The Platinum Jubilee Proof Is In The Pudding

Are you jubilant about the Platinum Jubilee? What better way to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s unprecedented 70 years on the throne than to create her very own pudding (pudding???) to honor her. A baking competition is now underway across the United Kingdom to determine what kitchen masterpiece will be fit, not for just any queen, but their long-reigning queen.

Those of us here across the pond may be ignorant of the upcoming milestone event. As of February 6, 2022, 95 year old Queen Elizabeth (a/k/a Prince William and Prince Harry’s grandmother) will have officially been on the throne for SEVENTY years. As a young woman, Elizabeth ascended to the throne upon the unexpected death of her father, King George VI, in 1952. But, because planning takes time of course, she was not formally crowned until June 6, 1953.

As we all know, England has been around for a very long time. Thus, for Elizabeth to be the first British monarch to have remained on the throne for 70 years is a big accomplishment. Runner up? Queen Victoria came in a distant second in this category having served as queen for almost 64 years.

Queen Elizabeth’s monumental achievement has been a long (really long!) time coming, so one day is simply not enough to give it the recognition it deserves. Thus, the celebratory events will last for several months beginning in February and climaxing on Jubilee Weekend (6/2 through 6/5), and finally concluding on Sunday, June 5th.

While the typical concerts, parades, and services will be a part of the festivities, a creative twist sets this Jubilee apart from prior ones. A Platinum Pudding Competition is included. Entrants around the U.K. ages 8 and up have the opportunity to come up with a brand new, “perfect” platinum pudding recipe. But the clock is already ticking since the deadline for entries is February 4th.

From the submissions received, five finalists will be selected for a final round in March. These lucky bakers will cook live for an elite panel of judges in the Fortnum & Mason store in central London. Among the judges are the head chef from Buckingham Palace, Great British Bake Off judge Dame Mary Berry, and MasterChef: The Professionals judge Monica Galetti. Yes, its a tough job to taste and judge desserts, but someone has to do it; these brave judges will do so for Queen and country.

The winning recipe will be shared with the public. A mass consumption of the Platinum perfect pudding will occur on Sunday, June 5th when Big Jubilee Lunches are set to be held across the country. Over 200,000 neighborhood lunch events are anticipated in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland at which the new pudding will be served. These meals are a chance for citizens to share food in an activity promoting community and friendship. (Weight watching is apparently not an aim since a scrumptious dessert dedicated to the monary is to be served. Who can refuse that course?)

As an American, I just can’t see why a pudding, newly created or not, would be such a big deal. I mean would the Queen dance a jig over getting to eat pudding at a celebration? I wouldn’t. Has anyone really ever eaten a container of Jell-O Pudding at some momentous event?

Well, that thinking simply shows my ignorance. Apparently “pudding” is synonymous with dessert in Britain. And Brits would call what Americans think of as pudding “custard.” Yes, words matter. In England, “puddings” come in all sorts of varieties–baked, bread, batter, milk, etc., but at least they are all sweet. Some have strange names, though, like spotted dick, a steamed cake with currants which is flavored with suet. (Um, suddenly that Jell-O pudding is sounding more and more appealing….)

So what type of “pudding” should the entrants consider creating? The palace’s head chef, Mark Flanagan, kindly offered his suggestions: Keep it simple. Choose subtle and elegant over over fussy and complicated. OK, then. I’m sure Flanagan’s words have given entrants a laserlike focus on the path to pitching a prizewinning pudding.

If I was going to enter the contest (which I am not), I’d look at what the Royal Family’s likes are to start off. According to her former personal chef, the Queen is said to love anything chocolate. (Guess she has something in common with lots of commoners on that point.) In fact, her favorite cake is a chocolate biscuit cake which also happens to be adored by her grandson, Prince William; the future monarch likes it so much, the cake was served as the groom’s cake at his 2011 wedding. Kate Middleton, William’s wife, is fond of sticky toffee pudding. Why mess with success? My suggestion is to whip up something chocolate with toffee thrown in for good measure.

