Craddish, the Independence Holiday!
Despite a constant three-hundred-year occupation by, consecutively, the Portuguese, the Spanish, the English, the Dutch, and finally the Spanish again, Tre-manners clung heroically to their unique language and culture. It would be impossible for any culture not to incorporate some vestiges of the language and tastes of their occupiers, and Tre-mang dishes are clearly influenced by their mixed history. Nevertheless, their ability to retain ancient traditions and put their own particular spin on new influences is nothing short of inspiring.
Tre-manners managed to conserve their culture, in part, through a kind of split personality, speaking one language to family and another to the occupiers. In this way, Tre-manners maintained a false front to hide their true selves from the occupiers. The term phonee translates as “pocket-face,” and has come, in our own usage to denote any kind of fakery. In Tre-mang, though, phonee was a particular form of self-preserving theatrics.
From 1614 to 1617, the native Tre-manner language, Pongaroo, was outlawed by the English in an attempt to dampen the rebellious nature of the islanders. The ban, known by Tre-manners as kibosh, “the axe,” was difficult to enforce except in the most public places. Nevertheless, the prohibition was considered a deeply hurtful form of oppression and spurred the first murmurs of revolt.
As difficult as Tre-manners were to assimilate into an occupying culture, they were even harder to mobilize. They could not be made to police themselves or be formed into militias because occupiers were afraid to give them weapons. In 1654 Colonel Krutsfeld of the Royal Dutch Navy wrote:
“They work slowly when watched and when we turn our backs they undo all our progress. They would rather starve and live in the mud than build a proper Dutch house. The barracks and courthouse which took eight months to construct dissolved in the first rain like so much sugar. The fiends had intentionally under-baked the bricks. They…cheerfully smile and call us “kazerbang” to our faces, which has finally, after many foiled attempts, been accurately translated. It means ‘bearded-monkey.’”
When the Dutch ceded the island to the Spanish in 1690 little changed except that the islanders now called the soldiers and merchants kitzerbang, “mustachioed monkey.” Over time, the islanders tired of being handed off from one colonial empire to another. The Spanish, however, were less forgiving of both the Tre-manners’ insubordination and pagan practices. The introduction of a Catholic mission on the island meant inquisition-style torture for many Tre-manners. This led to the first uprising, little of which is known except that it was brutally suppressed and its instigators hung in the public squares.
Rather than break their spirit, this brutal treatment only cemented the Tre-manners’ desire for self-governance. Deprived of ammunition and kept under increasing scrutiny, the Tre-manners resorted to undermining innovations in an attempt to win their freedom.
One such tactic was the sinking of docked ships by squadrons of frog-boys. Traditionally, young boys were trained to hold their breath for impressive periods to gather abalone or lobsters and maintain ships. These boys sometimes used goat or sheep bladders, known as blimps, as sources of air as they dived. In 1702 a team of frog-boys drilled holes in the hulls of the Spanish fleet forcing the fleet to withdraw their ships far offshore. Blimps, swimming, and nakedness were subsequently outlawed.
In 1708 an enormous gathering of goats and chickens, which were traditionally pastured together, were soaked in kerosene, herded into the Spanish quarter of the island and set ablaze by unknown persons. The resulting firestorm and anarchy was widely reported in Spain and pictorial engravings of the incident circulated widely.
In response to the islanders’ actions, a strict curfew was established, eighteen random islanders were executed along with most of the island’s goats, and families were restricted to keeping only three chickens per household. Many Tre-manners secretly hid their goats in basements as an act of defiance and solidarity with the revolution which had come to be called the Craddish, the Refusal.
In 1711 a Spanish garrison was confronted by dozens of old women in what came to be known as the Grandmother Army. Armed only with broomsticks and slingshots, the Grandmothers may well have meant to make a simple token statement and return home. Nevertheless, the weary and frustrated Spanish ruthlessly shot many of them down. As awful as this tragedy was for Tre-manners, it was also dispiriting for the Spanish both on the island and back home, who were engaged in a very expensive War of Succession. King Phillip remarked, “First their goats, then their crones—these cursed people will fling their babies at us next.”
