A Probably Special Episode

  1. ACT ONE SCENE ONE
    GRETCHEN: wow, a new town, a new college, a new chance to get away
    from my old life. PROMOTER: we got discounts! Pizza, club nights, dice emporium!
    GRETCHEN: what did you just say?
    PROMOTER: pizza, club nights… GRETCHEN: no, the last thing. PROMOTER: dice emporium. GRETCHEN: get the hell out of here! You hear me? Just… just go!
    ZIPPY: woah, what’s the ruckus?
    GRETCHEN: that guy was pushing dice. ZIPPY: like gambling?
    GRETCHEN: like gambling with your soul. ZIPPY: sounds radical.
  2. GRETCHEN: it’s not. You wanna go to hell?
    ZIPPY: no. GRETCHEN: then stay away from that stuff. ZIPPY: thanks for the tip. I’m Wilma Fortinbras, but my friends call
    me Zippy. GRETCHEN: Why?
    ZIPPY: cause they’re my friends. GRETCHEN: oh. I’m Gretchen. My friends call me Buzzkill. ZIPPY: why?
    GRETCHEN: they’re not my friends anymore. ZIPPY: well, if you want to make some new friends, I’ve got a games
    society. Oh, don’t worry. Nothing dangerous. Just Monopoly, Oligarchy, other Greek names. GRETCHEN: operation?
    ZIPPY: not since the accident. BELL RINGS
  3. GRETCHEN: gotta go to classes. I guess I’ll see you there!
    ACT ONE SCENE TWO
    DICE ROLLS, LAUGHTER, GOOD CHEER
    GRETCHEN: hey, is this… ZIPPY: Gretchen! Come on in!
    GRETCHEN: cool, thanks. ZIPPY: what’s your poison?
    GRETCHEN: oh, just a juice. ZIPPY: no, What’s Your Poison. It’s what we’re playing next. Want to
    join?
    GRETCHEN: I’ll just watch, maybe next round. ZIPPY: cool, cool. Well, make yourself at home!
    SCRATCH: you new here?
    GRETCHEN: yeah. How could you tell?
    GAMER: ok, three cyanide… that’s six points?
  4. SCRATCH: I heard we were getting someone new here. Then you
    showed up, acted new. I was like, woah, that’s some
    newness. GRETCHEN: that makes sense. SCRATCH: people call me scratch. You got a name?
    GRETCHEN: yeah. SCRATCH: what is it?
    GRETCHEN: gretchen. What do you like playing?
    SCRATCH: oh, my kind of games, heh, they’re a little more… involved. GRETCHEN: what do you mean?
    SCRATCH: you ever hear of… roleplay?
    GRETCHEN: like dungeons and dragons? I tried that… it… did not go well. SCRATCH: no, no, nothing like that. Ogres and Oubliettes. Once you
    play it, you never forget it. GRETCHEN: what makes it different?
    SCRATCH: you’ve seen some things, haven’t you? I say that, cause I
    can read people.
  5. GRETCHEN: how did you know?
    SCRATCH: like I said. I read people. Like a book. That guy over there?
    Wishes he could work down the mines, but his dad pushed
    him to do ballet. You can see it in the way he goes up en
    pointe to move his pieces. Her? Afraid of mushrooms. GRETCHEN: what about zippy?
    SCRATCH: oh, that book’s been well thumbed. GRETCHEN: what can you tell me about her?
    SCRATCH: I told you, she’s been well thumbed. GRETCHEN: oh. So, supposing you’re right. I’ve been through some
    things, had some bad roleplaying. What makes this
    different?
    SCRATCH: you play the ultimate character. Yourself. GRETCHEN: yourself? Why would anyone do that?
    SCRATCH: you’ve gotten lost, haven’t you? Not known where you end, and the character begins. GRETCHEN: I don’t want to talk about it. SCRATCH: yet you’re here, talking to me. Ergo, you’re interested.
  6. GRETCHEN: enough about me. Why does anyone want to play
    themselves?
    SCRATCH: you’re not just you. You’re the best version of yourself. The
    strongest, the fastest, the most skilled… you in?
    GRETCHEN: I’ll… I’ll think about it. I have to go. DOOR SLAM. EXIT GRETCHEN
    ZIPPY: what did you say to her?
    SCRATCH: the truth. ZIPPY: have you been reading people again?
    SCRATCH: …no. ZIPPY: good. Freaks everyone out. SCRATCH: we just talked. About games. ZIPPY: but what kind of games are you playing?
    SCRATCH: the only game I know how to play. ZIPPY: you’re not… SCRATCH: so what if I am? She’ll be fine.
  7. ZIPPY: you know what happened to the last girl. SCRATCH: what? She’s fine. ZIPPY: she’s in the Innsmouth Hospital for the Criminally Insane!
    THUNDER
    SCRATCH: you can get decent money in admin. ZIPPY: she was going to be a lawyer!
    GAMER: ARSENIC! Hey, Steve won with arsenic!
    ZIPPY: go Steve! This isn’t over… SCRATCH: you can count on that. ACT ONE SCENE THREE
    COUNSELOR: you’ve made some new friends?
    GRETCHEN: I think so, yeah. COUNSELOR: and you haven’t been back to the problem behaviours?
    GRETCHEN: no.
  8. COUNSELOR: good. You shouldn’t go back to… the problem behaviours. GRETCHEN: do you know what they are?
    COUNSELOR: I was trying not to name them. GRETCHEN: really?
    COUNSELOR: …yes. GRETCHEN: cause I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons a lot
    COUNSELOR: it’s good to have an outlet. GRETCHEN: that WAS the problem behaviour!
    COUNSELOR: huh. GRETCHEN: huh?? I pour my heart and soul out to you, and I get a huh. COUNSELOR: hey, I’ve got a hundred students to see after you, okay?
    Some of them with real problems!
    GRETCHEN: forget this. DOOR SLAM, PAUSE THEN A KNOCK
    COUNSELOR: come in!
  9. DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS, SITTING. COUNSELOR: so… how long has it been since you last played Operation?
  10. ACT TWO SCENE ONE
    GRETCHEN: hey there, Gretch fans. Been 89 days since the Event. Here’s what I’ve been up to this week: it’s been fresher’s
    week. Got my SWAG on, which of course means study, work, admire god. It’s been a bit of a hard time on campus. Somebody invited me to a movie screening. It was
    Ghostbusters. I thought great, I’ll see some good, honest
    exorcisms. But it turns out it was about people taking the
    supernatural into their own hands. The only real ghostbuster
    is jesus. But maybe tomorrow will be better. Got my books
    through for the course, loads to read, so I’m going to be
    swamped. Met someone nice at a gaming group, and then
    someone a bit weird. But maybe nice weird? I don’t know. It’s
    like that guy I dated at my old school, wanted to form a
    theocracy on the Isle of White, but then it turned out he liked
    the reefer. dealbreaker. People are complicated. I guess I’ll
    wait and see. Gretch out. ACT TWO SCENE TWO
    LECTURER: while it started as a dispute over political influence on the
    papacy, the Investiture Controversy evolved into a larger
    struggle over the limits of secular and state power… that’s all
    I have time for. Sorry for arriving 58 minutes late. PEOPLE MOVING ABOUT, CROWD NOISE.
  11. GRETCHEN: evolved, huh?
    LECTURER: yes, I believe so. If you’d like to read further, I can
    recommend some entries in Fordham’s Medieval
    Sourcebook, or… GRETCHEN: so it’s not just in science, huh? Got evolution on the brain. LECTURER: it’s a turn of phrase. GRETCHEN: turning away from the light. LECTURER: you know I’m Catholic, right?
    GRETCHEN: yeah, catho-licking satan’s boots. Next you’ll tell me you play
    Dungeons and Dragons. LECTURER: no. World of darkness. GRETCHEN RUNS SCREAMING FROM THE
    ROOM
    ACT TWO SCENE THREE
    DOOR KNOCK, OPEN
    SCRATCH: hey.
  12. GRETCHEN: roll me up. GRETCHEN WALKING IN, DOOR CLOSES. SCRATCH: come right in. ZIPPY: gretchen?
    GRETCHEN: what are you doing here?
    ZIPPY: I uh… we… GRETCHEN: oh, you were studying. Sorry. ZIPPY: yeah. Studying. SCRATCH: you wanted a game of something?
    GRETCHEN: yeah. Ogres and Oubliettes. ZIPPY: you think you’re ready?
    GRETCHEN: I can’t seem to get away from it. Everywhere I look, there’s
    gaming. But this way… I’m still me. ZIPPY: you’re always you. GRETCHEN: Not when I was Gravid. Ranger. I talked to animals.
  13. ZIPPY: ok, so not ranger. Mage?
    GRETCHEN: bit pagan. ZIPPY: warrior?
    SCRATCH: bard. GRETCHEN: yeah. I’m Gretchen. Bard. SCRATCH: are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. GRETCHEN: no, wait, give me a second. Got to put my bag… there. Ok. SCRATCH: …then I’ll begin.
  14. ACT THREE
    SCRATCH: you are zippy, mage of the elements, and gretchen, bard of… sounds. You are walking on a open road to a white castle. You see a stranger approach. ZIPPY: hail and well met!
    SCRATCH: is that really how you talk?
    ZIPPY: it is when I do reconstructions. SCRATCH: so you’re in armour now?
    ZIPPY: yep. Going to the renfaire. SCRATCH: I wasn’t thinking you would- ok, fine. GRETCHEN: um… I’m also going to the renfaire? Hail and hello, good
    sirrah?
    SCRATCH: Help me! My village is being attacked by goblins!
    GRETCHEN: then we must help!
    ZIPPY: does your village have a history of conflict with the goblins?
  15. GRETCHEN: what?
    ZIPPY: what happened before the attack?
    SCRATCH: my people were out in the woods, hunting. ZIPPY: hunting what?
    SCRATCH: insight check please. DICE ROLL
    ZIPPY: Unnatural 20. SCRATCH: alright, he’s hiding something. ZIPPY: I pressure him. SCRATCH: intimidation or persuasion?
    ZIPPY: I’m gonna be bad cop. Gretchen, you be good cop. SCRATCH: ok, you take intimidate, you take persuade. TWO ROLLS
    ZIPPY: 16. You’d better level with me, and fast. GRETCHEN: 18. Just tell me, it’s better than making her angry.
  16. SCRATCH: goblins. We were hunting goblins. GRETCHEN: wow. I didn’t see that coming. What now?
    ZIPPY: simple. we burn the village to the ground. GRETCHEN: I don’t know about this. ZIPPY: why not? They attacked first. GRETCHEN: I can’t start another fire. Not again. I’ll have to- SCRATCH: ooo-kay, this is clearly something you’re not comfortable
    with, so Zip?
    ZIPPY: we’ll… go and defend the goblins, try to keep the peace. Gretchen?
    GRETCHEN: sure. ACT THREE SCENE TWO
    COUNSELOR: I take it things are going well?
    GRETCHEN: I just told you things were going well, so yeah. COUNSELOR: good. Things going well is good.
  17. GRETCHEN: what are your qualifications, exactly?
    COUNSELOR: that’s straying off topic. GRETCHEN: I don’t know why I was worried about Scratch. The game’s
    been real fun, and I know who I am. COUNSELOR: and who is that?
    GRETCHEN: I thought you had everybody’s names on file. COUNSELOR: I do. It was a figure of speech. So’s this – I’m going to go see
    a man about a horse. Just a moment. DOOR OPENS, CLOSES. GRETCHEN: let’s see what files you’ve got on me… PAPERS SHUFFLE
    GRETCHEN: hey, that looks like scratch… whose real name is… oh god. FLUSH, DOORS OPENING AND CLOSING
    COUNSELOR: alright, we’ve got a couple minutes so if you want to- hello?
    ACT THREE SCENE THREE
    OUTSIDE, BIRDSONG.
  18. ZIPPY: It’s beautiful out here. You’re right, it is perfect picnic
    weather. SCRATCH: just avoid the geese. They get nasty this time of year. ZIPPY: mating season?
    SCRATCH: angry season. It starts in January. ZIPPY: when’s it stop?
    SCRATCH: I’ll let you know. FOOTFALLS ON GRASS. GRETCHEN: YOU!
    ZIPPY: me?
    GRETCHEN: no, you!
    SCRATCH: me. GRETCHEN: yeah. You. SCRATCH: what?
    GRETCHEN: it’s not just a game, is it?
  19. SCRATCH: Ogres and Oubliettes? No, it’s also a cartoon series. Ran for
    20 episodes in the 80s. GRETCHEN: and… it’s your way to claim another soul, isn’t it?
    ZIPPY: Gretchen, Jesus. GRETCHEN: I was having fun, I liked being a bard. But what happens
    next? We get together, do spells? Curse somebody? You
    gonna hex me, huh?
    ZIPPY: calm down, no-one’s getting hexed. GRETCHEN: right. Right. Cause no-one here is the spawn of satan. SCRATCH: entirely correct, yes. GRETCHEN: or is it, GREG SATAN?
    SHE THROWS A FILE DOWN. SCRATCH: where did you get that?
    GRETCHEN: doesn’t matter where I got it. SCRATCH: hey, this is my counseling report. This is confidential. GRETCHEN: like I said, doesn’t matter.
  20. SCRATCH: it does, it’s a serious breach of trust. GRETCHEN: why should you care about trust, Son of the Father of Lies?
    SCRATCH: it’s just a name. My dad’s called Will. GRETCHEN: you two were trying to tempt me back to roleplaying, so I’d
    lose myself again, and have to burn down another Dice
    Emporium!
    ZIPPY: woah, what? I thought you just had a really bad games group
    or something. GRETCHEN: oh it was bad, alright. A mage, a paladin, a warrior. We all
    thought it would be fun to play a game in the basement of
    the biology building. ZIPPY: was it?
    GRETCHEN: at first, but then the games turned strange. I lost track of
    reality. I lost who I was. For a while, I WAS Gravid. My
    mission? To burn down the enemy stronghold. ZIPPY: look, you don’t have to play with us if it’s that much of a
    problem for you. Can stick to card games, or whatever, and
    you get some therapy or something?
    GRETCHEN: I’ve heard it all before. Oh, let’s play something else, Gretchen, maybe talk honestly about your family problems in
  21. Gretchen, maybe talk honestly about your family problems in
    a safe clinical environment, Gretchen, don’t do three tabs of
    acid then go into a dark basement, Gretchen. ZIPPY: acid?
    SCRATCH: three tabs?
    GRETCHEN: what?
    ZIPPY: you don’t think the thing that made you go all… arson-happy
    was having stuff going on at home and then taking loads of
    drugs?
    GRETCHEN: my pastor said it was the game. SCRATCH: really? Not the acid. GRETCHEN: he should know, he sells D&Detox kits online. That’s literally
    his second job. SCRATCH: funny how that works. GRETCHEN: shut up, Old Scratch. SCRATCH: I’m not old. ZIPPY: eh. GRETCHEN: old scratch – the devil – satan.
  22. ZIPPY: no, scratch is cause he used to get hives a lot. SCRATCH: yeah, turns out I have a hops allergy. GRETCHEN: huh. It’s all pretty convenient. You run an innocent games
    group. Psychedelics can cause problems. My pastor’s a
    grifter. He’s got a hops allergy. All so neat and tidy. ZIPPY: this is just like Operation all over again. SCRATCH: it’s nothing like operation! Nobody’s naked. This is way
    worse. ZIPPY: I really liked playing with you, Gretchen. SCRATCH: me too. ZIPPY: so… now you know what your problems actually are, you get
    some help, we maybe just hang out for a while, take things
    slow?
    SCRATCH: yeah. No harm done, right?
    DISTANT FIRE
    ZIPPY: was that… GRETCHEN: I should go.
  23. ACT THREE SCENE FOUR
    GRETCHEN: it’s been… one day since the last incident. Gonna make a
    change on my blog, Gretch fans. Turns out I was maybe not
    in the best place mentally. Or in the best church. Turns out
    ‘Reading Terry Pratchett is a sin’ was NOT in fact in
    Corinthians. I apologised to my history tutor, who gave me
    some good advice, and now I’m gaming again. Thinking
    about getting an undercut. Got given something called a
    ‘dental dam’ by somebody running a stall outside the gym. I
    asked Zip what one was, and she offered to show me how
    they worked. She’s a good friend. Gretch out.

Bread and Thread: Acorns

Opening music

Liz

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

Hazel

And I’m hazel. We’re two friends who studied archaeology together and love history and also making things, so what have you been making?

LIZ

So people might have seen on my instagram when this goes up it will be about a month ago, time is confusing – I have a penguin book of knitting, which is knitting patterns from 1957.

HAZEL

Excellent.

LIZ

So I’m making myself a sweater vest from that. Cause I’ve always wanted one and now I decided to do it.

HAZEL

That is really cool.

LIZ

It’s got 3 lines of cabling up the front it’s really cute.

HAZEL

Is that on your instagram cause I haven’t seen that I will go check it out.

LIZ

Also I’ve been looking at this youtube channel and website a lot the youtube is immaculate bites but the website is african bites it’s african and carribean food and she has this mango lemonade recipe which is the most refreshing thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. It’s absolutely spectacular. She says to put sugar in but I can’t imagine putting sugar in cause it was really sweet, the kind of sweet tartness with homemade lemonade and the mango is like – can drinks be unctuous cause it was unctuous.

HAZEL

I think mango can be unctuous. I want this, I have needs.

LIZ

I shall send you the recipe, maybe I’ll tweet a link.

HAZEL

That would be great yeah. We can all have a virtual mango and lemonade party.

LIZ

What have you been up to?

HAZEL

On the subject of historical knitting, I have discovered a youtube channel called engineering knits, which is a woman who does a lot of historical knitting patterns but she makes them really accessible and has tips on how to work with 19th century patterns and that sort of thing. I would really recommend that. Also the stitch in time books which I do not have but really want and I might get one next month. They have a lot of vintage or older knitting patterns that are updated for the modern day and those are really good. I’ve seen things knitted from those patterns and they are great. That’s the things I really want to do and I- I did make gnocchi for the first time. It went really good, a little soft but pretty tasty, with a nice homemade tomato and basil sauce. They were good and relaxing to make.

LIZ

Do you get into that kind of meditative state you get into like while you’re knitting.

HAZEL

Sort of yeah, you’re doing the mashing and doing the kneading and you just yeah just making the little gnocchs and shaping them. It’s kind of yeah. Kind of therapeutic, so more gnocchi will be happening.

LIZ

So what are we learning about today?

HAZEL

Get ready for big facts about acorns. I picked this one cause it’s getting to be a bit autumnal, was going on a walk it’s warm right now but-

LIZ

When this goes up it’ll be cold.

