestock, this was primarily for leaving behind on islands they encountered during the voyage, and generally only those animals which did not survive the voyage were consumed on board. What meat was available for consumption was usually subjected to heavy salting in order to prevent the meat from spoiling, thus extending the shelf life for long trips. Other protein came primarily from what birds or sea creatures could be caught along the way.  The same was said for produce, with unknown plants harvested for food from islands along the way. Consumption of some poisonous species in the South Pacific resulted in the deaths of a pig and a pet parakeet, although no sailors suffered the same fate (Burkhardt et al. 1978: 132).

However, due to the large number of Hocken staff who are vegetarian or vegan, I wanted to prepare a dish which would cater for as many of our staff as possible, so I opted to use two of the absolute staples from Cook’s galleys: bread and sauerkraut. The third major staple on board these voyages was booze, which was consumed regularly in lieu of fresh clean water, although I decided that serving beer at work during morning tea was perhaps unwise.

Sailors and Sauerkraut. Hocken VC370 .BY47 1978

In the stacks I found a book called Sailors and Sauerkraut (Burkhardt et al. 1978). The authors of this volume scoured the journals of Cook, Banks and others for references about the food and beverages which were consumed during their voyages to New Zealand, and subsequently produced a recipe book inspired by those references. I chose to recreate their recipe for Sauerkraut Roll.

This was perhaps a little ambitious considering I’d never even tasted, let alone tried to make sauerkraut before. The recipe seemed straightforward enough. Just cabbage and brine. But it does take several weeks to ferment. My first batch appeared to be going well and after a while began to take on the characteristic sauerkraut smell of ‘sweet farts’ (I’m really making this sound appealing!).

Enter catastrophe. After several weeks of waiting it came time to have a taste test. As I moved my container to the kitchen bench for tasting my clumsiness got the better of me and I ended up with my entire batch of sauerkraut pasted across the kitchen floor. So I started again.

Once the sauerkraut was ready it was time to prepare the rest of the dish for morning tea. I opted to double the following recipe.

The sauerkraut is ready

FOR THE ROLL

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • yeast, sugar, salt, water
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk

Mix the yeast with the lukewarm milk and add the flour. Knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, then put in a warm place to rise until double in volume. Roll out the dough to a size large enough to wrap around the filling.

FILLING

  • 500g sauerkraut
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • cracked pepper
  • 5 large onions
  • 2 cups croutons

Wash the sauerkraut under running water and drain. Fry one of the onions in a little oil until golden and then add the sauerkraut and pepper. Cook over a medium heat for a while. While the sauerkraut is cooking slice the remaining onions into rings and fry in oil until golden. Also prepare croutons.

Spread half the onions and croutons on the dough and cover with a layer of sauerkraut. Repeat. Carefully roll everything up, sealing the ends of the roll so that nothing will leak out during cooking.

Adding the filling

All rolled up (like a “sauerkraut calzone” according to my feedback)

To make it look a little less rustic (debatable) I prepared some caramelised onion as a garnish.

On the morning of serving I arrived at work with the rolls raw, gave them a quick glaze with olive oil, garnished with the caramelised onion and popped it in the oven first at 220˚C for 10mins, and then at 180˚C for a further 30mins until nice and golden.

Looks delicious!

They came out looking much better than I’d anticipated, but the real test would come down to taste. My personal opinion was that it tasted fine, but certainly better than expected. I just don’t think sauerkraut is really my thing. The following are a selection of comments left in the anonymous comments box during tasting:

visually appealing, which was surprising”

“this was so nice it gives me a false impression of what ships meals were like”

“…would definitely be great with a beer”

“Delicious! What were the sailors complaining about?”

“smells divine!”

and my personal favourite:

“tasty, and the perfect meal to prevent shipboard romance on long trips”

Overall, certainly a reasonable tasting novelty which provoked some decent discussion, but given the effort I think it’s fair to say I won’t be attempting this one again any time soon.