Thankfully, the “pudding” contest isn’t traditional in the strictest sense. Why do I say that? The word “pudding” is believed to come from the French word “boudin,” meaning a small sausage. Early English puddings were savory, and encased meats were used in medieval puddings which were usually boiled. And, who’d want the four and twenty (live) blackbirds baked in a pie that we learned about in that childhood nursery rhyme? I’m all for the modern, sweet view of pudding. Hurray for progress!

Actually a baking competition is a nod to the current popularity of baking/cooking shows. It is way to celebrate which is less stuffy than a public address from the monarch, a classical concert, or a military parade. And a “pudding” in the sense that the Brits now use the word is going to be more fun to create than Coronation Chicken. Yes, indeed, that poultry dish was invented for the Queen’s formal crowning celebration back in 1953. That idea, unlike the Platinum Pudding Competition, is for the birds.

The Queen, who turns 96 on April 21st, has been a dedicated public servant during her unprecedented time on the throne. She’s had to endure family drama and personal loss in addition to the heavy mantle of state responsibilities. Why not let her celebrate with something sweet? Let her eat pudding, I say!

WONDER-ing Woman:

How often do we take for granted the person we are speaking with defines a word in the same way we do? What type of “pudding” would you make to honor Queen Elizabeth? What’s a fitting name for a dessert dedicated to the long-reigning monarch?

Off With Our Head! Barbados Removes Queen Elizabeth As Head Of State

One head was removed, and another immediately took its place. No, this scenario isn’t from the latest horror movie. It describes the events in Barbados on November 30th when a new republic came into being at the stroke of midnight. In order for that political transition to occur, Queen Elizabeth II had to be removed as the country’s head of state and a new head installed. While no body parts were detached, the Queen is no longer the titular head of this tiny Caribbean nation of about 300,000. And more head removal may lie ahead.

To understand why the Queen is out, some background on and history of Barbados is necessary. It is an island country in the West Indies, the most eastern of the Caribbean islands. British ships arrived on the beautiful shores of Barbados in 1625. Two years later in 1627 Barbados became a British colony, making it one of the world’s oldest colonies. Ultimately, the island was considered the “jewel in the crown” of Britain’s colonies. And of course, a tangible crown was worn by the British monarch who ruled the colonies.

The introduction of sugar cane from Dutch Brazil in 1640 transformed the colony’s economy. While growing sugar cane brought a sweet profit, the manner in which that profit was obtained was not so sweet. Britain invested in plantation slavery on the island in Barbados to grow sugar cane; enslaved Africans worked the sugar cane farms. Between 1627 and 1833, some 600,000 Africans were brought to the colony for that purpose.

Today Barbados is a wealthy Caribbean nation. Given its sugar plantation filled past, it should come as no surprise that close to 90% of Barbadians are of Afro-Caribbean descent and mixed descent. While sugar cane is still grown there, the industry is in decline. And what else is declining is British control.

Barbados declared its independence from Britain in 1966. It then became a constitutional monarchy. Nevertheless, residents of the island continued to adhere to British traditions like afternoon tea, cricket (the sport, not the insect), and horse races. The apron strings (er, royal robe strings) from the Queen were not cut; she still selected the Barbados’ Governor General. So, Barbadians were “independent” but not able to choose who was in charge of their country’s affairs.

A general desire to pursue decolonization was whipped into a frenzy in 2020 with the Black Lives Matter protests. Debates about Barbados’ connection with colonial rule came under a microscope. In a push to get rid of symbols of oppression, Admiral Horatio Nelson’s statue was removed in the country’s capital of Bridgetown. And in September 2020, it was announced Barbados would move to be a republic, i.e., the Queen would no longer be its head of state. “Barbadians want a Barbadian head of state,” were the exact words used.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and that 2020 declaration didn’t come to fruition until November 30, 2021–the 55th anniversary of Barbados’ independence. The momentous event was celebrated with a military parade, gun salutes, a mounted honor guard, the lowering of the royal standard, and fireworks. The colonial past was also represented; Prince Charles, son and heir to the throne of the head of state being ousted by Barbados, was an honored guest at the ceremony in National Heroes Square in Bridgetown. Addressing the celebrants, he referred to the “appalling atrocity of slavery” in his remarks. To give a current day vibe to the celebration, singer Rihanna, a native Barbadian, attended and was declared a “National Hero of Barbados.” She shone “bright like a diamond” at this recognition.

