Back to previous post: Evidence and Exclusions

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: A Waltz Played in 4/4 Time

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

June 3, 2010

Pasta with walnut arugula lemon pesto
Posted by Teresa at 09:29 PM * 146 comments

1/2 C. walnuts
1 pint fresh baby arugula, tightly packed
4 healthy garlic cloves
a lot of olive oil*
salt, black pepper, white pepper
1 large lemon
2 C. finely grated hard sharp cheese

Throw your walnuts dry into a frying pan and toast, stirring constantly, until they smell like toasted walnuts. Immediately remove the pan from the fire and the walnuts from the pan. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, rub the walnuts lightly between your hands to remove as much of the skin as will yield without a fight.

If your food processor is as small as mine, you now reduce the walnuts to particles that look like fine sand, then set them aside until after you’ve pulverized the arugula. This isn’t the fastest way to make pesto, but it does allow you to write recipes that call for an unspecified amount of olive oil.

Set a pot of water on to boil, peel the garlic cloves, grate the zest off the lemon, juice the lemon, and grate the cheese. I used a mixture of cheeses that was about two-thirds fresh Parmesan, and one-third Le Maréchal, which Patrick bought this past weekend because our grocery was giving out yummy free samples.

Stuff the arugula into the food processor along with the lemon zest, the garlic, and enough olive oil to get everything to cooperate. Turn the processor to “smite hem in pecys” and let ‘er rip.

Pause. Add the salt, pepper, and pepper. Process a bit to get them mixed in, and add more if needed. Meanwhile, if the water is boiling, add the pasta. As it happens, I used fusilli col buco, but almost any pasta would do.

The arugula has now been radically reduced in volume, so repatriate the walnuts. Add more olive oil. Process, adding yet more olive oil if necessary to keep things moving. When the texture is already right for pesto, add the lemon juice anyway, because the cheese is going to soak up liquid.

If the pasta is cooked, take it off the fire and drain it. Add the cheese to the sauce. It’s quite a lot of cheese—more than pesto would normally use. If you aren’t cooking for Patrick, you can add less. Process just until mixed, then readjust the seasonings again if necessary. Toss the pasta with the sauce. Eat happily.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Pasta with walnut arugula lemon pesto:
#1 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 11:04 PM:

I'll have to try this, since my basil is only 5 inches high right now

#2 ::: Madeline Ashby ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 11:05 PM:


#3 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2010, 11:15 PM:

Yum. I shall riff on this for the weekend. The supermarket has cheap walnuts.

#4 ::: mea ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 12:10 AM:

I am very glad that I ate dinner BEFORE I read this because otherwise I would be mourning my cheese-free, arugula--free kitchen. I make a similar dish. Sometimes when I don't want the harshness of fresh arugula I'll blanch it quickly and then make the pesto with the cooked arugula. And sometimes I don't make pesto, I just blanch the arugula and stir it together with the pasta, walnuts, olive oil and chopped garlic. Anyway you combine those ingredients - yum!

#5 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 12:20 AM:

Our CSA's arugula got hailstoned in this weekend. Thus no arugula.

And the universe unkindly tosses me a handful of arugula recipes this week, as if to rub it in.

You're all meanies. Well. You can take my arugula but you can't take my fresh yummy cream-of-spinach crepe improvisation! Nyah!

[brief pause while the commentator remembers that she is not, in fact, five years old]

...I bet this recipe would go wonderfully with fresh spinach, actually. All I need is a lemon.

#6 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 01:34 AM:

Ah... rocket salad... which has no rockets.

#7 ::: Kristine Smith ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 01:50 AM:

Growing my own arugula this year, and it has taken off like whoa. I've made parsley pesto before. Must try this.

#8 ::: martha ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:12 AM:

This is reminiscent of a dish I had in Sulmona northeast of Rome. They make many pasta sauces there to go with a type of pasta called chitarra - ie guitar strings because it is made on an ancient wooden instrument that turns out super thin strands of pasta. You can also make a nifty sauce like this using just lemon, cheese, ground nuts and cream.

#9 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:23 AM:

Sounds nummy. I'll have to try this.

#10 ::: Adam Ek ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:15 AM:

Ooh, have to try this with our CSA's arugula this evening.

#11 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:21 AM:

teresa, in light of your particle, i think you should have rewritten the recipe to show how it can all be done with a sling-shot, or 'bean shooter' as the man calls it.

e.g., "put walnut and garlic cloves in pouch of sling and fire briskly at box-grater...."

#12 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:45 AM:

That sounds so yummily persuasive that I'll pop over to the Community Gardens and transplant some of the volunteer argula seedlings from a neighboring plot . (Generally, I don't much like argula in salads, so have grown it only once, several years ago.)

For a quicker fix, I'll also try adapting that recipie to use amaranthus, many volunteers of which need to be weeded from my own plot. Ditto (for making a very small batch of it) pussley/purselane, currently a burgeoning weed, just to see if it works.

#13 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:48 AM:

That sounds absolutely delicious.

Beth: Don't buy cheap walnuts, or walnuts close to their sell-by date, they are sometimes rancid. I thought I didn't like walnuts for decades because I'd always had stale ones.

#14 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:57 AM:

Don Fitch @12, you've made an odd use of the word "volunteer"; is that a gardening term of art like "heirloom"?

#15 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:04 AM:

In this context, it means seedlings that weren't planted by people - they're from last year's plants, where the seeds (or the fruits) fell into the garden.
(Yes, you can have volunteer tomatoes and zucchini in your garden. The quality might be variable, though.)

#16 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:06 AM:

Oh, wow, this sounds divine. And as it contains the magic words arugula, walnut, and cheese, it will make my husband thoroughly happy.