 

References:

  • Beaglehole, J. C. (ed.) 1955-1974. The journals of Captain James Cook on his voyages of discovery. Cambridge: published for the Hakluyt Society at the University Press.
  • Bishop, G. 2018. Cook’s cook : the cook who cooked for Captain Cook. Wellington: Gecko Press.
  • Burkhardt, B., McLean, B. A., and Kochanek, D. 1978. Sailors & sauerkraut, or, Recipes from Paradise, or, Making do with what you have : a reading cook book with extracts from the journals of William Anderson, Joseph Banks, James Cook, Thomas Edgar, Alexander Home, James King, David Samwell and recipes interpolated therein. British Columbia: Gray’s Publishing.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #4: a “delicious cake from better times”

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Stirring up the stacks #4 – a “delicious cake from better times”

Sunday, May 19th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post cooked up by Ali Clarke, Collections Assistant, Archives

When we started this challenge of testing recipes we had found in the Hocken stacks, I immediately thought of the archives of scientists Franz and Marianne Bielschowsky, whose lives took several unexpected paths. Marianne’s recipe books – some handwritten, some full of clippings and some published – are mostly in German, so that added to the challenge! My German language skills are pretty basic, but with the help of a good dictionary and a fluent German speaker I was able to figure out the technical instructions in my chosen recipe.

The cover of Marianne Bielschowsky’s book, ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’ (an illustrated cook book), compiled c.1946, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

 My attention was grabbed by Marianne Bielschowsky’s handwritten heading “Leckere Kuchen aus besseren Zeiten!” for some printed recipes she pasted into one of her recipe clippings books. This translates as “Delicious cakes from better times!” That has a poignancy which reflects the times – the clippings book was probably compiled about 1946, when she was living in England. A cake like this, featuring butter, sugar and 6 eggs, would have been beyond the capacity of most people during rationing – when an adult’s weekly rations were 2oz of butter, 8oz of sugar and 1 egg. No doubt this distinctly German recipe also served as a reminder of a happy childhood there.

Recipe for Frankfurter Kranz, pasted into ‘Ein Bilder-Koch-Buch’, MS-1493/027, Bielschowsky papers.

I’ve written about the Bielschowskys previously, in a post about the Spanish Civil War for the University of Otago 150 years history blog. Franz Bielschowsky (1902-1965), the son of a distinguished German neurologist, was dismissed from his position as a medical researcher in Dusseldorf early in 1933 because he was Jewish, and fled to Amsterdam. In 1934 he relocated to Madrid, where he became a lecturer in the medical faculty; in 1935 he was appointed director of the biochemistry department of the new Institute for Experimental Medicine at the Central University of Madrid.

Marianne Bielschowsky, photographed in Brussels, 1939. MS-1493/036, Bielschowsky papers.

Marianne Angermann (1904-1977), a German biochemist who had worked with Franz Bielschowsky in Dusseldorf, joined him at the Institute in Madrid late in 1935; they were to marry in 1937. Angermann was born in Dresden. She was not Jewish herself, and her family appears to have been in comfortable circumstances; her father was at one time the Burgermeister (Mayor) of a small town. She studied in Koln (Cologne), Bonn and Freiburg im Breisgau, where she obtained her PhD. Marianne described herself and her parents as ‘Antifaschisten’ – opposed to fascism.

Angermann and Bielschowsky refused offers to leave Spain when the civil war began there in 1936, but as the siege of Madrid lengthened, research became impossible. Franz joined the republican medical service and worked at a military hospital in Madrid. They fled Spain early in 1939, as Franco’s forces prepared to enter the capital. They were now refugees for a second time, and as war took over Europe they ended up in England. Both worked at the University of Sheffield until 1948, when they arrived in Otago, where Franz had been appointed director of the cancer research laboratory; Marianne worked alongside him. She was especially known for her development of various special strains of mice, used worldwide for medical research.

My first attempt at the cake was a hit with my family.

An English translation of Marianne Bielschowsky’s recipe:

Frankfurt Wreath

For the cake:

4 eggs

200g sugar

100g potato flour

100g wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 packet vanilla sugar (I substituted 2 tsp vanilla essence)

Whip the egg whites until stiff (“like snow”). Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add to egg whites alternately with the sifted flours and baking powder to make a soft dough. Beat well. Bake for 1 hour in a greased and floured ring tin. When the wreath is cold, cut it through twice [making 3 layers]. Fill with the following cream, then spread cream over the outside and sprinkle with the almonds.