Transforming to a republic meant a new leader had to be sworn in as president of Barbados. But the new had an old look to it. President Sandra Mason, a 72 year old attorney and judge, was a previous royal appointee as Barbados’ Governor-General. Barbadians elected Mason as their first president in October 2021. She was sworn in as soon as Barbados officially became a republic on November 30th.

Even though Queen Elizabeth is out of head as state in Barbados, ties to the British remain. Barbados will still be in the 54 country Commonwealth of Nations f/k/a the British Commonwealth. This political association, comprised of member states almost all of which are former British territories, has Queen Elizabeth as its head. So, apparently Barbadians will be on friendly terms with their previous head of state.

The changes in Barbados may simply be the start of of further upheaval for the Queen. (As if she didn’t have enough going on in her own family much less the Commonwealth.) Dominica, Guyana, and Trinidad and Tobago have previously removed the Queen as their head of state. But now other Commonwealth nations are considering separating from Britain due to its imperialist role in society. In particular, such talk is being heard in Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Winds are blowing in the Caribbean, and they aren’t ocean breezes. They are winds of change. The winds blew British ships into Barbados in the 1600’s, and changing political winds have now blown the Queen out as its head of state. Due to an imperialist past, Britain and her Queen may face blow back in additional Caribbean countries. “Off with her as head” may soon be a rallying cry on other islands.

WONDER-ing Woman:

Could you easily pick out Barbados on a map or globe? What, if any, significance does a titular head of state have? Is the removal of the Queen as head of state merely a symbolic gesture? Why or why not? Can removing a head of state change the past?

Thirty Days of Thanks — Current Events Version

You know it must be November when social media is filled with posts giving thirty reasons to be thankful. Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to improve one’s attitude. Unfortunately, most posts I see are personal to the person posting them. Aren’t there reasons for our society as a whole to give thanks at this time of year? Of course, there are! Let’s turn to current events to see what positive things we can identify for which we can be grateful.

FUR FORBEARANCE.  Animal lovers can give thanks that our animal friends are a bit safer now. Unfortunately, there will still be a mass slaughter of certain feathered birds in connection with Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, some fur-bearing animals can breathe a sigh of relief. The Queen’s dresser (What? She can rule a kingdom but can’t dress herself?) has revealed in her new memoir that Queen Elizabeth will no longer wear fur during royal appearances. OK, she will still wear fur, but it will be faux fur. Since fashion trends are swayed by anything a royal does, it would appear that real fur is out and fake fur is where it’s at.

HEALED HERO. U.S. citizens are giving thanks that a military hero is A-OK. This particular military hero has four legs and is covered in fur. He’s Conan, the Belgian Malinois. With no regard to his personal safety, Conan dashed down a dead end tunnel after an ISIS leader clad in an explosive vest. Detonation of said vest rid the world of a terrorist but resulted in injury to Conan This brave canine officer was awarded the Medal of Honor by our Commander in Chief and invited to visit the White House. Conan, who’s a good dog, won’t complain if he’s served fast food there or even leftovers. It’s wonderful to know that man’s best friend is doing his part to serve his country.

IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME. Praise be that good sportsmanship is still a concern in today’s world. A Long Island, New York football coach, Rob Shaver of Plainedge High School, was suspended for one game after allowing his team to run up the score on an opponent. He ignored a good sportsmanship rule that was intended to prevent lopsided victories. The coach was faulted for not taking his starters out quickly enough allowing his team to notch a 61-13 victory. I’ll bet the coach did not even say “I’m sorry for your loss” to the losers.

HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO CLOTHES. For those of us who don’t want to part with old clothes in our closet, we can be grateful that old clothes can sometimes be very valuable. Olivia Newton-John decided to clean out her closet recently and got rid of an old pair of leather pants from 1978. These famous pants, worn when she sang  “You’re The One That I Want” in “Grease,” sold for a whopping $162,000. The pants won’t be worn again or even relegated to a closet. Purchased by Spanx founder Sara Blakely, the leather pants are to be framed and hung in the Spanx headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Will this make Hotlanta  even hotter?