::adds arugula and walnut to the shopping list::

Tonight, however, is shepherd's pie, because I promised that to my daughter.

#17 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:39 AM:

My husband's allergic to walnuts (massive headaches); what's the best substitute? Pine nuts?

#18 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:46 AM:

This makes me wish my food processor weren't nearly useless. It's certainly not up to a project like this.

I'll just go drool and weep quietly in the corner over here...

#19 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:55 AM:

No 'smite' setting?

#20 ::: lucyp ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 01:33 PM:

The slugs are enjoying my arugula. Maybe I should put out some walnuts for them, to go with it.

#21 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 02:29 PM:

If you aren’t cooking for Patrick, you can add less. That was the line where I did actually laugh out loud, because I've stayed with you guys. (T is an awesome cook, everybody. Nom nom nom!)

#22 ::: Erf ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 03:47 PM:

More recipes should be written with this sort of flare.

(In particular, more recipes should use the word "smite". That word is sadly underused these days.)

#23 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 04:58 PM:

joann @17: Pine nuts are the nut ingredient in basil pesto so I would expect them to be fine with arugula. The only downside is they're expensive.

There is a lot you can do with arugula. One of the best pizzas I ever had was a simple thin crust with tomato sauce, a very small amount of cheese, and a good amount of arugula on top.

My inclination (I'm basically a mad scientist in the kitchen) would be to deconstruct Teresa's recipe and make a light, no-nuts version. While the pasta is cooking, cook the garlic in a pan with the olive oil on low heat. Add the lemon juice (I would also add a bit of white wine), turn up the heat, and cook it down a bit to a sauce. Add the pasta, arugula, lemon zest (sparingly), salt, pepper and grated cheese (to taste) to the sauce. Toss in the pan. Serve. This recipe would not be harmed by the addition of pancetta or equivalent savory food product. Brown it in the pan before starting the sauce and set it aside. Add it with the other ingredients at the end.

#24 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 05:03 PM:

I have no rocket, alas. But a gracious plenty of fresh sage cooked with garlic, a diced tomato, and a sufficiency of white kidney beans, served over pasta with lots of Parmesan on top, is enough to make me happy.

#25 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 08:56 PM:


We had takeout pizza.

I don't think I could get my husband to eat this; it has greens in it. (He eats vegetables, just not greens.)

OTOH, he's away for the weekend and I don't have -that- much leftover pizza....... (and this looks yummy.)

#26 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 09:25 PM:

joann @ 17: My mother is deathly allergic to the walnut, and she uses pecans in their stead in baking. I'm not sure that's an ideal substitution for pesto, but it could be worth a try.

#27 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 10:39 PM:

Mark, pecans are fine for most sweet baked goods as a substitution for walnuts, but I wouldn't want to use them in this recipe. Pine nuts, or a mixture of pine nuts and blanched almonds (since pine nuts are pricey) would be a better choice.

It might be very interesting with hazelnuts, but it would be different.

#28 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2010, 11:07 PM:

I have used sunflower seeds instead of walnuts or pine nuts in my pesto. It seems to work fine if I used roasted, but not salted, sunnies.

I have volunteer dill all over my garden from planting it several years ago. I sometimes get cherry tomato plants ditto. But they aren't very good, and take space allotted to better varieties.

My zucchini seeds haven't come up yet. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

#29 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 01:09 AM:

#14, Earl:

Yup, "volunteer" is a gardeners' term of art (or jargon) for "a plant that appeared without my intervention". Generally it's applied to not-undesired seedlings or sprouts -- otherwise, cf. "weed" (though there's some overlap when the latter is defined as "any plant growing where you don't want it").

For me, the small-fruited tomatoes, _shiso_ (Perilla frutescens), and basil are usually the major contenders, but this season I've allowed (for no particularly good reason) a few varieties of pak choi, leaf-mustard, & other Asian greens go to seed and seedlings are starting to volunteer all over the place ... which is no problem as long as I can suppress my Cherish & Nuture tendency. (Speaking of which -- does anyone in the LArea need up to four black kittens, or (regardless of location) have useful advice on how to cope with a ferocious, too-smart-to-trap, feral cat?)

#30 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:02 AM:

At my old place, there was a volunteer tomato growing out of the compost pile. It had one single tomato, the Most Beautiful Tomato Ever. Gorgeously red, perfectly shaped, tasted wretchful.

#31 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:20 AM:

I've done a similar dish but simpler; it doesn't contain walnuts.

While boiling pasta, zest one lemon, squeeze the juice. Mince the garlic & grate the cheese.

When pasta is cooked, drain & add good olive oil, lemon juice & zest, garlic, cheese & stir though. Add black pepper to taste (and salt if needed). Stir in arugula and serve immediately.

#32 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 07:58 AM:

I'm not sure how it would do in this recipe specifically (probably fine), but I was reminded that ramsons also make a good pesto. They're a tasty addition to salads, sandwiches and sauces, and they're easy to grow, liking shade. (The Wiki article is worth reading for the caveats on similarities to poisonous plants.)

#33 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 10:39 AM:

Woo-hoo! I got arugula at the farmers' market just now, along with amaranth, watercress, and a variety of other delicious sources of chlorophyll.

My life isn't great right now, but today, at least, I'm happy.

P.S. What the hell do I do with the amaranth?

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 10:46 AM:

Tarentula lemon pesto?
Sounds crunchy.
("No, Serge... It's arugula lemon pesto.")

#35 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 10:52 AM:

I understand it can be treated like spinach.

#36 ::: Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:27 AM:

#33, #35:

You can cook amaranth like spinach or chard, but it doesn't work like spinach in salads (raw, it just tastes of leaves).

Also note that it produces bright pink juice when cooked, which may affect what you want to combine it with.