HAZEL

Yeah. One would hope at least, please, and so I was crunching along in this walk and acorns were falling and I thought I heard you can do a lot with acorns I should find out about that and I did and it turns out there’s a whole episode worth of acorn facts so I hope you are ready for this.

LIZ

I am ready willing and able to learn about acorns.

HAZEL

That is what I want to hear. And this fits into bread and thread because you can eat them you can – you shouldn’t eat them raw as they can be toxic, they might not kill you, they can give you a bad stomach ache if you ate a lot raw, but they are toxic to horses, cows and dogs which is a problem as horses will eat them.

LIZ

The dog one is interesting cause my dog used to like to pick up green acorns and eat them off the floor.

HAZEL

Interesting. Well I hopefully not too many um I think it’s in large quantities that they can be fatal. So the reason they taste horrible to eat is they contain a lot of tannins which makes them bitter, which is the thing that is supposed to be good for you in wine, but in acorns they taste horrible. But with clever processing they can be eaten and in some places can be a staple food.

LIZ

I’ve heard of in some places them being used for flour?

HAZEL

Yeah I remember going to an iron age day where they were making things from acorn flour little drop scones but it turns out they’ve been eaten for 100s if not 1000s of years so they can be made into flour like I said they can be roasted you can eat them roasted you can also get acorn coffee which technically isn’t coffee it’s not from a coffee bean you roast them and you grind them.

LIZ

Like how herbal teas aren’t really teas.

HAZEL

Yeah you get something that’s satisfying that craving if you can’t get coffee as we’ll go into in a bit. So acorns of course are the fruit of the oak tree which is native to europe, north america and western asia which is where a lot of the ancient uses of acorns come from and of course they’ve been planted all over there world, but in fact – are they native to north america they might be…

LIZ

You tell me!

HAZEL

They may well be. Basically anywhere in the northern hemisphere you’ve got acorns. So some years you’ll get an extra big crop and that’s a mast year, the fruit of trees is often called the mast.

LIZ

I got excited cause I was reading about this the other day.

HAZEL

Awesome where?

LIZ

Twitter? I follow a lot of conservationists and nature people. I follow a lot of conservationists but the nature kind here.

HAZEL

You’re great. It’s a year where there’s an extra big crop of acorns and apparently that’s because they try to put out the trees put out so many they put out so many one year they can’t possibly all get eaten by wildlife and some survive to become oak trees, but in the year following you get very little to no crop at all cause they used up all their energy. A lot of ancient people took advantage to store up acorns in a mast year, for the winter and to store up for the next year. Acorns were eaten by the ancient greeks and japanese, and lots of ancient peoples in famine times, but they also could be a staple of the diet, so in iberia they were pretty much a diet staple and we know this because we have evidence of them being prepared so in a neolithic site in south korea they found acorns or bits of acorn seeds next to hand grinders so we know they were making flour. So they were often used traditionally – coming out of ancient times even that way as a supplement especially in areas there’s a lot of acorns they were managed there was careful management of the forest to ensure good access to acorns. For example, you know who’s good at land management? Native americans.

LIZ

Whaaaat?

HAZEL

They were traditionally used by native americans as a particularly important part of the diet, they have a high fat content which means they have to be stored carefully.

LIZ

A lot of nuts do don’t they – it’s a thing why peanut butter isn’t hugely healthy it’s mostly fat.

HAZEL

But they do give you a lot of energy because of that. They’re also very protein rich, acorns, which is why they’re sometimes an important part of the diet especially in winter. So in california they would manage the forest to make sure oaks were prominent. Which sometimes meant controlled fires at the base of the oak, cause oaks were fairly tolerant to that, whereas other trees that might compete with the oak, in order to ensure a constant supply of acorns.

LIZ

The most extreme weeding I’ve ever heard of.

HAZEL

It is a bit more exciting than like idk getting a hoe and scratching out some weeds. So there were a couple particularly interesting traditional foods I found out about as part of this. There are some traditional korean and japanese foods made from acorns and apparently particularly in mounntainous areas and they’re still made today, apparently not as common today as is common with traditional dishes. They are a bit tricky to prepare but in times there’s not much else they would be key dishes, but you can interestingly you can get these they’re acorn flour noodles and you can get them in some kind of upscale korean supermarkets. like I guess You can get heritage varieties of things in waitrose, or fancy supermarkets in the uk.

LIZ

Like noodles.

HAZEL

Yeah acorn noodle soup is a thing that sounds great. Also there’s a kind of jelly which – I’m going to say this wrong – dotorimuk – which is a kind of acorn jelly which is rich in protein and starch so they leech the tannins out the acorn and make this jelly with it that’s served usually as a side dish with vegetables and stuff it sounds delicious and I really want to try it, but it may be beyond my capabilities to make so I might have to wait a little bit. Yeah so although you really don’t hear about it much today, acorns are a lot more important in historical diets than you would think but not just in ancient history – acorn coffee was used in the american civil war and in ww2 germany when they couldn’t get a supply of coffee.

LIZ

Ersatz foods.

HAZEL

Yeah!

LIZ

Wee should do an episode on ersatz foods.

HAZEL

Oh yeah that would be great.

LIZ

Maybe I’ll do that for next episode.

HAZEL

Yeah that’s a good idea cause I guess there’s more- like mock turtle soup.

LIZ

There’s mock apple pie as well. And all sorts of mock breads

HAZEL

I’m looking forward to this – just to find out what you put in apple pies that just tastes like them.

LIZ

Maybe you just put in regular apples but you’re really mean to them.

HAZEL

Wow… Oh oh I see.

LIZ

Yeah you got there eventually.

HAZEL

I get it you’re mocking the apples.

LIZ

That’s where I’m at.

HAZEL

So the thing is, and the thing that requires management sometimes of your oak trees is that oak trees don’t bear acorns until they reach between 20 and 50 years old.

LIZ

Wow.

HAZEL

Yup. So it really is a long term plan kind of thing and like you’ve got to have oak trees a really really long time, but if you have a load of old ones and they die you’re stuck for the acorns. There’s a wonderful german folk tale that uses this fact. The story is a german farmer made a bargain with the devil for the prosperity of his farm and he made this bargain that the devil could have his soul but only as long as he waited until the farmer’s first crop had been harvested. It seemed a pretty simple bargain right – but as in a lot of these stories where a simple farmer or woodcutter outwits the devil the farmer plants acorns as his first crop, thus ensuring himself a very long life before his first crop is ready to harvest.

LIZ

It’s brilliant. Very german I feel. Like there’s a lot of stories from that area specifically that are like ah, what’s this?

HAZEL

Humble person tricking the devil is one of my favourite tropes in folklore. It kinda makes sense that given there’s so many oaks all over teh place it would kinda become a symbol in folklore apparently the ancient roman goddess diana was depicted wearing a necklace of acorns. And wasn’t there a story about charles I or II hiding in an oak tree?

LIZ

Yes the story goes he was fleeing from the parliamentarians in the civil war and was hidden up an oak tree overnight and this is why a lot of pubs in england at this point are called the royal oak.

HAZEL

There’s so many there’s one 15 minutes down the road from me.

LIZ

Going to have to look up where the nearest royal oak is to me, got to beat 15 minutes.

HAZEL

Got a note here – as with every bread and thread episode there’s a pub link.

LIZ

There’s a pub a 3 minute drive from my house called the royal oak. It’s the one I walk past on the way to the sweet shop.

HAZEL

I know we were going to do a road trip to several pubs, but there’s no way we can visit every royal oak pub.

LIZ

Maybe after lockdown I’ll go to the one by me.

HAZEL

Yeah we can have a socially distanced drink in our respective royal oaks. So after all this I assume you’re wondering, how do I prepare acorns in a way I can eat? And I got these methods off a fantastic article from the woodland trust called are acorns edible and other acorn facts, and I will –

LIZ

Is the title of this article are there acorn facts?

HAZEL

Uh no it’s are acorns edible and other acorn facts.

LIZ

Oh, that makes more sense. I like the idea of titling an article are there acorn facts?

HAZEL

I don’t know, has anyone-

LIZ

Only acorn lies.

HAZEL

Only acorn fake news.

LIZ

Fakeorn!

HAZEL

I was thinking that and thought no ddon’t say it.

LIZ

I have no such impulse, as anyone who listens to my other podcast will know.

HAZEL

It’s guaranteed one of us is going to make the pun. Anyway you can roast acorns with a bit of salt for 15-20 mins with salt on a high heat, and they are crunchy and delicious and after you’ve roasted them you can add them to stews so that’s one to think about. To make acorn coffee – to make acorn flour or acorn coffee you have to leech out the tannins and you do this by soaking them in cold or hot water, cold water takes longer but it leaves intact the starch and the stuff that makes it turn into flour. If you’re making acorn flour you need to cold leech. For coffee, you can hot water leech with boiling water, it’s much quicker you can do it in about an hour, but cold leech takes a few days. So with coffee you hot leech then you roast them and then you grind the acorns and then you brew it like normal coffee. But to make acorn flour you do cold leeching so the floury stuff is stil there then you grind them and get fluffy acorn flour which you can use in biscuits and bread and in whatever really, you can use it as grain flour.

LIZ

I would love to try that we’re going conkering soon maybe I should see if we can get acorns as well.

HAZEL

Yeah, definitely do that.

LIZ

I found a thing of how you can make soap from conkers. If I find enough conkers I will report back.

HAZEL

Yeah… Also I’m pretty sure if you’re just roasting them you need to leech them first.

LIZ

That makes sense if they’re hypertoxic.

HAZEL

Otherwise they’ll probably still be – I don’t think they’re highly toxic but I don’t think they’ll taste nice.

LIZ

Nick as the person who likes coffee what do you think of the idea of trying acorn coffee?

Nick

It’s a nice waking juice.

LIZ

Can you answer in a serious way please.

NICK

Yeah why not.

LIZ

We have such a strong statement there.

HAZEL

I reckon it’s definitel tryable I’m not a coffee fan but I’d try it.

LIZ

I don’t really do bitter.

HAZEL

Mmm. Yeah I’m bitter anyway so I dunno, according to are acorns edible and other acorn facts – acorn coffee is caffeine free and has a unique taste and while unlike traditional coffees –

LIZ

Not a promising phrase. Earwax has a unique taste

HAZEL

And is unlike traditional wax.

LIZ

Doesn’t mean I want to eat it.

HAZEL

No. So what’s the local larder today?

LIZ

I did try it once cause of harry potter but –

HAZEL

Yeah you can get the beans can’t you

LIZ

No I mean I tried it and read the first book and –

HAZEL

Oh ok

LIZ

In my defense I was very small.

HAZEL

I don’t think it was portrayed positively in the book.

LIZ

Yeah but I was curious I thought I don’t know what that tastes like I should find out.

HAZEL

This definitely is explaining a few things about liz’s personality.

Probably bad plug.

LIZ

It’s all you need to know.

HAZEL

Anyway, local larder time!

LIZ

Yeah not really a local this time but I feel it’s small and it merits talking about. Blue raspberry.

HAZEL

What now?

LIZ

Blue raspberry.

HAZEL

I thought that was just a made up flavour.

LIZ

It is but it turns out it has a fun story. So before sort of the late 50s a lot of raspberry things were coloured with a dye called amaranth which is unrelated to the grain, and the sort of food safety people in the us went this is probably not actually good for you it became sort of a big thing of the colour they use for the raspberry drinks is incredibly unhealthy it’ll kill you – and they needed to stop making raspberry flavoured things this deep red colour – it was also helpful in another way cause you could show off more colours for the children.

HAZEL

Ethical marketing.

LIZ

Yeah. So where’s it gone – so this brand of slushies in america called icy – spelled icee – in the 70s ended up dying their new raspberry flavour bright flourescent blue. Which –

HAZEL

Doesn’t sound like it would be better for you than bright red.

LIZ

Absolutely not. Bright red which probably wasn’t that bad for you int he first place, considering the tiny amounts they use for these things. But it was a contrasting thing to the others, red cherry you got some sort of bright yellow lemon or pineapple things, and it was a pop of colour, obviously not a food colour it became a huge thing this blue drink.

HAZEL

Mm mblue flavour.

LIZ

The best part is you know how blue raspberry doesn’t taste of raspberry?

HAZEL

Yeah, I’ve not had much of it but I can’t imagine it’s a very authentic raspberry taste.

LIZ

Apparently the flavour of most blue raspberry things is a combination of banana cherry and pineapple.

HAZEL

Ok…

LIZ

Which I guess you do need to do something with the colour of that or it’s going to be the worst colour.

HAZEL

So blue raspberry is an aesthetic thing.

LIZ

It’s a huge flavour cause if you get an ice pop there’s always blue raspberry.

HAZEL

I do remember those.

LIZ

Any artificially fruit flavoured sweet there’s going to be a blue raspberry one… A combination of icee having blue in their logo so they leant towards blue and this absolute health freakout in the 60s. But there is a kind of raspberry that is blue.

HAZEL

Ok…

LIZ

Which is native to basically the western 1/3 of north america, it goes all the way from alaska down through the us down to chihuahua mexico. It’s called the whitebark raspberry or rubus lucodermus, but it’s completely unrelated to blue raspberry flavour and probably was not even a factor in making the raspberry flavour blue.

HAZEL

I’ve never really thought about this before but I guess the more you know…

LIZ

Not really a local larder but I think yeah, something that merited talking about even if it doesn’t merit its own episode.

HAZEL

That’s definitely a cool small fact – although it doesn’t make me warmly disposed to blue raspberry flavour things.

LIZ

I still love it. It’s that colour, I already knew it was incredibly artificial I just like the taste of it.

HAZEL

Fair enough. Wow. I have learned much today.

LIZ

So before we wrap up I want to mention we’re making some changes to patreon the 1 and 5 levels are staying the same, 1 is discord server, 5 there’s monthly bonus recipes um… We’re going to try something different at the 10 level which I believe is the cake level we will make a short bonus episode on whatever bread and thready topic you want and send it directly to you.

HAZEL

Think about that bread and thread on demand.

LIZ

Go to patreon.com/breadandthread if you want to make us talk about whatever your heart desires.

HAZEL

We will do it. We are simple creatures.

LIZ

You give us the money we say the thing.

HAZEL

We find facts and say them. Oh, by the way I checked oak trees are native to north america and the whole northern hemisphere. And north america has the most species of oak so you’re doing good.

LIZ

Good job north america.

HAZEL

Well done.

LIZ

So we hope you enjoyed today’s episode, if you have a suggestion you can email breadandthreadpodcast@gmail.com

HAZEL

You can also find us on twitter at breadandthread and we mentioned our patreon as well… Patreon.com/breadandthread?

LIZ

Yeah that’s it.

HAZEL

We’ll see you next time.

Closing music

Probably Bad Episode 21: Secrecy Geese, Asserting Dominance and Harry’s Journey


D&DANIEL
Look at you hacker, pathetic
creature of meat and bo- no, sorry
wrong script
(page flips)
Greetings, listener. I have
survived my transgression. I am
full of dice again. My belly
rumbles with chance and
probability, but anyway, I want to
thank our patrons mario, hedwig and
matt, and our new patron,
ancelline. Thank you all!
Opening music.
MOD PENCIL
Hello and welcome to the probably
bad podcast, a podcast which is
definitely bad. I’m pencil.
PAPER
And I’m paper. Today’s probably bad
rpg idea is…
(dice roll)
A warlock’s patron is actually a
wizard that did an elaborate scam
that got in way too deep. He’s
really just following them around
doing an invisibility enchantment
and casting spells as needed. That
was submitted by rubikscube60.
Before anyone says it, I know
critical role has a god who
spoilers is actually a fay being
doing all sorts of weird shit, but
I feel this is sufficiently
different and I want to talk about
it.
MOD PENCIL
And I don’t listen to critical role
so nothing I say can be considered
a rip-off.
PAPER
I think my first thought on seeing
this you know there’s a lot of
stuff that only one of those two
groups can have – I’m imagining a
warlock tries to cast eldritch
blast and they’re just there like
oh shit oh shit magic missile.
MOD PENCIL
I was just thinking of it as like
the warlock – the patron’s like you
get a special deal where you can
cast all these extra spells and all
you need to do is not look too
(MORE)
2.
MOD PENCIL (cont’d)
closely into where the spells are
coming from.
PAPER
I still like the idea they get the
warlock number of spell slots, just
the wizard’s really lazy.
MOD PENCIL
You have half the number of spell
slots cause it takes me a while to
get out of bed.
PAPER
I used the rest of my spell slots
to stay invisible.
MOD PENCIL
That’s a point how long does
invisibility last? Cause I know
like it’s possibly like going into
too much detail but I think it’s a
few hours?
PAPER
Just a second… Concentration up
to an hour.
MOD PENCIL
So yeah that’s why warlocks have so
few spell slots, the wizard has to
cast all of them they need to save
some for themselves.
PAPER
You’re a special kind of warlock
who can’t use second level spells
I’m using those slots.
MOD PENCIL
You’re a special kind of warlock
who’s less good as a bargain.
PAPER
It’s so they get third level slots
early. Oh you want to summon a
ghost horse to ride around? That’s
fine, but you can’t use rope trick.
That’s too much.
MOD PENCIL
To be fair has anyone ever used
rope trick? Genuinely interested
has anyone ever used rope trick?
PAPER
Must have done, but didn’t
technically use it.
3.
MOD PENCIL
Ok so there we go for the first
time in d&D someone has used rope
trick. I do like all the very minor
pointless spells.
PAPER
Yeah they do have their moments
they’re just very specific moments.
MOD PENCIL
Going back to the actual idea
rather than the rope trick, cause I
don’t know anything about it, one
player is the warlock and the other
three player characters are the
wizard who are trying to keep up
the bizarre pretense that the
player’s a warlock.
PAPER
So it’s basically a farce.
MOD PENCIL
mm. The warlock has level 1
commoner stats.
PAPER
With the warlock as an npc this
could be a fun one shot of trying
not to get caught.
MOD PENCIL
or Give the warlock player like I
was going to say give the warlock
player a fake character sheet and
make them sit on their own in a
room.
PAPER
They might pick some things up if
you put them in a different room.
MOD PENCIL
This is a normal D&D game but do
you mind sitting in this soundproof
room while we slip notes under the
door?
PAPER
Playing a game of D&D just through
passing notes would be interesting.
I’m now wondering cause you know so
many classes are online still, just
like running a text based D&D game
in a maths class.
4.
MOD PENCIL
It’s all the fun of slipping notes
in maths class but now you get to
be wizards.
PAPER
Yeah!
MOD PENCIL
You take damage if the teacher
suspects something. Ok so the
teacher you’re trying to convince
the teacher they’re all warlocks
and all of you are passing notes to
each other.
PAPER
I feel like we’ve gotten away from
the idea but it sounds fun.
MOD PENCIL
Every time the teacher gets annoyed
at something you cover the camera
like there’s no-one there, I think
what I’ve invented is a new form of
psychological torture, butPAPER
We’re two steps away from gaslight
your maths teacher which we do not
condone.
MOD PENCIL
It’s no steps away, so don’t do
that. There’s some good advice. I
think there’s an RPG around texting

