Memories are tricky, because at each age one views a flashback differently. At the very moment we experience any happening we feel it with passion, anger or joy. Years later we may not have these strong emotions only a recall of the emotions. We may look at the event with greater maturity, greater compassion. Did your parents ever admonish, “Just wait until you have children.” They were implying that we would someday repoed a particular happening with their perspicacity.
Cruelty imposed in school, by politics, family, sometimes by friends all have a little niche in our minds. But there are joyous, happy memories too. Which ones pop up more? And when do they choose to patter into our minds?
Memories usually visit me while I am hiking alone. I have witnessed a lot in my life, regrettably not all principled. Fortunately life itself has been good to me.
India: Finding Peace by Edith Lynn Beer
Special to Steamboat Magazine
If you notice two women in saris walking down Lincoln Avenue, that’s probably Barbara Reynolds and me, both devoted Steamboat Springs locals sporting our latest globetrotting souvenirs.
A year ago Barbara lost her husband, Bill, and wanted to forget she was having a landmark birthday in December without him. I wanted to go to India. So I suggested that we get out of town together.
We landed in Mumbai – formerly known as Bombay – India’s largest city with a population of more than 13 million. We were quickly introduced to India’s constant, in-your-face poverty, overloaded motorcycles and honking mini-cars maneuvering within a hairbreadth of fellow drivers, pedestrians and revered cows lying in the streets. We flew from city to city to see erotic Tantric Yogi carvings, sacred caves and hanging gardens. We were moved by the view of the Taj Mahal. We stood on the site where Buddha gave his first lecture. We boated on the Ganges River where people bathe, worship and bury the ashes of their dead.
Our frantic itinerary helped Barbara cope with her loss and me fulfill my hyper craving for travel.
It was Barbara’s wish that we celebrate her birthday on a tiger reserve, preferably on a boat. Thus it was arranged that a driver bring us to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady in Kerala, one of the 28 states of India, in the southern part of the country. We left from Madurai, an overcrowded city known for its old Hindu temples, many ornately carved and some painted garishly.
Our driver maneuvered in paved roads, and if there was gridlock, thought nothing of traversing the wrong side while blowing his horn so that cars coming in the opposite direction would know to drive in the gutter or, if there was one, on the sidewalk. In the small villages people smiled at us. When we stopped, kids crowded around us, wanting to know where we were from and acting pleased that they could talk to people from so far away. Then they asked for a souvenir: a pencil, a postcard or shampoo samples from our hotel. As we continued to drive, we noted more substantial looking houses. There were fields of rice and banana trees. The last part of the trip, the driver negotiated narrow hairpin curves to reach our destination, 2,700 feet above sea level. On each side were evergreens and large rocks where red monkeys showed their teeth, like a smiling welcoming committee.
In Thekkady we slept in a thatched roofed hut on stilts close to the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary and Tiger Reserve. While tigers know no boundaries, they detest interacting with humans. To leave our hut we had to manage a narrow, steep path flanked by fruit and teak trees and fragrant coffee, cardamom and pepper plants. We could hear but not see the red Nilgiri monkeys, which was just as well. We were told that they don’t show their teeth out of happiness.
The next morning we launched on the artificial lake inside the national park. The reservoir is in the heart of the park and surrounded by lush wooded hills, home to not only tigers but to herds of elephant, sambar – a dark brown Asian deer – gaur or wild ox, the largest of all wild cattle, and wild pigs. As we waited to board our launch, the people coming off the earlier trip told us they hadn’t seen anything.
Discouraged but determined, we sat ourselves in comfortable chairs on the roof of the boat. We were surrounded by Indian families on vacation. The couple next to us mentioned that they were on their honeymoon. After each of their parents had introduced them to several suitable prospects, they had chosen each other. The husband informed me that he worked in outsourcing, answering questions about Medicare. “Oh,” I smiled, “I have probably talked to you on the phone.” We were interrupted by someone shouting, “Look! A wild boar.” Snap, snap went the cameras. “Look elephants.”