#37 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:40 AM:

TexAnne #33: What do you do with amaranth? Try this

#38 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 11:41 AM:

For "calalloo" btw read "amaranth".

#39 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Fragano, 37-38: Good thing I also got a bunch of callaloo, then, huh? :-D

#40 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 12:58 PM:

Serge @ 34: Tarantino lemon pesto? Just the thing to have with a hundred Nazi scallops.

#41 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 01:04 PM:

Serge at 34:
If you read the bilingual grocery labels in Canada, you will see that peanut butter is made with arachnids, I mean arachides.

#42 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 01:26 PM:

In the light of this recent strip at Questionable Content can we describe this recipe as 'Rocket Science for Hungry Folks'?

#43 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 01:53 PM:

Serge #34: Tarentula lemon pesto?

I don't know that I'd want to go to the effort of shaving them before cooking.

#44 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:04 PM:

Erik Nelson @41: a friend of ours, while on holiday in Cyprus, was assured by a local that peasants were busy in the early morning collecting snails to make Turkish delight. An idea apparently shared by John Galsworthy:

‘All Forsytes, as is generally admitted, have shells, like that extremely useful little animal which is made into Turkish delight...’

From Chapter 8 of The Man of Property, Part 1 of The Forsyte Saga.

#45 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 02:08 PM:

amaranth, eh? --give me patience.


What time the poet hath hymned
The writhing maid, lithe-limbed,
Quivering on amaranthine asphodel,

How can he paint her woes,
Knowing, as well he knows,

That all can be set right with calomel?

When from the poet's plinth
The amorous colocynth

Yearns for the aloe, faint with rapturous thrills,

How can he hymn their throes
Knowing, as well he knows,

That they are only uncompounded pills?

Is it, and can it be,
Nature hath this decree,

Nothing poetic in the world shall dwell?
Or that in all her works
Something poetic lurks,

Even in colocynth and calomel ?

#46 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 05:07 PM:

It saddens me to only have a balcony garden this year, which doesn't seem to get quite enough sun to persuade the tomatoes and peppers to even bloom. I did go to our farmer's market this morning, but it doesn't really run to leafy greens. Sigh.

Off topic, there is someone swimming in the pool outside my apartment in one of those modesty suits with a hijab. Covered head to wrists to ankles in salmon pink, and having a great time with her kids. Nice to see, and nobody else seems bothered by it!

#47 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 05:40 PM:

tykewriter, #44: That made me laugh very loudly. Having it on with the tourists, then?

(Sadly, I am incapable of appreciating Turkish Delight; rose flavoring makes me gag.)

#48 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 06:02 PM:




#49 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 06:10 PM:

Lee #47: I've also seen mint Turkish Delight, and ISTR other flavors (though I don't know how "authentic" those are).

#50 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 06:46 PM:

On the subject of pine nuts... I'm surrounded by pine trees and right now I have a lawn full of pine cones. They are open and I save them until winter to put onto the fire. They don't have seeds.

I'm not sure I could get to the cones earlier (they are very tall trees) but if I could shake them down or something, could I get the nuts?

I suppose there is a reason why they are expensive so it probably isn't that easy.

#51 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2010, 08:12 PM:

Sylvia @50, pine nuts only come from about 20 species, according to the Wikipedia article, which seems pretty complete and straightforward.

#52 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 03:45 AM:

When I was a kid, on a family camping vacation in Eastern California, we took a side trip to some remote dry hills and harvested piñon pine nuts. Once. They were tasty, highly nutritious, and because they were on BLM land, we got them for free. But at our rate of production, if we had kept harvesting long enough, we would have starved to death. And if you factored in the cost of gas, not even including our time, it was cheaper to buy the expensive pine nuts in the store.

Then there was the time when, a couple of days into the mountains on a serious backpacking trip, my dad, reasoning logically that food made from scratch was much tastier and better, said that we were having pesto for dinner, handed me a plate heaped with pine nuts, and asked if I could crush them. I used my sierra club cup as a mortar and swiss army knife as a pestle. It was slow going and the results were extremely rough and uneven.

#53 ::: David DeLaney ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 03:56 AM:


{sfx: picture of small white kitten sitting staring up at An Herb}

i has an amaranf
wut i do wif it?

--Dave "I have food-processed the amaranth / that was in the icebox..." DeLaney

#54 ::: Helen ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 04:40 AM:

When it comes to cheese, I'm with Patrick: to quote a famous Australian, too much cheese is barely enough.
I solved the expensive pine nuts problem a while back by experimenting with replacing them with blanched almonds (from the cake section of your supermarket). Worked a treat, and un-blanched unsalted almonds are also fine, probably better flavour.
Use this for the family pesto, and save the pine nuts for the posh company pesto.

#55 ::: Helen ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 04:41 AM:

When it comes to cheese, I'm with Patrick: to quote a famous Australian, too much cheese is barely enough.
I solved the expensive pine nuts problem a while back by experimenting with replacing them with blanched almonds (from the cake section of your supermarket). Worked a treat, and un-blanched unsalted almonds are also fine, probably better flavour.
Use this for the family pesto, and save the pine nuts for the posh company pesto.

#56 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 05:31 AM:

Janet @51 Thanks for the obvious link - I just presumed Wikipedia would be botanical and not practical.

Based on their info, it looks like the the sparrows must be getting to the nuts before I have a chance, so I'll have to try getting the green ones.

TomB @52 I'm sure this will be similarly slim pickings but what's the point of parenthood if I can't give my son memories like yours. ;)

#57 ::: philsuth ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 10:14 AM:

Erf @22 wrote:
More recipes should be written with this sort of flare.

That's not a flare - it's the rocket's red glare!

