Bread and Thread – Rum

Opening music

Liz

Hello and welcome to bread and thread a podcast about food and domestic history. I’m liz.

Hazel

I’m hazel. We’re two friends who studied archaeology together and love history. So we normally start by talking bout things we’ve been making.

LIZ

I just started a new embroidery project I’m very excited about.

HAZEL

Ooh details?

LIZ

My sister is starting an engineering degree in September assuming that universities open and I saw this phrase on tumblr – we are all victims of physics.

HAZEL

True, technically true.

LIZ

So I’m embroidering that phrase for her with a little emergency exit man falling over.

HAZEL

That is fantastic you are the best sibling.

LIZ

It’s partway through it just says we are all ictims.

HAZEL

I feel like an ictim. It’s a coincidence cause I’m doing a phrase from tumblr as well – crosstitching but there’s blackwork in it.

LIZ

Which one?

HAZEL

When I want your opinion I’ll read it in your entrails.

LIZ

Oh that’s a good one.

HAZEL

Yah I’ll take a picture of it and put it on twitter and so should you with your thing

LIZ

This is going to be on my isntagram. Is the blackwork a crow

HAZEL

No it’s a raven

LIZ

Still a corvid so there’s something.

HAZEL

The raven isn’t blackwork, the background is blackwork, the raven is magenta.

LIZ

Oh I need to see this.

HAZEL

Yeah I’ll send you pictures it’s a present fro one o f my friends who said they wanted a badge that said when I want your opinion I’ll ask for it. It’s a little big for a badge but I might finish it into a cushion or something.

LIZ

I like that a lot. We should also give that to my sister just give her some really good decor for when she moves into halls.

HAZEL

She’ll be the best decorated fresher.

LIZ

So what are you teaching us about today?

HAZEL

Today we’re going to learn about the wild and wonderful history of rum. This all started when liz sent me a text with ‘we should do an episode about rum because of this’ with an article that says rum is the new gin.

LIZ

In that people are making it in their homes.

HAZEL

Ok!

LIZ

Did you not read it?

HAZEL

I didn’t read that bit.

LIZ

It’s the new distilling thing people are making rum.

HAZEL

When did this happen?

LIZ

Probably a lockdown thing people are making rum now.

HAZEL

I like the idea people are thinking they won’t do gin that can go wrong they’re doing rum instead.

LIZ

I don’t know for taste but I really like the smell of rum so I’m fine with this. I mean rum in cakes.

HAZEL

Ooh now that is a thought. Damn I want some rum now. I was researching this and by the end of ti I just really wanted a mojito.

LIZ

Maybe you should make some rum.

HAZEL

Maybe I should. A fun cottagecore activity. Making rum. Hashtag DIY. No I’m not going to do that and you shouldn’t either unless you know about distilling – everybody. This has been a PSA from bread and thread. Don’t distil spirits at home.

LIZ

Just chug old molasses it’s the same.

HAZEL

Turns out rum has a bit of a dark history.

LIZ

Dark rum.

HAZEL

I mean that and bad things have happened because of runm. I guess not because of rum but because of people’s desire for rum.

LIZ

Rum happened because of bad things.

HAZEL

But let’s not shy away from that on the bread and thread podcast so yeah rum is a spirit distilled from fermented sugar or from molasses which is a byproduct of sugar refining though apparently it[‘s a running theme on this podcast that people will ferment anything literally anything so sugar cane has apparently been fermented for a long long time but the first written reference is a sanskrit manuscript from 1129 a reference to beer from fermented sugar cane. But rum as we know it as a spirit didn’t appear until the 17th century when it was distilled in the Caribbean islands probably first distilled by slaves who worked out they could use the leftover molasses on the sugar plantations to make alcohol and rum’s early history is pretty tied to the slave trade not going to lie it’s not a great time because apparently rum became one of the big exports for america as a young country, as a colony and then as a young country, apparently 80% of new england’s exports was rum at one point.