In the same year a group of Tre-manners managed to steal a Spanish cannon and mount it on the docks of the bay town of Annabish. Without proper ammunition, however, they resorted to firing gravel, nails, melon, and stale loaves of bread at the distant ships.
King Phillip, his hands full with the war at home, had little time for diplomacy with the fiery Tre-Manners. He decided that only a swift and complete defeat of the islanders would end the smoldering revolt. The army was ordered to sweep the island and execute every man and male child.
According to Tre-mang folklore an old man who could talk to animals learned of this from a duck who had overheard the murderous order while pecking near the Spanish quarter. The old man quickly told the rest of the island and, when the army approached the towns, they found not men, but as one officer put it, “Twice as many ugly women.”
Spanish record clearly indicates that the Spanish understood the ruse but were unwilling to strip every woman to reveal the men inside women’s garb. The Tre-mang version of history, however, holds that the Spanish had no idea that the men were in drag.
During this tense period, Tre-manner children took to uprooting Spanish crops and—more injurious—vineyards, with pogo, flexible wooden tools with pegs for placing a leveraged foot upon. The Pogo-stick which became so popular in the US in the sixties was actually a much-modified version of the simple flexible sticks used by Tre-man children to destroy the Spanish vineyards. The original devices consisted of a slightly curved branch of Aspar tree and a cross piece for the feet, and were designed to dig up potatoes and other root crops. While Tre-manners were happy to drink traditional spirits made from pomegranate, wild plum or even nettle, the Spanish weren’t used to such rustic fare and were thus deprived of one of the only comforts that reminded them of home.
The poorly provisioned Spanish army was eager to be done with the island altogether and so, when, as a result of the War of Succession in Europe, the Spanish retreated from Tre-mang in accordance with the terms of the Treaties of Utrecht, there were gleeful parties held on the returning ships as well as on the island.
In 1713 Tre-mang became an Austrian territory by default. Nevertheless, within the bounds of the island, the Tre-manners were left to their own governance for once, and were neither taxed nor policed by any imperial force. Knowing little of the complex political dramas playing out across Europe at the time, they believed that they had won their own independence and, if that wasn’t exactly true, it cannot be denied that they had earned the sense of legitimacy and pride which stayed with them until the Great Cataclysm.
In the ensuing celebrations the goats, which had been kept underground, were brought up and treated as heroes. Many were feeble from lack of exercise and their cramped quarters, and several had gone blind. Nevertheless they were fêted on beer and bread, and led to trample the Spanish flags under cloven feet.
The Craddish holiday, beginning every year on March 21st, marked the day the last Spanish ship vanished over the horizon.
The newest of holidays, Craddish had little of the solemn ritual and boasted few of the refined dishes that marked the others. What it lacked in grace it more than made up for in spirit, however. A general sense of euphoric celebration turned the island into a circus of music, dancing, and debauchery for three sleepless days.
The second day of the Craddish festivities commemorated the martyrdom of the Grandmother Army with an eerily beautiful broom-dance. Hundreds of Tre-manners gathered in the streets, sometimes in head-rags and floured hair, to wave their brooms in an elaborate but completely silent mock battle. This pause in the nosy celebration was brought to a close by the thunder of cannons which fired loaves of bread into the ocean.
The third day of Craddish provided further opportunity to break gender taboos. The men of the island donned their wives’ clothes and makeup, and ran about hooting and generally making a nuisance of themselves.
The foods eaten during Craddish were simple and hearty. Street venders sold sourdough bread sweetened with velvety pomegranate curd, or smeared with savory smoked cheese.
Zannis Jad-zum: Sourdough Leek and Cheese Loaves
Sourdough recipes take time. Start Zannis Jad-zum late in the day for baking the following day.
2 cups sourdough starter
1 ½ cup warm water
5 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar or maple syrup
3 ½ teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 large finely chopped leek (1 ½ – 2 cups)
½ tbsp salt
pinch black pepper
2 tbsp herbed butter
1 ½ cups chevre cheese
1. Make dough. In a large mixing bowl, mix sourdough starter, water, 4 cups flour and maple syrup well.
2. Cover with moist towel and let rise at room temperature for 8-12 hours until doubled in size.
3. Add 1 cup flour, salt and olive oil. Knead well on a floured surface. Push an index finger into the dough. If the indentation disappears, the dough is well-kneaded.