For the cream:

2 eggs

100g sugar

3 heaped tbsp flour

½ litre skimmed milk

125g butter

toasted chopped almonds

Mix the eggs, 3 tbsp of the sugar, the flour and milk together well [in a pot]. Heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to the boil. Remove from heat and continue stirring until it is cold. Mix the remaining sugar and softened butter together and stir into the custard mixture.

Hints

I couldn’t find potato flour in my usual supermarkets, but it is available in health food stores and Asian grocery stores.

No oven temperature is given – I found it took just 30-40 minutes in a moderate oven (180°C).

I made the cake twice. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the consistency of the cake in my first test run, so I changed the method a little on my second try. Instead of adding the yolks/sugar/vanilla to the egg whites, I slowly folded the whipped egg whites into the well beaten yolks/sugar/vanilla mixture, then added the flours/baking powder – this worked better and made a lovely light sponge.

The cream was more successful on my first attempt – it curdled slightly on my second go when I added the butter/sugar. I recommend making sure the butter/sugar mixture is really well creamed, and cold, before stirring it into the cold custard.

The secret to any custard is stirring to prevent lumps – I use a hand whisk to stir the entire time it is cooking. This recipe recommends stirring while it cools as well – I put the pot into a sink of cold water to speed that process.

I used whole almonds I had chopped into big chunks, then toasted in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes.

The second attempt disappeared quickly from the Hocken staffroom!

Results

This cake was a big hit with the tasters both times I made it! It isn’t strongly flavoured, but the contrast in textures between the fluffy cake, smooth cream and crunchy almonds is delicious, as many commented. There was universal approval from the Hocken staff: “those ‘better times’ must have been amazing”, suggested one. The delicious custard/nuts made it “quite different to most of my modern cake experiences”, wrote one reviewer, with others also noting its distinctly Germanic style. A warning – it’s messy to eat, as one reviewer pointed out!

I searched online for modern versions of this recipe – the English-language versions, such as this one translate the name as Frankfurt Crown Cake. They add jam to the filling between the layers, coat the almonds in caramel, and include cherries and other fancy decorations so the cake resembles a jewelled crown. They also use packets of vanilla pudding instead of making the custard from scratch! The older version I tried is less extravagant, but still delicious, and I encourage you to try it at home. We don’t know if Marianne Bielschowsky made this cake once she had settled in Dunedin, but in any case it has been a pleasure to make it as a tribute to her.

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft party starters

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

 

Stirring up the stacks #3: Bycroft Party starters

Monday, May 6th, 2019 | Hocken Collections | 2 Comments

Post cooked up by Katherine Milburn, Liaison Librarian and Curator of Ephemera

There was never going to be a problem deciding which of Hocken’s amazing collections to use when it came to my turn for ‘Stirring up the stacks’ – it had to be Ephemera hands down! But the major dilemma was choosing from the hundreds of advertising flyers and leaflets in the collection featuring recipes.

I finally settled on a little recipe leaflet, dating to ca.1960s, promoting Bycroft cracker biscuits as “Party starters” that “set parties off with a bang!” In 1961 Bycroft merged with Aulsebrooks to become A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd manufacturing both biscuits and confectionery. Their product lines included Huntley Palmer biscuits, Mackintosh toffees and Oddfellows. Unfortunately big losses in the confectionery market led to the closure of their Dunedin factory in Maclaggan Street in 1976. In 1977, while the parent company continued to be A.B. Consolidated Holdings Ltd, their trading name changed to Aulsebrooks, and in 1978, a private Nelson based company, Moana Estates, made a successful partial takeover of the company.

 

Bycroft Party starters! Recipes. Bycroft, [1960s]. Ephemera Collection, Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hākena, University of Otago.)

My next big decision was which of the eighteen toppings and dips featured in the leaflet to make and test on Hocken staff, who include vegetarians, vegans and those with food intolerances. Eventually I concluded five spreads and one dip was the best way to ensure that there was at least something for everyone.