#58 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 12:49 PM:

47 Lee, 49 David Harmon:

If you've only identified green Turkish delight as mint by sight, it might turn out to be pistachio, which would be perfectly authentic.

From what I can make out , Turkish Delightis traditionally made in quite a wide variety of flavours. One of the more unusual ones I've had was saffron-flavoured, from here, which was delicious.

#59 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2010, 03:26 PM:

My dictum when baking for others (and for myself, for that matter) is that wretched excess is just barely enough.

Which reminds me, I need to bake a tart today. Might as well welcome my replacement in the lab properly when she starts tomorrow.

#60 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 01:21 PM:

Lee @47: Try Ginger Peoples "Ginger Delight" -- Turkish Delight made with little tender chunks of candied ginger. Yum.

While the rose flavored Turkish delight is ok, I love the pistachio. And at Midwinter you can find chocolate coverd Turkish Delight from some British candy companies.

I've also seen Mastic flavored Turkish Delight but I've never tried it.

#61 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 02:54 PM:

I've made a version of this with spinach, almonds, yada -- but the garlic I used seems to be remarkably strong (to put it mildly), and is rendering the whole hard to take in doses of more than an applied tablespoon, or so.

Any suggestions for (fairly straightforward) ways to deal with this?

#62 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 03:11 PM:

Straightforward but not easy: Make another (perhaps larger) batch, with no garlic, to dilute what you have. Obvious and a PITA, but it should work.

There's no way to take garlic OUT of something, unfortunately.

#63 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 07:42 PM:

Xopher @ 62 ...
Heh. I did try some dilution -- and I'm a bit frightened of the sort of dilution that the lack of effect suggests I'd need...

#64 ::: Bruce Cohen (Speaker to Managers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 07:43 PM:

kid bitzer @ 45:

Very cute. So how many drinks did you take from the Hippocrene Spring?

#65 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 08:37 PM:

61-63: Yikes. That bulb is a feature film epic in the making!

A menace has been unleashed in the kitchen that threatens civilized dinner conversation as we know it. Only Xopher and xeger stand in the way of thermonuclear halitosis.

X-Men: GarlicScape! Coming soon in 3-D!

#66 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 10:02 PM:

Mark@65 ...
... and it turns out that there's a solution! Microwaves!

#67 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 10:20 PM:


i'm glad you liked it, but i can assure you that i did not write it--no amount of hippocrenic binging would provide me with the talent of w.s. gilbert imitating oscar wilde.

the speaker is bunthorne, the oscar wilde avatar from gilbert & sullivan's "patience". (that title was the h/t in my post).

it just came to mind because it's the only other place that i have heard 'amaranth' referred to.

#68 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 10:42 PM:

Good thinking, xeger2 66 - of course, roasted garlic is mellower than raw. It just didn't occur to me that you could cook the garlic after the fact.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2010, 11:40 PM:

Doesn't it also do things to the arugula? Hmm, maybe if it's really pestoed, microwaves won't do much harm.

#70 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:50 AM:

"Captain's Log, Stardate 43152.4... We are cautiously entering the Arugula star system three days after receiving a distress call from the sous-chef..."

#71 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:27 AM:

(spinach), but not so's I'd noticed. It was exceedingly pesto'd, however, and very, very, VERY green[0].

[0] The sort of brilliant green that leaves one thinking of experiments in plant biology, rain forests, and things only commonly eaten by humans seeking a major sugar high.

#72 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 07:57 AM:

Lee @47: well yes. But she apparently believed it, because she repeated the story as fact when she got home. And she is a barrister, so presumed to be intelligent.


Anyway that was quite recently. Who kidded Galsworthy in 190whatever? Perhaps it’s a long-standing Greek Cypriot slur on the Turks, although according to The Shell (haha!) Country Book, in Victorian times London dairymen beat up snails with milk and sold the white frothy result as cream.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:54 AM:

Serge #70: Captain Picard would, of course, be getting there by rocket.

#74 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:57 AM:

Fragano Ledgister@73...
He'd be getting his rock... er, never mind...

#75 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 09:05 AM:

Serge @70 Will the Away team wear necklaces of garlic?

Re volunteer plants, last year the only thing we had in our garden (a raised rectangle about 3 x 8 feet, surrounded by chicken wire to discourage the rabbits) was a riot of volunteer cherry tomatoes, presumably from the previous year. They were absolutely delicious, although the round ones were slightly better than the pear-shaped ones. A neighbor with whom we were sharing the bounty lamented that she had nurtured her tomato plants and still couldn't get much of a harvest. We had done absolutely nothing - no planting, no watering (it was an unusually rainy summer) - and had great results. (They toil not, neither do they spin...) I sometimes envy the huge old oaks in the yards in the rest of our neighborhood, but we can dry clothes on a line, we don't have to rake much in the fall, and our garden gets lots of sun.

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 09:59 AM:

OtterB @ 75... Will the Away team wear necklaces of garlic?

To fend off the too-much-salt vampire?

#77 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 10:56 AM:

The Wikipedia article for Turkish Delight gives a list of names for Turkish Delight in different languages from which I learn that the Otttomans called it 'Contentment of the Throat'. It doesn't say anything about snails (and nor does the linkmed recipe.) On the other hand it does say that tteok is the Korean for Turkish delight, which appears not to be the case, so it may not be entirely reliable....

#78 ::: tikilovegod ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:15 PM:

I made this for my wife and myself last night, and it is every bit as good as I thought it would be. Thank you so much for the recipe, Teresa.

My wife, who has never met a recipe she didn't want to tweak, wants to try substituting or adding other citrus, but I was perfectly happy with just lemon.

#79 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:19 PM:

Sounds wonderful and yummy.

