Friday, 30 November 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Cendrillon (France, 1697)

Hello and welcome to Fairy tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

This week we look at the version that is most likely to be the version you are the most familiar with. In 1950 Walt  Disney used this one as the basis this one as the basis for the animated film.  It comes from the book by French author Charles Perrault  entitled Histoires ou contes du temps passé, avec dez Moralitez (Stories of Times Past with Moralities) which was published in 1697. 

It is Perrault who introduces us to the tropes we think of when we think of Cinderella--the fairy godmother as magical helper, the glass slippers , the pumpkin and mice turned into a coach and horses and the midnight curfew. It is he as well who makes our heroine fairly passive. She does not stand up for herself but "bore all patiently" and cheerfully fixes her stepsister's hair and clothes so that they could go to the ball. She does not try to go to the ball by making choices like seeking magical help (indeed she remarks to her stepsisters that it would be unseemly for a girl of her low standing to go to the ball despite wanting to) but cries alone in the kitchen waiting for help to come to her. In other versions she actively finds ways to make her dream come true, but sadly not in this one. 

There is also some speculation that the original translation of the slipper was not made of glass. Some historians have suggested that Perrault's "glass slipper" (pantoufle de verre) had been a "squirrel fur slipper" (pantoufle de vair) as they are homophones. It was thought that perhaps it was  mistranslated since the original version was in French. Another interpretation of verre/vair (glass/fur) suggests a sexual element—the Prince was 'trying on' the 'fur slipper' (vagina) of the maidens in the kingdom. Rulers sat this time in history would have had  'Droit du seigneur' (right of sexual possession) of his subjects. It could very well mean he was making his way around every maiden in the land to find the one that "fit." However,  most scholars today  believe the glass slipper was a deliberately chosen poetic invention by Perrault.

In some versions the ball is just one night, but in many versions (including this one) the ball takes place over several nights. In versions like the one we looked at last week, our protagonist decides when she wants to leave and even actively hides from those chasing her or distracts them so that she may get away. In other versions she wants to go to the ball, not necessarily to find a husband, although she does marry the prince in the end. In these versions she leaves when she is tired or because she must get home before her stepmother and stepsisters, but  in this tale with the midnight curfew she leaves when she is told to. The choice is taken out of her hands. It is her foolishness and not being on her guard that causes her to be late and miss her deadline on the second evening. 

One thing that bothered me as a child as I read this was the fact that she was very clearly warned about everything disappearing at midnight and yet she still managed to keep her shoes. The glass slipper she left behind and the one that she retains as a souvenir do not evaporate like the dress or revert back to their original forms like the coach and horses. But without them we would not have a story, so I suppose it is forgivable. 

Lastly, I was always bothered by the bland goodness of Cinderella in this version. The passively accepting that she was not worthy of going to the ball and then sobbing until someone came a long and told her she was indeed good enough still doesn't sit well with me. This strikes me as passive aggressive "girl mind games," but I am sure was meant to show how humble she was. Also, having read this version along side the one by the Brothers Grimm (we shall look at that version in a few weeks) I was disappointed with the ending where she embraced them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged them to love her always. I much preferred the more bloodthirsty approach taken by the Grimms which I am sure says volumes about me as a child. 

Image result for cinderella gustave dore

Cendrillon, ou La Petite Pantoufle de Verre source

Once upon a time there was a gentleman who married, for his second wife, the proudest and most haughty woman that ever was seen. She had two daughters of her own, who were, indeed, exactly like her in all things. The gentleman had also a young daughter, of rare goodness and sweetness of temper, which she took from her mother, who was the best creature in the world.

The wedding was scarcely over, when the stepmother’s bad temper began to show itself. She could not bear the goodness of this young girl, because it made her own daughters appear the more odious. The stepmother gave her the meanest work in the house to do; she had to scour the dishes, tables, etc., and to scrub the floors and clean out the bedrooms. The poor girl had to sleep in the garret, upon a wretched straw bed, while her sisters lay in fine rooms with inlaid floors, upon beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking-glasses so large that they might see themselves at their full length. The poor girl bore all patiently, and dared not complain to her father, who would have scolded her if she had done so, for his wife governed him entirely.

When she had done her work, she used to go into the chimney corner, and sit down among the cinders, hence she was called Cinderwench. The younger sister of the two, who was not so rude and uncivil as the elder, called her Cinderella. However, Cinderella, in spite of her mean apparel, was a hundred times more handsome than her sisters, though they were always richly dressed.
It happened that the King’s son gave a ball, and invited to it all persons of fashion. Our young misses were also invited, for they cut a very grand figure among the people of the country-side. They were highly delighted with the invitation, and wonderfully busy in choosing the gowns, petticoats, and head-dresses which might best become them. This made Cinderella’s lot still harder, for it was she who ironed her sisters’ linen and plaited their ruffles. They talked all day long of nothing but how they should be dressed.

“For my part,” said the elder, “I will wear my red velvet suit with French trimmings.”

“And I,” said the younger, “shall wear my usual skirt; but then, to make amends for that I will put on my gold-flowered mantle, and my diamond stomacher, which is far from being the most ordinary one in the world.” They sent for the best hairdressers they could get to make up their hair in fashionable style, and bought patches for their cheeks. Cinderella was consulted in all these matters, for she had good taste. She advised them always for the best, and even offered her services to dress their hair, which they were very willing she should do.

As she was doing this, they said to her:—

“Cinderella, would you not be glad to go to the ball?”