I decided against the Worcester spread and Gherkin scramble as being too last minute to make and the idea of flavoured scrambled egg was off-putting! The current exorbitant price of avocados made the Avocado dip off limits – I wonder how easy these were to find back in 1960s New Zealand? The liver paste, needed for the Liver and bacon spread, was unobtainable in 2019 and the Creamy cheese spread seemed too safe an option. So I settled on Minty spread; Ham and pineapple spread; Peel spread; Savoury egg spread; Crunchy spread; and Mushroom dip.

Some of the recipes specify which Bycroft cracker should be served with each dip – there were six pictured on the leaflet; but I selected a fairly similar range from today’s options at the supermarket, including rice crackers for the gluten intolerant and a new cracker chip that I thought would make a good dipper.

All the recipes were easy to make, although I had to make two servings of the Savoury egg spread to provide a similar amount to the others. Apart from the crunchy spread and finishing the Mushroom dip, all were assembled the night before which required one departure from the recipe – I was concerned the mint in the Minty spread might turn brown overnight so added a small squeeze of lemon juice.

Thanks to a previous Hocken staff member, Val Parata, I had a great set of authentic brown ramekins to serve the spreads in, and an old Christmas gift set of bread-themed spreaders seemed a fitting final touch.

Recipes

Minty spread

1 cup tinned green peas, well drained; 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint; ½ teaspoon salt; shake pepper

Mash peas until smooth. Blend in chopped mint, salt and pepper. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers, top with fresh mint sprig.

 

Ham and pineapple spread

2 slices cooked ham; 1/3 cup crushed, well-drained pineapple; 2 tablespoons mayonnaise; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Trim fat from ham. Chop ham finely. Blend in pineapple, mayonnaise and mustard. Spread on Bycroft Savoury Crispbread, top with more chopped ham if liked.

 

Peel spread

¼ Cup finely chopped peel; ½ cup peanut butter; 1 tablespoon lemon juice; about 4 tablespoons opf cream

Place chopped peel in bowl. Blend in peanut butter and lemon juice. Stir in enough cream to make a spreading consistency. Spread on lightly buttered Bycroft Imperial Crackers. Decorate with more chopped peel if liked.

 

Savoury egg spread

1 hard boiled egg; 2 tablespoons butter; 1 tablespoon tomato sauce; 1 teaspoon prepared mustard; ½ teaspoon curry powder; 1 teaspoon sugar; 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Shell hard boiled egg while still hot. Mash well with butter. Blend in remaining ingredients. Spread on Bycroft Thin Table Water Crackers.

 

Crunchy spread

½ cup grated carrot; lemon juice; 1 stick celery; ½ cup roasted peanuts; ¼ teaspoon salt; shake pepper; 3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Sprinkle carrot with a little lemon juice. Chop celery finely. Chop peanuts a little. Mix all ingredients together. Spread on lightly b uttered Bycroft Savoury Crispbread.

 

Mushroom dip

1 packet mushroom soup; 4 tablespoons ginger ale; 8 oz. reduced cream

Soak soup overnight in ginger ale. Next day add cream. Blend thoroughly and leave in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

 

Hocken staff were excited by the final array presented at morning tea time and eagerly tucked in. They were asked for feedback on their most and least favourite spreads, and overall the reaction was positive but, as can been seen in the photographs, “The most delicious spreads weren’t the most visually appealing though haha!”

Minty spread proved the most popular with seven votes and was described by one staff member as “unexpectedly good and refreshing”, but another rated it their least favourite saying “cold cooked peas reminded me of being made to finish my dinner as a child. It took so long the peas went cold.”

Savoury egg spread was the next most popular with a nostalgic taste that took one “back to Nana’s house”. Mushroom dip and Peel spread were third equal favourites: “LOVE the mushroom dip. Definitely making it at home to impress my vego friends, as nice alternative to onion dip”; “Peel – my favourite, interesting flavour combo that worked – mostly nuttiness coming through”.

Crunchy spread and Ham and pineapple spread were the least favourite overall, the latter for one staff member being “better than expected as I avoid Hawaiian pizza” but Chloe declared “Ham and pineapple for life!”