  • only done over text. I think it’s
    one of the ones that’s on my list
    to play so I can’t tell you if it’s
    good or not, but it seems
    interesting.
    PAPER
    To get back to the actual idea…
    MOD PENCIL
    To get back to the actual idea,
    which I think is gaslight your
    maths teacher…
    PAPER
    Yeah, um… I mean just thinking
    about some of the warlock patron
    options it’s not far off some of
    them, all that a warlock is really
    is someone who gets someone else’s
    powers to do the work.
    5.
    MOD PENCIL
    Yeah all they are is they have a
    magic sugar daddy. Like… I
    definitely think that an arch mage
    would work as a patron idea. Idk if
    it’s an official one but it would
    work.
    PAPER
    It definitely would.
    MOD PENCIL
    That’s an interesting class, arch
    mage patron, or arch warlock patron
    who is now like being a patron to a
    new generation of warlocks. It’s
    warlocks all the way down.
    PAPER
    It’s unearthed arcana, but there’s
    a seeker patron which is someone
    that travels around searching for
    knowledge and is that not a wizard?
    An unusually sociable wizard.
    MOD PENCIL
    The one wizard who can hold a
    conversation with someone for more
    than two minutes. That’s how they
    became a patron. Also going back to
    the original idea, cause you could
    do it with other classes I like the
    idea of a druid who is constantly a
    tree near a warlock…
    PAPER
    How would you explain there’s trees
    everywhere we’re in this terrible
    dungeon and that tree that grew
    outside my house is also here.
    MOD PENCIL
    There’s the mystery of the campaign
    is where this tree keeps coming
    from – whether you were chosen by
    nature spirits or there’s a dryad
    and then we go to the stupidest
    possible explanation where there’s
    a druid disguised as a tree
    following you making you look cool.
    PAPER
    A druid that occasionally casts
    command and says ignore the tree.
    Wait can druids cast command?
    6.
    MOD PENCIL
    They can do all kinds of things but
    I don’t think they can cast
    command, they can hit you with
    branches.
    PAPER
    Do a geese – you will notice it but
    you are not physically capable of
    acknowledging it.
    MOD PENCIL
    Druid invisibility is just
    summoning a goose into your face
    and while you’re distracted by it
    they walk into place.
    PAPER
    I meant gas, but yes.
    MOD PENCIL
    Aah yes, that does make more sense
    than summoning geese. But also…
    PAPER
    If there are geese flying in your
    face are you really going to notice
    a vaguely familiar tree?
    MOD PENCIL
    The warlock must solve the mystery
    why geese keep manifesting in their
    face. You’ve got the warlock who’s
    convinced they have magic powers by
    the wizard but the wizard isn’t a
    wizard they’re being convinced they
    have magical powers by the warlock
    and it’s an endless cycle.
    PAPER
    Where does the magic actually come
    from? The druid. This mysterious
    tree.
    MOD PENCIL
    I do like this game that’s full of
    twists and secrets but they’re all
    incredibly dumb. You put up a
    bunnch of intriguing mysteries to
    begin with and every layer you
    uncover the players just get worse
    and worse answers.
    PAPER
    The person who asked on the patron
    exclusive server about good secrets
    for character creation, enjoy these
    secrets.
    7.
    MOD PENCIL
    Yeah it turns out you don’t have
    magic there’s just a tree behind
    you.
    PAPER
    Shall we move onto questiQuestion music
    PAPER
    Ons?
    MOD PENCIL
    Maybe we should… Our first
    question comes from b-deh- our
    first question is anonymous rather
    than the ubiquitous be flexible, do
    you have any dm tips for a first
    time DM? Yes I am aware what blog I
    asked for gm tips, bring your
    worst.
    PAPER
    Eat the D20 in front of your
    players to assert your dominance.
    MOD PENCIL
    To be honest, I’m not sure that’s
    better than lock your player in a
    soundproof room and only pass them
    messages through the door like in
    terms of actual advice, the best
    sort of system I’ve found is from
    monster of the week which is the
    mystery tracker which essentially
    you write down what would happen if
    the players did absolutely nothing,
    and you can extrapolate how people
    react to what they do. This is what
    the villain would be doing if
    no-one stopped them, so you have a
    good grasp of their overall plans,
    and then it’s much easier to see
    how plans change around that.
    PAPER
    While your players are the
    protagonists, they aren’t the only
    people doing things and things will
    continue without them.
    MOD PENCIL
    And onto terrible ideas.
    PAPER
    I’d say use your characters
    backstories against them like side
    (MORE)
    8.
    PAPER (cont’d)
    quests surprising stuff that pops
    up, connections to whoever is doing
    the bad stuff, it’s fun.
    MOD PENCIL
    Backstories are a useful source of
    character or plot things, which is
    what paper said but better. But bad
    advice, eat the dice of dominance.
    PAPER
    Don’t like how one of your players
    plays their character maybe they’re
    one of the ones that refuses to go
    along with any plot hooks? Just
    slowly shred their character sheet
    until they agree to play the
    adventure.
    MOD PENCIL
    Eat their character sheet for
    dominance. Cause the player’s like
    oh yeah I’m taking this disruptive
    spell, and you eat their character
    sheet while maintaining eye
    contact.
    PAPER
    Find out what food the players like
    and then only bring snacks they
    don’t like to assert your
    dominance.
    MOD PENCIL
    Just like eat everyone else’s copy
    of the player’s handbook, and now
    only you know the rules.
    PAPER
    When planning your campaign be sure
    to include at least six background
    clowns. Your characters will be
    convinced they’ll lead to something
    but they never will.
    MOD PENCIL
    At the start of the campaign
    challenge your biggest strongest
    player to a fight to show that
    you’re not to be fucked with.
    PAPER
    Unfortunately if you lose they do
    become the dm so just watch out for
    that.
    9.
    MOD PENCIL
    Ideal D&D game, there’s no dm at
    the start but all the players just
    have a cage match at the beginning
    and whoever wins has to DM but
    that’s fallen out of favour these
    days. Though you can attract
    D&Daniel if you have a cage fight
    at the beginning.
    PAPER
    He lives in a cage so it’s a homing
    instinct.
    MOD PENCIL
    Any cage you have D&Daniel might be
    there. It’s not so much a D&D fact
    but it’s an important warning.
    PAPER
    If you ever see a cage in the woods
    throw some dice in just in case to
    appease him.
    MOD PENCIL
    I hope this helps with your first
    DM experience.
    Question music
    PAPER
    Our second question is also
    anonymous, you’ve mentioned just
    making rincewind as a character,
    but what are your thoughts on the
    discworld ttrpg, general thoughts
    on rpgs based on established
    worlds? I don’t like them. I feel
    too much pressure to stick to
    established lore, especially if
    it’s an established world your
    players are into so I don’t do it.
    MOD PENCIL
    My main problem is a lot of
    fictional worlds are designed for a
    particular story. They’re based
    around those characters and their
    arc, and it’s hard to sort of
    disconnect it from them in an easy
    way.
    PAPER
    What I’m saying is if your
    characters aren’t relevant to
    harry’s journey…
    10.
    MOD PENCIL
    Yes what we’re saying is your
    characters aren’t relevant to
    harry’s journey and are thus
    unlikely to get involved in lots of
    big world things.
    PAPER
    I think the discworld rpg might be
    better because the whole world is
    very developed so there’s more you
    can do with it.
    MOD PENCIL
    It helps that discworld doesn’t
    have a main character or main plot
    it’s a collection of short stories.
    I’m running an rpg that’s set in
    an, what’s the word, established
    world, nickblake edit out my being
    crap please – it’s in the magnus
    archives I needed to essentially
    put it on a different continent to
    avoid repeatedly running into lore
    to avoid conflicting with
    everything.
    PAPER
    It’s difficult with an ongoing
    series because at what point have
    you diverged from canon, and at
    what point have you diverged from
    canon enough that it’s no longer in
    that setting, and can you do other
    stuff with it or do you need ot
    still stick close and it gets very
    foggy.
    MOD PENCIL
    It’s easier if you are going to –
    it’s easiest to say this is non
    canon, this is an AU, because it
    makes it easier if you mess up the
    lore of it and it allows your
    players more freedom or there’s the
    possibility of saying you can’t do
    that because it messes with episode
    13…
    PAPER
    Yeah I feel unless it’s post canon
    you either can’t do anything big or
    it’s an AU.
    MOD PENCIL
    I think the best way to do it is
    simply if you want to do it in the
    area the story happens, kill the
    (MORE)
    11.
    MOD PENCIL (cont’d)
    main character and your characters
    are now the main character.
    PAPER
    That makes sense if you play in an
    established place, what you want to
    do a lot of the time is be the
    protagonist of that setting.
    MOD PENCIL
    Essentially the point of
    established things is you want to
    be luke skywalker or harry potter
    or whoever you want to be.
    PAPER
    Nobody plays a lotr game to hang
    out in gondor.
    MOD PENCIL
    Yeah you want to be the fellowship,
    so you should just be the
    fellowship.
    PAPER
    I feel like we got ranty but I hope
    we answered your question.
    MOD PENCIL
    Yes, um…
    Question music
    MOD PENCIL
    So, our final questino is from
    blatella… If you nut in the
    astral plane, do it push you
    backwards?
    PAPER
    I’ve been thinking about that one
    and looking at the actual
    description of the astral plane in
    the dungeon masters guide and it
    sounds like more of an ocean than
    sort of a void really so I feel it
    wouldn’t push you backwards as make
    the waters a bit murky.
    MOD PENCIL
    So there’s no 5th ed manual for
    planes yet, so I looked up a 3rd ed
    manual for planes and it seems the
    astral plane in that is more of a
    psychic void, so my theory either
    it would push you backwards if you
    believed it would push you
    (MORE)
    12.
    MOD PENCIL (cont’d)
    backwards it’s a mental realm so if
    you believe it would push you
    backwards it would push you
    backwards or it pushes you like
    psychologically backwards, like it
    regresses your development every
    time you nut in the astral plane.
    PAPER
    What if you just can’t get yourself
    there? There is a secondary
    question to ask which is can you
    nut in the astral plane?
    MOD PENCIL
    Yeah in a lot of cases you’re not
    in your actual body in the astral
    plane you’re in an astral form, so
    can astral forms nut?
    PAPER
    Can god nut is the real question
    you’re asking blatella.
    MOD PENCIL
    Sorry, got the book of planes open,
    astral forms, again all 3rd ed,
    they don’t biologically heal and
    they don’t die which implies
    they’re not biological anymore…
    PAPER
    Yeah if you can’t do the big death
    you can’t do the little death.
    MOD PENCIL
    And that is why…
    PAPER
    That’s what I always say.
    MOD PENCIL
    That’s true I did live with them
    for a year and they did say that at
    least once a day. Completely
    unprompted. But yeah it seems like
    ok it seems like if you go there in
    astral form you can’t nut, and it
    can’t push you forwards or
    backwards…
    PAPER
    Aare we debating it pushing you
    forwards now? What is the anatomy
    of the astral form?
    13.
    MOD PENCIL
    There’s a lot of weird biology in
    D&D, I’m sure there’s a creature
    with a dick growing out of its
    back.
    PAPER
    We need to be inclusive.
    MOD PENCIL
    Mmm but if you go there physically
    it depends on whether or not you
    think it’ll push you backwards. I
    don’t think the astral plane has
    enough physical matter, no that’s a
    thing that pushes you backwards
    cause there’s not a lot stopping
    you.
    PAPER
    But there is homebrew settings – in
    mine the astral plane is the void
    between other planes. It would push
    you backward in my personal astral
    plane. So really consult with your
    DM.
    MOD PENCIL
    Ngl, nutting will push you
    backwards in my personal astral
    plane I can’t tell whether that
    sounds like a pickup line or
    shooting someone down, but it
    sounds like something.
    PAPER
    It feels like a threat. Oh buddy it
    push you backwards.
    MOD PENCIL
    But yes, in case you were wondering
    that’s the first question I did
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    14.
    PAPER (cont’d)
    episodes, the most recent of which
    is night at the ninja museum, where
    I take my games group through being
    ninjas trying to rob the ninja
    museum.
    MOD PENCIL
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    Closing music

Bread and Thread Cotton Famine

opening music

Liz

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

Hazel

And i’m hazel, we’re two friends who studied archaeology together and love history and crafty things. So what have you been up to in that sector?

LIZ

I’ve not been doing a lot of new stuff but i did start a new crosstitch project. You know when you see a tumblr post and think i want this on my wall?

HAZEL

Oh cool. absolutely.

LIZ

Soup is customisable but know your limits so i currently have an embroidery hoop that has some fabric on it that just says soup is limits.

HAZEL

I dunno i feel like there really are no limits to soup.

LIZ

I dunno i once put too much potato in a soup and it was basically just garlic flavoured glue.

HAZEL

At what point does potato soup become mashed potato?

LIZ

I think there is a limit to how much potato you can put in a soup.

HAZEL

Does that mean mashed potato counts as a soup?

LIZ

There are whole areas of the internet dedicated to discussions on what is a soup. i’m not getting into food taxonomy.

HAZEL

Ok shall we leave that one for the internet to discuss.

LIZ

Ok what have you been making or baking?

HAZEL

I’m currently in the middle of making rosehip syrup. I picked a kilogram of rosehips today cause we have a dogrose bush in our garden which is adundant with rosehips at the moment so i picked a kilogram and there’s still tons which is great cause rosehips have a lot of vitamin C i might have mentioned that in an earlier episode. So really good for the winter months.

LIZ

Makes a really nice infusion as well.

HAZEL

Aah yeah rosehip tea is a thing isn’t it?

LIZ

It’s like irn bru flat irn bru but nice.

HAZEL

Presumably healthier.

LIZ

Yeah less sugar.

HAZEL

I also finished making some shorts. They have tiny otters on them and they make me happy. It’s conquered my fear of making things that have two legs on them.

LIZ

I think i saw them on facebook but i’m very excited to see them again when you put the picture up.

HAZEL

Yeah i’m glad i managed to finish them before it became cold again. i meant to do it in summer, but September came round and i did it.

LIZ

It’s always a heatwave when the schools go back.

HAZEL

Yeah i’ll get more wears out of them this year i think.

LIZ

But are they made of cotton?

HAZEL

They are made of cotton and that is relevant to our topic today.

LIZ

It is, i’m going to talk to you about the lancashire cotton famine.

HAZEL

That was a beautiful segue.

LIZ

Thank you. i felt like i know what i’m doing here. Then i said that    and ruined it.

HAZEL

I know nothing about the lancashire cotton famine, can you explain to me what it is?

LIZ

So in the 1860s the main industry of lancashire was cotton mills, importing cotton largely from plantations in the americas turning that into fabric and shipping it off all over the world. manchester was known as cottonopolis at this time.

HAZEL

Isn’t that also where the name for people from manchester woolie backs came from?

LIZ

See i’m not aware of that being a nickname for people from manchester, i’m aware of it being a nickname for people near liverpool but not actually from liverpool is woolies.

HAZEL

Ok i haven’t heard that one.

LIZ

Probably because of wearing sheepskin coats.

HAZEL

Aah, i heard wooliebacks for people from manchester cause of going around carrying cotton and having bits of cotton stuck to them.

LIZ

I’m not saying it’s not a thing, i’m saying it’s not one i’ve personally heard. Local names evolve over time it’s weird.

HAZEL

So we’ve got all the cotton mills, then what happens?

LIZ

Suddenly, well not suddenly, america has a civil war. specifically about slavery the thing that is providing the cotton. Basically the reason i wanted to talk about this is there’s been a big kick-off about the national trust daring to mention their properties connections to slavery, and one of the properties near me is quarry bank mill which is a cotton mill which i think last year hosted this whole evening about the cotton famine which is very cool so i wanted to tie that into the things we talk about cause profiting is probably the wrong wordd but working class people were involved however tangentially in the slave trade.

HAZEL

Definitely you can’t get away from that when the industry is based on it.

Some technical woopsies.

LIZ

Well no i mean it’s the thing that made manchester a big city it was called the workshop of the world because we had all these cotton mills it was called cottonopolis it was a whole identity.

HAZEL

And that’s just part of the history it’s not blaming anyone anyone’s ancestors to say the cotton industry is built on slavery.

LIZ

By pretty early on in the american civil war still we’re talking 1862 there’s a huge lack of cotton getting in which interestingly the confederate states thought would help them win thinking we’d be like no send us the cotton no matter what.

HAZEL

And did it?

LIZ

Not so much.

HAZEL

Yeah i guess if you look at history it didn’t, but…

LIZ

Well no i feel there’s a clue in that manchester has a statue of abraham lincoln is how it went. That turned into a lot of cotton mills closing or switching to wool a lot of cotton mills switched to wool spinning machines pretty sharpish. places like stockport especially which do hat making. There is a hat museum in stockport that mentions this. A very good museum i highly recommend it.

HAZEL

That sounds cool.

LIZ

A lot of people basically got kicked out of their houses because they couldn’t pay rent cause they couldn’t spin cotton and 1000 people emigrated to australia, new zealand and interestingly some people did go to america, but 1/5 of those people were from 1 town in derbyshire.

HAZEL

I’m guessing they all settled in the same place?

LIZ

I’m afraid I don’t have that information about exactly where they went but they were offered free passage to australia and new zealand in 1864.

HAZEL

I just like the idea of a town in australia where everyone is from derbyshire.

LIZ

I’m told towns in australia do have their own little accents, even more localised than some places in britain, so I’m curious if there are places where loads of people sound really northern for no good reason – but there is a good reason.

HAZEL

Makes sense.

LIZ

There’s this quote from 1861 so the very start of the civil war from the owner of quarry bank mill which really shows the attitude to the whole disruption from the mill owners who were the ones profiting from all this – I’m very uneasy about the prospects of business. We are about entering on dangerous times I fear, and the american affair is much more protracted and serious than I had originally thought. Calling a civil war an affair is so victorian.

HAZEL

That’s quite a long winded way to say this blew up more than I expected it to.

LIZ

This escalated quickly.

HAZEL

That’s interesting that-

LIZ

We ended up with – sorry you go

HAZEL

I find it interesting that you get this right after the upheaval of the industrial revolution and everyone’s moved into the cities and then suddenly the work isn’t there so what do you do now do you go back to the countryside do you-

LIZ

Yeah the work was the driving force of urbanisation.

HAZEL

Hm. So I wonder if that stopped people migrating for a bit, or not – it would be interesting to find out if it slowed or stopped movement from the countryside.