“Young ladies,” she said, “you only jeer at me; it is not for such as I am to go there.”

“You are right,” they replied; “people would laugh to see a Cinderwench at a ball.”

Any one but Cinderella would have dressed their hair awry, but she was good-natured, and arranged it perfectly well. They were almost two days without eating, so much were they transported with joy. They broke above a dozen laces in trying to lace themselves tight, that they might have a fine, slender shape, and they were continually at their looking-glass.

At last the happy day came; they went to Court, and Cinderella followed them with her eyes as long as she could, and when she had lost sight of them, she fell a-crying.

Her godmother, who saw her all in tears, asked her what was the matter.

“I wish I could—I wish I could—” but she could not finish for sobbing.

Her godmother, who was a fairy, said to her, “You wish you could go to the ball; is it not so?”

“Alas, yes,” said Cinderella, sighing.

“Well,” said her godmother, “be but a good girl, and I will see that you go.” Then she took her into her chamber, and said to her, “Run into the garden, and bring me a pumpkin.”

Cinderella went at once to gather the finest she could get, and brought it to her godmother, not being able to imagine how this pumpkin could help her to go to the ball. Her godmother scooped out all the inside of it, leaving nothing but the rind. Then she struck it with her wand, and the pumpkin was instantly turned into a fine gilded coach.

She then went to look into the mouse-trap, where she found six mice, all alive. She ordered Cinderella to lift the trap-door, when, giving each mouse, as it went out, a little tap with her wand, it was that moment turned into a fine horse, and the six mice made a fine set of six horses of a beautiful mouse-coloured, dapple gray.

Being at a loss for a coachman, Cinderella said, “I will go and see if there is not a rat in the rat-trap—we may make a coachman of him.”

“You are right,” replied her godmother; “go and look.”

Cinderella brought the rat-trap to her, and in it there were three huge rats. The fairy chose the one which had the largest beard, and, having touched him with her wand, he was turned into a fat coachman with the finest moustache and whiskers ever seen.

After that, she said to her:—

“Go into the garden, and you will find six lizards behind the watering-pot; bring them to me.”
She had no sooner done so than her godmother turned them into six footmen, who skipped up immediately behind the coach, with their liveries all trimmed with gold and silver, and they held on as if they had done nothing else their whole lives.

The fairy then said to Cinderella, “Well, you see here a carriage fit to go to the ball in; are you not pleased with it?”

“Oh, yes!” she cried; “but must I go as I am in these rags?”

Her godmother simply touched her with her wand, and, at the same moment, her clothes were turned into cloth of gold and silver, all decked with jewels. This done, she gave her a pair of the prettiest glass slippers in the whole world. Being thus attired, she got into the carriage, her godmother commanding her, above all things, not to stay till after midnight, and telling her, at the same time, that if she stayed one moment longer, the coach would be a pumpkin again, her horses mice, her coachman a rat, her footmen lizards, and her clothes would become just as they were before.

She promised her godmother she would not fail to leave the ball before midnight. She drove away, scarce able to contain herself for joy. The King’s son, who was told that a great princess, whom nobody knew, was come, ran out to receive her. He gave her his hand as she alighted from the coach, and led her into the hall where the company were assembled. There was at once a profound silence; every one left off dancing, and the violins ceased to play, so attracted was every one by the singular beauties of the unknown newcomer. Nothing was then heard but a confused sound of voices saying

“Ha! how beautiful she is! Ha! how beautiful she is!”

The King himself, old as he was, could not keep his eyes off her, and he told the Queen under his breath that it was a long time since he had seen so beautiful and lovely a creature.

All the ladies were busy studying her clothes and head-dress, so that they might have theirs made next day after the same pattern, provided they could meet with such fine materials and able hands to make them.

The King’s son conducted her to the seat of honour, and afterwards took her out to dance with him. She danced so very gracefully that they all admired her more and more. A fine collation was served, but the young Prince ate not a morsel, so intently was he occupied with her.

She went and sat down beside her sisters, showing them a thousand civilities, and giving them among other things part of the oranges and citrons with which the Prince had regaled her. This very much surprised them, for they had not been presented to her.

Cinderella heard the clock strike a quarter to twelve. She at once made her adieus to the company and hastened away as fast as she could.

As soon as she got home, she ran to find her godmother, and, after having thanked her, she said she much wished she might go to the ball the next day, because the King’s son had asked her to do so. As she was eagerly telling her godmother all that happened at the ball, her two sisters knocked at the door; Cinderella opened it. “How long you have stayed!” said she, yawning, rubbing her eyes, and stretching herself as if she had been just awakened. She had not, however, had any desire to sleep since they went from home.

“If you had been at the ball,” said one of her sisters, “you would not have been tired with it. There came thither the finest princess, the most beautiful ever was seen with mortal eyes. She showed us a thousand civilities, and gave us oranges and citrons.”

Cinderella did not show any pleasure at this. Indeed, she asked them the name of the princess; but they told her they did not know it, and that the King’s son was very much concerned, and would give all the world to know who she was. At this Cinderella, smiling, replied:—

“Was she then so very beautiful? How fortunate you have been! Could I not see her? Ah! dear Miss Charlotte, do lend me your yellow suit of clothes which you wear every day.”

“Ay, to be sure!” cried Miss Charlotte; “lend my clothes to such a dirty Cinderwench as thou art! I should be out of my mind to do so.”