My own personal favourite was the mushroom dip: I was wary of the overnight ginger ale soaking of the mushroom soup mix but it was not noticeable in the eventual tasty product. But I think the Minty spread has star potential if the tinned peas were exchanged with fresher tasting frozen peas and some mashed feta was added for a delicious 2019 update.

Stirring up the stacks #3 was a fun trip back to the recent past that proved nostalgic (in a good way) for many Hocken staff, and the recipes were, as promised by the Bycroft leaflet, “Easy, economical, imaginative ways and means of getting the gathering going.”

 

What else have we cooked up?

Stirring up the stacks #2 The parfait on the blackboard

Stirring up the stacks #1 Variety salad in tomato aspic

Stirring up the stacks #1: Variety salad in tomato aspic

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 | Hocken Collections | No Comments

Post cooked up by Kari Wilson-Allan, Collections Assistant, Archives

Food. We all need it, and many of us love it. We love to try new tastes, new textures, know what’s on trend and what’s on its way out. (Time to see yourself out, salted caramel?)

But what about the old food fads? Is there value in revisiting them? Have our palates shifted; can we stomach the ingredients?

‘Stirring up the stacks’ is a new and occasional blog series coming to you from the kitchens of the Hocken staff. By finding and preparing long-forgotten, curious, or delectable sounding recipes amongst our varied collections, we aim to entertain, inspire, delight or, perhaps, disgust, you with our concoctions.

So, let’s get into it!

I’ve been perpetually intrigued and grossed out by the concept of jelly salads since I first heard of them. Meat and/or veges, suspended in elaborately shaped goop, and usually photographed with the colour balance all out of whack. Images I’d seen tended to be American in origin, and seemed to date from the 1950s until maybe the 1970s. But meals of jelly had hit the culinary scene far earlier on, here in New Zealand and many other parts of the globe. Emeritus Professor Helen Leach, a well-known face in our reading room, had me nearly fall off my chair in surprise when I read in her 2008 book The pavlova story: a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history, that the first pavlova, dating from 1926, was in fact a layered jelly, with nary an egg white in sight! The Davis company cornered the market, from 1913 producing a gelatine that opened up options in the kitchen. Previously, dishes with gelatine had been the preserve of those with time, resources and great expertise.

Evidence indicates that the Davis company promoted their product vigorously. We hold eleven of the recipe books they published in New Zealand, ranging from 1926 through to the 1980s.

Desserts, salads and savoury dishes the Davis gelatine way (n.d.)

I browsed through a couple, and quickly realised I was going to need a recipe with an illustration to understand how exactly I was to construct my masterpiece. The book above proved to be a boon. Not only did it have a recipe I thought I might have some chance of executing, it was pictured in full colour on the rear cover. There’s no year of publication, but I suspect it is from the late 1950s or early 1960s – elements of it indicate that it predates decimal currency.

My choice of recipe, variety salad, requires me to to make tomato aspic too. For those not in the know, or who (like me) only associate the word aspic with cat food, an aspic is a savoury jelly, traditionally made with meat stock.

What better to do than put on some sixties pop and hit the kitchen?

Cutting my work out for me

You might notice I’ve got both gelatine (Davis brand, naturally), and agar agar powder.  Why’s that? I’m (probably foolishly) making two discrete aspics – one for the omnivores and one for the herbivores, of whom I’m one. Curiously, around a quarter of Hocken staff are vegetarian or vegan, and I want a good range of willing tasters  – as much as I’m leery  of trying it myself.

I’ll admit here I cheated a little. The day prior to cook day, I did a trial aspic, to get an idea of how it came together – had I converted pints to millilitres accurately? I also wanted to see if I could get the veges in the mould to behave as they should, to figure out how quickly the gelatine would set (the answer: forever), if there was enough liquid (there wasn’t – must double the mix come Show Day!) and if I could get it out of the mould. I’m an impatient one at the best of times, and tried too soon. The tomato aspic, freshly tipped out of its bowl, cleaved itself as if it were the Red Sea. Lesson learned. Well, maybe.

Chop chop!