LIZ

That’s a lot of rum.;

HAZEL

That’s a lot of rum and at that point they needed a lot of sugar and a lot of molasses so they needed more plantations, and more slaves, so a vicious cycle of bad stuff. Apparently the name rum, this is debatable,. It comes from the name rumbullion or rumbustion.

LIZ

Oooh. Rumbustion. Like a rum combustion.

HAZEL

It does sound like a machine driven by rum.

LIZ

The internal rumbustion engine.

HAZEL

That’s what I run on. Yeah so this apparently got shortened eventually to rum,, though I want to call it rumbustion. Apparently it was called this cause rum was quite foul, not fun to drink but was cheap to make, but when rum became more popular a bit more attention was paid to making it nice and-

LIZ

Interesting isn’t it were were talking about with oysters in our first episode a waste product that poor people have and people discover it tastes nice and we should make this and make it expensive so the poors can’t have it.

HAZEL

Kind of yeah it’s what’s happening at the moment with gin and rum it’s expensive cause it’s fancy.

LIZ

Yeah cause gin is what middle class grandmothers drink

HAZEL

So rum apparently didn’t become popular abovce the quote unquote lower classes until the 19th fcentury althoguh it was very popular in coloinial america and was apparently one of the things thqat fueled the american reovlution which along with tea was one of the things that was atxed by the british

LIZ

makes sense. There was a big association with rum and piracy then, yeah.

HAZEL

Yeah and apparently that is where that comes from cause pirates and privateers would attack ships carrying rum.

LIZ

And captain morgan was a privateer, on the rum brand.

HAZEL

Tell us about captain morgan.

LIZ

I don’t know much about him, but basically he was a welsh man possibly from llanrumney but definitely from monmouthshire

HAZEL

I didn’t know he was welsh

LIZ

He was – he was south welsh but still – probably ended up in the Carribean sorry I forgot how to use words either sent there to work off a debt or trying to find work somewhere but ther’es one theory that he was basically abducted from bristol to work as a servant and he became a privateer and during the wars between england and spain and was involved in barbados and jamaica especially – and there’s a legend like most of the stories on this podcast probably aren’t true that he knew how to get the good stuff. So now we have captain morgan’s rum and apparently he was the inspiration for a load of early pirate stories. Cause he was active in the 1600s so he became the prototypical pirate and also has this association with rum. And nick has actually had grog with captain morgans

HAZEL

Ok how was it?

Nick

LOVELY.

LIZ

I’m not sure if the microphone picked that up.

HAZEL

It did.

LIZ

Cause grog is just watered down rum with lime juice in it.;

HAZEL

Oh yeah I was reading about it rum was served daily on navy ships so putting lime with it was invigorating and helpful. In fact my granddad was in the navy only briefly in WW2 but he continued the rum tradition he had a friend who would come to visit us he was in his 80s at the time and they would hangout and drink a tot of rum every day. Apparently another reason the british navy had rum is that brandy was made in france at the time, and we didn’t like the french in fact we had a war about it.

LIZ

So having rum on a ship is just… Freedom fries.

HAZEL

Yeah, kind of. So rum became so popular in American In the 1800s George Washington supplied voters when running for government in 1758 with 28 gallons of rum. Now If only that happened these days it wouldn’t make me more likely to vote for anyone but I’d enjoy the sweet bribery.

LIZ

I’m assuming that’s for a large crowd rather than you can have 28 gallons of rum.

HAZEL

I’m assuming it’s not 28 gallons each, for an event or something.

NICK

160 gallons for 391 voters.

LIZ

That’s quite a bit of rum per person.

NICK

Swilling the planters with bumbo.

LIZ

Bumbo? Say that again so we have a clear take.

NICK

Swilling the planters with bumbo.

HAZEL

I want it on a t-shirt.

LIZ

Bumbo.

HAZEL

That’s it that’s what I’m calling it from now on.

LIZ

I still like rumbustion.

HAZEL

I like the idea of going into a bar winking at the barman and saying I want a glass of your finest bumbo.

LIZ

Bumbo and ginger beer.