LIZ

People were moving between cities and like we said to other countries but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of moving back to the countryside because once you’re in the city you’re kind of stuck there because of all the different mechanisms in the cities.

HAZEL

I guess you probably wouldn’t have anywhere to go if you were trying to get back to the countryside, because you left your family home or sold the cottage.

LIZ

Exactly yeah so you end up with the poor law amendment act in – you end up with people changing the poor law and people petitioning commissioners to provide for these newly unemployed spinners and weavers.

HAZEL

Ok…

LIZ

But they included things like having to go to bible classes or women going to church run sewing classes in order to receive what we would now call benefits. Which is again sort of what you’d expect from the victorians it’s very workhouse adjacent.

HAZEL

It definitely fits into the idea of the deserving poor. People are only worthy of state support or charitable support if they are virtuous.

LIZ

Which is probably why we ended up with things like the stalybridge riot.

HAZEL

I was wondering if there was any unrest to do with this.

LIZ

Basically people in stalybridge people were being given basically food stamps – you give this to the grocer and you’d be given food – so yeah there were protests and public meetings demanding money and bread not tickets, and they ended up sending in the hussars.

HAZEL

Oh no, not them again.

LIZ

I don’t think we talked about peterloo yet, I feel we should talk about peterloo. It’s not exactly in our remit of domestic history…

HAZEL

We can probably shoehorn it in. We could do an episode on bannermaking.

LIZ

Yes. The riots spread from – I realise if you’re not familiar with manchester these are just words – but it spread from stalybridge to ashton and hyde and duckingfield.

HAZEL

So that’s a lot of greater manchester.

LIZ

It’s a significant portion. And the MP for where is it? Yeah a local MP John Cheatham who was also involved in the american cotton supply and the subsequent selling of cotton cloth to india was basically being harangued by the mayor of stalybridge to go to parliament and deal with this. And everyone blamed immigrants. Nothing to do with sending literal members of the army to deal with starving people.

HAZEL

So what… What did they actually do then was there- apart from the poor laws were there any actual government attempts to deal with it?

LIZ

It seems to have been pretty much the poor law and suppressing protests – you’re not actively starving to death so what’s the problem? One thing I like though is there was a – basically the people of manchester got together and decided we support emancipation we support the union in the american civil war and received a letter from abraham lincoln in thanks, which is wild.

HAZEL

That’s fantastic. That’s like people from your small town writing to george clooney saying like we really liked your latest film and george clooney writes back to the people of little wittering saying thanks for your support.

LIZ

The local politicians including ones who will probably come up when they do our peterloo episode were pushing we cannot give in, our people would rather starve. And eventually once the civil war ended, cotton came in again, at about 4x the price but the mills got back to work and yeah now everyone kind of forgets the cotton famine ever happened and you know people’s livelihoods were fed by slavery in the americas and ordinary people objected to this.

HAZEL

Yeah, in terms of british history you do get taught that smooth narrative that industrial revolution happened and the cotton trade and steel etc etc and you don’t really hear about the stuff that went wrong.

LIZ

Yeah, it’s idk I find it interesting.

HAZEL

Oh yeah, it’s super interesting, especially to hear how it was dealt with at the time, especially peoples perspectives at the time.

LIZ

There were definitely people saying oh I don’t care my family is starving but there were also significant amounts of people who said you know what we would rather be dealing with food tickets and our own homes becoming basically workhouses than contribute to other peoples suffering.

HAZEL

Yeah and I think that’s a particular character of northern working towns at the time.

LIZ

It’s working class solidarity isn’t it? Suffering so that someone else will stop suffering even more.

HAZEL

And those places are the birthplace of the trade union movement and all that organising and pressure for working people to have the vote and access to education and all those things.

LIZ

We are going to have to do an episode on peterloo and voting and all those things aren’t we?

HAZEL

And I can talk about banners and the people’s history museum.

LIZ

Yes I miss working there. We’ve mentioned so many museums I’ll have to tag them all when the episode goes up.

HAZEL

We’ll have to do a museum guide of the uk so if you wanted you could go on an ultimate museum roadtrip.

LIZ

I am doing a list of places we mention so we can do the bread and thread roadtrip.

HAZEL

I have seen the list it’s fantastic. Lot of pubs.

LIZ

Yeah every other place is a pub.

HAZEL

Basically every place we mention we’re going to visit some day.

Probably bad podcast plug.

LIZ

So I’m assuming unless you’ve picked one of a very small handful of things that local larder will be a bit lighter than our main topic.

HAZEL

Oh yes if you want a brief respite let me tell you about yarg.

LIZ

Yes. Tell me all about yarg.

HAZEL

With pleasure. For those who are uninitiated into the deeper mysteries of the cheese world, yarg is the name of a particular kind of cheese made in cornwall. Now the word yarg is a fun one because I thought it was some kind of cornish term and apparently it’s often thought that it’s a cornish word or ancient name but it actually isn’t this cheese is as one of the sources I was looking at puts it, part of the british cheese renaissance in the 1980s.

LIZ

That’s a renaissance I want to be part of.

HAZEL

Definitely. If we can pair it up with dressing italian renaissance, then eating cheese I’m there. Yarg is a kind of cheese that is a semi hard cheese that is wrapped in stinging nettle leaves and that’s what gives it its unique flavour. It’s delicious it’s creamy on the outside, crumbly on the inside, and the leaves make it more acidic on the outside. Would recommend.

LIZ

I can believe that, the rind is the best bit.

HAZEL

Definitely. So yarg was actually a rediscovery it’s getting quite popular you can find it in a lot of markets in the uk and abroad it’s in america now you can get it at neils yard, and it was a revival cheese so the name yarg was actually the name of the cheesemakers who revived it backwards. So in the early 1980s two cornish farmers called alan and jenny gray found a recipe for this cheese in a cookbook by gervaise markham from 1615 and I don’t think we’ve mentioned gervaise markham before as a 17th century cookbook writer.

LIZ

No and this so naff I love it.

HAZEL

I know, it’s a very convenient backstory for this cheese.

LIZ

We have so many stories like that in local larder – isn’t that a nice story that’s definitely not true.

HAZEL

But that’s the story that they found this cookbook in their attic with a recipe which could date back to the 13th century in it and they decided to bring back this cheese, and wrapped it in stinging nettles and made it on bodmin moor in cornwall and that was the beginning of the revival of yarg and yarg is the surname gray backwards.

LIZ

It’s ridiculous.

HAZEL

It’s a convoluted story for such a simple cheese.

LIZ

Surely the cheesemaking might attract the beast of bodmin moor if they’re not careful.

HAZEL

It depends if it’s particularly partial to cheese.

LIZ

It’d attract me.

HAZEL

Yeah there’s also a few different varieties, you can also get wild garlic yarg.

LIZ

It’s the best one the flavour you get from the wild garlic is subtle but it’s there. It’s a great melting cheese. Put it on a toastie.

HAZEL

That is a great idea. I need to do that.

LIZ

Don’t you mean a… Tyarg idea?

HAZEL

Oh no. Yarg this is a random fact I found – the people who make yarg which is still based in cornwall – they are quite big on trying to export it and yarg was on the first flight of concorde, which I did not know.

LIZ

Why not?

HAZEL

I don’t know the school system these days – kids need to know about yarg. So also on another interesting note I found some of this information on a website called cheese.com which describes itself as the worlds greatest cheese resource. So if you want to find out more about any kind of cheese you imagine, cheese facts and more then they have a cheese of the day.

LIZ

Aah the cheese of the day today is a nice buffalo mozzarella.

HAZEL

There we go cheese.com for all your cheese needs. This is not sponsored, I just thought it was a fantastic website.

LIZ

Cheese.com hit us up. They have a twitter I’m following them right now.

HAZEL

Oh wow. So there you go that’s the story of yarg and I would definitely encourage you to check it out if you can.

LIZ

I am still boggling at that story.

HAZEL

Oh there’s also a village in iran called yarg apparently but they don’t make cheese.

LIZ

I’m assuming that’s a coincidence.

HAZEL

I think so. However, one could theoretically travel to yarg, iran, and eat yarg cheese so you’d be eating yarg in yarg.

LIZ

So on that note we hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode if you have an episode or local larder suggestion or just a comment you want to say hi you can email bread and thread podcast at gmail.com

HAZEL

You can also find us on twitter at breadandthread, and we also have a patreon, where you can find recipes and instructional videos and all sorts of fun things.

LIZ

We do if you want to support our eventual pubs and also other places road trip you can go to patreon.com/breadandthread.

HAZEL

Is that all our things? I think it’s all our things.

LIZ

I think it’s all our things.

HAZEL

In that case we will see you next time. Go forth and make all the things.

LIZ

And make yarg.

HAZEL

Yeah and make yarg!

Closing music.

Probably Bad Podcast 20: against all better judgement, we watch the second dungeons and dragons movie

d&daniel

D&D Daniel here. it’s been a rough week for me. ever since i forgot to thank the patrons in the previous episode, the hosts have stopped feeding me dice. so thank you to mario, hedwig, matt satinrabbit and jamie for your support. please, keep listening and maybe i will be fed dice once more. i need to liiiive…

opening music.

mod pencil

hello and welcome to the probably bad podcast a podcast which is definitely bad. i’m pencil.

paper

i’m paper and as this is our 20th episode we are following up our watch of the D&D movie with Dungeons and Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God.

mod pencil

it’s not very good.

paper

no, which is a tv movie containing only one character from the original movie.

mod pencil

it’s not very good. but it does capture the feel of a D&D campaign where you don’t want to be in and don’t really like any of the other players. it is set 100 years after and all the major characters are dead.

paper

the only character i cared about in the first one did canonically die, and they did a thing like they were going to bring him back but they didn’t.

mod pencil

yeah it does capture the feeling of being in a campaign with people you don’t really like, but isn’t bad enough for you to quit.

paper

yeah. my favourite part though of bringing damodar back is he was the head henchman in the first one, he was the blue lip guy but in this he’s not wearing his blue lipstick he’s just a regular guy.

mod pencil

yeah that was his only distinguishing characteristic. now he’s back, he’s undead now and he – so there’s a scene…

paper

he’s not undead, he’s spent 100 years as like trapped in undead pain as a curse which drove him insane but now he’s not in undead pain anymore he’s back back, now he’s cross.

mod pencil

we cut to scenes of him doing his plans and they are really fucking weird… there are scenes where they pour blood in his spine through a funnel and there’s a scene where he’s getting a foot massage from a goblin in bdsm gear.

paper

yeah it’s a weird film.

mod pencil

we occasionally cut to him doing whatever the fuck he’s doing. neither of these things are ever followed up.

paper

despite all the exposition i’m unclear what his actual long term goal was.

mod pencil

he was trying to get revenge on the nation except they didn’t turn him into an undead.

paper

yeah a very specific guy who was very much killed by dragons.

mod pencil

yeah.

paper

while he was there, you know this guy’s dead and no–one liked him.

mod pencil

just general revenge as a concept. he was not the most 3D villain. it was never brought up why he had blood poured in his spine.

paper

probably general dark magicks probably spelt with a k.

mod pencil

he’s not a vampire he doesn’t do blood magic or anything. it’s just a thing he does sometimes.

paper

it’s his thing, everyone has a thing. the other three main characters though… lord beric, and his wife melora and also the random old guy… it looked like the casting director wanted very specific people but couldn’t get them they looked really eerie similar to ian mcdiarmid, james mcevoy and emilia clarke except they obviously weren’t any of those people. and it really freaked me out thinking where do i know them from and turns out i knew them from being other people.

mod pencil

so yeah the main character is a generic lord of this fantasy place has a very gay interaction with his head of the guards. there’s the line would you like to come to my room and joust with quills…

paper

except there’s a really long pause before the word quills.

mod pencil

would you like to come to my room and joust… with quills. so they’re banging.

paper

yep. well you know his wife’s too busy trying to be multiclass.

mod pencil

his wife’s arc is that she’s a wizard trying to take a level in cleric essentially. she wants to know how to do divine magic.

paper

because that would make her more politically powerful than being the lord’s wife apparently.

mod pencil

it’s one of those things that’s a little odd in D&D terms cause at the end she takes a level in cleric and saves the day. but her motivation is she wants to multiclass.

paper

and through trying to multiclass she becomes cursed and the plot of the thing is less about damodar and more about what has cursed her for daring to try to multiclass.

mod pencil

they collect four adventurers with no other pretext than it’s D&D you need to collect adventurers.

paper

yeah the first half is damodar being weird and so we need a barbarian a cleric a wizard and a rogue. the one creative part of the party gathering is the barbarian’s a woman oooo. who has no personality.

mod pencil

there’s an elf wizard and it’s almost impressive how much she refuses to get a personality. she refuses to do anything that distinguishes her in any way from any other elven wizard.

paper

if you’ve been in a session with someone who decides to be an aloof arsehole despite it being a collaborative game, that’s Ormaline, we have a name for it now.

mod pencil

it’s a good half of the way through the movie where she says something other than a spell.

paper

i think so. saying about ormaline though can we talk names for a second? i get these names are largelly from canon 3rd ed stuff but you can’t just call your magical fantasy place inverness. that’s a place, an actual place already. and you can’t call a place curtle cause that’s a skirt. the goblins of curtle or the skirt goblins. i have problems with this.

mod pencil

luckily i don’t have this problem cause i forgot every single name after they said them. to be fair the rogue is only referred to as rogue in the entire movie.

paper

no his name is nim. the party are called lux dorian ormaline and nim.

mod pencil

yeah there is the world’s most generic wizard, the world’s most generic cleric, who dies before he can develop a personality, he has one monologue on faith and dies, um…

paper

yeah the film is very pro religion, just religion in general.

mod pencil

but yeah the only way to defeat dragons is by faith. which is certainly a moral. there’s the barbarian who is mentioned – a woman – she has some tragic backstory related to her brother murdered a bunch of people. someone says dramatically you’re not like your brother which would be more resonant if she gave any indication she was, and the rogue who is the biggest asshole on the planet.

paper

the barbarian doesn’t really grasp the scale of what’s happening. at one point the four of them, they’re trying to solve the puzzle in the woods and this literal army shows up and she declares they are bandits and they need to fight them.

mod pencil

what is happening is the lipstick man no longer having lipstick has found an evil orb that summons a plague dragon and is going to use it to kill everyone.

paper

the plague dragon is legitimately cool. there’s a lich called klaxx and everything, with two xs.

mod pencil

klaxx is my favourite character.

paper

klaxx is the only good actor.

mod pencil

he shows up, summons a dragon to kill everything, klaxx shows up and says you’re doing evil bullshit i like evil bullshit, i want to do evil bullshit. his only motivation is he knows evil si happening and he wants to be included and when things turn against the villain he does essentially hah you’ve been punk’d i wasn’t part of this at all, turns into a gargoyle and flies away.

paper

yeah i think it says a lot that both of our favourite characters who as i said is also the only person who can act in this whole film, shows up for shits and giggles, and when things start to go wrong just flies away.

mod pencil

so they have to get the orb off the evil man, they find the four other members of the party i genuinely couldn’t tell you where they know them from, how they know them, why they agree to join the quest…

paper

i think they’re generally well known people?? like according to gary gygax they’re level 7 characters so i guess they’re known?

mod pencil

there’s no scenes of them being hired or persuaded to join they’re just… they’re just mentioned that they’re on the team. so they go off to find-

paper

there’s a lot of ADR when recruiting as well, a weird amount. it’s like they were rewriting the film in the editing. it’s like they realised they didn’t have enough exposition and did ADR, realised there still wasn’t enough.

mod pencil

there was a lot of exposition.

paper

there was a lot but not enough to actually know what was going on.

mod pencil

i feel like a load of things one of the characters turns out to be a secret gargoyle, which is one of my favourite things.

paper

i don’t think he’s a secret gargoyle i think he’s a shapeshifter, cause he shapeshifts into the cleric at one point. like i appreciate his choice to become a gargoyle in order to peace out but i think he’s a lich who shapeshifts.

mod pencil

yeah, but i still appreciate the fact that he dramatically pulls off his disguise to reveal he’s a gargoyle and laughs and flies away it’s my favourite dramatic reveal.

paper

if i could draw i would be drawing that scene right now.

mod pencil

if you want a dramatic reveal in your campaign have a character reveal they’ve been a gargoyle the whole time, take off their mask and fly away. they need to find a scrying thing to find where the big bad is, and at the same time the cursed wife is trying to unlock a book of her mental power…

paper

which she realises there’s something important going on cause there’s a very minor typo.

mod pencil

she sets the book on fire, because the pages go 363-.

paper

893 is missing. which is definitely not a mistake cause these pages are hand numbered.

mod pencil

yeah she sets it on fire cause fire reveals everything. but it would be hilarious if she just burnt the book. yeah they miscounted.

paper

congrats, you just ruined someone’s life’s work.

mod pencil

yeah she needs to burn the book to show she has faith in the book. cause that’s how books work. as mentioned this is a weirdly pro religious movie for a D&D campaign. yeah there’s another villain they’re trying to find malucard, who’s a dead villain they’re trying to find the magical thing he had.

paper

i couldn’t work out what his purpose was except macguffin haver.

mod pencil

yeah figures he buried his macguffin in a tomb. the only thing we know he did was use scrying to find virgins on their wedding day, teleport into their room and stab them. which…

paper

which is a very minor thing, it has no bearing on the plot, it’s just a thing about him.

mod pencil

it has no bearing on the plot and it’s also such a specific asshole thing to do? such a specific kind of evil you get known for.

paper

didn’t he also make his password to his lair his boss’s name? an actual demon.

mod pencil

all he did was teleport around and stab virgins and that’s all he’s still known for 100 years after his death. he’s a strange man.

paper

yeah but he knew what he was about.

mod pencil

yeah, but dabababababadah, we should probably cut this out.

paper

so part of the critical response was it’s more like a D&D campaign than the first one, which it is, but we also barely spend any time with the party it’s just things happening around them. if it is a campaign it’s one with a lot of cutscenes.

mod pencil

the problem is none of the party members have a personality.

paper

even lord beric who is supposedly the protagonist, and the leader of the party, he’s just gotta save my stupid wife.

mod pencil

he’s very generically protagonist. he’s good in a generically wholesome good way.

paper

a good person not a good character.

mod pencil

he’s a good person, that’s his thing.

paper

you half expect him to stand around dramatically in places, like galavant, but galavant is a character with a personality.

mod pencil

it feels almost like a parody of a D&D campaign but played seriously.

paper

yeah…

mod pencil

but yeah – also there’s a scene at the start where this town is full of poison gas and they’re trying to figure out what causes it, wipes some mud off a rock and the rock turns out to have been a dragon this whole time? there’s just been a muddy dragon in this village that’s been killing everyone and they’ve been assuming it’s a rock?