Barbara whispered to me, “My kind of animals. They don’t get up for the early boat ride.”
It was an early birthday present for Barbara. Two days later, on her actual birthday, we again sat in a car bouncing along bumpy roads to Cochin. I noticed she was smiling.
Kiwi Cuisine by Edith Lynn Beer
Special to TWA Inflight Magazine
Before becoming an independent member of Great Britain’s Commonwealth, New Zealand was a British colony, and its cuisine has an English heritage. However, the country’ abundant varieties of fruits, vegetables and fish have encouraged recipes unique to New Zealand. Even such English standbys as hot meat pies are offered “dressed,” meaning the crust is topped with fresh tomatoes, cheese and hearty mashed potatoes.
New Zealanders add fresh fruit and vegetables to every possible dish. One of the national dishes is pumpkin soup made with pureed pumpkin, soup stock, herbs, orange juice and cream, and thickened with kumara, a sweet potato. It is not unusual to find lunch menus listing sandwiches filled with pineapple and banana, or layered with red beet, sweet onions, sprouts, tomatoes and slivers of carrots. Sandwich lovers also praise “toasties,” two slices of bread stuffed with vegetables such as fresh com kernels and tomatoes, then placed in a machine similar to an iron waffle, and toasted and pressed together. The. newcomer is usually surprised at how good these unusual combinations taste. The bread is thick, crunchy and multigrained, containing linseed and specks of the dark New Zealand grain, kibble wheat. Meat and cheese combinations are also on the menu.
Shops along the highways sell sauces made of tamarillos-tree-tomatoes-jars of kiwi-butter jam and varieties of English chutney. Each jar is labeled with the ingredients and signed by the maker. Chutneys are interestingly combined with a vegetable or fruit such as pineapple, cauliflower or the local fruit feijoa.
New Zealanders claim to consume the most sheep meat in the world; each one chews his way through 80 pounds a year. Lamb is considered best when four-six months of age, milk-fed and grass-finished. Mutton 2-3 years old is less expensive and tends to be used for stew. Because New Zealanders travel so much abroad, and because foreign chefs in the past 20 years have sought to work in new world cuisine, lamb is no longer a dull roast. Foreign executive chefs have composed mustard sauces, sabayon with chestnuts and such marinates as raspberry vinegar and tarragon to complement the meat. Strips of lamb are often braided and cloves of garlic placed between them, then baked in a sauce. Smoked lamb as well as lamb brains delicately sautéed in butter and herbs are served as appetizers.
New Zealand has also moved on to other forms of ranching. Their cattle farms are rich and their milk is the source of some of the finest gourmet cheeses and ice creams. Many a diet has been known to be ruined by the temptation of Hokey Pokey ice cream, a rich vanilla heavily laced with caramel.
Deer farms are also successful. Unlike wild venison, the farm-raised game is tender and mild, and since its intake can be controlled, it is lower in fat and cholesterol than most meats.
Except for the fruits of a mixed evergreen forest and some lizards, frogs, birds and bats, little save fish was edible when the first Maori, a group from the Polynesian race, arrived in approximately 970 A.O. Their method of cooking with a hangi is still popular today, especially at outdoor parties. A hangi is an oven dug into the ground and layered with stones. When the stones are red hot, the food, wrapped in leaves, is buried in the pit until cooked. Meat and fish doused with all kinds of homegrown herbs become delicacies when cooked this way.
Because New Zealand is the meeting place of warm and cool currents, a great variety of fish is found in its waters. Tropical species such as tuna, marlin and some big game sharks are also attracted by warm currents which are populated by snapper, trevally and kahawai. The Antarctic cold currents, on the other hand, bring the blue and red cod, orange rough and the hake; while some fish tolerant to a considerable range of water temperatures tarakihi, grouper and bass-are found off the entire coastline. Flounder and sole abound on tidal mudflats, and crayfish (a rock lobster) are prolific in rocky areas off the coastline. Seafood lovers a\so search out the paua, a black-skinned abalone that is deliciously tender and succulent. Its shell, a shimmering green-black, is used for jewelry. Although fish are plentiful, New Zealand has developed aquaculture on South Island, breeding salmon in the bay of Akaroa and eels from Lake Ellesmere.