SNAGGED SUPPORTIVE SPOUSE. We can be thankful that women behind the scenes aren’t forgotten these days. We’ve all heard that behind every successful man is a woman. In some cases there’s  more than one. Let’s take recently departed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for example. He allegedly had four wives. No wonder he rose to such heights of terrorist power; he preferred to be out causing trouble than to be at home mediating between four wives. Turkey’s president announced that Turkish forces have captured one of these wives along with several other of the slain leader’s relatives. I feel safer that Wife #1 is in custody, but should we be nervous that Wives #2, #3, and #4 are on the loose? Can we put Conan on their trail?

THE END IS NEAR(ER). It’s almost here! The 2020 presidential election, to be held on November 3, 2020, is now less than one year away. Seems like the candidates have been running since the dawn of time, but we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the tunnel is getting less crowded as presidential contenders drop out of the race. Bye bye, Beto!

FOOTBALL FRENZY. It’s a great time of year to be a college football fan. A monumental game is on tap this Saturday between LSU and Alabama, two SEC teams rated #2 and #3 respectively in the season’s first College Football Playoffs rankings. And if the high stakes game isn’t enough excitement, a high profile fan will be in the stadium–President Donald Trump. Who will President Trump be rooting for? Well, he is a member of the GOP whose official symbol is an elephant….Roll Tide???

TRASH TECHNOLOGY.  Thanks to technology, household chores are now less onerous. The world’s first self-changing trash can is currently on sale. Townew’s Smart Trash Can automatically seals the bag inside with the touch of a button. No muss, no fuss. Once the bag is removed, a new bag is automatically installed. Unfortunately, the smart trash can is not smart enough to take the discarded bag out to the street for pickup, but progress has been made.

IT’S BACK!  Didn’t get to try Popeye’s new chicken sandwich when it debuted in August, promptly sold out, and dropped off the menu?. Hallelujah!  The apparently to die for fast food feature is now back and available for purchase. Unconfirmed rumors indicate the chicken sandwich boldly asserted, “Ill be back” before fading off the menu. A chicken fight is back on between Popeye’s and Chck-Fil-A, although Chick-Fil-A observes a ceasefire on Sundays.

We can all be thankful that there is more than simply bad news out there. It may take some searching to find them; however, some current events do provide reasons for us to be thankful. Keep an eye out for additional reasons to give thanks this month when you are reading or listening to the news. And express gratitude when you come across them.

JUST WONDER-ing:

Can you think of other current events that give rise to a reason for gratitude? Do we tend to focus on good news or bad? Which attracts more media attention? Does giving thanks promote a more positive attitude?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Americans Are Coming!

My how times have changed. Back in 1775, the Brits decided to pay a visit to the Lexington and Concord area. This alarmed the colonists who were warned by Paul Revere “The British are coming!” Revere’s words were a call to arms. Fast forward to 2019. The U.S. President and First Lady traveled to Britain. They weren’t invading; they were invited. The Queen wasn’t alarmed the Americans were coming; she rolled out the red carpet for them.

The top story in the news the past few days has been President Trump’s state visit to England. A state visit means that the Queen extended an invitation for the president to travel across the pond to spend some quality social time with her. President Trump is only the third U.S. president to be honored by a state visit with the queen who, at 93, has seen a number of U.S. presidents enter and leave that high office. President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama are the only other U.S. presidents to have been treated to a state visit.

President Trump’s trip was timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-Day. However, the invitation for a state visit was extended to him quite awhile back. It was made just after he assumed the presidency back in 2017.

The president’s visit was mostly ceremonial. With no hard news to cover, the media had a field day with fluff. Even while on maternity leave, Meghan a/k/a the Duchess of Sussex took front and center. Would her husband give the Donald the cold shoulder for (GASP!) saying that Meghan was “nasty?”