paper

which i’m 100% sure we’ve done an idea on this podcast similar to that.

mod pencil

yeah wipes mud off it and is just like this isn’t a rock. which has been breathing poison gas on the town, and no-one’s gone rocks don’t do that.

paper

and the monsters as well, there’s the magmins, which are basically little lava babies.

mod pencil

they were very adorable.

paper

they were very cute and very interesting creature, i’m unclear why they were there.

mod pencil

there was a lot of – there was a lot of random encounters essentially, true to the game but doesn’t make a good story. there’s a lot of scenes where a lot of random evil bullshit will show up and then they fight it for a bit then they just leave.

paper

and you assume it’s connected in some way but i couldn’t tell you how. some sort of elemental threat, so there’s lava babies.

mod pencil

they mention the army that was mentioned earlier attacked them was sent by the big bad, but a lot of things never come up again.

paper

yeah the magmins are just there. sometimes there are just lava babies and you have to deal with that.

mod pencil

sort of provides a living breathing world in the sense of there are a lot of things the main characters have absolutely no interest in that presumably all ties together but we’re not going to learn because the main characters aren’t going to learn that.

paper

it’s not relevant to harry’s journey.

mod pencil

yeah there’s presumably some lore that explains why there’s lava monsters.

paper

to be fair there is a lot of lore and it’s the D&D 3rd ed content.

mod pencil

they get their way through the puzzle. the puzzle is a legitimately cool puzzle.

paper

i like the puzzle even if the answer is the guy’s boss.

mod pencil

beats using password as password. and there’s another one inside with a mirror that reflects the path across a bunch of lazers. they kill the wizard’s familiar, that’s as close as she gets to any kind of characterisation, but yeah they scry their way…

paper

yeah i didn’t care about the deaths, i cared less and less as the film went on cause the body count is remarkable.

mod pencil

yeah for such a straightforward fantasy romp a lot of people straight up fucking died. a lot of characters straight up died casually. they get the orb and take it back, and give it to the head wizard, dramatically reveals himself to be a gargoyle and flies away, which… looking back it’s hinted that’s he’s killed early on and replaced with a gargoyle but i prefer to think he was just a gargoyle the whole time.

paper

to be fair he could be a gargoyle who shapeshifted into a lich. we have no- if we just look at the film there is no textual evidence that lich is his true form.

mod pencil

yeah so the lipstick man finally summons the plague dragon and that goes well for him? the plague dragon decides to give him a big throne and what have you then starts levelling the town and the main character’s wife learns through the power of faith to multiclass. There’s a long monologue on the – at the start the cleric says there’s something more important than swords and spells for fighting evil and-

paper

they use their cleric powers for fighting people.

mod pencil

turns out that’s faith, using spells for fighting people. they ask – they go to track down the evil wizard they essentially ask him to lift the curse and he says ok sure.

paper

if it was that easy…

mod pencil

he doesn’t really need any convincing. the final scene is him in a prison cell looking sad.

paper

there’s a lot of things i don’t understand.

mod pencil

sorry i’m just- also i’m looking at quotes i wrote down from the movie which include Ismir is at risk so risks we must take, blessed are the works of nature, smashes the shit out of a tree with a hammer, and you’ll never stop me, you’re wrong. that’s the dramatic one liner.

paper

it’s very gandalf though, isn’t it? i prefer white. i actually liked that. just being that glib at a big dramatic villain is beautiful.

mod pencil

the villain really overacts and really underacts at the same time.

paper

it’s the theatrical equivalent of saying the loud part quiet.

mod pencil

simultaneously very monotonous and over the top. also unfortunately i’ve never been able to control my urges, even as a dead man, which is… weird flex. i don’t know if it was just me and i’m just weird, but a lot of dialogue seemed weirdly innuendo-y. they kept saying penetrate, and i want to duel you with my quills in my bedroom and i can’t control my urges. it’s possible i am just weird.

paper

i don’t think there is a good explanation for a large part of the dialogue.

mod pencil

and the villain is getting foot massages from a bdsm goblin. i don’t think it’s ever established who his goblin boyfriend is, if it’s a minion or an ally or if he’s just there?

paper

it’s a symbiotic relationship, he likes getting foot massages, the goblin likes giving foot massages, they’re hanging out. doing their thing.

mod pencil

yeah i think they’re dating. good for him. the goblin guy dies i think?

paper

probably? there’s a lot of unclear fates.

mod pencil

lots of people have things happen to them. the elven wizard gets her arm torn off and it took me checking the tvtropes page to realise that’s what happened.

paper

wow, i entirely missed that.

mod pencil

when she teleports the big bad she gets her arm stuck in a wall and that’s why she’s screaming and not helping out.

paper

ok i thought she was just shit.

mod pencil

yeah i initially thought she didn’t want to be there.

paper

which is valid, i wouldn’t want to be there either. she was just hanging out on mystical elf island and then got summoned to join this quest.

mod pencil

yeah so at the start we do a monologue of the characters and what they’re doing; the barbarian is beating people up, the cleric is trying to stop people desecrating the church, the thief is tricking two other thieves into dying so he can steal a treasure, and the elf is on a boat?

paper

i did interpret that as travelling over from mystical elf island.

mod pencil

possibly but it doesn’t-

paper

yeah it doesn’t do anything for her character.

mod pencil

yeah they’ve expressed their characters even in a cliched way, she owns a boat that’s her whole thing.

paper

she doesn’t even own it, it’s just at one point she’s travelled over water.

mod pencil

yeah at least once in her life she’s been on a boat and that’s the most she could say about her character. that’s the biggest defining characteristic.

paper

that and she wears crop tops when it’s misty out. huge mistake. you’re going to get water in your belly button, put on a jacket.

mod pencil

maybe that’s why she’s screaming and like – not joining in the fight.

paper

just belly button mould.

mod pencil

i hope you enjoy the phrase belly button mould. subscribe to our patreon for more uses of the phrase belly button mould.

paper

belly button mould.

mod pencil

it’s not even so bad it’s good so much as- it does sort of feel like hanging out with a bunch of people you don’t know and you’re- you know when you do a campaign and can’t get into the character headspace so you’re sitting there trying to be a wizard and you’re acutely aware of like the fact… it’s a full movie of that.

paper

yeah. i feel like there’s an alignment chart – on one axis is technically good to technically bad – one is enjoyable to watch, not enjoyable to watch. this is just like pretty central honestly. there’s some pretty good CG but also a lot of ADR and bad acting. you can almost get into it in places but it pulls back. it’s cinematic edging.

mod pencil

that marks the second very good phrase on this our podcast.

paper

i’m so sorry.

mod pencil

for our 20th anniversary we’re going to say the phrase cinematic edging.

paper

it’s not our anniversary!

mod pencil

for our 20th episode.

paper

i’ve not been doing the podcast since i was 5.

mod pencil

to be fair that’s how long 2020 has felt.

paper

yeah. yeah…

mod pencil

basically if you want to see a bunch of – that bad campaign you made as a 13 year old made into a full length movie-

paper

starring people who look like people you’ve heard of.

mod pencil

then this is the film for you.

paper

i think that’s our review of wrath of the dragon god.

mod pencil

i’d watch the first one which is at least more enjoyable to watch. unless you’re really committed to seeing a really boring film.

paper

the first one has tom baker in it which is something. yeah if you want to support our terrible film habit, and get bonus episodes where we do stuff other than answer questions and talk about bad films you can go to patreon.com/probablybadrpgideas

mod pencil

and we won’t say belly button mould.

paper

belly button mould. shall i say the other one in case anyone wants a clean take in case they want to use it?

mod pencil

yeah.

paper

cinematic edging.

mod pencil

if you want to use either of those in your podcast i guess we can’t legally stop you.

paper

technically we could but i hereby give permission.

mod pencil

thank you for listening i’m sorry about the direction this took.

paper

i’m not.

Probably Bad Episode 19 – The Car Boot Octagon, Flaming Bullshit, and Trope Bashing

With apologies for lateness – the producer had to get a new laptop

Opening music

Mod pencil

Hello and welcome to the probably bad podcast, a podcast which is definitely bad. I’m pencil.

Paper

I’m paper. Today’s probably bad rpg idea is…

(rolls dice)

Create a cosmic level enemy whose attack damages the player not just on a surface level, but on all levels of reality. If an attack hits a character, hit the character’s player in the face IRL. This could go wrong so quickly and i love it.

MOD PENCIL

I’m the one who chose this idea, i’m not suggesting beating the shit out of your players.

PAPER

Yeah, that’s just for physical attacks.

MOD PENCIL

Yeah, i do like the idea of it in some way damages the player irl. I can’t think of a way to do this which isn’t just an excuse to assault your player in some manner or isn’t just LARP.

PAPER

There are ways to damage a player which isn’t thumping them. Have you considered every time they take damage, the player becomes a little more empty inside. Just show them pictures of sad puppies.

MOD PENCIL

Yeah every time you get injured by the monster you have to listen to more of my amateur poetry. I think you could do this in – every time you get hit by the monster cross something out on your character sheet you can’t use that anymore.

PAPER

Just a different way of doing damage i think.

MOD PENCIL

Perhaps. Ok we’re back to decking people.

PAPER

If your character dies you have to do the cinnamon challenge.

MOD PENCIL

This is now just a youtube prank channel. If your character dies you have to say obnoxious things to people while being filmed.

PAPER

I wonder if you can do it for other consequences that characters can have, just sort of like you know there’s certain things that can drain a character’s maximum hitpoints so it’s like well i’m afraid your character has lost half their maximum hp so i’m going to break both your legs.

MOD PENCIL

Every time you’re hit with a hold person spell you have to go into the Gm’s basement and you can’t come out until it wears off.

PAPER

Every time you take damage you have to put on a jumper try to finish the battle before you die of heat stroke.

MOD PENCIL

There’s a train heading towards five people and every time you take damage it goes closer.

PAPER

I thought you were going to turn that into a terrible trolley problem.

MOD PENCIL

It is a trolley problem do you keep playing this terrible d&d game when your gm breaks your legs in order to save five people.

PAPER

I’m not a philosophy expert but i feel like this misses the point of a trolley problem.

MOD PENCIL

I feel like we’ve missed the point of a good rpg session it’s turned into a saw movie.

PAPER

I like saw movies.

MOD PENCIL

The dice are sewn inside someone at the start of the game and you have to get them out.

PAPER

I feel like that’s a lot darker.

MOD PENCIL

It seems like a logical progression. The dice are scattered and connected to a series of bombs around the city… and when you roll…

PAPER

It’s not related but it’s an idea you put in my head. At the start of the game you play hungry, hungry hippos. The number of marbles you get is the number you’re allowed to use in the session.

MOD PENCIL

I like that it’s just completely-

PAPER

It has nothing to do with anytihng.

MOD PENCIL

It’s like twister and when you fall over your character dies, and every time you take damage your player- your gm jabs you with a stick.

PAPER

No i like player – everyone gets to poke you.

MOD PENCIL

Yeah. It’s just i feel it might be easier to just play twister but the point is now you’re playing at the same time and you’re being poked constantly.

PAPER

To be fair though this should be reversed, if you’re in a boss battle and you hit the boss you should get to hit the gm’s nose or something.

MOD PENCIL

I chose this idea and i’m regretting it because this is getting closer and closer to just i’m going to fistfight the gm. You say i’m going to fight – ok fine go to the cage you’ve installed in the game room and beat the shit out of each other.

PAPER

To the octagon!

MOD PENCIL

The other players yell oc-ta-gon as you beat each other. Players can give inspiration by throwing rocks at the gm as the gm fights the player to distract them.

PAPER

Oh they’ve got to be dice.

MOD PENCIL

Hyeah they throw dice at the gm to distract them. As you get to higher levels you get weapons to bring in to fight the gm. At level 1 you have a feather duster and at level 20 you have a shotgun.

PAPER

I’m curious what’s at level 10 what’s the exact midpoint between a feather duster and a shotgun?

MOD PENCIL

A shotgun that fires feather dusters. I guess a sword? the higher the challenge rating the better weapons the gm has as well.

PAPER

Of course. A terask has an AK.

MOD PENCIL

Goblins have a goblin.

PAPER

A goblin weapon is a goblin.

MOD PENCIL

You just swing it by the legs. This goes on…

PAPER

If you can’t access a goblin a 3 year old painted will do just fine.

MOD PENCIL

This feels off brand – you make the game good by painting a 3 year old green bring them into a cage and swing them at someone’s face.

PAPER

As the probably bad podcast I’d argue this is the most on brand we’ve been for some time.

MOD PENCIL

I haven’t slept in quite some time and paper has a migraine so that’s why this episode is going the way it is. And like there’s a whole problem in D&D where even powerful enemies are difficult to fight cause everyone can gang up on them, but it’s represented in the rules cause everyone can gang up on the gM.

PAPER

It’s perfect.

MOD PENCIL

Does it apply to other forms of conflict – if you’re trying to seduce someone do you have to take them to the sexy octagon?

PAPER

The sexy octagon??

MOD PENCIL

Yeah do you have to seduce the GM?

PAPER

Yes.

MOD PENCIL

And the higher charisma the skimpier clothes you get to wear. At 20 you get to be naked.

PAPER

If you’re haggling you and your gm have to both go to a car boot sale and get the best deal.

MOD PENCIL

The car boot octagon.

PAPER

That would be a weird car and i’m into it.

MOD PENCIL

You have imprisoned a man and his car in the car boot octagon for use as a car boot sale. What i’m saying is you create a series of octagons for every possible challenge.

PAPER

Yeah, and we all need something to do during the now times.

MOD PENCIL

To prepare for lockdown finally lifting, dig a series of octagons and fill them with deadly traps to put your friends in when you meet them again.

PAPER

If they don’t wear a mask push them in.

MOD PENCIL

If you don’t wear a mask your character takes a bunch of damage and this is represented by players pinning you down, putting a mask on you and hitting you.

PAPER

Speaking of communal efforts, we have a sponsor for the first time ever and it’s a kickstarter project. The deck of rumours by unlimited realms which is five decks of cards of sort of various events that could be happening or gossip or things like that to serve as jumping off points in your games.

MOD PENCIL

It’s all posters, or messages you can find around town. Like i need someone to teach my son algebra, or things more exciting like that.

PAPER

It ranges from stuff like there’s a new jam shop opening to oh god oh god we’re all going to die of plague.

MOD PENCIL

It is a very good spectrum of tone and scale.

PAPER

And the cards are really well made as well the graphics quality is really good. If that appeals to you follow the link in the episode description. There was going to be an and there, but that’s it follow the lnik and look at the cards and give them money for hte good cards.

MOD PENCIL

If you want to join us in conversation about cards octagon… i don’t know where that sentence went i’m so tired.

PAPER

Shall we just move on to questions?

MOD PENCIL

Questions!

Questions music!

Bread and thread plug.

MOD PENCIL

So our first question is anonymous – stranger things and the games that came after that made the 80s aesthetic big, but which aesthetic would you bring back?

PAPER

This is hard for me i have no aesthetic, they’re all glorious.

MOD PENCIL

Circus rpg.

PAPER

Is that an aesthetic?

MOD PENCIL

Yeah circuses used to be a thing.

PAPER

Only in the sense that things technically used to be a thing right now. They haven’t gone extinct.

MOD PENCIL

Yeah, bring back the aesthetic of actually getting to meet people, that’s the one i’d bring back but what i would actually like to see a game of, and it’s the sort of you don’t see a lot of like bronze age style games it’s usually more recent or medieval, but early city state kind of games. I feel that would be an interesting setting for an RPG.

PAPER

Presumably the big bad is Inacea.

MOD PENCIL

Yes you need to like finally stop him stealing copper – no scamming people into buying copper.

PAPER

Maybe that’s part of the scam, he steals it and sells it on you don’t know his life.

MOD PENCIL

That is true he has been dead for many thousands of years i don’t know his life. but yeah that kind of early technology like everything sort of changing between agriculture, hunter gathering and agriculture there’d definitely be some interesting stories there.

PAPER

Can i be an awful pedant and say high medieval slash early modern but actually instead of how it tends to be in fantasy. I want ridiculously brightly coloured clothes i want men in high heels i want jewellery everywhere i want just stupid amounts of hair.

MOD PENCIL

The aesthetic i want to bring back is actual respect for how history was. Yeah i think…

Paper

failing that, high fantasy flappers would be very fun.

Mod pencil

they would be. high fantasy 20s.

Paper

problem is a lot of the media i consume has the aesthetics i like idk what aesthetics are neglected right now.

Mod pencil

that’s why i just went for circuses. you’ve got fire eaters as the npcs, clowns as the villains it all takes place at the big top.

Paper

it’s certainly an idea.

question music.

Paper

fiona wants to know what the weirdest homebrew is. i did see homebrew stats for this mysterious creature called the bonacon, which is i mean its main defining feature as a creature is sort of whipping its caustic faeces around, it’s kind of a bowl a weird bowl that has poo that sets things on fire.

Mod pencil

sounds like a load of bullcrap to me badum tish.

Paper

it’s such an obscure creature to go yes i want this in my game. but i also went i want this in my game so tried to see if anyone had homebrewed it. so i’m going with the bonacon.

Mod pencil

yes, seems like a coward then throws shit at you. the weirdest homebrew i’ve seen it was a reality warping class that can reshape reality. at level 1 what you can specifically do, is reshape reality from the enemy doesn’t have a sword wound, to a reality where the enemy does have a sword wound and you can do that at touch range by making an attack roll. it’s a matter of time until you realise it’s a fighter who is ridiculously overfluffed, and now it’s aha you can make it so that 2 enemies in front of you have spontaneous sword wounds.

Paper

that’s so wild i’m in love with it.

Mod pencil

i’m going to find it. it was just reality reshapes so that injuries on you are like altered to be less severe because you now have more armour and it’s just every single fighter… going to see if i can find it… every single fighter feature but it’s all fluffed as you reshape reality itself.

Paper

that is beautiful.

Mod pencil

i haven’t found many kink homebrews i always thought there would be more.

Paper

i can’t say i’ve gone looking for them, but i’ve read the book of erotic fantasy and incorporated it into my D&D stuff.

Mod pencil

all i can remember of it is that it has the thing that makes you ejaculate spiders.

Paper

that is a pretty weird homebrew on its own.

Mod pencil

is it homebrew if it’s in an official thingamyjig?

Paper

that’s fair. but some people have made it into homebrew for 5e, cause different edition. i think it gets honorable mention.

Mod pencil

i like homebrew, and there’s surprisingly little stuff that makes you think that’s just someone’s kink.

Paper

maybe the kinks are just too obscure for you to realise that it’s a kink.

Mod pencil

maybe all of this is someone’s kink.

Paper

maybe boncon is someone’s fursona.