The first Europeans who came in 1642 wanted more than fish and wild birds. What was not indigenous to the country was imported; some animals, such as the opossum and rabbit, were let loose in the wild, but most were successfully raised on farms, as were fruit and vegetables. The tamarillo and choko came from South America. Apples from various parts of the world have been grafted and developed to a unique New Zealand taste. Good examples are the distinctly sweet Royal Gala, which is bright red and striped, and the Braebum, known to be tangy and tart. Not so many years ago the Chinese gooseberry came from China. New Zealand farmed it successfully but no.one would import it, saying it would never sell with such a politically “red” name. The name has since been changed to kiwi-the name of New Zealand’s large, flightless bird and a nickname used for New Zealanders.
New Zealand consists of two main islands, North Island and South Island, located in the South Pacific. Its closest neighbor, Australia, is a thousand miles away. The total land area is about twice the size of England. Talk to New Zealanders and they will discuss their foods with pride and tell you what has been introduced on which island. South Island, having colder winters (in July and August), is abundant in apples, pears, apricots, peaches, cherries and plums, as well as barley and hops. On the West Coast, native forests and flowers provide kamahi, rata and much-prized manuka honey. South Island has the country’s highest mountain, Mt. Cook, which rises over 12,000 feet; the terrain in this area is suitable for sheep, goat and deer grazing. The meat of the chamois, an alpine goat, is considered a delicacy there.
North Island’s climate is milder. This fact allowed settlers to introduce a diversity of subtropical fruits, vegetables and berries. Travel to its sparkling wine and has established a vineyard in Blenheim on South Island; he is the son of the Le Brun vintners of Epernay, France. The Giesen family sold all their vineyards in Germany and moved to the Canterbury area on South Island. When the Queen of England visited last February, the Giesen Wine Estate supplied the Riesling Dry for one of the luncheons.
Both islands have vineyards and all vineyards welcome guests to tastings. The favored wine-growing areas on North Island are on the East Coast around Gisborne and Hawke Bay.
Wine connoisseurs are known to follow a so-called wine trail, visiting all the neighboring vineyards and, stopping overnight in the local inns. But 20 years ago no one thought much of New Zealand wine. The country had grown mostly hybrid grapes to produce sherries and ports. It was said that the New Zealanders themselves didn’t drink it, preferring beer.
In 1975 the Wine Institute was founded to represent New Zealand wine companies. The Institute oversees the coveted Air New Zealand Wine Awards. Since the founding of The Institute, important viticulture and winemaking regulations have been structured to enhance the industry. One thing that has changed is the practice of watering down wine, once used by many of the wineries to stretch their sales. The Institute worked with the government to change this, and in 1982, The New Zealand Food and Drug Regulations acted to permit only 50 milliliters of water per liter of wine.
Today, it cannot be denied that the New Zealand wine industry, as well as its cuisine, is gaining worldwide respect. After tourism, agriculture is already the country’s biggest industry.
Swiss School for Housewives: Local Woman Recalls Hausfrau Training Abroad Where Feminine Outlook Offers Sharp Contrast
Published in the Sunday Hartford Courant Magazine
(This is a portion of an article published when women in Switzerland had no voting rights. No girl was given a high school diploma unless she had passed a home economics course which included cooking, cleaning, laundry, and a slew of other chores of which I had never thought. Switzerland gave women the federal vote in 1971. Each Canton decided on its own whether to permit women the local vote. The last Canton which refused to give them that right was forced by the federal government to give them the full voting rights in 1991.)
The first time, though, the different outlooks of running a household <in a country where women had no voting rights> really struck me was when I attended the “Haushaltungsschule des Frauenvereins” (Women’s League Household School) in Zurich.