Though the first thing I had to do was look up "arugula". It turns out to be what I thought was, the plant we call "rocket", which didn't help me get over my mild astonishment at the idea of a recipe that measures vegetables in *pints*

Beer, yes. Milk, yes. Water and wine, once upon a time, but these days we use litres. I can just about get my head round the idea of measuring flour or grain in pints (or bushels - which to me is a word out of the time of Shakespeare) But *leaves*???? 8-0

Would you go into the shop, sorry, store, and buy a pint of spinach or a gallon of cabbage? It just seems, well, weird.

#80 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:24 PM:

Ken, you're supposed to take a pint container and pack it solidly with arugula to get the right amount. It's pretty hard to get something leafy right by weight.

#81 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 12:45 PM:

Fruit is also sold in pints and quarts. For example, this morning at the farmers' market I bought a quart of fresh local strawberries, and four quarts of fresh local Montmorency cherries, which shall be cobbler filling just as soon as I work up the courage to pit them all. Jeez louise, what was I thinking? But oh they'll be worth it.

#82 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:02 PM:

Xopher @80 -- here, they sell a lot of loose leafy produce -- spinach, arugula, lamb's lettuce -- by weight, which always flummoxes me. I have to see the amount to decide, so always ask for handfuls. Afterwards I never remember how many grams I bought.

#83 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 01:34 PM:

I bought a (dry) pint* of grape tomatoes yesterday. And finished them for lunch today--yummy!

*Is a dry pint the same size as a regular pint? (I know the British and American pint are different sizes, so this may not be a simple question.)

#84 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 06:41 PM:

OtterB, #75, when I bought the condo, there were three azaleas under the kitchen window. I don't like azaleas, but I didn't worry about them. Within a year, volunteer English ivy came by and within three years, had killed all the azaleas. Our landscapers keep it in a bed, and I'm much happier with that than azaleas.

#85 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:06 PM:


"Fruit is also sold in pints and quarts."

and so is ludlow beer, according to housman.

#86 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2010, 08:27 PM:

Pints of leaves seem weird to me too. All the supermarkets I've seen (all in the USA) sell leafy vegetables either by weight or by piece. "Pieces" can be "heads", rubber-banded bunches, or cellophane packages (And in the last case, they're usually marked by weight as well.)

Berries (and grape tomatoes) can be sold in pints and quarts because at that scale they're approximately continuous -- the amount by count or weight in a pint will be constant to perhaps 1-3%. Apples can be sold in bushels for the same reason. But a teaspoon of raspberries or a pint of apples wouldn't work so well! For leaves, it matters how you pack them, and if you pack too hard, you'll crush them. Which might not matter for pesto, but would for other recipes!

This is an issue in baking as well, because flours can settle. Even pre-sifted flour can pack to 125% of its "fluffed" density (which is the default assumption for modern recipes). Not to mention variations between whole wheat vs. white vs. cornmeal or whatever. I much prefer to weigh my flour, indeed I bought a (better) scale, specifically for that purpose.

#87 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 01:09 PM:

kid bitzer @ 85 -

"Fruit is also sold in pints and quarts."

and so is ludlow beer, according to housman.

Orat least carried home; those apparently being the quantities necdessary for having a satisfactory malt/Milton theodicy coefficient.

#88 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 05:30 PM:


good point, praisegod. the ludlovians may have sold it only by the kilogram, and it was terence himself who provided the pint- and quart-containers as a means of conveyance homeward. (or halfway, or near).

now let's see--where did i leave my neck-tie?

(hmm...liquid volume and weight--those are the most obvious ways to sell beer. and yet they are disappointingly...obvious. what's a more novel unit by which to sell beer? one could meter it by reference to its origins. e.g., it takes a ton of hops to make so much beer, and one could sell a millionth of that amount as a micro-hop. or suppose an hectare of cultivation produces so much beer; one could ask for a square meter of beer, meaning one ten-thousandth of that amount. or one could meter it by reference to its effects, e.g. 'i'd like two headaches-'orth, please!" or by how much is required to drown a dormouse, e.g.--"could i get five dormice of the lager, please?"
there *must* be more interesting units of beer than merely liters and quarts and their conventional heirs and assigns.)

#89 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 07:14 PM:

The Chef, She Cooks Tonight


Arugula, arugula, arugula, arugula
Arugula, arugula, arugula, arugula
Arugula, arugula, arugula, arugula
Arugula, arugula, arugula, arugula

In the kitchen, the fragrant kitchen
The chef, she cooks tonight
In the kitchen, the noisy kitchen
The chef, she cooks tonight

Arugula, arugula, arugula, arugula (x4)

In the slan shack, the fannish slan shack
The chef, she cooks tonight
In the slan shack, the froody slan shack
The chef, she cooks tonight

Arugula, arugula, arugula, arugula (x4)

Hush my darling, don't fret my darling
The chef, she cooks tonight
Hush my darling, don't fret my darling
The chef, she cooks tonight

Arugula, arugula, arugula, arugula (x4)


#90 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 07:56 PM:

In the 80s, I did the same ostinato, but with

In the Village, in Greenwich Village,
The Yuppies eat tonight!

and the high bit is


#91 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 08:01 PM:

Dry pint:

Mary Aileen at 83:

Well, I would think that means it's whole berries (or fruits, or tomatoes), in which case whole berries packed into a pint container would be less than a pint's worth because the pint includes the empty spaces between them. If you mushed them all up, you could fit more stuff in the container with no space between the berries. Hence a dry pint would be somewhat less than a pint. How much less? Ask the mathematical experts on close-packed spheres.

#92 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 08:55 PM:

Erik Nelson (91): That makes sense. Thanks.

