14 October 2010

14 October - Chilean Miners; Battle of Hastings

All of the Chilean miners are back on the surface and safe, thank God!  Watching the rescue has been very emotional and intense - real edge-of-seat fare, with prayers and encouraging words for all involved.  Congratulations to the miners, their families, the rescue teams, and the people of Chile for a job well done!

Time to celebrate!  One aunt said that she would feed her nephew "champagne and bits of roast chicken", which sounds good enough for dinner tonight (I love roast chicken).  Or have Empanadas de Pino (Chilean Empanadas) which look like the traditional Miners' Pasties to me.

And champagne.  We are celebrating!

Today, in 1066, after months of planning and waiting, the forces of William, Duke of Normandy engaged those of Harold, King of England, and as we all know, William was victorious, thereby earning the appellation "The Conqueror" and a coronation on the following Christmas Day.

While this historic contest is referred to as "The Battle of Hastings", the actual fighting took place a few miles to the north at Senlac Hill.  King Harold and his army, which had just repulsed an invasion by the Viking King Harald Hardrada in the north of England and then hurriedly marched south to meet this new invasion, took up a good defensive position.  It might have worked.  It didn't.  King Harold and much of his Anglo-Saxon army were cut down over the course of the day.

William had to do a bit more 'persuading' as he marched north to London before the English were ready to accept him as their king, but by early December, they had been convinced - and thus ended the last successful invasion of England.

The Bayeux Tapestry (which you can see here in its entirety with very good commentary) is perhaps the most well known 'history' of the events leading up to and including the battle.  One of the panels shows William and his brother, Bishop Odo, at dinner after landing in England.  We see cooks with a cauldron suspended over a fire - perhaps for boiling beef or pork? - and a box-like contraption standing on three legs over another cooking fire.  The author calls it an oven; others have interpreted it to be a kind of barbecue.  Servants carry meat on skewers to the diners, including what looks like a fowl of some kind.  What other dishes are on the table is anybody's guess.

A good dinner to have tonight would be a small chicken or game hen roasted on a spit or rotisserie, a dish of mushrooms and leeks, or carrots, seasoned with herbs, and slices of sourdough bread.

And wine.  Or beer.  Or ale.  No water.