I was fresh out of college and had come to Zurich for the summer to visit my family. However, I didn’t want to be idle. Since the University gave no summer courses and I had no working permit, I decided to attend the only summer school available which would also let me get to know some of the young people my age, namely the household school. The European cuisine had always appealed to me, and I had visions of serving delectable souffles back home.
The Haushaltungsschule consisted of a succession of rectangular, yellowish stone buildings, whose severity was only broken by a few window box flowers. The small garden also lined with flowers had a vegetable patch and a series of clothes lines. The inside of the building had a typical institutional atmosphere - long corridors, spotless offices, and naturally many kitchens, dining rooms, sewing rooms — all free of decorations except for what I presumed to be “home made” curtains and drapes.
Classes were five days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a lunch break depending on how fast we finished the dishes. It seemed quite a load compared to my 25 hour of classes per week at college or a nine to five job back home. The girls who wore no lipstick and had on straight, standard aprons of sturdy striped cotton or hand woven and hand embroidered linen, were prepared to take this course as seriously as a bread winner his profession.
I learned how to make my soufflé, a good cheese one. We had to grate the cheese ourselves, even though the groceries carried grated cheese. It seemed the school went out of its way to make sure that we didn’t shirk any work.
For example, the day before laundry day, which is a long, exhaustive process, our cooking teacher announced that she wanted to teach us to make a “simple” meal.
Her choice was a “wahe,” a delicious yeast crust which can be filled with anything edible. She suggested heartily left over vegetables since meat is expensive in Switzerland, and the “Haushaltungsschule” teaches its girls emphatically to economize. The object though is that “wahe,” as all yeast doughs, requires much kneading and pounding. Why not save all that toil for a more leisurely part of the week and just eat the vegetables warmed up? As the course went on, I was to learn more and more that the Swiss housewife considers no amount of work hard .
Once when we made a torte, I was asked to blend the ingredients with a wooden spoon. As my arm ached, I asked our instructor on what speed I would turn my mixer at home. Unfeelingly she informed me that you do not trust good eggs and sugar to a machine.
Every little household detail was gone over – laundry, child care, sewing, mending, furniture care, floor scrubbing, and even shoe polishing which the Swiss woman does so faithfully for her husband and children that there isn’t a shoeshine boy on the streets. I was amazed to learn that one can wash the heavy shoes on the outside and then massage the leather dry before polishing it.
I asked our cleaning instructor, a dapper girl in her twenties, if she had ever heard of liquid shoe polish which would eliminate all the applied force. I received such a cold no for an answer that I not only wondered if they would actually give me my certificate at the end of the six weeks, but also didn’t dare try to modernize the school’s methods again.
They discouraged the use of finished products wherever possible and taught us to rely on the means that actually our grandmothers used. It wasn’t necessary to buy a special cream for patent leather shoes. Milk cleans just as well. A chamois cloth and elbow grease is better than furniture polish. We spent afternoons washing and waterproofing raincoats and wind jackets, and dry cleaning and pressing men’s heavy winter suits.
As far as laundry goes the word washing machine was never even whispered. In the special cement floored “Waschkueche” (laundry kitchen) which had a long row of deep tin sinks we would soak the sample laundry, then in an old fashioned kettle on a special stove we would boil all the linen that could stand it, turning them all the while with a huge wooden spoon. All pieces were also rubbed on a scrubbing board. The stubborn spots were placed wet directly in the sun to receive only nature’s own bleach.
The school’s philosophy didn’t seem congruous with the country’s high standards of living. My own family in Switzerland wouldn’t dream of using canned or frozen foods, but they had a washing machine, dishwasher and a mixer. The stores were full of personable demonstrators exhibiting with much showmanship household appliances. These demonstrations are almost like matinees for the Swiss women who would stand and marvel before they would go for their afternoon coffee at one of the pastry shops.
If there was time left over after eating our lunch and cleaning up we would go to the cafe across the street. There, from the girls’ conversations, I learned that two types were attending the school, those engaged and those waiting for a match or chance meeting with the right one. To all of them, however, it was a serious responsibility to be able to run a household properly.