HAZEL

Bacardi and bumbo. No wait barcardi is a rum that doesn’t work.

LIZ

Too much rum. I would like a white rum and a dark rum in a glass.

HAZEL

Another legend about rum and this is quite a famous one when admiral nelson was killed in the battle of trafalgar his body was preserved on the journey home in a barrel of rum. And that is where the nickname-

LIZ

He-

HAZEL

Sorry?

LIZ

Turned himself into a pickle!

HAZEL

He did didn’t he – that’s where the phrase nelson’s blood comes from which you might know from the song.

LIZ

Like tapping the admiral meaning having a drink.

HAZEL

Also sounds like a euphemism.

LIZ

But this is a clean podcast so we’re moving on.

HAZEL

And so I will not go further into that. But apparently it wasn’t a barrel of rum it was brandy but because of the nautical associations with rum. But a drop of nelson’s blood never did us any harm.

LIZ

I’m going to have that as an earworm now.

HAZEL

For anyone who doesn’t know, that’s a folk song – a drop of nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm. So bringing us almost up to the present day I have one more twist – bacardi which these days is one of the biggest rum distilleries in the world – though going back to captain morgan did you know captain morgan is heavily subsidised by the US government

LIZ

No why?

HAZEL

I think it’s something to do with tax money but – it’s headquartered in the us virgin islands and the govt has spent a lot of money helping them build a new distillery and subsidising the cost of molasses.

LIZ

Are they still swilling the planters with bumbo?

HAZEL

They might be still swilling the planters with bumbo. Now, bacardi, bacardi were exiled by Fidel Castro, apparently cause they opposed him, they didn’t in the beginning, but started to, all assets in Cuba were seized by the government, so that’s why bacardi is in puerto rico.

LIZ

Anti-communist rum, I don’t know what to say to that.

HAZEL

I present that fact without comment I just thought it was quite interesting.

LIZ

Yeah.

HAZEL

So I’m going to give you a little recipe from 1895 for a rum punch from the book modern american drinks published in 1895 this is jamaica rum punch – fill a mixing glass half full of fine ice, add one tablespoon of fine sugar, a little water, the juice o0f half a lemonb, one jiugger of jamaican rum, that’s a metal hourglass cocktail thing.

LIZ

That’s a shot right

HAZEL

Yeah. And one jigger of irish whiskey mix well strain into a fancy bar glass, serve with fruit or leave on ice and serve with straws. That’s a pretty alcoholic punch they’ve got there. That’s basically rum whisky and lemon juice slightly sweetened it sounds like it would have a bit of a kick to it. I can imagine these 1800s ladies just getting absolutely battered. So brief history of rum and that one is a bit of a wild history as it turns out.

LIZ

Yeah there were some things I was expecting and some things I really wasn’t.

HAZEL

You and me both.

LIZ

Thank you for that fun contribution by the way nick. My brain is presenting the word bumbo in a variety of voices now.

NICK

Bumbo… Bumbo… BUMBO… Bumbo? I’m your new inner monologue. Buy jam. Buy jam. Buy jam.

LIZ

We have jam.

NICK

Buy more jam.

LIZ

Go away and let me talk about worcestershire sauce.

HAZEL

If anyone’s wondering this a typical day in the Blake household.

LIZ

This is a nick heavy episode.

Plugs for pod 9 and probably bad.

HAZEL

So worcestershire sauce I’m excited because I love it.

LIZ

Even just the name I think is quite interesting cause it says worcestershire sauce but most people call it wooster sauce cause worcestershire sauce is a mouthful.

HAZEL

I guess, yeah.

LIZ

So worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian. There is a vegetarian version but a key ingredient in worcestershire sauce is actually fish.

HAZEL

Ok.

LIZ

Specifically anchovies. I find quite interesting cause that means it fits into this tradition of fermented fish sauces that goes back to garam.

HAZEL

I was thinking about that most places have a tradition of fish sauces, but europe doesn’t. But it does and it’s worcestershire sauce.

LIZ

It fell out of favour for a while, but worcestershire sauce is basically sugar vinegar and anchovies.