Fortunately for Meghan (but not the news media), she had a PC reason not to come face to face with President Trump; she has baby Archie to care for these days. Harry, however, had royal duties to attend to and was present at a function with the U.S. president. Per an interview with the British press, Trump revealed that he and Harry had not discussed the “nasty” business. What a shame! Imagine how fun a rumble at a royal event could have been. Personally, I think the whole thing should’ve been called a draw. Meghan said Trump was a “misogynist” during the 2016 presidential campaign, and he said that was “nasty” for her to do that. Moving on….

An uproar ensued when the media reported that President Trump had breached royal protocol by touching the Queen. As any protocol expert can attest, you don’t touch a monarch unless she initiates contact. Aha! Meghan can now say that Trump is a misogynist and ignorant about royal protocol. In any event, the Queen was not visibly annoyed by the contact. If she were annoyed, Trump might have found himself hauled off to the Tower of London for a possible beheading. But since the touchee, i.e., the Queen, wasn’t perturbed, what’s it to the media? Oh yeah, a news story.

At least President Trump is in good company as being deficient in knowledge of royal protocol. Michelle Obama laid a hand on the Queen way back in 2009 and lived to tell about it. Actually, she lived to write about it as the incident is discussed in the former first lady’s recently released book.

Good grief! Name calling. Inappropriate touching. What next? It was “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” The state dinner at Buckingham Palace was a white tie affair attended by 170 guests. Excluded from the guest list was London mayor Sadiq Kahn with whom President Trump has been openly feuding. The mayor thinks that the U.S. president is ill-informed about Islam, and President Trump has questioned the mayor’s IQ. Savvy planning to keep those two apart. Of course the mayor announced that he wouldn’t have come even if he’d been invited.

Although Prince Harry had attended a luncheon at the palace with the Trumps, he skipped the state dinner. Snub to President Trump or simply a gushing new dad who prefers to be home with his wife and newborn after a hard day’s work at being a royal? Prince William and Kate did show, the latter wearing her favorite Lover’s Knot tiara. Perhaps the future king and his spouse are aware that the job of a monarch entails dealing with heads of other countries regardless of your personal opinion of them.

The American guests also provided fodder for the news media. Four of President Trump’s children were in attendance with him–Ivanka (accompanied by husband Jared Kushner), Don, Jr., Eric, and Tiffany. While Ivanka and Jared are advisers to the president, what were the other kiddos doing there, the media wondered. Seriously? The Queen invites you to a fancy dinner with her kids in attendance, but you can’t bring yours? And who wouldn’t want to attend a state dinner at Buckingham Palace where you could meet the queen? If the Queen didn’t want the President’s family members there, I am sure she could’ve gotten the message across politely. I mean she had two years to plan the event.

Even the menu, approved by the Queen herself, provided the press with food for thought. (Pun intended.) The entree, new season Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, didn’t raise concerns, but the dessert did. Guests were served strawberry sable’ with lemon verbena cream. Aha! The media were quick to point out that President Trump was enamored of chocolate cake. Perhaps there was a message in that by the Queen not serving him some. Geez! Maybe the Queen just likes strawberries and, well, she’s the Queen so she gets what she wants.

Why couldn’t the media have used the dessert as a teaching moment? I confess. I had no idea what sable’ is. Just in case anyone else is  as clueless as I was, a sable’ is a sweet shortbread that’s buttery and noticeably salty. Yummy! Who knows? Donald may now have a new favorite dessert. At the very least, he wasn’t eating fast food–a notorious favorite of his..

The whole point of the state visit was to demonstrate the “special relationship” between our two countries. If the goal is to promote and celebrate that closeness, isn’t focusing on petty things like who said what about whom, who didn’t want to talk to whom, and who doesn’t want to socialize with whom counterproductive? Isn’t it more beneficial for both countries to accentuate the positive? Trump wanted his family members with him for this historic and special event. Harry wanted to spend time with the new addition to his family. The British eat things other than fish’n chips. Come on, mainstream media. Leave the “nasty” focus to the tabloids.

