29 January 2011

29 January - Edgar Allan Poe; Welsh Rabbit

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore;
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "Tapping at my chamber door -
Only this and nothing more."

Today in 1845, The Raven, a poem by Edgar Allan Poe, was published under his own name.  It was immediately successful, and led to further publication of collections of his poems and stories.  In spite of this new popularity, Poe still could not make a living of his writing.

[From what I've read of his life, I think he was like a lot of us - extremely good at what he did, but could never get paid for it]

You can read the rest of the poem, along with other poems and his short stories at PoeStories.com, a delightful website full of Poe-iana, including the poem, A Valentine.  Try your hand at deciphering the name of the person to whom the valentine was written.  If you think you are good at cryptology (no, it has nothing to do with some long-haired death's-head announcing his 'Tales') read The Gold Bug and solve the mystery. ["The Gold Bug" should have been part of your childhood reading, but if it wasn't, repair the omission now]

And if you think Mr. Poe only wrote tales of horror, read "Some Words with a Mummy", a perfect anodyne to an evening spent reading Berenice, The Masque of the Red Death, or The Premature Burial.

So tonight, raise a glass of Amontillado to a Master Storyteller.
A light supper of course.  I am exceedingly fond of Welsh rabbit.  More than a pound at once, however, may not at all times be advisable.  Still, there can be no material objection to two.  And really between two and three, there is merely a single unit of difference. I ventured, perhaps, upon four. My wife will have it five; -- but, clearly, she has confounded two very distinct affairs. The abstract number, five, I am willing to admit; but, concretely, it has reference to bottles of Brown Stout, without which, in the way of condiment, Welsh rabbit is to be eschewed.  From Some Words with a Mummy.


Shred 1/2 pound of sharp Cheddar cheese.  Beat 1 egg lightly.

In a heavy skillet, melt the cheese over very low heat (very. low. heat.), stirring the whole while.  As it melts, add 1/3 cup of milk, stirring to blend.  Then stir in 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire, 1/4 teaspoon of dry mustard, and a dash of cayenne.

Add the egg and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and thickened.   Serve on toast with bottles of Brown Stout on the side "without which, in the way of condiment, Welsh rabbit is to be eschewed."

I cannot say that I was alarmed at the phenomenon, because "alarmed" is, in my case, not exactly the word. It is possible, however, that, but for the Brown Stout, I might have been a little nervous.  

[Brown Stout has its uses]