Cinderella, indeed, expected such an answer and was very glad of the refusal; for she would have been sadly troubled if her sister had lent her what she jestingly asked for. The next day the two sisters went to the ball, and so did Cinderella, but dressed more magnificently than before. The King’s son was always by her side, and his pretty speeches to her never ceased. These by no means annoyed the young lady. Indeed, she quite forgot her godmother’s orders to her, so that she heard the clock begin to strike twelve when she thought it could not be more than eleven. She then rose up and fled, as nimble as a deer. The Prince followed, but could not overtake her. She left behind one of her glass slippers, which the Prince took up most carefully. She got home, but quite out of breath, without her carriage, and in her old clothes, having nothing left her of all her finery but one of the little slippers, fellow to the one she had dropped. The guards at the palace gate were asked if they had not seen a princess go out, and they replied they had seen nobody go out but a young girl, very meanly dressed, and who had more the air of a poor country girl than of a young lady.

When the two sisters returned from the ball, Cinderella asked them if they had had a pleasant time, and if the fine lady had been there. They told her, yes; but that she hurried away the moment it struck twelve, and with so much haste that she dropped one of her little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world, which the King’s son had taken up. They said, further, that he had done nothing but look at her all the time, and that most certainly he was very much in love with the beautiful owner of the glass slipper.

What they said was true; for a few days after the King’s son caused it to be proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, that he would marry her whose foot this slipper would fit exactly. They began to try it on the princesses, then on the duchesses, and then on all the ladies of the Court; but in vain. It was brought to the two sisters, who did all they possibly could to thrust a foot into the slipper, but they could not succeed. Cinderella, who saw this, and knew her slipper, said to them, laughing:—

“Let me see if it will not fit me.”

Her sisters burst out a-laughing, and began to banter her. The gentleman who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at Cinderella, and, finding her very handsome, said it was but just that she should try, and that he had orders to let every lady try it on.

He obliged Cinderella to sit down, and, putting the slipper to her little foot, he found it went on very easily, and fitted her as if it had been made of wax. The astonishment of her two sisters was great, but it was still greater when Cinderella pulled out of her pocket the other slipper and put it on her foot.
Thereupon, in came her godmother, who, having touched Cinderella’s clothes with her wand, made them more magnificent than those she had worn before.

And now her two sisters found her to be that beautiful lady they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to beg pardon for all their ill treatment of her. Cinderella took them up, and, as she embraced them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and begged them to love her always.

She was conducted to the young Prince, dressed as she was. He thought her more charming than ever, and, a few days after, married her. Cinderella, who was as good as she was beautiful, gave her two sisters a home in the palace, and that very same day married them to two great lords of the Court.

Stat tuned next week for a very different version written in the same year as this one.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Savoury Snack Balls (pizza flavour!)

Hello lovelies! I wasn't sure what to call these snacks.Pizza Balls?  Energy Balls?  Snack Balls? Bliss Balls? (I can't say that. Just the thought of saying the word Bliss and Balls in the same sentence makes me giggle like a thirteen year old boy.) Let me tell you how it all began.

For the last two weekends I have been in London with Extinction Rebellion protesting against climate change. The days were long. I left town at 4am and rode on a bus 5.5 hours to London, tried to save the world and then caught the bus home at 6pm and arrived back home at 11.30pm.

That makes for a long day.

I wasn't sure how much time I would have to eat with all the marching through the streets and the protesting, but I have to eat. I mean I seriously HAVE to eat. I am hypoglycemic and my blood sugar can drop faster than a ride at Alton Towers. I go all funny. I have for my whole life. Ask my mother. She will tell you. I am like a bear who rips your head off and then faints. I get HANGRY (Hungry + Angry.)

Don't  make me hangry. You wouldn't like me when I'm hangry.

So, I knew I needed some quick to eat, high protein snacks that would travel well. In the past I have made sweet snack balls with nuts and dates. But this time I opted for a savoury version.

I was sure someone else had thought of this, so i did a quick google search. Most of the recipes i found required baking. These could probably be baked (a bit like a falafel) but they don't need to be. You can roll 'em up and eat 'em straightaway. My recipe was inspired by the recipe recipe from the blog FROM MY BOWL. I tripled the recipe and amped up the spices. Her recipe looks redder than mine...not sure why. Mine look slightly less appetising, but taste amazing and held up all day in a reusable sandwich box being bashed around in my rucksack. As I was too busy saving the planet to take a photo,  I am subbing in some clip art instead.

Image result for pizza clip art free vegetarian
Pizza Flavour Snack Balls
1.5 cups walnuts
1 tin white beans (I used cannellini beans, but any soft white bean will do)
4 TB nutritional yeast flakes
4 TB tomato puree
1 tsp dried  oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
5 oil packed sun dried tomatoes, snipped into small bits
4 TB (brown rice) flour

1. Pulse the walnuts into crumbs in a food processor.
2. Add everything else except the flour and whizz until combined. You may need to stop and push it down the sides and blend again. If it doesn't look like it is sticking together then add a TB of water and blend again.
3.Take the blade out of the food processor and add the flour. Stir or mix with your hands until the flour is mixed in.
4. Roll into balls. Mine made about 18 walnut sized balls.  Store in the fridge or in your backpack for a long day of activism.

I bet some chopped olives would be good in it too.

These were good, high in protein, didn't fall apart in my bag and were perfect for travel. They will be my go-to snack from now on.

