Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Toasted cheese


Yesterday's post-count of 1666 put me in mind of the Great Fire of London, and that - in turn - put me in mind of Samuel Pepys and his wonderful diaries.

Pepys did two distinct things when the fire crept nearer to his home in Axe Yard - he buried a huge and expensive Parmesan Cheese in the back yard of the house, and he sent his wife to a place of relative safety a few miles away whilst he helped the King of England to set an example to the rest of the populace by actually pulling down a wooden building with ropes as a fire-break. Can you imagine a King going out and rolling his shirtsleeves up in London should such an event occur today?

Also, I didn't realise that Parmesan Cheese was available in England in 1666 - I bet dried pasta or tinned tomatoes weren't.

Of course, Pepys being Pepys, his prime concern when sending his wife away from the conflagration was that she guarded his stash of gold coins - many thousands of pounds-worth - against theft from the relatives of the house where he sent her.

When he went to visit some time after the fire began to subside, he obviously asked to see the money so he could check it by counting it. His wife told him that she and the relative had buried it for safety against his specific instructions, and when he asked where, she pointed to a large tract of desolate land.

He went to the land with a spade to dig it up, but his wife and the relative had forgotten to mark the spot, and not only that but they also informed him that they had split the stash up into many different quantities and buried them in many different places, just in case one should be discovered. That way, she explained, they would not lose the lot.

Pepys spent several days from dawn to dusk, digging random holes in the wasteland until he had uncovered all but a few hundred pounds worth of gold coins, then cut his losses by giving up searching for the remainder. He had to go back to town to earn some more, and to hang around in the suburbs would have cost him more in the long-run.

Somewhere South of the river in old London town, there lies - probably beneath a high-rise apartment block inhabited by hoodies - an undiscovered stash of gold which once used to belong to Samuel Pepys.

I think the Parmesan survived, but even if he had not dug it up, it would be inedible by now.

9 comments:

  1. I do that with my husbands money …… it also seems to be a few hundred short when he digs it up !!!!
    The cottage that we lived in before our present Victorian house was built in 1657, just before the Great Fire of London ….. I could never get over that !! Maybe the Parmigiano Reggiano would have improved with age although, I don't think that I'd fancy it over my Spag Bol !! XXXX

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  2. And here's me all ready with my mouth watering to read a post about cheese, bubbling and browning on a slice of thick, white bread.

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    1. If you don't stop weaver, I'll have to slap you

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  3. I bet that "the relative" dug most of it back up as soon as the sun had set.

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    1. An unworthy thought, Iris - but realistic.

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  4. If he wasn't sprinkling it on his pasta, I wonder how he WAS using it. Get researching Mr Stephenson (or whoever you REALLY are....).

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    1. Probably, like me, he ate lumps of it with Bath Oliver biscuits. It's not just for pasta.

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    2. When I have the time, Em, or whoever you are.

      Dr Oliver was born about 100 years after Pepys, and Pepys was naval, so it may have been ship's biscuits.

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