4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and leave covered to rise until bulk increases significantly. This may take 3-6 hours. Sourdough cultures have variable temperaments. If the dough hasn’t risen after 6 hours, be sure it is in a warm spot and come back for it later!
5. Make filling. In just enough olive oil to keep the filling from sticking to a pan, sauté leek.
6. Sprinkle with ½ tbsp salt and a pinch pepper.
7. When cool, add leek to Chevre. Cream cheese may be substituted for Chevre. Mix well.
8. Pull dough into 16 pieces and form into balls. On a well-floured surface, knead each ball for 1 minute then roll into 6-inch disks.
9. Add filling. Place 2-2 ¼ tbsp of leek-cheese filling onto dough-disk and spread to three inches—leaving an inch of dough around the outside. Fold edges of dough into the middle over the filling, being sure to overlap and pinch together well to make a good seal.
10. Place buns on well-oiled baking sheets. Cover with oiled plastic wrap or well-floured towels and let rise in a warm place for 1-3 hours.
11. Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake loaves for 15 minutes.
12. Remove loaves and, with a toothpick, poke several holes into the tops to vent. Spread a thin layer of herbed butter (see recipe) or olive oil on loaves. Remove from baking sheets and place directly on oven rack and continue baking for 10 more minutes or until browned. 25 minutes total.
13. Remove and let cool completely before eating.
Tre-Manners loved baking but would not have recognized the tidy little packages of dried yeast we now rely on. Instead, they used sourdough starters, yeast cultures living in a very wet dough. Starting your own takes days but can easily be kept indefinitely if cared for. Instructions for keeping sourdough starters can be found in many cookbooks or on the Web. Some sourdough cultures have been handed down for generations. If you have a friend or family member with a sourdough starter they will probably be happy to save you the time of starting your own.
Pamatala Sailor’s Memorial
The quiet Pamatala ceremony took place at the beginning of the cyclone season as a memorial for sailors lost and as a prayer for a safe fishing season. Pamatala was practiced at home by individual families and did not have a fixed date — each family chose their own evening for the festivities.
Typically a shryng, or altar, was set up in the home with commemorative articles from lost family members. Typical articles were a scrap of clothing, a lock of hair, an amulet, or a favorite razor. Pictures of loved ones were rare and treasured, brought out only on these occasions. Depending on the cumulative size of a lineage, a single shryng could sometimes fill an entire room. We owe our use of the word “shrine” to this custom, though we’ve dropped the ungainly “g.”
The sailors of Tre-mang traditionally wore leather necklaces with ceramic amulets bearing their family name for identification in the event that their bodies were recovered after a shipwreck. Sometimes the bodies would be bloated, pecked at by sharks, or otherwise unidentifiable. An anonymous body found without an amulet was considered a communal “son of Tre-mang” and given proper funereal rites.
There was considerable variation from family to family in the exact observance of Pamatala, but the holiday generally began at sunset with family members marching to the sea and pouring wine into the ocean.
Back at home, candles were lit on the shryng. The family sat around a common space and recounted stories about their lost loved ones, sharing anecdotes, descriptions of their relatives’ favorite foods, or the conditions of their death. In this way the memory of a great-great-grandfather could be preserved for generations.
For ancestors about whom little was known, Tre-manners used a custom they called “Ricing the Soup.” The unknown relation was given attributes common to all of humanity but in such a way as to make him or her sound individual. In this way the thin back-story of the ancestor’s memory was thickened. “Ricing the Soup” took a particular narrative talent and those who excelled at it were invited to make the rounds during this season, eulogizing for these lost persons with passion. A “Ricer” could expect to be well fed during this somber season.