#93 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:35 PM:

I'm confused. I checked the Ludlow Brewing Co., and they say they sell carry out in firkins, kilderkins, or barrels. All of which sounds quite nice and I would love to have a large enough party to justify getting that much. Or to be close enough so I could drop in to the brewery pub for a pint. But there were no quarts that I could see.

#94 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:40 PM:

Okay, less confused now. But what are they thinking, restoring Ludlow brewing and not having quarts on the list?

#95 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 09:44 PM:

housman on ludlow beer:

#96 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 10:25 PM:

Earl, I think I've just been earwormed.

#97 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 10:45 PM:

Mark Twain taught that an earworm is best cured by contagion. For safety's sake, it's probably better to give the earworm to someone else quickly rather than let the situation build into a sneaky hate spiral. Good luck.

#98 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2010, 10:53 PM:

For those who might prefer fruit flavors in their Turkish delight-like confections, Liberty Orchards in Cashmere, WA makes candy based on Turkish delight. It used to be aplets, cotlets and grapelets, and now it's lots and lots of flavors, plus chocolate coated, and nut-free, and just about every other possibility, including, apparently, actual Turkish delight (I think cinnamon- and lemon-flavored, among others).
My recollections of visiting Liberty Orchards are of endless free samples, constantly replenished. I think it's close-ish (close-ish for inland Washington, anyway) to Leavenworth, on the outskirts of which you find the Leavenworth bakery; this bakery has an oven built by a European oven-builder, the oven reaching some outrageous temperature that does nothing but good for bread crust. Leavenworth itself adopted an "Alpine" theme some years back, resulting in a general bastard-Swiss look to all the buildings, including the supermarket and the Heidel Burger Inn. In the case of the supermarket this amounts to painting on the big supermarket glass windows, but at least they are trying.

#99 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:49 AM:

kid bitzer @ 88:

Given that champagne is sold in jeroboams, rheoboams, and (I believe) nebuchadnezzars, I think that the name for a sufficiently large (small?) volume of Ludlow beer should be a Mithradates.

#100 ::: Emi ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:22 AM:

On the subject of exotic sounding measures. If you are in Australia you can order a Pony, a Butcher(South Australia only) or a Schooner of beer 5, 7, and 10 fl oz respectively.

#101 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 06:16 AM:



#102 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 07:09 AM:

Also regularly sold in pints in English pubs: prawns. (Generally in pint or half-pint tankards.)

liquid volume and weight--those are the most obvious ways to sell beer. and yet they are disappointingly...obvious. what's a more novel unit by which to sell beer?

You could sell it by energy content.

(Volume of beer)*(percentage alcohol)*(density of alcohol)*(specific heat of combustion of ethanol)=(energy content of the alcoholic fraction of beer, considered as a fuel).

1 pint of bitter = (0.568)*(0.04)*(0.78945)*(29.7MJ/kg) = 532 kJ.
So a megajoule of beer would be just a little under a quart.

#103 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 07:36 AM:


"it's all these pints what gave me these mega-jowls!"

i was wondering about the evolution of co2. figure that every volume of beer generates such and such volume of gas, and then sell it in pico-hindenburgs. (not that a hindenburg full of co2 would have got off the ground).

alternatively, one superbowl-party's worth of beer = 1/14th of a frat-house of beer= 1/6th of an irish wake = 4/5 of an oktoberfest. the math gets fuddling.

#104 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 08:44 AM:

@101: though come to think of it, following the logic of the lyric, a Mithradates ought to be the name for a small volume of poetry...

#105 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 08:49 AM:


interesting--yes, i was wondering whether the poem also entails that malt and milton are at least commensurable, in which case you might be able to measure beer in millimiltons. "i'd like an allegro, and my date's having three lines of paradise lost, please" "what, bitters?" "no, she's got over it by now."

#106 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 09:07 AM:

103: And these measures can be subdivided:

8 berfesten = 1 oktoberfest.

7 Irish days = 1 Irish wake.

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 09:33 AM:

"The Cylon fighters are just 3 microns away from reaching Battlestar Galactica!"

"If I hold you any closer I'll be in back of you!"
- Groucho Marx

#108 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:48 AM:

@106 - if so, I'd imagine that three lines of PL would be a quantity too small to make a spider tiddly.

#109 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:05 AM:

praisegod, 108: On the contrary! The Patrilogia Latina is extremely nutrient-dense, much like Guinness--although it does tend to lead more to gravity than to giddiness.

#110 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:33 PM:

I understand that pints and quarts of Ludlow beer never make it home, but merely halfway near.

Why this may be, I leave as an exercise to the reader.

#111 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 12:37 PM:

While I was collecting pita bread and such yesterday from the local Middle Eastern grocery/deli, I happened to see several flavors of Turkish Delight, including mastic. I did not get any, but it's certainly available.

On the subject of Turkish food, what's a good modern cookbook? I have one that's roughly fifty years old by the daughter of the head Bektashi Dervish of an even earlier time, but I wonder if there's anything more up to date that's worthy.

#112 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:24 PM:

Finally tried the pesto yesterday. It is yum. But garlicky? And how!

After juicing up that lemon I was reluctant to waste the bits, so I popped them in the freezer. It's been very hot this week in Boulder. One squoze-and-frozen lemon quarter in a tall glass of water is very refreshing.

#113 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 01:57 PM:

Terry @110:

Something in the tone of that comment made me think I was in the Folksongs Are Your Friends thread.

#114 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:27 PM:

Okay, I have to ask: what is "mastic" in this context? Googling does not help; all I get for definitions are "a resin used in varnishes and lacquers" and "a pasty material used to fill gaps" (which I believe is also a definition used in dentistry). Neither one looks particularly edible, let alone of an identifiable flavor. I definitely don't want to eat something that tastes the way varnish smells!