Friday, 23 November 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Cenerentola (Italy, 1634)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday.  Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

For the last two weeks we have looked at quite ancient versions of Cinderella. This week I want to jump slightly forward in time to 1634. It was during this year that the first literary European version of our tale was published in Italy by Giambattista Basile in his Pentamerone: Lo Cunto de li Cunti, meaning The Tale of Tales. The stories were collected by Basile and published posthumously in two volumes by his sister Adriana in Naples, Italy under a pseudonym. His stories were later adapted by Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm,

The name "Cenerentola" comes from the Italian word "cenere" (ash, cinder). Many servants would have been continually soiled with ash at the time of writing, partly due to working all day cleaning, but also as they often were forced to live in draughty basements or attics  they would huddle close to the fire to keep themselves warm. In the more familiar versions,  Ella sits in the cinders and becomes Cinder Ella, in this version Zezolla sits in the cenere and becomes Cenerentola. This version is also sometimes referred to a s the Cat Cinderella due to the fact that the stepmother and the stepsisters start to call Zezolla “Cat Cinderella,” as if she were nothing but an animal.

Zezolla is a strong protagonist, less innocent and more cunning than the versions many of grew up with. She commits the murder of her wicked stepmother at her governess' behest. Neither she nor the governess who becomes her new stepmother are ever punished for this. She is savvy enough to ask for a a gift from the Dove of the Fairies which gives her a wishing tree. She uses the wishing tree to get clothes for the prince's succession of balls. On two occasions as she leaves the ball and is being chased by the servant of the price she purposely distracts him by throwing down gold coins and some of her jewellery so that she may escape without capture. On the third night her shoe is lost accidentally which provides us with the traditional plot element of the lost object.  

The story is rather long and florid in style, so I have condensed it below with some summaries on the longer parts, but you can read the story in full HERE if you so choose. 

Image result for cat cinderella sur la lune

IN the sea of Malice Envy frequently gets out of her depth; and whilst she is expecting to see another drowned, she is either drowned herself, or is dashed against a rock, as happened to some envious girls, about whom I will tell you a story.

THERE once lived a widower who had a daughter so dear to him that he saw with no other eyes than hers; and he kept a governess for her, who taught her chain-work, and knitting, and to make point-lace, and showed her such affection as no words can tell. But after a time the father married again, and took a wicked jade for his wife, who soon conceived a violent dislike to her stepdaughter; and all day long she made sour looks, wry faces and fierce eyes at her, till the poor child was beside herself with terror, and was for ever bewailing to her governess the bad treatment she received from her stepmother. 

Zezolla constantly tells her governess how she wished the governess was her mother instead. After a while the governess tells Zezolla to murder her stepmother by slamming the lid of a chest down on her neck, saying:“If thou wilt do as I bid, I will become thy mother.”  The stepmother's death is seen as an unfortunate accident. As soon as the mourning for the stepmother's death has ended, Zezolla  convinces her father to marry the governess.  So he took Carmosina (that was the name of the governess) to wife, and gave a great feast at the wedding.

Now whilst the young folks were dancing, and Zezolla was standing at a window of her house, a dove came flying and perched upon a wall, and said to her, "Whenever you desire anything, send the request to the Dove of the Fairies in the island of Sardinia, and you will instantly have what you wish."

For five or six days the new stepmother overwhelmed Zezolla with caresses, seating her at the best place at table, giving her the choicest morsels to eat, and clothing her in the richest apparel. But ere long  forgetting entirely the good service she had received,  she began to bring forward six daughters of her own, whom she had until then kept concealed; and she praised them so much, and talked her husband over in such a manner, that at last the stepdaughters engrossed all his favour, and the thought of his own child went entirely from his heart: in short, it fared so ill with the poor girl, bad today and worse tomorrow, that she was at last brought down from the royal chamber to the kitchen, from the canopy of state to the hearth, from splendid apparel of silks and gold to dish-clouts, from the sceptre to the spit. And not only was her condition changed, but even her name; for instead of Zezolla, she was now called Cenerentola.

In this lowly state the stepmother and the stepsisters start to call Zezolla “Cat Cinderella,” as if she were nothing but an animal.

One day her father announces that he is going to Sardinia on business and asks his stepdaughters what they would like as presents, and as an afterthought he asks his own daughter what she
would like. The others all ask for expensive gifts, while Zezolla says:
“I want nought, but that thou recommend me to the queen of the fairies, bidding her that she might send me something.”

Before heading home from Sardinia, the father does as Zezolla had asked, and receives from the fairy queen a date tree, a golden bucket, and a silken napkin. She takes great care of this tree,watering it with the golden bucket, and using the napkin to soak up the extra moisture. It’s not long till the tree is at its full height,and from its branches a fairy emerges, promising to fulfil all the child’s wishes.

 " What do you wish for?" And Zezolla replied, that she wished sometimes to leave the house without her sisters' knowledge. The fairy answered, "Whenever you desire this, come to the flowerpot and say,

'My little Date-tree, my golden tree,

With a golden hoe I have hoed thee,
With a golden can I have water'd thee,
With a silken cloth I have wiped thee dry,
Now strip thee, and dress me speedily!'

And when you wish to undress, change the last verse, and say, ' Strip me, and dress thee."'

One day Zezolla learns that the prince is going to throw a ball, and she wants very much to attend. So when the day arrives she waits for her stepmother and stepsisters to leave, then goes to the tree
and makes her wish known. The tree throws down a golden gown and a necklace made of pearls and precious stones, and gives her a steed so she would have a way to get there. When she gets there she meets her sisters, but they fail to know who she is, and as soon as the prince sees her enter the ballroom he is smitten by her beauty and regal bearing, and proposes to her. But she flees, afraid that he’ll reject her when he learns of her lowly circumstances.