Even though the state does not give any high school girl her degree until she has passed the public school’s home economics course, (the educators consider managing a household as the basis of a healthful nation) these girls did not even find that sufficient. My colleagues had had been educated by their mothers and schools to agree with the Swiss men who continually deny their women suffrage rights that a wife’s interest belongs primarily in her family and household. Therefore, home economics plays as an important role to the Swiss girl as college, a job or her political rights does to an American girl.
I also found the students had no objections to the old fashioned ways of the “Haushaltungsschule.” It didn’t bother them that the side boards of the kitchen sink were made of wood which had to be rubbed dry after each washing to keep it from rotting. Certainly the school could afford to replace them, but the girls firmly agreed that no matter how many servants or machines one has at home, they should know how to do things for themselves, because you never can tell when you’ll have to know how.
After I completed the course I felt that I had an insight into Switzerland’s famous cleanliness and well being which came not from its high standard of living, but from a toilsome foundation.
Note: Today the Swiss public schools teach home economics to both boys and girls. I have heard from some of the boys that they find knowing how to sew a button back on a shirt quite helpful. Sounds like they may even help the women with the housework.
Living Near the U.N. And Loving It (Usually)
Published in Newsday (The pandemic has changed much as well as political threats. However, nothing stays the same and tours, cafeterias as well as gift shops will be available again)
By Edith Lynn Beer
Living at 48th Street and First Avenue, one block from the United Nations, I have over the years developed an “I love it but do I really need it?” relationship with the international organization and the five-block area it encompasses.
I am not talking about the political aspect [that’s too complicated], but the dynamics of being close to the institution. Living near the United Nations, one develops “street smarts” and learns to anticipate important news events before they hit the media.
Consider the significance of portable toilets. Any organization may stage a protest at the United Nations as long as it gets a permit from the police. Demonstrating organizations traditionally provide portable toilets. Consequently, when I see trucks delivering portable toilets on Thursday or Friday, I decide that the moment has come to visit my long-neglected Aunt Clara.
Or, consider the disappearance of mailboxes. When the letter boxes on the corner of our block are removed, I know the president will be coming within a few days. U.S. security forces never remove the boxes for anyone else. The apparent reason for the removal is the fear that someone could place a bomb in a letter box.
Policemen assigned to the United Nations always smile, as if their duties were a welcome change from New York’s other problems. They never voice an opinion, and treat all demonstrators with dignity.
When Iran and Iraq were at war, both sides decided to demonstrate on the same day. It was an emotionally charged demonstration, with each group trying to outshout the other. The police, sensing that the groups might go for each other’s throats, separated them. One group was steered south of 46th Street and the other was herded up a closed ramp at 47th Street. The improvised borders were reinforced by portable railings, which were, in turn, bolstered by police on horseback.
I noted that the police allowed demonstrators to leave the designated areas only to visit a portable or to buy food. What amazed me was that each person who left the demonstration was subdued until returning.
Those of us living next to the demonstration area either put cotton in our ears, visit an aunt or go down to stroll among the demonstrators.
There’s another side to the United Nations. I have come to look upon it as an unexpected convenience and an extension to my small apartment. On Sunday, when the post offices are closed, I can take my packages and letters to the U.N. post office. Not only have I taken care of a Monday chore, but my mail receives the special U.N. stamps.
The cafeteria, unfortunately, is a cheerless room, so I don’t stop for coffee. Instead, I go to the gift shops, which have unusual souvenirs from countries represented in the United Nations. As I browse, I remember who needs a birthday gift.
If it is raining, I sometimes stop at the chapel representing all faiths and absorb the peace and quiet. On a sunny day, I walk in the U.N. garden. First, I’ll walk on the esplanade along the East River, and then I’ll go to the grassy part where the children have their own enclave. One day I came upon a small close hidden by thick, lush trees and lined with curved stone benches. An inscription there informs us that the area is dedicated to Eleanor Roosevelt.
