Tag Archives: Davidson College

Albeit

Todd Gurley and Kelvin Bryant. We played for the same team, albeit at different times.

Cam Reddish, Mo Bamba, Daniel Ochefu. We played for the same team, albeit at different times.

Steph Curry. We played for the same team, albeit at different times and in different sports.

You see where I’m going with this. I was on a roll until I got to SE Asia.

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Apology for the liberal arts

Camus

Albert Camus

I was a French major in college. I am not good at languages, but I wanted to be part of Davidson College’s second Junior-Year Abroad group. I lived in France for a year. At one time, I knew a lot about Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud and André Breton. I would pass Jean-Paul Sartre on the street when I was in Paris. Albert Camus lived in Luberon, not that far from Montpellier where I was in school living among his Pied-Noir compatriots.

A French major. It was excellent preparation for a career as a North Carolina lawyer. (André Breton wrote The Surrealist Manifesto.)

When I graduated and returned home, I like to think I knew more about Charles Baudelaire than the average Eastern NC tobacco (les fleurs du mal) farmer.

Actually, I found a practical application for my education fairly soon. When President Nixon announced to the nation that the United States was withdrawing all its forces from Cambodia, we were ordered the next week to send a detachment from Long Binh,Viet Nam to the Phnom Penh Airport to provide communications in the aftermath of the withdrawal. We were told that we would need passports and visas and that the detachment should wear civilian clothes. (I have wondered ever since if that made us spies. (If it did, I would put that on my resumé.)) I got the visas at the Cambodian Embassy in Saigon, speaking French.

To think that public policy may now be veering away from support for liberal arts and in the direction of seeking to prepare students for somebody’s vision of the needs of the workforce is worrying.

Liberal arts are the best preparation for an uncertain future. The best preparation for life. Suppose I had found a college that prepared students to be tobacco farmers? (In those days, they tied the tobacco on sticks with string.)

We’d still be waiting for those visas.

The economics of higher education are a mess and need to be straightened out. But for those who can manage the finances, a liberal education in a residential setting under the personal leadership of a dedicated faculty is still the best way to go.

Where hummus stops

Hummus is the subject of what has become a prodigious collection of posts at this station. (Just put “hummus” in the Search box above (left) and you’ll see.)

Well, it flows like a mighty river across the Levant. But it stops at the Sea of Marmara. It does not cross the Bosphorus nor pass the Dardanelles. straits

And so hummus is not found on Greek tables — even though chicpeas are a staple of Greek cuisine. Greeks just prefer their chicpeas in soups and stews instead of bean dip.

I was led to this Greek learning upon hearing  a podcast of the poet Christopher Bakken speaking at Davidson College on March 13, 2013.

Bakken has written a book entitled Honey, Olives, Octopus – Adventures at the Greek Table  which he read from in his lecture at Davidson. He spoke of the island of Seriphos, where “the tastiest preparation of chicpeas in all of Greece was developed” and he described the dish, a version of revithia.

I was hooked. I searched the Internet high and low (not then having the term revithia, although that alone would not have sufficed), but found no recipe. So I sent a message to Bakken himself, citing his lecture and asking for help.rivithia

Bakken was great. He responded promptly, but told me that he was not aware of a published recipe other than the description of the dish and its preparation that comprise Chapter 6 of his book (“Beans: Chasing Chicpeas at Plati Yialós”). Then, he said words to the effect of “I suppose I could scan a copy of that chapter from my book and send it to you.”

Was this an generous offer from a scholar and poet who has better things to do, or was he playing me like a trout? No matter. I thanked him sincerely and snapped up a copy of the book for myself.

Now – about that chicpea dish. Well, I will tell you this: you can’t go wrong combining chicpeas and lots of onions (lots) and olive oil and water and rosemary (garlic optional) and baking them for a long time (400º). Salt, as they say, and pepper to taste. Beyond that, buy the book.

One more thing worth knowing: The early Greeks had communal ovens for baking bread and they had clay for making pots. When the bread was done, the ovens were still hot, so they developed the practice of putting great casseroles of vegetables, oil, water and herbs in to bake in the heat left after the bread came out. Knowing that makes it taste better, I think.

Thanks to Christopher Bakken.