 As soon as the prince saw the marvellous beauty of Zezolla, he ordered a trusty servant to find out who that beautiful creature was, and where she lived. So the servant followed in her footsteps; but Zezolla, observing the trick, threw on the ground a handful of crown-pieces, which she had made the date-tree give her for this purpose. Then the servant lighted the lantern, and in his eagerness to fill his pockets with the crown-pieces he forgot to follow the maiden. In the meantime Zezolla hastened home, and undressed herself as the fairy had told her. Soon afterwards the wicked sisters returned, and, in order to vex her and excite her envy, they told her of all kinds of beautiful things that they had seen.

Meanwhile the servant came back to the prince to say he had lost sight of the beautiful girl because he was picking up the crowns and so the the prince commanded him to find out at the next feast who the beautiful maiden was, and where this pretty bird had its nest.

When the next feast was come, the sisters all went to it decked out smartly, leaving poor Zezolla at home on the hearth. Then Zezolla ran quickly to the date-tree, and repeated the words as before; and instantly there appeared a number of damsels, one with a looking-glass, another with a bottle of pumpkin-water, another with the curling-irons, another with a comb, another with pins, another with dresses, and another with capes and collars. And decking her out till she looked as beautiful as a sun, they placed her in a coach drawn by six horses, attended by footmen and pages in livery. And no sooner did she appear in the room where the former feast was held, than the hearts of the sisters were filled with amazement, and the breast of the prince with fire.

When Zezolla went away again, the servant followed in her footsteps as before; but, in order not to be caught, she threw down a handful of pearls and jewels; and the good fellow, seeing that they were not things to lose, stayed to pick them up. So Zezolla had time to slip home and take off her fine dress as before.

Meanwhile the servant returned slowly to the prince, who exclaimed when he saw him, " By the souls of my ancestors, if you don't find out who she is, I'll give you a sound thrashing, and, what's more, I'll give you as many kicks as you have hairs in that beard of thine!"

When the next feast was held, and the sisters had gone to it, Zezolla went to the date-tree, and repeating the words of the charm, in an instant she was splendidly arrayed, and seated in a coach of gold, with ever so many servants around, so that she looked just like a queen. The envy of the sisters was excited as before; and when she left the room, the prince's servant kept close to the coach. But Zezolla, seeing that the man kept running at her side, cried, "Coachman, drive on!" and in a trice the coach set off at such a rattling pace, that Zezolla lost one of her slippers, the prettiest thing that ever was seen. The servant, being unable to overtake the coach, which flew like a bird, picked up the slipper, and carrying it to the prince told him all that had happened. Whereupon the prince taking it in his hand) said, " If the basement indeed is so beautiful, what must the building be? O beauteous candlestick, where is the candle that consumes me? O tripod of the bright boiler in which life simmers! O beautiful cork, fastened to the angling-line of Love, with which he has caught my soul! Lo, I embrace you, I press you to my heart; and if I cannot reach the plant, I adore at least the roots; if I cannot possess the capital of the column, I kiss the base. You who until now were the prison of a white foot, are now the fetter of an unhappy heart."

 The prince orders there to be a great banquet and that all women in the kingdom are to attend, so 
that he can find the maiden whose foot fits the slipper.

Oh, what a banquet it was, and what joyance and amusements were there, and what food: pastry and pies, and roast, and balls of mincemeat, and macaroni, and ravioli, enough to feed an army.

Since none of the feet fit the slipper the prince wonders if someone may have been missed. Zezolla’s father confesses that his daughter insisted upon not coming because she felt unworthy of
notice. The prince orders the feast to last another day, and decrees that every woman is to attend.

And when the feasting was ended, came the trial of the slipper; but as soon as ever it approached Zezolla's foot, it darted of itself to the foot of that painted egg of Venus, as the iron flies to the magnet; at the sight of which the prince ran to her and made a press for her with his arms, and seating her under the royal canopy he set the crown upon her head; whereupon all made their obeisance and homage to her as their queen.

When the sisters beheld this, they were full of spite and rage; and not having patience to look upon this object of their hatred, they slipped quietly away on tip toe, and went home to their mother, confessing in spite of themselves that "He is a madman who resists the stars."

That's all for this week. Next week we look at the version that most of know the best. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Sun Dried Tomato Bread

Hello lovelies! This week I am showing you a delicious, easy way to make gluten free bread that goes well with soup. we've had it twice with various soups and I can definitely say it is a winner.

I suppose you could do it with regular flour and chickpeas flour, but I haven't tried it so i don't know for certain. What i can say to all my Gluten free Peeps is this bread is amazing and tender and flavourful. It didn't do the weird crumble thing that GF bread is prone to do either. We ate it over two nights and when kept in an airtight container did not go ridiculously stale as GF bread as also prone to do.

A definite winner!

The original recipe came from  the VEGANUARY WEBSITE. They also suggested adding in some dried herbs or chopped olives which I definitely plan to do next time.  They also suggested to cut into eight slices, but I just did four slices and we each had one huge chunk o' bread each night.

