Thursday, November 03, 2005

Food and Drink, and My Baby and Me

I've often said that among the things that brought my wife Kerstin and I together are a mutual appreciation for fresh seafood, particularly sushi and oysters on the half shell, and a good stiff drink here and there. In honor of my dear redhead's birthday today (don't worry, dear, there'll be gifts to unwrap later), I note the important contributions of two fellow November 3 birthdays to the wonderful worlds of food and drink.

On the side of liquid lubrication, today is the 119th anniversary of the birth of Manhattan lawyer and cocktail enthusiast David Embury. Embury, as readers of this space will recall, was a senior tax attorney with the venerable firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt and Mosle, but is better remembered as the author of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948). See my previous post, "Cocktail Rules," for a brief review of that excellent and highly recommended work. Mr. Embury was born on this day in 1886 in Pine Woods, New York, and passed away on July 6, 1960 in New Rochelle, New York.

From the world of food, today is the 287th anniversary of the birth of British Secretary of State and First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, better known as the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Sandwich took his seat in the House of Lords at age 21 and became a commissioner of the Admiralty. In 1763, he garnered some bad publicity over his role in the prosecution of his former drinking buddy, John Wilkes, on charges of obscenity, earning the turncoat nickname of "Jemmy Twitcher," from John Gay's The Beggar's Opera. This and a rather notorious affair with a 17-year old singer named Martha Ray who was later shot and killed by a jealous suitor seem to have made him unpopular, a fact which may have unfairly obscured his genuine accomplishments. His two turns as First Lord of the Admiralty are generally considered to have been unsuccessful, his enemies charging that under his watch unseaworthy, poorly equipped ships were sent into battle -- although some commentators observe that, while his administration may have been corrupt, the real problem was that he was shackled by the tight budget given to the Navy by Lord North. One mariner, Captain James Cook, certainly appreciated his administration, and named the Sandwich Islands after him, but they were later to be renamed as the Hawaiian Islands.

Sandwich's surest claim to fame (apart from being portrayed by Bill Murray in a memorable SNL sketch which featured the deathless line, "Give me a Sandwich and a Douchebag, and there is nothing I cannot do") -- is the invention of the sandwich, a toasted bread-and-salt beef convenience food he is said to have concocted in order to enjoy a meal without the necessity of leaving the gambling table; apologists point out it was just as likely that he enjoyed his fast-food while working long hours at his desk in the Admiralty.

Despite his connection with the Admiralty, unfortunately there is no evidence that Sandwich ever tried putting fried haddock, or any other sea creature for that matter, between two pieces of bread.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Fathead said...

Happy Birthday to "Sharon Stone."

Also, I've learned more from your blogging than I did in four years of high school history...keep up the great work!

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Dad said...

Ron/Dad All this talk about food and violance and bearthdays and on such a great occation as [My wonderful red head] who has a birthday to day. Happy birthy Kirsten*******

12:42 AM  

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