Theodora Peterson translated the “Ricing” for a great uncle of the family she stayed with, about whom little was known except that he died when his crab boat overturned:
“Gloud Wister worked as hard as any man but loved relaxing in the afternoon sun with strong tea and a good dog at his feet. His hands were chapped from the ropes of the boats and his lips bled from the wind. He longed to see Spain sink into the sea. He drank his share of beer and enjoyed a good joke. On the sea, he woefully missed his wife’s cooking. When his body sank, Wister’s soul rowed on the water straight back to Tre-mang. Peace on his bones.”
Theodora goes on to speculate that some of the “genuine” stories about ancestors might, in fact, be “Ricing” taken too literally or elaborated until they became real.
During these quiet memorials a pewter tankard of spiced wine was passed around. A sprinkle of salt was added to the wine as a reminder of the last drink of the drowned sailors.
The Pamatala meal consisted of small but filling seafood chowder pies and roast duck with grains. A small table was set just outside the door with a pie and wine for the spirits of the storms, or williwaws. The storms were asked to partake of the meal and to be merciful on the sailors.
Pamatala Jad-zum: Storm Chowder Pie
These pies will make you wonder why chowder isn’t always served in a delicious crust. Very filling, Pamatala Jad-zum are a meal unto themselves.
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ cup chilled shortening
1 ¼ sticks cold butter
6-8 tbsp ice water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tbsp fresh sage chopped
7 cloves garlic crushed
1 tbsp fresh oregano chopped
1 ¾ cups broth (fish broth is best but any broth will do)
1 lbs skinned, de-boned salmon filets
½ lb shelled shrimp
1 cup cream
½ cup dry chopped wakame seaweed
1. Make the pie dough. In a large mixing bowl combine 2 ½ cups flour and salt. Cut into this the shortening and butter. Using hands or a pastry machine, mix in half of the butter and shortening at a time until dough is crumbly and pea-sized. Add just enough ice-water to keep dough together. Do not overwork the dough.
2. Divide the dough into plum-sized balls. Cover and chill.
3. Make the chowder. Heat butter, olive oil, sage, garlic, and oregano in a soup pot. Just as the garlic begins to brown, stir in 2 tbsp flour. Stir well to avoid lumps, adding more oil if necessary.
4. Add broth, salmon, shrimp, cream, and seaweed. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cover until fish is cooked and flakey. Salt to taste. Remove chowder from heat and set aside.
5. Prepare the pies. Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease a muffin tin and roll dough balls into flat discs. Press one disc into the muffin form, ladle chowder into it and cover with another disc. Cut away excess dough for re-use. Crimp edges and slit vents with a sharp knife. Repeat until all dough is used.
6. Bake at 400° F until chowder boils and tops are golden and flakey (30-40 minutes). Let cool for 5 minutes; remove from forms and garnish.
Pamatala Jad-zum will accommodate almost any seafood — consider clams, crab, or scallops. The seaweed in these pies evokes a storm-tossed sea but can be replaced with spinach.
Because Theodora Peterson did not notate the dough recipe we assume it was not too different from dough she was familiar with here in the States. The one used here is an heirloom from the author’s grandmother.
The Notorious Striped Augette:
Tre-manner Duck and Scourge of Queen Anne
Named for its distinctive striped plumage and beak, the Augette was a descendent of a common mallard carefully bred in Tre-mang as a fast-growing and reliable egg-layer. Though extinct now, all reports indicate Augetttes were aggressive and ornery. Nevertheless, Tre-manners tolerated and even encouraged aggressive ducks as they associated their temperament with tender and flavorful meat.
An inter-collegiate husbandry program in conjunction with the Heritage Ark Foundation is attempting to recreate the Augette using hybrids of The Blue Creole and Crested Dwarf Duck, both of which are believed to be closely related to the Tre-mang breed.
In 1714 a well-meaning British diplomat, apparently unaware of the duck’s notorious ill humor, made a gift of the visually striking animal to the young Queen Anne. The beast attacked the Queen and was destroyed by a palace guard. News of the incident quickly spread across Europe and inspired a children’s rhyme which is still sung today:
Quack Quack Quack
Skirts Held High
Quack Quack Quack
Hear Anne Cry