Friday, August 22, 2014

Alphons Eder on Amazon

As I Told you before,  my Great grandfather Alphons Eder went to Brazil in 1859 now he has gone up the Amazon !!

My book about his life is now available as a paperback on Amazon

Alphons spent most of his life in the mid 19th century -in the East End of London as a street musician playing in a German Band.

Before that he had made the long journey, for those days, from Slovenia to England and then spent just short of three years on board HMS Ganges on its voyage to British Columbia and back as the flagship of the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Squadron of the Royal Navy. During the journey they went to Brazil and sailed around Cape Horn- high adventure in any century.

A life divided into three separate phases which could be regarded as three different lives.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Acker Bilk takes five

Have anly just noticed that Acker Bilk has decided to call it a day from performing.  Am very sad about that as I had hoped that we would have had the chance to see him on stage  one more time before he came to this decision.

Acker is 85 and entitled to give up the hectic life that is the lot of the performing musician, we have seen him several times both here and in Australia and it was always a memorable experience, particularly in those joint gigs with the late Kenny Ball.

Hope that Acker has a long a restful retirement.

Don't know who owns the cartoon above but hope that they don't mind us using it as that is Acker

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bread Pudding On the High Seas

On board HMS Whimbrel, Dad was the messman for the Petty Officers Mess.  Probably regarded as a cushy number but it wasn’t, but he got the job because he was the oldest member of the crew.  The role of the messman on board a Royal Navy ship was normally to keep the mess clean and tidy, serve up the meals and to clear away afterward.  He collected the meals from the galley and carried to the Mess  and  served them up.
Whilst the POs were not on the same level as commissioned officers in the wardroom, none the less they expected to get a better class of food than the ratings. Presumably it was related to the fact that unlike ratings, mess bills were deducted from the Petty Officer's pay, so that they were well aware of the fact that they were paying for the meals.  Or it may just be that a world war would not end the usual class system in the Royal Navy.

Although I heard this story many times I did not fully understand how the episode of the bread pudding came about.  I think it had something to do with some grizzles from the Petty Officer about a particular dessert served up.  Not that the menu as such had anything to do with the messman, but being the sort of man that he was he probably decided off his own bat to do something about it and serve them bread pudding.

A bread pudding is not to be confused with bread and butter pudding, it is a different animal completely.  Presumably most people know what a bread and butter pudding is , made with slices of buttered bread in layers with dried fruit placed in a dish with an egg custard and then baked. ( How's that for a one line recipe?).  Anyway a bread pudding is completely different, being made with stale bread which is soaked in either water or milk and then squished into an amorphous mixture to which is added dried fruit, butter and sugar and mixed spices.  This is then baked very slowly until it is crisp on top.  If eaten hot it is like a steamed pudding, and if served with custard is perhaps like a poor mans Christmas pudding.  Left to get cold, however, it is different and is more like a fruit cake.

Anyway, somehow or other Dad got involved in making a bread pudding in the galley, presumably because the messman had a fair amount of spare time in between serving the meals to the various watches and clearing away before the next.  Not one to be sitting about, no doubt he spent a fair amount of the spare -time to nosing around to see what others were doing.

 Dad was fond of bread pudding and knew how to make them.  Bread pudding is a traditional Maltese dish called Budina tal hobz and as his mother was Maltese his liking probably stemmed from that.  Dad's version of the pudding is not strictly the Maltese way, perhaps he didn’t remember how his mother made them or he just developed his own recipe.

If you know what bread pudding is, then you may not understand that there are people who have never come across it, and so it was that when Dad introduced it into the Petty Officers Mess as a dessert one day, then he was surprised to find that not a single one of them had ever tasted it before.

Now a bit like the island of  Malta itself, you either love it or hate it and that was the response in the PO's Mess.
On another occasion the complaints were about the spotted dick coming from the galley.  If you have ever tasted catering style spotted dick you will no doubt appreciate the complaint.  “Like mother makes” it is not.  (Had better add here for those who don’t know,  “spotted dick” is a suet pudding with sultanas in)  Of course he was asked if he could produce a spotted dick in the galley for the Petty Officers Mess, which of course he could.  Unfortunately by this time he was becoming a little unpopular in the galley as it appeared that he was trying to upstage the cooks, which of course was not his intention.  In typical east end style he circumvented the antagonism by making two puddings, one for the POs and one for the cooks.