#115 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 02:53 PM:

Terry Karney #110:

The pints and quarts of Ludlow beer
ne'er make it home, but halfway near;
'tis strange the brew that leads to bliss
should end up in the ditch as p____.

#116 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 03:01 PM:


i have eaten mastic, on the island of chios (off the turkish coast). it has traditionally been one of the island's main exports.

mastikha is the product of shrubby trees, like pine pitch. it can indeed be refined for varnishes and lacquers. but it can also be sweetened and treated as a sort of chewing-gum. when i had it, it was presented as a sort of very sweet conserve, in a dish, with a spoon and a glass of ice-water. i chewed a bit, found it intensely sweet, and pleasant enough if a bit volatile.

i believe it is a different resin from the one used in retsina wine. but it is a similar sort of acquired taste. for those not habituated to it, it is not bad, but not superb either.

on the quote from galsworthy:

" that extremely useful little animal which is made into Turkish delight"

isn't this a reference to the use of the shell of the lac-bug in making confectionary glaze? there's a good chance that you have eaten some confectionary lac in your life, e.g. if you have eaten skittles:

#117 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Same resin, also used as a flavor (I ran 'mastic flavor' through Google and got telling me that it has a 'sweet licorish-like flavor').

#118 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 03:04 PM:

Lee #114:

Riffing off an old Lonely Planet/Globetrekker in which some female goes to Greece, it's a tree resin that tastes rather like turpentine--in other words sort of retsina-like. It's also got that sort of smell, and the village where they filmed it being collected had a shop that sold all sorts of products with it in them, including soap, toothpaste and candy. Now I may know what the candy may have been, although I thought at the time that it must be a honey-based item.

#119 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 03:58 PM:


You might want to look here:

Further to what kid bitzer and PJ Evans said, it's also used, in making Turkish ice-cream. It makes the ice-cream very sticky, a fact that is typically exploited to great comic effect by local ice-cream vendors. (Am looking for video, but can't access You-Tube right now)

#120 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 05:08 PM:

joann@111: It might be "modern, heavily Turkish-influenced" rather than clearly "Turkish", but I can recommend Ana Sortun's cookbook "Spice". She's the chef at the wonderful Oleana restaurant in Cambridge, MA, and we've had many happy results starting from her book.

#121 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 05:24 PM:

abi: That made my day.

Fragano: I can see three reasons for the beer to not make it more than halfway home, yours, peristaltic reversal, and passing out.

I happen to really like that poem (I happen to really like Houseman's stuff, but that poem, in particular; I think it's the opening line, and the closing sentiment).

#122 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 07:39 PM:

Ledasmom, #98, when we were stationed close enough to Walla Walla to visit my grandparents, we'd always stop for aplets and cotlets on the way east and then west. Now I'll have to see how expensive they are to get to Virginia.

#123 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 09:04 PM:


it's my favorite housman, too. (except possibly for "fragments of a greek tragedy", for entirely different reasons).

and oddly enough, it's the "ludlow" stanza that i like the best (lines 29-42). it just feels as though the speaker swings into a new rhythm in that section.

i think it shows that i don't get the poem as a whole, or that i'm just constitutionally of a different type--when i have endured bad times, it was the middle section that helped, not the end.

#124 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:09 PM:

kid bitzer, 123: Sorry to nitpick, but it's Fragment, singular, of a Greek Tragedy.

Thine arithmetic was not quite correct....

#125 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:12 PM:

And fool that I am, I neglected to include a link to enlighten those not in the know. Here it is!

#126 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:16 PM:


you stab me to the heart--against my wish!

but that's alright--housman would have wanted that nit picked.
he was almost as picky about number and case as he was about gender--and that's no accident.

#127 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 10:32 PM:

The Paper Chase!

Yeah, I know, wrong one....

#128 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2010, 11:14 PM:

"The Paper Chase" was also the title of an episode of "Secret Agent".

#129 ::: MIchael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 07:48 AM:


Most people just download aplets off of the internet...


#130 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 11:26 AM:

@124, 126:

I feel the last lines need rewriting:

'If that be true, thy state of health is poor
But thine arithmetic is quite correct
Because for that is what they are doing.'

#131 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 02:20 PM:

Erik Nelson (#91): I don't know about pints or dry pints, but close-packed spheres can theoretically fill 74% of the space, assuming they're in an orderly structure; randomly packed spheres only fill about 64% of the space (Wikipedia). But a group at Princeton showed, a couple of years ago, that irregularly-packed oblate spheroids (M&Ms, to be precise) can approach the 74% theoretical limit even when they are jammed in. Since strawberries aren't spherical, of course (although the little wild ones are pretty close!) and the packing density varies by shape, it would be hard to predict how much space they fill.

(of course, it'd be trivial to measure it empirically, but where's the fun in that?)

#132 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 02:33 PM:

joann @ 111

I'm afraid that I can't help much on this, as my one Turkish cookbook, 'Turkish Cuisine' by Tughrul Shavkay, and published by Revak Publishing tends as much to comedy as practical kitchen advice.

From it I learn, for example, that 'Vegetables cooked in olive oil may be the heroes of vegetarian diet with high vitamin and mineral content and charming outlook'(p126) and that'Anchovies are used in many inconceivable ways'(p52). (Also to be noted: 'Figures in folk dance of this region (sc. the Black Sea coast)symbolise fidgeting anchovies.')

Sadly the title-page does not give the name of the translator. And the dish whose name is given as 'The Imam Fainted' is, it turns out, correctly rendered.

Your book sounds intriguing, on the other hand. More details?

#133 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 09:07 PM:

Terry at # 121 (or anyone): What do you understand the closing sentiment to be? I have been stuck part way through a parody of this poem for several years, mainly because I have no idea what the last part means or how it relates to the rest.