Proximity to the United Nations has helped me solve one problem familiar to Manhattanites: coping with visitors. Friends I haven’t heard from in years will phone and beg: “Please, just a night or two.” These friends don’t care where I live, and the first-timers don’t even know how near I am to the United Nations.
Having only one bedroom; I will patiently wait until guests are dressed and then suggest that they take the U.N. tour. “A must,” I assure them, “for all tourists.”
In the time it takes for one tour, I can shower, dress, make my bed and put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher.
My guests always come back with statistics and other nuggets of information that have nothing to do with my experiences with my international neighbor. No tour guide mentions the convenience of the post office or the significance of the portable toilets. But who knows, maybe someday I’ll take the tour myself and learn all the things one is supposed to know about the United Nations.
Hmmm, you of a certain age remember when you used to stand in line to go to a movie. published in The Sunday New York Times.
Once Upon A Time At The Movies
”WHAT, again?” my mother used to exclaim. ”You went last week. You’ll grow up stupid!”
It was a weekly argument my mother and I had when I grew up in the 1940’s in the Five Towns <on Long Island>. The argument was whether I was to be permitted to join my friends at the Cedarhurst Movie Theater, the only movie house in all of the Five Towns. (I read recently that the theater has been converted into a shopping center – a little bit of news that released this flood of memories.) ”That movie house is a baby sitter for all the parents who want to get rid of their kids on Saturday,” my mother used to protest while I silently prayed, ”Why can’t my parents be like other parents?”
The only way I would get to the theater, I knew, was to convince my mother how educational the movies were. Consequently I would prepare arguments as to what ”Tarzan,” ”The Thin Man,” ”Love Crazy” or ”Casablanca” had to offer an 11- or 12-year-old girl.
Getting permission, however, was the least of my problems. One had to have a ”date” with a girlfriend. The one you went to the movie with determined your popularity.
These dates were arranged no more than two days in advance. Sometimes if there was an important football game in our small private school, the Woodmere Academy, we would opt to go to the football game rather than the movies. However, if it rained unexpectedly, ”dates” had to be arranged hurriedly in the morning.
During the 40’s most people had only one phone number, and the stock market used to stay open on Saturdays until noon. That meant I had to make my calls quickly while my father groaned that he could not even call his broker on the one day he had time to talk to him.
The ”date” started with lunch at one or the other’s house, and one parent driving us to the movie. We would spot our friends from school and stand in line with them. Out of the corner of our eyes we would notice, too, if any of the boys we knew had come to the movies.
I was very much influenced by the movies, and perhaps that is what my mother disapproved of. Sometimes I wore my hair over one eye like Veronica Lake; other times I tried an upsweep. I bought all the movie magazines and after reading all the gossip about my idols cut out the pictures and pasted them in a scrapbook.
In private I wrote preposterous short stories to be sent to Hollywood. Years later, re-reading these efforts, I recognized rehashed plots of my favorite movies.
Much, much later, when our marriage was breaking up, the marriage counselor said, ”We want to keep in mind that your generation was influenced by those romantic movies where all was glamour and perfect love.”
My first love was Gregory Peck. He was – for a young girl – a safe love up there on the screen. Of course, I was dreaming about the future -what was possible once I got out of the Five Towns.
Because the Five Towns had no other entertainment than the Cedarhurst Movie Theater, it was our only release from the weekly routine of homework, gym and home. It made us laugh, cry, cheer and at times gave us nightmares. It assured us that romance was around the corner and that the good guys always win, and reminded us that even though our lives were tranquil, the world was at war.
Perhaps it is only right that if the theater had to go, it should be converted into a shopping center. Don’t we in a sense shop to project our dream of how we would like to see ourselves?
But I have another dream – a wish as unrealistic as the movies we used to watch. I hope that at night, when they lock up the shopping center, Gregory Peck, Hedy Lamarr, Richard Conte, Veronica Lake, Cary Grant and all the rest with their wonderful romantic stories come right through the walls to haunt the place.