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Great sauces: Hollandaise

Here is a marvellous sauce for purists in this matter. It goes with salmon, asparagus, almost any vegetable, entrées and most fish dishes.

   Now one may ask why I say ‘for purists in this matter’? The reason is that purists state rather firmly that the only true Hollandaise Sauce consists of nothing but unsalted butter, egg yolks and lemon juice. My problem with this is that I find Hollandaise made this way is rather insipid. I reckon Hollandaise should start with a preliminary reduction of some good white wine, as one does in the making of Béarnaise (q.v.). The flavour is so much better. Forget about the lemon, as it disintegrates the sauce too easily, and you will end up shooting yourself because you have used up twenty fresh eggs and still got no Hollandaise. (more…)

The Cabinet System

Many students are accustomed to using the terms Prime Minister and The Cabinet and even The Cabinet Rooms in their studies and essays, but do not know much more about what these words represent. The term prime minister was first used when it was invented for the first of them, Sir Robert Walpole. He became PM in 1762.

The phrase did not start as much more than a term of abuse. Cartoonists in the eighteenth century loved it, and got a lot of cynical humour out of it. The position was officially called First Lord of the Treasury, and the British had to wait until 1905 for the term ‘prime minister’ to be used on a Royal Warrant. Funnily enough, it was first employed in the Chequers Estate Act, by which a rich man donated his mansion and its park to the nation, with the nice idea that prime ministers could relax in the country during weekends, not at all a bad idea when you realise that Number 10, Downing Street is little more than a small town house with just enough room to swing a cat. It is quite likely that Chequers has seen more important politicking than Downing Street, as many PMs have preferred to do their world-shaking manoevering in the comfortable and more private atmosphere of an English country house. (more…)

Holocaust – the comments

Hundreds of comments have been posted on General-History following publication last year of the article on The Holocaust. Some comments are learnéd, some are not. Many are openly anti-Semitic. A few show sympathy with the victims. Some question the figures quoted. Anyone can find out the figures for themselves simply by making enquiries in any office of records in any of the countries I am about to list, or simply asking for statistics in Tel Aviv. For those commentarists who claim the Holocaust did not actually happen one feels sorry for those who must endure life near them. (more…)

The Sun King

The Sun King / biography.com

The Sun King / biography.com

Louis the Fourteenth (XIV) was the King of France for seventy-two years, from 1643 to 1715. He is the great monarch who still startles lighter-minded history students by his best-known quote; “Après moi, le deluge”. He was quite right. The Flood in the form of wars, famine, bloodshed, the French Revolution (q.v.) – all kinds of unrest, came after him. It would not be unfair to state that most if not all of these could have been avoided if Louis had been a different kind of king. (more…)

By | 2012-03-27T19:19:30+00:00 March 27th, 2012|Dutch History, French History, Today|0 Comments

The Reichstag

What was left after the Reichstag Fire / classwarfareexists.com

What was left after the Reichstag Fire / classwarfareexists.com

This is, or rather was the Imperial Parliament of Germany. Here in Berlin the legislature of the German Second Empire and Weimar Republic was planned and expedited. It is extremely old; as a legislative (or law-making) chamber its origins stretch back to the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire (q.v.).

The Reichstag was encouraged and re-instated by Otto von Bismarck (q.v.), forming the representative assembly of those states constituent to the North German Confederation; from 1871 it was the centre of government for the Second Empire. It should be noted that its rôle in the Empire was the passing of legislation: it was not permitted to interfere in federal government, and had limited control over public expenditure. Under the Weimar Republic however, the Reichstag enjoyed greater powers, as the actual government was made responsible to it.   (more…)

Andorra & Luxembourg

The first is a co-Principality, and the second a Grand Duchy. Both are tiny, but significant in questions of tourism and politics. Andorra lies between France and Spain, a beautiful landscape of hills and valleys at around 900 metres, sometimes rising to peaks at 2900 metres (9,600 feet). The country is bisected by the River Valira, which provides for three distinct natural regions – valleys of the North and East Valira, and the Grand Valira. The peaks are snow-covered during several months of the year. (more…)

The unfortunate House of Stuart

Stuart James VI of Scotland (and Ist of England) / luminarium.org

Stuart James VI of Scotland (and Ist of England) / luminarium.org

Genealogy:  The Stuart dynasty was important in the shaping of Britain and brought little luck to the family; they started as Stewards of Dol in Brittany around the end of the 11th century. Two of them became Stewards-Guardian of Scotland in the 13th century. Roberts I & II and David II were kings. James I of Scotland married Joan Beaufort, a granddaughter of John of Gaunt: their son James became IInd of Scotland. The English connection thus began, because John of Gaunt was a younger son of an English King (Edward III), and father to another English King (Henry IV). (more…)

Queen Victoria & the European royal families

Victoria, the 'grandmother of Europe' / britroyals.com

Victoria, the ‘grandmother of Europe’ / britroyals.com

Nearly all the royal families in Europe – those remaining – are related to each other. This is not a coincidence, and it is worth considering, as many countries formerly loyal to the reigning family have either become republican, or having second or third thoughts about the monarchy. It is perfectly possible that our grandchildren will only read about kings, queens, their consorts and their often troublesome children in a book or on a plasma screen. (more…)

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