Mod pencil

oh i’m a cool wolf or a sexy cat, no i’m a cow that shits everywhere and burns the building down. i guess it’s important to represent who you are.

Paper

i do just want to clarify for any furry listeners i do want to clarify i don’t think furry is exclusively a kink thing. it’s just a thought that entered into my brain.

Mod pencil

people are excessively mean to furries and furries should be allowed to wear fursuits. that’s the moral of this episode if you were wondering. furries should be allowed to wear fursuits and beat up your GM.

question music.

Paper

we do have another question if we have time… archetypal archivist probably one of my favourite names from a question asker, asks what are your 5 least favourite tropes and story pieces that pop up in a lot of D&D games. my number one is definitely horny bards. a lot of people see charismatic and think oh they flirt with everyone. when it’s at the point it’s a meme.

Mod pencil

my least favourite… is a bit less specific than horny bards, but in a lot of stories the villain shows up and says i was behind everything all along, which works reasonably well as like media where you’re reading someone else’s adventures but it seems weird when you’re the player and you hear haha it’s all been part of the evil villain’s scheme all along.

Paper

yeah i get that, there’s a fun to be had slowly realising that rather than being told it at the end is not satisfying.

Mod pencil

i think babababaa this bit should probably be edited out as i remember what words are… i also don’t like ones where the monster sits on a huge pile of treasure waiting to be stabbed. i’m not a huge fan of dungeon crawls in general, they’re just there’s only so many times you can stab dragon. actually, fuck, i don’t like combat in D&D in my controversial opinion.

Paper

i see what you mean with dungeons, why would someone build this. they’re not real places. it feels like the dungeons and dragons movie – you want treasure we’re going to push you into here now.

Mod pencil

it doesn’t feel like a place that’s inhabited, a place that’s got an ecosystem. i’m not expecting you to sit down and say make me food, but what does the manticore eat? it’s just there in a stone room.

Paper

also like yeah what was this space, cause if you’ve got a space that’s just got caves and there’s a nothick in the middle, how did it get there, explain.

Mod pencil

i want to run a campaign where you’re a bunch of monsters and you’ve got to escape this underground maze you inexplicably live in. there you go, that’s my reasoning for why i hate the premise of dungeons and dragons, join us next time for why dragons suck.

Paper

that’s number 3, can number 4 be i’m a loner i have no connections i’m a loner who wanders the land… number one that’s just going to be a murderhobo unless you have a very good reason to not have those connections but you’re still going to have some sort of connection even if it’s to a place, not a person.

Mod pencil

if you have no connections to anything there’s no reason for them to be on an adventure.

Paper

yeah because if you actually had no connection to anything or anywhere or anyone, despite the fact the character has quite severe depression, what reason do you have to go on an adventure?

Mod pencil

i’ve had to GM characters like that and it’s very hard to motivate characters whose motivation is i don’t care about any of this and i don’t want to do this.

Paper

cause it’s not a motivation it’s an anti-motivation.

Mod pencil

their motivation is they have no motivations.

Paper

put that character in therapy and make a more interesting character.

Mod pencil

ok, so we have one more… yeah i probably shouldn’t say the entire combat system, partly cause it’s not a trope.

Paper

i get what you mean there are issues with… there are issues with any combat system, cause there’s no way you can make it realistic while also being codified.

Mod pencil

yeah which is why all rpgs should be pacifistic.

Paper

a bold stance.

Mod pencil

combat should not be- rpg combat should be a lot more abstract, but that’s not the question we’re asking so-

Paper

i can’t think of a 5th one.

Mod pencil

the 5th one i don’t like is the fact that all elves and dwarves are essentially identical. i don’t like fantasy worlds that are like here are the dwarves and you already know everything about dwarves. i don’t like how out of the box a lot of fantasy settings are and how interchangeable a lot of them are. i feel like cause obviously there’s some reasons to like, our dwarves live in the sky with the birds, but you need at least one interesting thing about them, at least make it they all have wacky hats or something.

Paper

it’s kind of dragon age origins of all things says it best you can’t sum up an entire species in a sentence. i can’t remember the exact phrase but it’s probably setting specific. it’s just you can’t be like the dwarves live underground and the elves live in the trees and that’s their traits.

Mod pencil

all the dwarves are miners and they swear and drink and that’s the dwarves.

Paper

it’s uninteresting and lazy.

Mod pencil

there definitely need ot be more d&d fantasy settings that aren’t medieval england and there’s an elf.

Paper

fantasy settings generally that’s not just D&D.

Mod pencil

i don’t like how standardised fantasy settings have become.

Paper

there are some very very good ones, and i’ve read very good ones. but i don’t like how many go tolkien is the canon, if every species doesn’t act like it does in LOTR it isn’t high fantasy. and those are books i put down and walk away.

Mod pencil

yeah, we complained about things.

Paper

this episode is going to be a little bit long because of the complaining, but we hope we answered the question.

Mod pencil

i hope we at least answered a question even if it’s not one anyone asked. thank you for listening to our podcast.

Paper

if you enjoyed it you can go to patreon.com/probablybadrpgideas and you can get homebrew and bonus episodes. i’m very excited for the next bonus episode we’re going to play a one page system i came up with called night at the ninja museum. so chuck us some money if you want to hear that. if you have a question you can send it to us at probablybadpodcast@gmail.com and…

both

remember to have a probably bad day.

closing music.

Bread and Thread Tasting History

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 and today we have an important extra person.

Liz

Yes we have max from tasting history on youtube.

Max

Thanks for having me, hello, hello.

HAZEL

Thanks for agreeing to be on our tiny podcast with your very cool internet self.

MAX

Of course it’s food history, culinary history, you can’t keep me away so i’m here if i’m asked.

HAZEL

Awesome i’m super excited about the topic today, as well. It’s something i know nothing about and it sounds like a cornucopia of delights.

LIZ

But first we always start by talking about what we’ve been making and baking this week.

MAX

Aah.

LIZ

Maybe our guest should go first.

MAX

Well i’ve been making something called farts of portingale, probably one of the worst names for a dish and i’ll be doing an episode on it they’re little meatballs from the time of shakespeare with a terrible name.

HAZEL

That sounds much more delicious than the name would suggest. Cool.. liz?

LIZ

I got hold of some wool from bury market which is a rainbow variegated yarn twisted around a black one so i’m making a jumper that looks like a roller disco is the only way i can describe this yarn.

HAZEL

Does that mean one will be able to roller skate on you?

LIZ

One could try.

HAZEL

That sounds fantastic. Did i talk about the nettles last time?

LIZ

I think you might’ve done when you did the trifle one.

HAZEL

Ok, i can nettle progress update i hvae been well the attempt is to make fabric out of nettles as that’s a historically was a source of cheap fabric there are currently several bundles of nettles in my back garden retting down so the fibres separate which is what normal people do with their weekends right?

LIZ

I’m very excited about this are you using your drop spindle?

HAZEL

Probably i’ll try some on the wheel as well, i’ve heard it helps if you wet spin them if you dip your fingers in water then spin. We’ll see. It’s definitely an experimental process. There are certainly a lot of parts of the world where people use nettles for clothing. I’ll have to do some research on that and see where i’m going wrong or right.

LIZ

We’re going to have to do an episode on nettles at some point, cause they can be food they can be clothing, i basically self medicate with nettle tea cause it’s an anti-inflammatory.

HAZEL

Nettles are a wonderful plant, a friend has a book 101 uses for nettles.

LIZ

That’s very on brand.

HAZEL

That is very on brand for people i know.

LIZ

But that’s not what we’re talking about today, Max what are we talking about?

MAX

We are talking about fanny farmer and her boston cooking school cookbook from 1896. she was a… So ms farmer was born in 1857 outside boston and got polio when she was young and at 16 she had a stroke which left her paralysed from the waist down and it took quite a number of years for her to walk again. When she finally did she decided she was going to take up cooking she had been cooking at her parents house which was part boarding house for a while and people liked her food so said she was going to do this for real and she went to the boston cooking school and in 1889 she graduated and was asked to be the vice principal if you will right after she graduated, and in 1891 just a few years later she took over the whole school. She obviously knew what she was doing; she ended up writing a book that was for her students originally but it’s the first cookbook to use science the science of cooking and incorporate all of that. She would talk about the molecular formula for glucose and lactose, what cold water is vs tepid vs warm, very precise measurements, she talked about the amount of food people need in a day, the average ration – 4 1/2 oz protein, 18 oz starch 2 oz fat 5 pints water 1/3 of which through food, the rest in a beverage. That might seem dull and not something people need to know it’s important because before ms farmer wrote her cookbook sometimes cookbooks would give you amounts, temperatures, sometimes they wouldn’t, if you just go back a few years i listened to your podcast on alexander dumas and that was only 20 odd years before this and his recipes didn’t give specific amounts or they’d say a handful of this a pinch of that, no specific temperatures, fanny farmer ended up called the mother of level measurement cause that’s what she standardised. Not only did she say a cup of flour she said take a knife scrape off the top and that’s a level measurement. She didn’t necessarily come up with it but she standardised it, and made the entire book follow this one style and basically every cookbook since has in some way followed that style, a very very influential book on later cookbooks and how we cook today.

HAZEL

That is a fantastic title as well-

MAX

Yeah tells you what it does, boston school cookbook.

HAZEL

But yeah cause most older than that recipes seem to assume you know how much of whatever to put in and you just need ideas.

LIZ

Yeah this early modern recipe from castle howard for humble pie said put some cloves in, like ok how clovey am i making this? There’s a big difference between a couple cloves and chucking a handful into this pie

HAZEL

Yeah if you’re not habitually using cloves that’s a problem cause they’re expensive, if you’re coming up in the world and you’ve got a few cloves at christmas and just how many cloves – who knows? You end up with clove centrla in your christmas pudding or whatever.

LIZ

A lot of absolutely foul food on the table of the nouveau riche.

MAX

Yeah a lot of the cookbooks of the time assumed you knew what you were doing already, and they were written for professional cooks but since she was working at the cooking school she had students in mind who weren’t already professionals where most cookbooks assunme you knew what you were doing, she assumed you did not know what you were doing. She has a great line at the beginning of the book she says good measurement with experience has taught some to measure by sight, but the majority need definite guides. That’s so true i need a definite guide. You can play with stuff in the kitchen, unless you’re baking, but without some idea of how much to put in you can end up with vastly different dishes. That said, even with a recipe and while she gets a lot of credit she also has her detractors, especially in recent years who say she gave people a false sense of perfection – if i follow this recipe exactly as she says i’m going to come out exactly like fanny farmer. But that’s not the case there’s some things that influence that can’t be written down. Like the ambient temperature of the kitchen or the humidity or what type of flour or how old or compact the temperature of your water, how old it is… she gave very precise measurements but it gave people the sense they couldn’t go wrong. I was listening to someone the other day talking about how cake has been in the oven 45 miunutes i’m taking it out cause the recipe said 45 minutes it’s still raw but i’m taking it out anyway. With the precise measurements you lose that knowledge of what you’re doing and that savvy and being able to see what you’re doing.

LIZ

I have a story about this. I was teaching a friend to cook. He had never cooked anything in his life, so i started with a victoria sponge. You put in set amounts you bake it. Something went wrong with the oven so i got a burnt shell of cake entirely raw in the middle. We sort of salvaged it by dunking chocolate in the middle and making it a cake fondue.

MAX

So many things that can go wrong.

HAZEL

Do you think it was a badly regulated oven temperature?

LIZ

Yeah we knew it was a bad oven. We just didn’t think it was going to be that bad. It was like you know when you bbq something it’s charcoal on the outside but inside it’s still pink?

HAZEL

It was bbq cake?

LIZ

It was bbq cake.

MAX

Terrific.

HAZEL

I don’t think i did anything terribly wrong. Although i did make a cake with rose and we put six packs of tutti frutti in the middle cause we thought it was a good idea but also the ants thought it was a good idea.

MAX

I once made a wonderful blueberry pie but on the top i made a really intricate design on the top with the dough to make blueberry vines with leaves and little blueberries and the pie was done but the top was just too light and i needed to darken it up just a little, i looked online and someone said “turn on the broiler” and it said just for a bit, but for me a bit is two minutes. One minute in the apartment is full of smoke, the top of the pie is ruined. I think a bit meant ten seconds. If you’re not specific you can come up with something very very different. I was so sad i still lament this pie cause it took hours.

HAZEL

I am in mourning for this pie that never was.

LIZ

So am i. blueberry is my favourite.

MAX

The inside was still fine, we ended up making a cobbler out of it we took out the burnt top and ate it with cream. It was still good, it wasn’t beautiful.

LIZ

You always meant to make a tart and no-one can prove otherwise.

HAZEL

I guess you could say that’s a bittersweet ending.

MAX

Indeed. Another interesting thing about this cookbook that she- really one fo the impressive things about it is not just the actual cookbook which is still in print overr 120 years later it’s still in print but the impressive thing was her. She had cobbled together this cookbook from – some were her recipes some were recipes her predecessor mrs lincoln had given her, she had almost 1850 recipes for this book and nobody would publish it because nobody thought it would go well, and when she found a publisher little and brown they would only do 3000 copies and she had to pay for it. So essentially it’s a self published book they didn’t have any skin inn the game at all. She paid for it and self published it which was a good move she retained copyright and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, it made her a very wealthy woman. A few years later in 1902 she opened her own fanny farmer school of cookery and that was unique and it was not for people who were becoming professional cooks and servants because servants were starting to disappear from middle class households at the time, and it was for housewifes. She was teaching people who knew actually nothing about cooking because their mother had to cook in the house, so she couldnt’ teach them. for $40 you got a month of classes 2 each day 6 days a week, at the end you were supposed to be able to cook pretty much everything.

LIZ

Like cooking boot camp. All i can think of now is the show worst cooks in america but in victorian outfits.

HAZEL

I’d want to see that.

MAX

Absolutely. She was a really remarkable woman especially cause i said she had a limp, she was a woman in turn of the century boston which was a strike against her, she continued to have health issues as she went along, she had another stroke but she was still lecturing she had a lecture at harvard. She was the first woman to lecture at harvard medical school which was rather impressive because she focused a lot on food as medicine, because they used the term an invalid for the longest time growing up she knew what foods helped her at the time, what was easy to digest and whatnot and in her books was always a section on foods for being sick and she ended up doing an entire book called food for the sick and convalescent, which was en entire diet and nutrition programme for the ill which was pretty new. There had been – it wasn’t a new concept but for an entire book to be on that subject was fairly impressive.

HAZEL

She was an early nutritionist basically.

MAX

She was very into the science behind food and its effects on the body. It wasn’t just this will taste good it was this needs to do good as well. I don’t know if you know alton brown one my favourite but he used to have a show all about the science of food and when you read her books it’s like she was the late 19th century verison of alton brown she was obsessed with the science of food. Granted, science was still – there were a lot of things she’d count as scientific that you need to put quotes around because they were complete bunk, but that was a step in the right direction.

HAZEL

There is a lot of bad science around food, still, isn’t there – every time there’s a study that seems to confirm fatty foods are bad or something all the papers are like don’t eat this – then the next time there’s a slight thing that comes out they’re like do eat this.

LIZ

Yeah as someone fat with digestion issues it’s a minefield.

HAZEL

At some point you think what’s the truth here? Yeah, so did her work in terms of nutrition and health get adopted in medical circles?

Hazel

did she have any effect on the medical community with her ideas?

Max

i think so it’s hard to tell what impact she had, but she lectured at harvard med school so i think she definitely was regarded as an expert in the subject. her book was more for home use, so the recipes were made for convalescing at home, i don’t know how hospitals were introduced to her work, but the ideas behind her convalescent foods were really – no heavy meats lighter things no heavy cream it was more light broths and things – it was more can you digest this is it easily digestible? cause you’re laying in bed all day that was the idea behind most of it. hospitals still do that, you get ice chips or whatever.

Hazel

yeah i remeember i had a short stay in hospital when i was ten, i remember very bland sponge cake in a square.

Liz

i had what was supposed to be outpatient surgery but ended up staying overnight last year i had very bland fish pie but idk if that’s because i’m used to putting a lot of seasoning in my food?

Max

hospital food has gotten a bad rap, rightly so in most cases, so y’know.

Hazel

maybe that’s designed to not give you the collywobbles, not a bad thing.

Max

or that you don’t want to stay there longer than you have to.

Hazel

true. this is too nice, i’ll stay.

Max

i”ll get out of here get some real food.

Hazel

i might be better but the food here’s great.

Liz

i guess when you’re home sick with the flu or whatever you gravitate towards chicken soup or cups of tea rather than anything more substantial.

Max

a double cheeseburger doesn’t go down too well usually.

Liz

or at least doesn’t stay down.

Max

yeah. this is delicious and it’ll be delicious in a moment whne it comes back up.

Hazel

either that or it goes down and keeps going.

Max

indeed, indeed. one more thing about the book i find so interesting is in the back she has menus and they are – menus of the time period for upper middle class households and they’re like 12 courses, 30-40 dishes and it’s just if you’ve ever seen in late victorian kitchen just i can’t even compute how you would put all that together in a timely manner. i have to imagine that so much of the food was being served at room temperature. it’s ready but ok that’s course 7 and we’re on course 3 so it’s gotta sit there for 40 minutes.

Hazel

and this is aimed at people without cooks.

Max

yeah though with these giant menus you’d have to hire some outside help.

Hazel

you’d have to have ten arms.

Liz

i wonder though how much time there would be between courses, because i remember hearing about queen victoria so slightly earlier than this, that she’d have huge banquets but as soon as she was finished with a dish it would be cleared away and it was time for the next one.

Max

and she ate rather quickly.

Hazel

i heard about that as soon as she put her knife and fork down the plates of everyone would be whisked away.

Max

yeah

Liz

so i do wonder if it was more conspicuous consumption than actual consumption.

Max

i think that’s possible, and especially in america you’re not eating american sized portions you’d have a few bites of everything it’s like going to a buffet i suppose.

Hazel

there are a lot of victorian era recipes for using up stale things or making things into other things like leftovers so maybe that was just normal you’d have a lot of leftovers and would use them in something else.

Max

or give them to the staff.

Liz

like making a turkey curry at christmas.

Max

yes, my father always makes we call it thanksgiving pie the day after thanksgiving and it’s a huge food holiday over here we make a pie with mashed potatoes stuffing sweet potatoes cranberries gravy turkey everything mashed together it’s completely wonderful. i actually prefer it to the meal the day before.

Liz

i’m happy to hear someone else does this. cause after a sunday roast my mum would make a leftover pie. i’m so happy this isn’t just a my family thing.

Hazel

that doesn’t surprise me cause you are from lancashire and that is the county of pie.

Hazel

i used to go out with a guy who would get a pie and put it in a bread roll and eat it.

