Oracle of History

Guiding you through the ages

Archive for the month “January, 2014”

Back to the Future and other stories

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I came across a funny post courtesy of the geek culture king, George Takei.

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It made me laugh because even though modern fashion can be weird at times, we’re a long way off from wearing that. I have my own issues with 80s fashion anyway so this prediction is pretty funny.

It’s futurism at its best!

For those who don’t know, futurism is when you are concerned with the events and trends of the future, or which anticipate the future.

This made me think, are there any other equally strange predictions out there?

The answer is – oh yes(!), and it’s a beautiful thing! The internet always sends you down a rabbit hole of “wonders.”

So here are a few for your enjoyment:

Artist prompt 

The French artist Villemard drew in the 1910s what he thought the year 2000 would look like.

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Many in the early 1900s thought that the future was in the sky, which isn’t too far from the truth. However, I’m still waiting for my hover car. Get on it science! Also make underwater croquet happen.

It’s American Football…in space! 

There’s not much more to add about this, except that this prediction was made in 1981…

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…what kind of drugs were they smoking, again?

What if Bioshock’s Rapture were real? 

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In the 1960s, it was thought that the next frontier was underwater. Much like the gold rush that moved people to the west coast of the U.S. in the 1800s, engineers believed that a similar thing would happen in the depths of the ocean with oil and other minerals.

They took it so seriously, in fact, that General Motors’ booth at the 1964 World Fair in New York City had an entire exhibit dedicated to underwater home designs (picture above).

And just for laughs….

While researching this topic, I came across this gem. Ads in the 1960s are the best. I always love hate how wonderfully sexist they are! Be sure to watch the other parts too because it only gets better!

Bonus Vid

For the “oldie” in all of us

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How I Lost My Appetite Trying Ancient Roman Recipes

There I was, thinking about what I should do for my next blog post, when it struck me that I hadn’t seen anybody try out Ancient Roman recipes. Lots of websites listing them, but not many testing them.

Well, now I know why!

Ancient Roman Food

So what did the Romans eat? Well it turns out that they had a very basic diet – at least by modern standards. They didn’t have the array of spices or produce available to us on a daily basis unless you were rich (Ah globalism!).

However, much like Italian cuisine today, they made their food interesting by adding sauces to their meat or fish. A traditional meal was divided into three courses: gustus (appetisers), cena (main course), and secondus (dessert).

If you were unlucky enough to be born poor,  you were probably stuck with some form of porridge or bread. This would be made with your allotment of grain. Each Roman citizen was entitled to a certain amount of grain from the harvest collected from all over the empire, but mostly from Egypt.

Side note: Some historians believe that this was one of the main factors for the fall of the Western Roman Empire. When Rome was deprived of access to Egypt – its “bread basket”- it became hard to feed the people and, more importantly, the army.

Fresco found in Pompeii

Fresco found in Pompeii

After my research, I thought it would be easy to replicate some of these dishes. I was also fortunate enough to find an entire website dedicated to modern versions of ancient recipes (which you can find here).

So here are my attempts at cooking, Ancient Roman style:

Mulsum (Honeyed wine) 

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Recipe:

1. Warm a half cup of clear honey

2. Add it to your mug of white wine and mix

You can either choose to drink it warm or let it cool. It should look a little something like this:

Modern Mulsum

Modern Mulsum

It actually didn’t turn out too bad. I finally understood why Romans were famous for their parties! You could get drunk quite easily if there were constantly flowing pitchers of this.

They might have also added honey to their wine because it would easily disguise the awful taste of bad wine!

Side note: The Romans often added water to their wine, which puts the whole drinking thing into perspective…

Pine nut sauce 

Romans were famous for their sauces and most of the time it was made with ingredients that were close to home. In this case, it’s pine nuts! They would serve it as a dipping sauce with hard-boiled eggs, but you could do it with anything really.

Pine nut sauce

What you’ll need:

2 ounces of pine nuts

3 tablespoons of vinegar

1 teaspoon of honey

Recipe:

1. Soak the pine nuts in the vinegar for 3-4 hours

2. Mix in the honey and use a blender

3. Add more honey according to your tastes and mix again

Serve it

Garum (Fish sauce) 

This was a very popular sauce in Ancient Rome and was a staple of most meals. It is essentially a sauce made from fermented fish.

Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it?

Well I didn’t really think about it before trying to make it.

I was basing my experiment on a modern recipe provided by the PBS website (link earlier in the post). This was my clever way of skipping over the fermentation process…

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I looked up the recipe and it only listed 2 ingredients: grape juice and anchovy paste.

This should have been my first warning.

I should also mention that I did not pay heed to the skeptical glances from my cooking consultant, Bob.

So there I was cooking down the grape juice to a concentrated amount until it was finally ready for the anchovy paste……

…..my nostrils were violently assaulted by the putrid salty-fish smell.

This was when I realized that I had made a mistake.

Stupidly, I decided to taste it anyway….

Surprise!

Surprise!

You can imagine the rest…

Happy Dining!

Battleships: Better than the movie

And arguably slightly better than the board game. What I mean to say is that although many of us have played Battleship ….

Battleship Board Game

Slightly sexist cover for much loved board game

…. very few of us take the time to actually look at these monster contraptions used for wars in the last 200 years.

The truth is that they really revolutionized naval warfare. The term was originally used in 1794, referring to the wooden warships during the Age of Sail .

Over the years it just became the description for the most powerful type of ship in any fleet. What we consider a battleship today is based off the Dreadnought model, which kicked things up a notch during World War 1.

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Although what we see today is much better armed.

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to see two different types of ships, both from the WW2/Cold War era that proves that burial at sea will never be a defunct term.

HMS Belfast 

HMS Belfast

The HMS Belfast is a WW2/Cold War era battleship that has been turned into a museum in the heart of London. I actually volunteered there in the conservation department for over a year and so I got to know the ship quite well.

It was originally built in 1939, just in time for WW2 and then was re-equipped  for the Cold War.

I personally helped maintain and restore Bofors anti-aircraft machine guns and one of the 4-inch guns. On my last day of volunteering I was lucky enough to be able to fire one of the 4-inch guns already restored.

If you have a spare afternoon in London one day I would definitely suggest you check it out. They really do a good job at keeping the history alive.

U.S.S Intrepid 

Over on the other side of the Atlantic lies a ship that is also a museum. The U.S.S. Intrepid is an aircraft carrier, docked on a pier in New York City.

Not only did it serve in WW2 and the Vietnam War – it also was the recovery ship for the Gemini and Mercury space missions.

I decided to visit it while I was living in New York City and so recorded my journey through the ship, comparing it to my experience on the smaller HMS Belfast.

All in all, I enjoyed the experience on the U.S.S. Intrepid because you understood what role naval power truly had in the last century.

The Napoleon At Toulon in 1852 by Lauvergne

The Napoleon At Toulon in 1852 by Lauvergne

In conclusion, don’t believe everything you read.

Old Battleships are cool too because they show how our society has progressed over the centuries with technology.

Think of it this way – 100 years ago we could only travel by boat!

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