Sun Dried Tomato Bread

Preheat your oven to 220C/425F
130g GF flour (one cup plus 1 heaping TB)
100g chickpea flour (one cup)
1 TB baking POWDER (not soda)
5 sun oil packed dried tomatoes, blotted and snipped into bits
3/4 to 1 tsp salt
optional: 1 tsp mixed herbs and 1 handful chopped olives
150ml non dairy milk 
2 TB sun dried tomato oil from the jar
1 TB tomato puree
1 tsp vinegar
extra flour for dusting

1. Sift your dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add your sun dried tomatoes and optional mixed herbs and olives and toss to coat with flour.
2. In another container combine your vinegar into your non dairy milk and whisk in the tomato puree and sun dried tomato oil and add to the dry ingredients.
3. Stir until it forms a large tacky ball.
4. Line a pan with parchment paper and carefully scoop the dough onto it with floured hands. Carefully (adding more flour if you need to) shape into a round loaf about six inches in diameter and score into four or eight segments.
5. Bake 15 to 18 minutes until golden and crusty.
6. Let rest for ten minutes then slice or carefully tear apart where you scored it.

This was gorgeous and came together quickly. It went well with the lentil soup recipe I hope to post next week. Enjoy!

Friday, 16 November 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Ye Xian (China, 850 AD)

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. then I'll begin.

Last week we looked at a version of Cinderella from Egypt circa 7 BC. Today we look at the second oldest version of our tale that I can find, the story of Ye Xian 叶限 (pronounced Ye Shen)  from the 9th century. 

According to this source:
In late Tang dynasty, a government official named Duan Cheng Shi (段成式 803-863AD) heard of this story from his servant Li Shi Yuan (李士元)  and recorded it in his book .

Duan Cheng Shi, a son of a prime minister, was a famous poet and writer at that time, but his most remarkable contribution to Chinese culture was his book --Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang (
酉阳杂俎,). All who knew him thought that he was the most knowledgeable scholar in Tang dynasty.

Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang was the result of his decades of collection. Youyang refers to the south slope of Mount You, a small hill located in what is now Huaihua, Hunan province. The book was written in the 9th century, and is divided in to 30 volumes, containing unusually varied content, like historical events, novel stories, scientific findings and various knowledge about astronomy, geography, architecture, religion, music, and jewellery, in over thirteen hundred entries that describe the world that Duan Cheng Shi heard about, read of, or personally observed. Ye Xian was in Chapter 21 of the book. 

There are two reasons why scholars think this story originated on the south coast of China. The first is that according to local customs, hand sewn shoes were an important pledge or lover's token between a girl and her sweetheart and the second reason is that magical fish worship was popular along the south coast of China. This tale contains a magical fish who is the reincarnated soul of her dead mother and the bones of the magical fish provide Ye Shen with  "a cloak of kingfisher feathers, jewellery and a pair of golden shoes which were woven of golden threads in a pattern of a scaled fish and whose soles were made of solid gold."

Whatever its origin, this story gives us a persecuted heroine who receives help from a magical creature who provides her with beautiful clothes. The golden shoe is lost and only when it the shoe is reunited with the rightful owner do we get our happy ending. Some versions end with the stepmother and stepsister punished like in the version by the Brother's Grimm, but they all end in marriage and a way to improve her station. 
  Karolis Strautniekas from Cinderella animation, Victoria & Albert Museum
Karolis Strautniekas from Cinderella animation, Victoria & Albert Museum

Ye Shen

Once upon a time, a scholar named Wu, who was a village head, had two wives and each gave birth to baby girls. Ye Xian was the daughter of the prettier wife, and she was beautiful, intelligent and gifted in many skills such as pottery and weaving. In contrast her half-sister, Jun-li, was spoiled, lazy, and self-interested. When Ye Xian was a little girl, her mother and then her father died from a local plague. she had to live with her wicked stepmother, named Jin and her daughter. Soon they forced Ye Xian to become a lowly servant and worked for them.

 Despite living a life burdened with hard housework and chores, and suffering endless mock and abuse at her stepmother's hands, Ye Xian found solace when she ended up making friends with a beautiful, 10-foot-long fish in the lake near her house. Each day the fish came out of the water onto the bank to be fed by her. But she did know the fish, with golden scales and eyes, was the reincarnation of her mother, who now watched out for her. Her stepmother heard about the fish. Angry that Ye Xian had found happiness, She disguised herself as Ye Xian and enticed the fish from the water. She stabbed it with a dagger, and cooked the fish for dinner. Ye Xian was devastated until her mother's spirit appeared and told her to bury the bones of the fish in pots at each corner of her bed. She also was told that if she needed anything, just prayed to the bones, and her mother's spirit would appear to help her. 

Time passed and the local spring festival was nearing. This was a time when many young women would have the opportunity to meet potential suitors. Not wishing to spoil her own daughter's chances, Jin forced her step daughter to remain home and clean their house. After they has left, Ye Xian who also longed to go to the festival prayed to bones. Her mother's spirit occurred and told her to dig up the pots containing the fish bones. Ye Xian found fine clothes, including a cloak of kingfisher feathers, jewellery and a pair of golden shoes which were woven of golden threads in a pattern of a scaled fish and whose soles were made of solid gold. When she walked in them she felt lighter than air. 

Ye Xian dressed up and went to the festival. Soon She got all attentions. She enjoyed herself until she realised her step sister may have recognised her. She dashed back home, accidentally leaving behind a golden shoe. When she arrived home, she was dressed in her rags and hid the clothes in the pots beneath her bed again. When her step family returned, they discussed Jun-li's marriage prospects and also mentioned a mysterious lady in the festival. But they were unaware that it was Ye Xian that they were speaking of. 