#134 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2010, 11:08 PM:


that we will make ourselves less vulnerable to the evils of life by immersing ourselves in them, as mithridates (allegedly) developed an immunity to poison by consuming it voluntarily; that we should "train for ill and not for good".

we do this by reading and writing depressing, dour poetry. the verse that terence makes is melancholy--that's the bitter stuff that he brings to sale--but it is good preparation for life, which is even more bitter.

so terence's friends complain that he only writes depressing verse, and he tells them that depressing verse is healthful--indeed, more healthful than cheerful verses, which are compared to mere temporary intoxications--just as mithridates' consumption of poison inured him to poison.

that, at any rate, is how i have understood the poem.

#135 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 05:58 AM:

Mithridates, he died old,
But lavishly, or so we’re told.
He died, by various accounts,
By poison in obscene amounts,
By blade, propelled by his own hand,
Then by a servant's, then a band
Of bystanders took spear and sword,
And yataghans and daggers. Lord!
With poison, stabbings, hack and slash
It must have been a right stramash.
Such profligacy makes you gasp.
Consider Cleopatra’s asp -
Subfusc, discreet; one must agree
It quite became a Ptolemy.
But Mithridates? Those of taste
Would frown upon so large a waste,
Would shake their heads, and look askance
At such a want of elegance.
Yet parsimony, though preferred,
Not always has the final word.
Let’s face it, if you’ve got to go,
It might as well be rococo,
Baroque, art deco, something old.
A Danish modern death’s too cold.

#136 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 07:55 AM:

Dave Luckett - fantastic!

Kid bitzer, Adam Beatty: I think kid is right for the most part, and the context clinches it - the 'Mithradates' poem comes second to last in a set of pretty miserable poems. ('The cow, the old cow she is dead/it sleeps well the horned head' is pretty good self-parody)

But: I think Housman introduces a slight sense of doubt in the last couplet. 'I hear the tale I heard told': ie this - not just the story about Mithradates, but also the theory of poetry for which it is metaphor - may just all be hearsay - the sort of story that poets like to tell, but maybe not the truth, or at least not the whole truth.

#137 ::: kid bitzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 08:20 AM:

your brilliance, dave, there's no disputin': mithridates as rasputin!

some of your word choices in that bit are just inspired--wonderfully elegant: who expected "stramash" and "subfusc" in the same lines?
as is the diction in general. e.g., your line "it quite became a ptolemy" somehow echoes, without at all quoting, the famous epitaph
"It is well done, and fitting for a princess
Descended of so many royal kings."

that's good work: boiling down two of will's best pentameters into a single tetrameter.

i'll say it again, and yataghan: your choice of words was brilliant.

#138 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 09:18 AM:

Dave @136, applause

#139 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 10:55 AM:

Dave Luckett #136: Wonderful.

#140 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 01:37 PM:

Dave @136, good jorb there.

#141 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2010, 07:09 PM:

Did Mithridates die old from a dish served cold?

#142 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 09:50 AM:

136: very good!

"A Danish modern death" now sounds fairly bloody and brutal, thanks to the efforts of Lars von Trier...

#143 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 02:20 PM:

"I tell the tale that I hear told,
Mithridates he died old."

By exposing himself to poisons, Mithridates, according to Terrence, was immune to some of the risks of kingship.

The perils of life, lost love, friends, etc., we too can innure ourselves against.

I don't think it's a perfect cure, but pollyanna is a lousy prop when the floods come, or one develops lupus, or any other of the thousand natural shocks which flesh is heir too.

Given the other options presented (happy verse, drink) awareness of the bad in life seems a small thing to spend some time on.

And, for all that the verse Terrence is accused of writing (stuff to give a chap the bellyache) is grim, the actual idea at the end seems to be one on, to me at least, of hope. Why strive to live a long life, only to be miserable.

(btw, the version of Mithridates death I heard, was that his usurping son locked him in a tower, and there was no way for him to end his misery. No knife to hand, no window to leap, and no poison to work his own demise).

#144 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2010, 07:28 PM:

allan @ 133:
It's one of my favorite poems too, and I'd say Terry's or kid bitzer's interpretations are pretty much in line with mine, including the self-parodic introduction.

I think I'd word it a little differently though, that Housman's Terrence's prescription for "poison" is not for immersion in the evils of life so much as for clear-eyed realism about them. Self-delusion is no source of strength.

Incidentally, if you're not otherwise familiar with the story of Mithridates and how he built up his immunity to poisons, it is straight out of Herodotus's Histories.* So is the final verse of another of my favorite poems in 'A Shropshire Lad', the one that begins "'tis mute the word they went to hear on old Dodona mountain."

The theme of that poem, too, I take as the worth of stoic realism in helping us confront our known shared fate:
"The king with half the east at heel has marched from lands of morning/His fighters drink the rivers up, his shafts benight the air/And he that stands will die for naught, and home there's no returning/The Spartans on the sea-wet rocks sat down and combed their hair."

Herodotus comments to the effect that the Persians were quite unable to understand the Greeks' preparation for battle, having no idea that the Greeks had already accepted their imminent death and were preparing to meet it graciously and in style.

[*] It is possible in theory, but would only work with the right kind of poisons - it would not be a good idea with cumulative poisons, which suggests an entirely different parable.

#145 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2010, 12:24 AM:

Clifton: I think you and I have much the same read. Terrence writes so much doom and gloom, because no one else will do it.

But we need not wallow in it, just sample it from time to time; that we know it is there, and others have survived it.

#146 ::: Kathryn ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2010, 02:39 PM:

This is one of the most entertaining recipes I have read and I am glad to know I am not the only one that doesn't measure everything.

Thanks for sharing this with us!

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.