Just WONDER-ing: How closely have you been following President Trump’s state visit to England? Would you jump at the chance to attend a state dinner at Buckingham Palace? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

The Little Prince — He Who Has No Name

 

The world is waiting with bated breath to find out what the name of the newest British royal will be.  Some no doubt find a fascination with this current event puzzling.  But would you rather hear about a baby name or shootings at Waffle House?  Yes, that’s what I thought.  Baby names it is then.

In case you have been living under a rock, let me inform you that Kate Middleton gave birth to her third child with hubby Prince William earlier this week.  Although she was able to recover quickly from childbirth and sashay out of her luxurious hospital suite impeccably coiffed and attired less than seven hours after birth, naming her second son is taking Kate a tad more time.  In fact, we are at three days and counting.

Why the delay?  It’s not like Kate and her beloved Wills have not had sufficient time to consider this parental task.  Because she suffered from  hyperemenis gravidarum (exteme nausea) which impacted her ability to carry out official duties, Kate’s pregnancy was announced way back in early in September.  Accordingly, the royal couple was on notice quite some time ago that a baby name would be needed in a few months.

Oddsmakers are having a field day with what name the bouncing baby boy will be given.  Apparently the British will bet on anything.  Here in the former colonies we are more concerned with betting on what team will be named the champion than what name some newborn will have placed on his birth certificate.  Arthur and Albert are the odds on favorites for a name choice.  Arthur is more royal a name as it evokes images of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  I personally think of Fat Albert and not a prince when I heard the name Albert. Thumbs down on that choice from me.

While I do not know what Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s little bro will be named, I can tell you what he will NOT be named.  This bouncing baby boy weighed in at a whopping 8 lbs. 7 oz, the heaviest British royal baby in over 100 years.  Despite their baby’s large size, Wills and Kate are too proper to name their BIG bundle of joy Bruiser.  The baby is the third child for the couple, but Trey is just too preppy to befit a royal.  Toss that one out with the baby’s bath water.

Commoners frequently turn to baby books to peruse thousands of names available for a moniker for their offspring.  Somehow I do not picture Wills and Kate pouring over such a resource and discussing names such as Jaxon, Owen, Hunter and Brayden during afternoon tea.

Perhaps the royal couple would like to make a political statement with the name they choose for the latest addition to their family. “Donald” might be considered for improving relations with the former colonies n/k/a the United States.  Then, again, maybe not.  After that ugly spy poisoning incident, relations with Russia are at rock bottom.  Maybe “Vladimir” could be used for some friendlier relations with the Putin regime.  Unfortunately, that choice is not too subtle and would receive the diplomatic thumbs down.  The Queen seemed quite taken with dashing Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.  Great-grandma could have her own tiny Justin to make her blush if that name is chosen.

Many baby names are taken from popular figures in books or movies.  “James,” as in Bond, James Bond, would be pretty awesome.  I mean even the Queen make a clip with James Bond for the London Olympics.  How could she object?  Then there’s “Elton.”  Sir Elton John was a good friend of Diana’s and is a music legend.  Uh, no.  Grandma Camilla would never stand for that.  (She and Diana were not exactly BFF’s.)

Since the British monarch is heavy on tradition, a family name is a safe bet for the name with which the infant will be saddled — er, will have bestowed upon him.  And to be precise, Mum and Dad will need to come up with not one but several names.  Prince William’s name is William Arthur Philip Louis.  Uncle Harry is Henry Charles Albert David.  Grandpa is Charles Philip Arthur George.

One thing we do know for sure.  The child’s surname is Windsor.  The royal family’s official last name has been Windsor since World War I.  In 1917 the name was changed to Windsor from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha due to anti-German sentiment. (Not to mention that the former name was too long and tedious to write.)  Even Windsor is too long for Queen Elizabeth who merely signs, “Elizabeth R.”  with the “R” standing for “Regina” (Queen).

Whatever the little prince is named, he will ultimately grow up to be Prince Charming.  Whether he is good-looking or not and whether he is actually charming or not will be irrelevant.  He will be a real live prince and in line to succeed to the throne (albeit not in the top three or four positions).  As such, he will be quite the eligible bachelor and charm the ladies.  But for now, let’s just get this little prince a name already.

JUST WONDER-ing:  If you have a son, how did you come up with a name for him?