The golden shoe was found and traded by various people until it reached the hands of the King of a island kingdom of Tou Han. Fascinated by the shoe's small size, he issued a search to find the maiden whose foot would fit in the shoe and declared he would marry that lady. The shoe eventually reaches the house of Ye Xian, Jun-li and her mother tried to put on the shoe and failed. The shoe ended up fitting Ye Xian's foot perfectly. However, the step family, in order to prevent the King from marrying her step daughter, declared that it was impossible for Ye Xian to be owner of the golden shoe, because she saw the lady who owned it wearing a pair of the golden shoes and fine clothes at the festival, while Ye Xian had not been there at all. Ye Xian proved her wrong by bringing out and putting on the other golden shoe and the clothes she wore at the festival. In the beautiful clothes that her mother's spirit gave her, Ye Xian looked like a fairy. Awed by Ye Xian's beauty, the King affirmed that he would marry her. 

The wicked step mother made a final attempt to dissuade the King from marrying Ye Xian by accusing her of stealing the lady's golden shoe, however, the clever king easily saw through her evil plan. To punish the step family for their dishonesty and cruelty, the king force them continue to live in their village and never allowed them to visit Ye Xian. The king took Ye Xian back to his palace where he made her the queen of his kingdom, and lived happily with her ever after. 

Alternate endings: source

The step mother and sister were left and continued to live in their village until the day they were killed in a shower of flying stones from nowhere. The local who felt sorry for them buried them in a stone pit and called it the tomb of regretful women.

Some year after returning his kingdom, the king were greedy for treasure. Praying to the fish bones, he obtained a lot of gems. But next year when he did it again, the bones seemed to lose its magic power. Now He buried them with many pearls in a secret place and made a mark with a block of gold. A couple of years later, some soldiers revolted against him. The king wanted to dig the pearls out to award his loyal army. But one night before he did that, the sea flooded the hidden treasure spot, so the bones and the pearls were gone.

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a version from Italy where our heroine is not quite as innocent as in other versions. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

What We Ate Wednesday--Apricot Red Lentil Soup topped with Spicy Toasted Seeds

Hello lovelies! Today's recipe is a sort of copycat version of a soup I never tasted. Does that even make sense? Well, let me set the scene.

I always pick up the Tesco free magazine as they have coupons and recipes. They have now altered their symbols that appear by recipes to tell you what sort they are and have now included Vegan as one of the choices, so I like to see how many recipes they feature. As I was flicking through the magazine, something caught my eye. It was a section of how to jazz up a pre-made soup to give it more of a homemade feel. The soup they featured was an organic vegan red lentil with apricots and crushed chillies soup by a company called Tideford. They suggested frying some pumpkin seeds in a smidge of oil and then dusting them with smoked paprika. Then sprinkle them on top of the soup for a lovely garnish and pop of flavour.

I was like...I can do that. I can do better than that.

I googled the Tideford soup to look at ingredients and I liked everything I saw except the celeriac. There's nothing wrong with celeriac or celery, we just don't dig it. So I thought about the spice profile and they way i wanted to soup to be--sweet and tangy to contrast with the savoury seeds. And this masterpiece was born.

The first thing you need to do is make your munchy seeds. These are a cheap copycat of  version of ones you can buy in a shop. You can make them ahead of time.

Munchy Seeds
Preheat your oven to 175C/350F

1.Put 200g (1.5 cups) seeds in a metal roasting pan. I use half sunflower seeds and half pumpkin seeds.
2. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the pan and stir. 
3. Add 2 Tablespoons tamari or soy sauce and 1 teaspoon chilli powder or smoked paprika and stir well to coat.
4. Bake 5 more minutes, then remove from the oven and stir again. 
5. Turn the oven off and put the pan in for 3-5 more minutes or until the seeds are crisp and dry. Check at 3 minutes--if they still seem damp to you then let them go 2 more minutes.
6. Let cool and eat. If you happen to have some leftover, then store in an airtight container.

Now for the soup. This is incredibly easy. 
Apricot Red Lentil Soup

1 tin apricots in juice
1 onion, chopped
a few cloves crushed garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed in a sieve
1 TB lemon juice (bottled is fine) 
salt and pepper to taste

1. Puree your apricots and their juice in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
2. Cook your onion and garlic in a splash of oil or water until softened. 
3. Add your spices and stir to coat the onion. Add the lentils, pureed apricots and vegetable broth. Bring the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft.
4. Add your lemon juice and taste for salt and pepper.
5. Serve with a sprinkling of Munchy Seeds.  

These seeds are incredibly moreish and would be great to serves as nibbles at your Christmas party. 

Friday, 9 November 2018

Fairy Tale Friday--Rhodopis (The Egyptian Cinderella) 7BC

Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I'll begin.

This week we begin our study of versions of the tale Cinderella. There have been tales of persecuted heroines throughout history, but this is the first recorded version to feature the elements we think of in a Cinderella story. We have a persecuted maiden, divine or supernatural help (in this case the help comes from the God Horus in the form of a falcon), an identifying object to be lost and then found, and a wedding.

According to Wikipedia:

The Greek geographer Strabo (died c. 24 AD) first recorded the tale of the Greco-Egyptian girl Rhodopis in his Geographica. The same story is also later reported by the Roman orator Aelian (ca. 175–ca. 235) in his Miscellaneous History, which was written entirely in Greek. Aelian's story closely resembles the story told by Strabo, but says that the name of the pharaoh in question was Psammetichus. 

Interestingly enough, this story might have some basis in historical fact. There was a Rhodopis during the reign of Amasis, but she was a courtesan. She was acquainted with the Pharaoh, so it is possible that she was the inspiration for the tale. Who knows. 