Liz

a pie butty! is this your ex from wigan by any chance?

Hazel

yes.

Liz

it’s a wigan delicacy.

Max

i love that you have a pie of course what you need with a pie is more carb.

Hazel

more flour based food.

Liz

working class fuel, just like chip butties.

Hazel

we have those but where i’m from we don’t even put gravy in our chips.

Liz

illegal.

Hazel

there is a hot debate in our country on what to put on our chips.

Liz

there is a north south divide though i did convince someone from gibraltar to try chips and gravy and thaht’s the most southern you can be from while still being from a british territory and she liked it.

Max

i have to go with plain ketchup i love ketchup i’m so boring. whenever i’m in england everyone’s dipping it in vinegar or lea and perrins and i’m like what are you doing?

Hazel

that’s my favourite salt and vinegar.

Liz

nick’s from bristol, goes with lots of vinegar, lots of salt, ketchup.

Hazel

i like mushy peas too.

Liz

love a mushy pea. i got cravings now. our local chippy closed where am i going to get chips and pie and gravy/

Hazel

didn’t you once make your own chip spice?

Liz

yeah it’s not the same though. we don’t really have chip spice in lancashire we have to buy it online. max i should probably explain chip spice.

Max

please do.

Liz

it’s paprika and salt and tomato powder adn onion powder and sometimes garlic powder all mixed together into this red concoction you put on chips and it’s the best thing but you only get it in the northeast.

Hazel

you probably have had it it’s a roulette, i’ve had it in a couple places here.

Max

i think i’ve had it, i was in the lake district in a bed and breakfast in keswick and somebody served me that and i was relaly upset cause i don’t like paprika all that much. just give me plain fries please.

Hazel

i imagine that is quite unusual though i can imagine you going into a chip shop and them going what do you want on your chips? and you saying nothing, and them saying NO, what do you want on your chips>

Max

love it.

Hazel

after that long chip interlude, did she remain successful?

Max

she did she remained very successful until she was actually she gave a lecture a few days before she died, from a wheelchair she had another stroke but in her wheelchair she gave a lecture at 57. she didn’t have a long life but 57 isn’t bad if you’ve been ill all your life, and the school she founded stayed open until ww2.

Liz

is she still famous in america now or did she fade?

Max

i think she was one of the people who fades. she was a celebrity chef if you can say that of someone back then but her legacy lives on. whehter you agree with her or not her recipes in her book they are formatted the same way you’re going to see recipes today. a list of ingredients and a paragraph on what you’re going tod o with those ingredients. her work is famous even if her name is not. her unfortunate name.

Liz

we have one more question for you i’m afraid, courtesy of nick.

Max

go on.

Liz

what does history taste like?

Max

an old book, you know that wonderful dusty smell that you get in old bookshops? that’s what history tastes like.

Liz

that is a good smell i have a soap that smells like that.

Max

one of my favourite things is ordering an old book online and getting it and smelling it, like that good smell of dust mites and old leather.

Hazel

i thought you were going to say then i eat it. i wouldn’t blame you.

Max

i would blame me.

Hazel

you’d blame oyu afterwards maybe.

Liz

you’re a trained archaeologist you can’t condone eating books.

Hazel

i can if it’s for science. it’s like you iknow when you lick a rock to determine if it’s ar ock or a bone?

Liz

you lick a book just to see how old it is?

Hazel

yeah you can date books by the taste of the pages.

Max

lovely.

Liz

i want to thank you so much for being on our little podcast.

Max#

thank you so much it was a real pleasure.

Hazel

this was fantastic i’d never heard fo this wonderrful woman before and now i want to go read her bookks so thanks you.

Max

you’re most welcome.

Liz

if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode feel free to email us at breadandthreadpodcast@gmail.com if you have a suggestion.

Hazel

you can also find us @breadandthread on twitter where there are some pictures of what we’ve been doingg

Liz

we also have a patreon breadandthread, max i believe you also have a patreon.

Max

i do it’s tastinghistory, you can also go to the youtube channel tasting history.

Hazel

it is a fantastic channel.

Liz

i have watched all the videos on there now i’m inspired.

Hazel

yeah you watch a documentary or read about food in history but you don’t see that many people actually making it and not in a way that you could actually do so it’s good to see that and go i could try it myself.

Liz

even if it is really weird to see an american talk about newky brown.

Max

i love england so much but it is odd i said – on an episode, it’s weird to hear you say [redacted] in an american accent.

Liz

thank you for listening and we will see you next time.

closing music.

Bread and Thread Prison Knitting

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, and also making things. Liz what are you making at the moment?

LIZ

I am making a secet surprise for your birthday.

HAZEL

Oh gosh.

LIZ

I will only tell you there is thread and there is a pun.

HAZEL

I am super excited. Is it something embroidered?

LIZ

I’m not giving you more than that.

HAZEL

Oh no, that sucks, but also I’m excited.

LIZ

We’re also continuing our cook something from every country thing we’ve been doing we made kabsa which is a middle eastern chicken thing, which nick wasn’t sure about cause it’s one of those middle eastern things that’s like you got your meat and sauce and rice, and your orange and your almonds.

HAZEL

Ok, oh that sounds probably good.

LIZ

Absolutely gorgeous almond and chicken is chef’s kiss. Now I have a load of loose, well, not loose, almonds in the cupboard.

HAZEL

I can imagine you with a cupboard of almonds, you oen it and they pour out.

LIZ

That did happen to me with poppy seeds once –

HAZEL

There are worse things to have fall on your face I guess.

LIZ

It was a mess. So what have you been making or baking?

HAZEL

I’m in the planning stages of a new project, ignoring the thousand of other projects I’ve stsarted.

LIZ

Are you a crafter if you don’t have at least five projects on the go at once?#

HAZEL

Yeah like if you don’t have continual low level guilt from all the projects you haven’t finished… So I have some green linen fabric that I bought a few years ago on sale and I have a couple of meters of it so I want to make a skirt but I have been learning hardanger embroidery recently so if you haven’t heard of harddanger it’s a traditional norwegian style of embroidery that involves cutwork where you cut some of the threads and wrap them with the embroidery threads to make cutwork patterns… I thought it would be fun if I made uh…

LIZ

Put up a picture when this episode goes up.

HAZEL

Will do I thought it would be fun to do a modern style one, just a simple green circle skirt then make some hardanger pieces in red embroidery to decorate it with and that’s the plan.

LIZ

Sounds really christmassy.

HAZEL

It does sound really christmassy.

LIZ

Well why shouldn’t you have a christmas skirt?

HAZEL

I just like red and green why does it have to be christmassy?

LIZ

The style as well I think but genuinely why not have a xmas skirt just have thick tights underneath you’ll be fine.

HAZEL

Just stand at the base of the tree and people will hang chocolates on me.

LIZ

I’ll hang chocolates on you if that’s what yuo really want.

HAZEL

That’s true friendship find somebody who will hang chocolates on you.

LIZ

At the risk of going down some very weird rabbit hole… What are we learning about today?

HAZEL

Funny you should talk about weird rabbit holes because today I have a niche subject I thought it would be a really interesting one. We’ve done a lot of food history things recently but not so many textile ones so I thought I would talk about knitting in prisons and the history of that which apparently is a thing.

LIZ

I guess that makes sense that’s a very sort of calming activity.

HAZEL

Yeah but it turns out it was done for quite a few other reasons especially in the 19th century, some good and some not so good.

LIZ

You said 19th century prisons I’m scared.

HAZEL

I’m also going to mention prison reform and elizabeth fry and things getting a bit better so it’s not all terrible. There’s a lot more to this than I first thought as well. I got started off on this when I read an article in the knitter magazine, which if you’re in the uk you can get through the library service for free online which is great. There was an article about knitting it’s called knitting behind bars in the 19th century it’s in issue 122 of the knitter by penelope hemingway and it’s about knitting in victorian prisons which I had no idea was a thing. So apparently prisons before the whole prison reform movement were obviously a pretty horrrible place to be and you were kind of on your own if you were in a old timery prison you basically had to try and do what you could to maybe get some money to survive or something and as you might expect people were not having a great time in there and then in the 19th century they decided oh wait we can get people to do work for free in prison, which of course still goes on today and there are some companies today that still use unpaid prison labour not only in less developed countries but in the uk and the us as well so definitely check that out and maybe have your say on it.

LIZ

I think famously at this point when slavery was ended in the us there was a specific stipulation of except as punishment for a crime which is still there.

HAZEL

Yeah that’s pretty bad. So yeah not to get into too dark a part of history on this bit but it kind of started out as they would have to do these monotonous chores in the male prisons things like road breaking or picking okham where you unpick ropes and stuff to be used for other things, and…

LIZ

If you read oliver twist there’s talk fo doing that in the workhouse.

HAZEL

And in the women prisons they’d do stuff like knitting stockings, which if you’ve seen early victorian stockings they’rew very very fine and hand knitted that is quite tedious work and often the yarns would be provided they’d be the property of the prison governor and these prisoners would have to knit the stockings and they would be sold basically for the profit of the governor which is pretty exploitative system. Now there were some ways around this in fact it’s recorded that the women would sometimes basically knick some of the yarn and hide I away and make things for their own purposes that could be sold and in fact there’s one record of in this article a lady called ellen mcgirch which is a great name who was found on her release to be wearing an undershift an undershift with stockings sown to it nad the hem doubled up in the doubled up hem were secreted many muffetees many knitted mittens obviously this enterprising lady was out to make herself a bit of money on her release. Good for her. So often they would be able to earn a bit of money by it and would be able to sell them in prison through the grates to people also during the assizes so during the trials they would be able o sell them to spectators of the trials and so yeah by doing that they were able to earn a little bit of money.

LIZ

Buying socks from the trial.

HAZEL

Basically you could see a trial and get your haberdashery done at the same time.

LIZ

It’s convenient.

HAZEL

It pops up in the journal of ann lister, so if you’re listening and you’ve not yet heard of ann lister she was a 19th century landowner in yorkshire who wrote diaries which were recently I think she wrote them in code didn’t she?

LIZ

I believe so.

HAZEL

Yeah and they were recently translated and it turns out she was she was a notorious lesbian and there was recently a BBC series made about her named Gentleman Jack.

LIZ

Suranne jones. If you’re on tumblr you’ve definitely seen gifs of it. Suranne jones looking very austere.

HAZEL

I’m really liking the victorian butch lesbian look though. It’s very good. She writes on thursday the 18th october 1821 in york went over the bridge went shopping with my aunt, walked with my aunt around the castle yard because she wanted some nightcaps of the debtors. That’s york castle which has a great museum in it. So yeah early knitting in prisons could be as a punishment essentially as unpaid labour or as a subversive way to make a bit of money for yourself or smuggle out some valuable goods for your release and was mainly done in the womens prisons. Now when the prison reform movement began with elizabeth fry, one of the ways in which she tried to improve the situation in prison was that she started teaching people to read and do occupations like knitting and they were able to actually earn some money from it legitimately, the women’s prison visiting association would visit prisons and teach inmates to knit and they’d hold these knitting circles and the items they knitted would be sold by the visiting women on behalf of the prisoners and then they would hopefully be able to keep some of the money they were able to get on their release.

LIZ

I realise this is a slight distraction but calling them knitting circles I imagine they weren’t quite as twee as that but I am imagining the cell block tango in chicago as a little knit and natter you’ll never guess what my husband did oh do tell

HAZEL

I love the knitting revenge fantasy thing there.

LIZ

Have you been to a knitting circle?

HAZEL

That is exactly the kind of thing – my theory about it is because knitting relaxes your mind and the movement of your hands takes your mind off things and makes you less nervous it means you say stuff you would normally filter out.

LIZ

That would explain some of the conversations in the knitting society when we were at uni.

HAZEL

Knitsock after dark was notorious. Our knitting society was called knitsoc it was great. We were very cool.

LIZ

We were cool cause it was entirely queer nerds and we’re coming to the forefront.

HAZEL

We’re in these days. At least in the knitting world. It was great thought cause it was such a diverse group and there was someone who could teach you anything as well. Anyway prison knitting, I imagine they weren’t…

LIZ

Prison… School….

HAZEL

aah, yes. I imagine they weren’t gossipy everyone’s best friend knitting circles but they did manage to improve conditions of women in prison which had a massive difference in reoffending, in fact the following year after they did it only four inmates ended up back in prison the next year compared to the men’s rate which is 47

LIZ

Not to be social theorist on main, but it’s almost like giving someone a means of supporting themselves and a focus means they’re less likely to do a crime.

HAZEL

And they’ll have money they can use when they get out so they don’t need to d ocrime. Anyway…

LIZ

Sorry…

HAZEL

This is a heavily social history podcast as well as craft history and this particular subject is hand in hand. So that teaching skills as a way of improving the conditions and the agency of people who work in prisons was quite a radical thing in the 19th century and it did a lot to improve conditions especially in the female prisons and in fact a lot of the rights that prisoners now have today at least in the uk date back to elizabeth fry and the prison reform movement. Moving in the 20th century I actually found a really cool story which I did not expect at all. So in the 19th century knitting was basically a way to make money while you were in prison but in the 20th century and today it’s more of a therapeutic thing partly cause it’s very difficult to make money from knitting in the present day or at least hand knitting, and now thankfully there’s a lot more focus on the well being of people in prison thought not enough and so this is taking place in robin island which is the infamous south african prison where former south african president nelson mandela was imprisoned for 18 years and this is a story about one of the prisoners called jerome maakae who had been taught to knit in the days before his arrest in the 80s. He was staying in a safehouse at the time, his hostess who was a pro knitter taught him to knit so he had something to do when he was in prison he requested some wool and needles from the prison authorities who were quite reluctant but eventually

LIZ

Yeah they are weapons.

HAZEL

There’s a whole debate on whether or not needles are allowed on planes at the moment, I’ve flown with them but some airlines don’t like it.

LIZ

I was going to say crochet hook but you could do some ocular damage with a crochet hook

HAZEL

Definitely not tat I’m considering I but you could.

LIZ

If you were that way inclined.

HAZEL

So eventually they gave him some plastic needles, other prisoners saw what he was doing, and asked him to teach them, and taught a lot of prisoners knitting and in the evenings the prisoners would visit one of the cells and take their knitting with them.

LIZ

That’s really cute.

HAZEL

That’s quite a nice story, I like that as a way of creating community in a place where you get a lot of rivalries and things, in a place where you’re discouraged from forming communities. So yeah I like that as a way of reclaiming something you’re doing for yurself and doing it together with other people.

LIZ

It’s lovely.

HAZEL

It’s a nice little story. Moving into the present day that’s kind of what’s happening now is that there’s a lot more focus on well being and mental health or certainly there is in any organisation that is trying to be decent and so three’s a program I think it started in america a programme called knitting behind bars which uses knitting as a mindfulness technique. They got permission after about five years to go into a prison in america and start a knitting group, and this was a men’s prison. At first the authorities were like no-one is going to want to do this, men won’t want to knit. Which we know isn’t true, they were like no-one wants to do this what’s the point, and eventually they were allowed, they brought needles and yarn in and people started doing it and It’s been pretty successful as a way to practice mindfulness and a lo tof them knit for charity or their families outside. It’s a way to reclaim that sense of being somebody who contributes rather than being stuck somewhere you can’t do anything. And contributing to things you actually care about, like your family, rather than a company that isn’t paying you. And that program is spreading there’s a few others I’ve read about so I think that’s a good development.

LIZ

That’s really lovely.

HAZEL

And yeah that kind of ends on somewhat a more positive note than it began, I wanted to talk about that cause I didn’t know it was a thing until I read this article and iw as like oh that’s interesting I wonder if there’s more to it.

LIZ

And there was!

HAZEL

As with many things. I didn’t go into specifics on the craft but it was the sue of it I was interested in.

LIZ

It comes together to tell the story.

HAZEL

That’s what we do we tell a story through something specific.

LIZ

And then we look at a strange local food.

Plug for Probably Bad Podcast.

HAZEL

So what is our local larder today?

LIZ

I thought I would talk about clotted cream because I was talking to some americans and realised when you’ve not grown up with the term it sounds absolutely foul.

HAZEL

Now you mention it a clot doesn’t have great connotations does it. Ok I’ll bite tell me more about cream.

LIZ

So this is basically the fat of the milk separated off cause it’s easier to preserver just the creamy bit on its own same as we make butter, which seems to have been a thing in Phoenicia which is now the syria lebanon israel area.

HAZEL

So pretty old.

LIZ

But it’s most well known as a product of devon and cornwall in england.

HAZEL

You always have jam and clotted cream in the scones.

LIZ

I’m going to get into it

HAZEL

Is there going to be scone debate? Scone discourse?

LIZ

Sconetroversy.

HAZEL

Oh no! Oh no!

LIZ

Do you need a moment?

HAZEL

(not fine)

I’m fine, continue

LIZ

It may have been introduced by traders who came to that area looking for tin cause the devon cornwall area has been trading tin with the rest of the world since forever basically, although an ancient greek geographer called Strabo apparently mentioned british people doing a similar thing to what the Phoenicians were doing so it’s unclear if it’s a thing that was independently thought of, which seems more likelyto me, seems obvius to me cause if you take the water out of something it lasts longer. Cause we don’t ask sdo where did you get the idea for butter from? Although I say that, archaeologists exist there probably is someone trying to make a map of butter.

HAZEL

I’m sure someone somewhere has done that, archaeology gets very specific.

LIZ

But we do know it was made by monks in tavistock in devon in the 14th century and it was a well known enough term that I think I mentioned in the trifle episode in the 17th century we get mentions of clotted cream.

HAZEL

It sounds like someone’s beating up cream.

LIZ

Yeah but there’s no standardised spelling at this point so they probably meant clotted cream.

HAZEL

Not just that somebody decided to have a fight with cream.

LIZ

If you beat up cream it becomes butter. Clotted cream is a sort of low and slow cooking of cream, you get a crust on the top which is the best bit.

HAZEL

I didn’t realise it was cooked that makes sense.

LIZ

There’s lots of instructions online for clotted cream – you heat is very slowly basically overnight, you let it cool down slowly for 8 hours then the cream separates out, you get the nice yellow skin which is the best bit, the clotted cream, then the whey you can get rid of.

HAZEL

Seems complicated.

LIZ

Is it complicated or hard to achieve without access to a fire?

HAZEL

I guess in ye olden times when people had a fire on in the house all day it’s easier.

LIZ

Yeah you could suspend a container of cream over a fire and let it do its thing. But the controversy I was talking about, I won’t make the pun again-

HAZEL

What if I want you to?

LIZ

-is whether you put the jam or the cream on the scone first? And one is the way cornwall does it, one is the way devon does it.

HAZEL

There is only one right way and everyone will tell you a different way.

LIZ

I have to ask – jam or cream first?