HAZEL

Ok wow.

LIZ

So basically the recipe supposedly came from a governor of bengal during the east india company years and he commissioned lea and perrins who are apothecaries to make it cause he loved this sauce when he was living in india. And they ended up making this foul substance. The story goes years later they just kind of gave it another taste which I’m not sure how true that is I feel like it’s more likely the sauce was fermented so they had to leave it a while, but I prefer this story that they went let’s just leave it a while and then it tasted nice.

HAZEL

As a home brewer this is what I do. I’m not sure how long this needs to ferment so I guess we’ll try it and leave it for a month.

LIZ

But would you abandon a barrel in the basement and then go give it another try?

HAZEL

People buy those ancient wine bottles that are rescued from shipwrecks don’t they people will try anything.

LIZ

But this was drinkable at the time theoretically. I can’t get my head around give it a taste rather than they needed to ferment it. As much as I adore the story I can’t. But yeah um it was sold to the general public from 1837 which means we’ve had worcestershire sauce since the beginning the first year of the victorian era.

HAZEL

Wow. It does seem a very victorian concept.

LIZ

Well yeah you’ve got stealing an idea from india you’ve got going to some random apothecaries and going hey make this.

HAZEL

We’ve got a completely bastardised version of a food from another country…

LIZ

And we’ve got inadvisable food experiments.

HAZEL

And somehow they all culminated in this delicious delicious thing.

LIZ

Which is still made in worcestershire. So obviously it’s sold around the world now distributed by heinz now due to a series of companies buying other companies.

HAZEL

Makes sense. I did buy some worcestershire sauce in tesco in the czech republic once and that was cool.

LIZ

Was that a nice taste of home?

HAZEL

Yeah I didn’t know this but they have tescos in the czech republic. It was offbrand it was tesco not l+p.

LIZ

Apparently in most of the places it’s sold that aren’t english speaking it’s called english sauce.

HAZEL

I did know that, I lived with a spanish girl carla, I was teaching her how to cook, she had been living with her family that was the first time she lived alone, I told her you need to have this sauce, it’s the best thing about english cooking and I brought a bottle out and she said oh we have that we call it english sauce. I guess that makes esnse cause what other country would make this food item.

LIZ

Apparently in shanghai it’s called spicy soy sauce and is used in a local preparation of pork chops.

HAZEL

No way that’s amazing.

LIZ

And I know I said at the beginning that worcestershire sauce isn’t vegetarian but there is a vegetarian version.

HAZEL

Ok what is it made with?

LIZ

I don’t know presumably not anchovies. I couldn’t find what exactly gives the flavour. Cause obviously the recipe lists yuo legally have to say what’s in food if you’re selling it in the uk but I don’t know either I’m not familiar enough to know what makes it fishy, or it’s less fishy, but I can confirm it’s still nice as an ingredient.

HAZEL

Now I want a mojito and a cheese on toast with worcestershire sauce.

LIZ

That would be a combination.

HAZEL

Yeah good point that wouldn’t be great.

LIZ

That’s this week’s short and umami local larder.

HAZEL

Gotta try some worcestershire sauce, it’s amazing.

LIZ

Don’t try it straight.

HAZEL

No don’t drink the stuff, put it in stews, pasta,

LIZ

Anything with melted cheese.

HAZEL

Yep,

LIZ

I have put it in a fajita which is probably terrible of me but it tasted great.

HAZEL

Anything you’re cooking up, soup, put it in there, your mouth will have a good time. So that’s about it for this wild ride of an episode. You can email us with any ideas for future episodes at breadandthreadpodcast@gmail.com

LIZ

Or you can tweet at us @breadandthread or support us on patreon.

HAZEL

Where you can find recipes and instructional videos and chat times. That’s it isn’t it we don’t have any more social media.

LIZ

Just patreon.com/breadandthread help us buy worcestershire sauce and rum.

HAZEL

Ok, go forth and discover worcestershire sauce and have a nice little tot of bumbo.

Closing theme.

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