Sadly, the reason that Rhodopis is mistreated by the other women is because of her appearance. Their persecution stems from racial prejudice.  Rhodopis was born in Greece, but kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery. She looks different than all the other Egyptian women. They are dark with skin the colour of"copper, bronze and sand" while she is fair and her skin burns easily. Their hair is "straight, black and elegant "while her blond hair is considered inferior because it is coarse and curly. They abuse her because she is not considered a beauty by Egyptian standards.

Unfortunately, the opposite can be seen as true today. Many dark skinned women are mistakenly convinced to buy lightening creams to alter their skin tone and make them more "desirable."

Image result for rhodopis

Rhodopis (The Egyptian Cinderella) source

Long ago in the land of Egypt, land of the green Nile and the blue Mediterranean and the rising sun, there lived a slave girl named Rhodopis. Rhodopis was born in Greece, but had been kidnapped by pirates and sold into Egyptian slavery. The man who bought her was a kind old man, but he spent most of his time sleeping and never saw how much Rhodopis suffered at the hands of his other servants, who teased her endlessly. Their hair was straight and black and elegant; her hair was golden, curly and coarse. Their eyes were brown and black and deep, but hers were green and bright. Their skin glowed like copper and bronze and sand, but Rhodopis had fair skin that burnt in the sun. They made her do all their work while the old man slept.

“Go to the river and wash the clothes,” “Mend my robe,” “Chase the geese from the garden and bake the bread,” they would shout at her.

Rhodopis had only animals for friends. She had trained the birds to eat from her hand, a monkey to sit on her shoulder, and the old hippopotamus would slide up on the bank out of the mud to be closer to her. At the end of the day if she wasn’t too tired she would go down to the river to be with the animals, and if she had any energy left from the hard day’s work she would dance and sing for them.

One evening she had more energy than usual, as the day had been particularly cool. Even her master had been enjoying the fine weather and had fallen asleep under a tree near the river. When the day was done, Rhodopis went down to the river near her animals, and danced and sang so lightly and so well that her feet barely touched the ground, and the old man woke from his sleep and listened to her singing. He admired her dancing and felt that one so talented should not be without shoes. He ordered her a special pair of slippers. They were soft and a delicious rose-red colour. Now the servant girls teased her even more, so jealous they were of her beautiful red slippers.

A little while after this, word arrived that the Pharaoh was holding court in Memphis and all in the kingdom were invited. There was to be dancing and singing and feasting for days on end, and naturally Rhodopis wanted to go, to dance and sing with the others. But it was not to be. For as the servant girls prepared to leave in their finest clothes they turned to Rhodopis and gave her more chores to do before they returned, and it would be impossible for her to get them all done before the court began.

They poled their raft away leaving a sad Rhodopis on the bank. As she began to wash the clothes in the river she sang a sad little song–“wash the linen, weed the garden, grind the grain.” Rhodopis washed and beat the clothes harder than she ought, for she was very disappointed not to be going. The splashing of the water wet Rhodopis’ slippers. She quickly grabbed them up, took them off and placed them in the sun to dry. As she was continuing with her chores the sky darkened and as she looked up she saw a falcon sweep down, snatch one of her slippers, and fly away. Rhodopis was in awe for she knew it was the god Horus who had taken her shoe. Rhodopis tucked the other slipper away in her tunic and went back to work, wondering what Horus’ appearance could mean.

Now the Pharaoh, Amasis, Pharaoh of all Egypt was just beginning to hold court, sitting on his throne looking out over the people, and feeling very bored. He much preferred to be riding across the desert in his chariot, and the dancing was uninspired. He longed for a distraction.

Suddenly the falcon swooped down and dropped the rose-red golden slipper in his lap. The Pharaoh caught up the slipper and examined it closely, for he knew his was a sign from the god Horus. He stared at the slipper until he had deciphered its meaning, and then sent out a decree that all maidens in Egypt must try on the slipper, and that he would take the owner to be his Queen, for so Horus had decreed. And so it happened that by the time the servant girls arrived the celebrations had ended, and Pharaoh had left by chariot in search of the owner of the red-rose slipper.

After searching all through the large cities and not finding the owner, Pharaoh he called for his barge and began to travel the Nile pulling into every landing, ordering maidens to try on the slipper. Soon he came to the house of Rhodopis’ master, and when Rhodopis heard the sounds of the gong, the trumpets blaring, and saw the purple silk sails, she hid, fearful of what it could mean. The other servant girls ran to the landing to try on the shoe while Rhodopis hid in the rushes.

Of course, the moment that the other servant girls saw the shoe they recognised that it belonged to Rhodopis, but said nothing, such was their envy and hatred of her. Yet try as they might, they could not force their feet into the slipper. While they were failing and pretending to succeed, the Pharaoh spied Rhodopis hiding in the rushes and asked her to try on the slipper. She slid her tiny foot into the slipper and then pulled the other from her tunic.

Then Pharaoh knew that she had been decreed to be his wife by the Gods and pronounced that she would be his queen. The servant girls cried out that she was a slave and not even Egyptian, and that her hair, eyes, skin and clothes were unsuitable; any of them would be a more fitting Queen.

But the Pharaoh said: “She is the most Egyptian of all…for her eyes are as green as the Nile, her hair like papyrus, and her skin as pink as the lotus flower.”

That's all for this week. Stay tuned next week for a tale from China with a talking fish.