Leach and others have pointed to the time-consuming nature of this type of dish as one reason why it eventually fell out of favour. I’m not surprised to read this: as I was wielding my knife I was feeling certain that, were I transported back to the the 1960s as a housewife, I would not fare well in the role. I’m realising nor will I ever be a Michelin-starred chef. I’ve diced my vegies, cooked my peas and rice (rice??), and juiced the lemon that’s not listed in the ingredients but features in the method. It’s a hot day, I’ve got my first aspic brewing, and I’m knackered.

Best to not think about being knackered when prepping gelatine…

Now things are getting tense. I have to pour a little aspic in my bowl, allow it to set a little, then artfully place my ‘garnish’ (slices of tomato and capsicum), then pour over a little more aspic.

Jusqu’ici tout va bien, as the French would say

Time for the fiddly bit, the bit everyone wanted to know about – how did I get the gherkins and carrots to stay put? It’s a game of dip the strip (in partially set aspic), stick the strip  (against the wall of the bowl at an angle), then repeat with the next.  The fun continues as you discover half are falling off, and the others aren’t doing so well at staying parallel. Come half time, your language is becoming as colourful as the salad itself.

Excuse my French

Finally, I’m reasonably satisfied with the alignment, and the rest is plain sailing. On top of the peas, I pile the seasoned rice and diced celery. I have surplus carrot and gherkin, so in they go too. Once I’ve poured over the aspic, I’ll be done. But do I mix the aspic through the ‘variety’ mix? The instructions don’t specify, and I’m not sure there will be adequate seepage through to lower layers to avoid a rice eruption when I unmould. I give it a desultory stir, then leave it as it is.

Come the big reveal, I’m nervous as. Will my salads unmould in one piece, and will anyone actually try any? It’s scary stuff.

Ta da! The agar agar version, still in its bowl on the left, pleads with gravity to help it along. Meanwhile, the gelatine has held its own.

To my great shock, both were persuaded fairly easily from their nests. The agar agar came out most cleanly, and had a beautiful sheen. It takes some time, though, to convince my workmates that they want to taste them.

The first cut is not for the squeamish

Archivist Tom eventually made the first move, and once he consumed a little and didn’t collapse, others tentatively followed suit. As we’ve learnt from reality cooking shows, nothing counts until the feedback is given. Tasters had the opportunity to submit their thoughts, anonymously or otherwise, and these, along with their facial expressions, gave me almost as much delight as the successful up-ending of my concoctions.

The aforementioned Tom declared it to be ‘very surprising, & unexpectedly good’. Jacinta, Kaitiaki Mātauranga Māori, found it ‘delightfully refreshing’. Another said ‘very tasty once you get past the texture’. Emma (Collections Assistant, Publications), had textural misgivings too, saying ‘it is like eating tomato sauce as the main meal’. Jennie, also from Publications, thought it ‘visually splendid’, but noted ‘I don’t trust food that wobbles’. Understandable – I have similar reservations.

Megan, a CA from Researcher Services deserves a special medal for summoning the courage to take the plunge, but said ‘I hope to never be that starving’. She was not a happy chappy. Others felt they’d been transported to the past – Archives Curator Anna said ‘just like Grandma used to make’. More than one staffer suggested the addition of vodka. Bloody Mary salad, anyone?

Publications Curator Pete summed it up for most of us though: ‘I can honestly say this is the best salad in aspic I have ever tasted’. And what did I think? It was a fun culinary experiment I probably wouldn’t repeat (I chose not to finish my serving), but it was far less horrific than I had imagined.

Chaos out of order

General Assistant Nick takes the last word. He said ‘visually arresting, perfect for Christmas, delicious with Emerson’s Morning Star Pale Ale’. So, what are you waiting for – get it onto your menu for Christmas dinner. It’s sure to be a memorable dish.

Sources

Australian Dictionary of Biography: Davis, Sir George Francis (1883-1947)

Leach, Helen. The Pavlova story : a slice of New Zealand’s culinary history. Dunedin, Otago University Press, 2008.

Serious Eats: A social history of Jell-o salad: The rise and fall of an American icon