HAZEL

I’m a fan of the cream first. Cause if you put the jam first, when you add the cream it turns into a mixed up mess whereas if you put the cream on first the jam is easier to spread.

LIZ

I’m cream on first cause I find it hard to put the cream on the jam. We’ll have to ask nick who isn’t from devon or cornwall but is from the west country.

nick

(falsetto)

Cream.

LIZ

Thanks. But in 2013 the clotted cream company rodders which is cornwall based commissioned a study by dr eugenia cheng of sheffield which concluded that jam is in fact first.

HAZEL

Really? Wow.

LIZ

Though famously david cameron did that in devon and it didn’t go down well.

HAZEL

Was thta a bit political faux pas?

LIZ

It was made out to be one, yeah.

HAZEL

On the same level as ed miliband and the bacon sandwich. Maybe we could do an episode of food related political gaffes.

LIZ

If anyone has an example, I’d love to do this. But my last thing on clotted cream is it’s very hard to get it in america because generally unhomogenised milk is unpasteurised and oyu cannot sell unpastureised milk in the us cause obviously it’s easier to make it with unhomogenised milk, though I’ve seen some people use single cream cause it’s already separeted.

HAZEL

But pasturisation is just heating it to a certain level.

LIZ

But it’s faster.

HAZEL

Does it do it to a higher level or-

LIZ

I haven’t seen any specific temperaures for making your own clotted cream I know they are out there but pasturising has to be hot.

HAZEL

So that wouldn’t work. Well.

LIZ

Yet another thing you cannot have in america.

HAZEL

Thanks to the man.

LIZ

If you want a scone with clotted cream and blackcurrant jam in the us you’re out of luck.

HAZEL

Is that the most illegal scone?

LIZ

I think that is the most illegal scone.

HAZEL

Scontraband.

LIZ

I’m glad you also got to do a terrible pun.

HAZEL

I won’t be able to stop at just scone.

LIZ

Interestingly cornish clotted cream is a protected designation of origin so that’s a thing in the EU where you can only put the placename of your product if it’s from there. It applies to a lot of cheeses I think. I don’t know if champagne is a geographically protected thing or if people are like that.

HAZEL

It’s only clotted cream if it comes from cornwall otherwise it’s just warm milk.

LIZ

Champagne is protected. Also melton mowbray pork pies and herefordshire cider.

HAZEL

Aah I didn’t know that I never heard of that.

LIZ

You’re just not deep in the cider world, or the list of designated protection of origins. Yeah that is the surprisingly controversial clotted cream.

HAZEL

Thank you that was most informative.

LIZ

I’m going to continue putting cream first.

HAZEL

Be a rebel do it your way.

LIZ

Or maybe I’ll mix it up I don’t know. I don’t have strong feelings about the order.

HAZEL

Neither of us are from devon or cornwall, it’s more of an intellectual exercise.

LIZ

I’m from the north there’s more controversy over scon or scone. It’s scon. Fight me.

HAZEL

I use them interchangeably does that make me a bad person?

LIZ

I think that’s just proof your’e bi.

HAZEL

I feel called out. Hope you enjoyed this interesting journey through prison reform and scones. You can find us @breadandthread on twitter email us breadandthreadpodcast@gmail.com

LIZ

We are also on patreon just breadandthread, if you want recipes and educational videos I believe hazel is working on one about her chickens.

HAZEL

There will be chickens and hinkel weaving. Please tweet at us your fave political food faux pas.

LIZ

Whether you put cream or jam on first.

HAZEL

And we’ll see you next time.

LIZ

Where we will have a special guest.

HAZEL

Another one?

LIZ

No we’re recording out of order.

HAZEL

Oh I thought there was another one.

LIZ

But yeah go out and have some clotted cream if you can legally do so and we’ll see you next time.

Closing music.

Slender Jesus, D&Daniel and Just Rincewind

The podcast gremlin whom live in basement

This podcast is supported by patrons great and small, but greatest of all is the triumvirate-Hedwig Mario and Matt. Their generosity keeps me in sandals and hats. Thank you all.

Opening music.

Mod pencil

Hello and welcome to the probably bad podcast a podcast that is definitely bad. I’m pencil.

Paper

I’m paper – today’s probably bad rpg idea is… Scroll through the not an idea tag and use what you find in your next campaign.

MOD PENCIL

This idea is exciting cause you can do it live.

PAPER

Yeah we’re going to do this idea in real tiee so thank you anonymous submitter. The first thing I’m cmongi across that is somewhere even close to an rpg thing is a picture I’ve dubbed slender jesuss which if you can’t get to the picture right now is basically a church in the northwest of england which has I’d guess from having seen it is an 8 foot incredibly skinny crucifix hanging from the ceiling, and it’s terrifying.

MOD PENCIL

It would make a good big bad for the campaign or a good warlock patron. You get all the miracles but stretched out – you raised someone from the dead but they’ve got slinky arms.

PAPER

See I was thinking more of like a combination slender man and jesus – I will cure your leprosy in exchange for your first born, which is just jesus as a witch and I’m into that.

MOD PENCIL

Also a good rpg idea. Also before slenderjesus there’s a fuckton of werehorses, which I feel also counts as a valid warlock-

PAPER

I’ve heard of werehorses.

MOD PENCIL

They may have come up once or twice, which would also make a valid patron. 12 werehorses in a trenchcoat pretending to be a deity

PAPER

Problem is a lot of the tag right now is werehorse based.

MOD PENCIL

Well as you know I’m deeply against werewolves on a fundamental level,But-

PAPER

This list of things I’ve called my partner does seem like an interesting party… Spud, fuckface, admiral lunchtime, simon and flinders bananapants III. That is a classic party. Simon is obviously a new player.

MOD PENCIL

Flinders Bananapants is a bard. Spud is an orc, an orc barbarian.

PAPER

Fuckface is a paladin it’s not their name they’ve just been called that cause of their lawful good attitude.

MOD PENCIL

Admiral lunchtime is a questgiving NPC.

PAPER

Do you have a voice in mind for admiral?

MOD PENCIL

I’m thinking, this might be a niche reference, but the frozen fish food guy, admiral…

PAPER

Birdseye?

MOD PENCIL

Yeah.

PAPER

For those who aren’t british the best description I can give is you take colonel sanders you make his beard a bit longer and put him in the british navy..

MOD PENCIL

And he sells fish.

PAPER

Yes the fish are important.

MOD PENCIL

The admiral shows up and tells your party go collect famous fish I guess?

PAPER

The merfolk are stealing all the fish and he can’t make all his fish fingers.

MOD PENCIL

The twist is you join the merfolk in overthrowing capitalism.

PAPER

And they erect a statue of flinders bananapants III in town.

MOD PENCIL

A sea statue in sea town..

PAPER

What makes a sea statue different cause I’ve seen sea statues and they’re usually made of stone…

MOD PENCIL

As we all know, mermaid society is identical to human society but they put sea in front of everything.

PAPER

So they live in a sea-ciety.

MOD PENCIL

Ey. Podcast cancelled for the fifth time.

PAPER

You can’t cancel the podcast every time I do a bad pun.

MOD PENCIL

Watch me. I’ve been going through the not idea tag which is mostly questions although I did find just welcome to the awful, which I like as just… You’re the GM you’re asked what the campaign is and you slam your fist down and say welcome to the awful and refuse to elaborate.

PAPER

That’s basically what I do at the start of every session I run. Have you considered genetically modified GMs?

MOD PENCIL

I hadn’t but I am now.

PAPER

Special gland that secretes dice. Sorry I disgusted myself.

MOD PENCIL

You can modify it so your teeth are dice so when you want to roll it you can pluck it out and roll it.

PAPER

Sorry I’m just imagining you could have d4s for canines, d6s are molars, but I’m struggling to think what the others would be but maybe the body parts are dice, d20s are eyes, you have d8 nipples.

MOD PENCIL

How do you know I don’t? You could have those wings that flying squirrels have that have the D&D Srd on it.

PAPER

Tattooed on the skin.

MOD PENCIL

Yeah – how many spells do clerics get at 5th level and you shoot your wings out. Also going through the thing you’ll never guess who I stumbled onto…

PAPER

Is it D&Daniel? Who I don’t think has come up on the podcast before.

MOD PENCIL

This is D&Daniel’s debut podcast appearance. For those of you-

PAPER

D&Daniel is basically a figure that goes around licking D&D players.

MOD PENCIL

If you want your D&D game to be official, if you want it included in the final tally of D&D you need to have D&Daniel lick your forehead to officially consecrate your game.

PAPER

Which means all D&D games in 2020 are either invalid or illegal.

MOD PENCIL

We put an update he can now draw a tongue on a photo of you to comply with social distancing rules.

PAPER

That’s good at least, I’m glad we can still have valid games.

MOD PENCIL

He may be a mysterious lick spirit but at least he appreciates the importance of flattening the curve.

PAPER

Nick wishes to inform us D&Daniel looks like the Onceler, and that’s a bad idea of a different kind.

MOD PENCIL

I was thinking that guy from 30Rock, leap day george or whatever.

PAPER

William.

MOD PENCIL

That’s the one. Yeah so there you go Admiral Lunchtime sends your characters to fight D&Daniel with the patronage of slenderjesus.

PAPER

Also you’re all werehorses.

MOD PENCIL

Also you’re all werehorses. Clipclop, bitch.

PAPER

It’s a plan B, if you need to subscribe to our patreon to get access to our werehorse content.

MOD PENCIL

If you like that bad idea and want more, you can pay us money.

PAPER

Or if you just feel like going to patreon.com/probablybadrpgideas. So, questions, we have those.

Question music.

MOD PENCIL

Yes, our first question comes from agent matt six… Any tips for a first time GM?

PAPER

Acknowledge you’re not going to know what you’re doing and make sure your players know that as well.

MOD PENCIL

If I were going to give advice to first time GMs is don’t overplan, because your players are going to ruin your plans what I tend to do is have a basic idea of a plot and a few ideas for a session, working on the assumption that I don’t know where the next session is going to be, and having fun is more important than knowing the rules to the letter it’s better to have a good story than to have a 100% understanding of all the rules. Especially in a game like D&D or World of Darkness where there are a lot of rules.

PAPER

Also it’s not going to feel as cool in the moment looking back on it cause you’re going to focus on making it happen- I’m not saying it’s not going to be fun if it’s not fun you need to look at that, but it’s not the same as being a player in any way. And make sure you’re blessed by D&Daniel.

MOD PENCIL

It’s also very important that you send a letter to D&Daniel so he can lick it and send it back. In terms of bad advice, I think follow our blog I feel like we’ve done a lot of the bad DM advice.

PAPER

I feel like we’re creeping towards giving good advice on here, the bad advice comes out as we think of it – that’s why the queue goes to october.

MOD PENCIL

This is the Dr Jekyll of probablybadrpgideas is this podcast.

PAPER

Yeah, that makes sense.

MOD PENCIL

You got some actual good advice, bet you didn’t see that coming did you?

Question music

PAPER

Goblin wants to know do you prefer romance between PCs or PCs and NPCs?

MOD PENCIL

I think in both these cases it depends a lot on who the PCs and GM are, like if I was rolelplaying with my mum I wouldn’t want to do romance with the two PCs even if in universe these two PCs were well suited to each other.

PAPER

It is very context dependent, cause I would feel weird with my PC flirt with another PC if I was in a campaign with my spouse, but if I was running a campaign they were in I’d feel ok with having an NPC flirting with them cause as a GM you’re less attached to your characters if that makes sense?

MOD PENCIL

Yeah cause obviously as a player character you are playing your character for a whole campaign, but as a GM you’re not. I prefer between PC and NPCs because that’s harder for the line between in game and out of game flirting to blur, if that makes sense?

PAPER

And if you are going to have characters flirt, do clear it with the other players or the DM if it’s an NPC, make sure everyone’s comfortable and consenting. It’s pretend but you wouldn’t randomly stick porn on in front of someone.

MOD PENCIL

Yeah if you’re going to do a romanticc relationship obviously clear that.

PAPER

Could be the character isn’t interested, but the player’s ok with roleplaying the rejection. It’s complicated.

MOD PENCIL

The biggest campaign I’ve been in did have one PC have a crush on another PC, and that became an important plot point thing…

PAPER

Was that-

MOD PENCIL

Sorry?

PAPER

I know in a campaign I was running your character and another were the big OTP of the campaign.

MOD PENCIL

No this was another campaign this was a Dragon Age campaign. A lot of dating in that campaign. But you can do it.

PAPER

Dragon age is just a romance game with fighting.

MOD PENCIL

We captured the spirit of the game. I think all the big couples were GM- I don’t want to say GM player cause that is a very different thing –

PAPER

NPC-PC.

MOD PENCIL

This was our harem rpg game.

PAPER

That’s our probably bad rpg idea.

MOD PENCIL

Yeah run your RPG campaign like a harem anime and date all your players.

PAPER

I’m sure there are some polycules that have fun D&D games.

MOD PENCIL

I’m sure I know one of those. Why are all our ideas turning out good today?

PAPER

I don’t know!

MOD PENCIL

Stab your Gm Idk we’re really losing our spirit here.

PAPER

I think my brain is working better than usual because I will be finishing my dissertation this week by the time this has gone out I will be finishing my dissertation.

MOD PENCIL

Good luck! You the audience can also issue good luck but it will be obsolete.

PAPER

It’ll make me happy though, is my happiness not valuable?

MOD PENCIL

Not under capitalism.

PAPER

That’s true.

Bread and thread plug.

MOD PENCIL

Our final question is from archetypal archivist what’s your favourite class to play badly? Are you fond of the wizard who runs in immediately? The cleric who never heals anyone? The barbarian who thinks spells and ranged attacks are the only way to go? Your loving audience wishes to know.

PAPER

My current character is a paladin in their first fight managed to get in exactly zero hits and do a single heal on themself, but it’s been a fun character so I guess paladin?

MOD PENCIL

Paladin is a good one to play badly cause it’s such a specific archetype that it’s really easy to just – asshole paladin is fun.

PAPER

Bringing back pete!

MOD PENCIL

Ah pete the pathetic paladin.

PAPER

Who was really bad at being evil he got given good powers. And then fell and burned down a hospital.

MOD PENCIL

Unnsuccessfully because the other characters stopped it for some reason. it’s fun playing an evil character who can’t lie. I think my favourite character is blatant rogue. I can disarm traps and open doors but can’t be stealthy about it.

PAPER

I like dumbass wizards, not as in wizard who rushes in immediately, wizard that has two spells cause they got kicked out of wizard scchool.

MOD PENCIL

I like wizard who puts all their spell choices into really useless magic or niche magic; fear not citizen I have learned featherfall 13 times.

PAPER

A wizard good at everything that isn’t magic but has really high dex. I just realised we invented Rincewind. A wizard who is bad at magic but is doing their best.

MOD PENCIL

All ideas lead to discworld. I like the idea of a sorcerer who is born with magic but doesn’t give a shit about it they just learned to fight really good so everyone assumes they’re a fighter but they launch a fireball and say oh yeah I can do that I prefer to punch.

PAPER

I like the idea of a druid who doesn’t like to use wildshape cause it’s gross.

MOD PENCIL

Refuses to use it cause they’re not a furry.

PAPER

Yes!

MOD PENCIL

I’m adding that to the queue.

PAPER

Thing is what we’ve concluded is probably paladin but every class can be played shittily if you think hard enough about it.

MOD PENCIL

Any idea can be a bad idea of you just try.

PAPER

Any idea is a bad idea if you present it to us.

MOD PENCIL

I think that’s all we have time for this week.

PAPER

At least it’s all the questions we have prepared.

MOD PENCIL

All we have this week.

PAPER

If you have a question cause we do always need questions email probablybadpodcast@gmail.com, or message probablybadrpgideas.tumblr.com if you want to support us without using the patreon you can leave us a review. We also have new merch on our redbubble you can now buy things with werehorses on them. Redbubble/people/probablybad to see the designs, one of which I bought myself cause I’m terrible.

MOD PENCIL

Mod paper is doing their part to support mod paper.

PAPER

It’s cyclical, but it works. And now I have a coffee cup. Thanks for listening and-

Both

Remember to have a probably bad day.

Closing music

Bread and Thread – Trifle

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 history together and- no, studied archaeology together and love history.

LIZ

Practical history.

HAZEL

I’ve been drinking today.

LIZ

What are you drinking?

HAZEL

I’m drinking blackberry wine, it’s my inaugural wine from last year, my first time ever. I opened a bottle to see if it had matured well. I did it a couple months ago, and it was ok but I think it’s better now. I think I could do better next time, it’s certainly drinkable which is what I’m doing.

LIZ

You’re going the lea and perrins route of keeping trying until it’s drinkable.

HAZEL

Yes I do it for science. You might be interested in actually what I was going to talk about for this bit – on sunday I went out and collected nettles. They’re now retting in my back garden, which is the process of breaking them down to get the fibres inside, and then I’m going to try and spin those fibres and make a nettle thing.

LIZ

I imagine the retting process is a lot more sophisticated than the process for making nettle string at the young archaeologists club.

HAZEL

What did you do?

LIZ

Hit it with a rock.

HAZEL

That’ll do it.

LIZ

It did work. You bash it with a rock and twist it up a bunch and then it’s string. It works I still hav ea miniature handbag somewhere. When I say mini I mean 2-3 inches.

HAZEL

That is a very you sentence.

LIZ

I do separetely have a flint axe from when I went to a flint knapping workshop, so I’m 2/3 of the way to an actual handaxe.

HAZEL

Three handaxes in a trenchcoat. So yeah nettles are going to happen. I think the retting process breaks it down more so you get the fibres separated more so they’re softer and more garmenty. Very handily I made friends with a professional weaver and she lent me some shawls and jackets which were made in nepal from nepalese nettles which are really long, tall, so they have long fibres and they’re amazing and I want to try and recreate one. I’ll put pictures of those on the twitter.

LIZ

I’m very excited to see this.

HAZEL

What about you?

LIZ

I’ve been doing my thing of cooking a meal from a random country every week or so.

HAZEL

That sounds great.

LIZ

I made char siu – If I’m saying it right, I’m probably not – the pork dumplings you get in dim sum a lot.

HAZEL

I’ve never had those but I’ve seen pictures of them.

LIZ

They’re so good. I’m told the char siu is just the meat, what I made is char siu bao. Bao is the bun.

HAZEL

That’s the fluffy thing isn’t it?

LIZ

And I also made paprikash, a hungarian chicken stew. I did mess up a little bit cause I picked up the jar of red powder and I put a ton in and saw it was chili powder and not paprika.

HAZEL

How much did you put in?

LIZ

A couple tablespoons, about 1/2 a tablespoon per portion.

HAZEL

That’s a lot of spicy red powder

LIZ

Luckily I put in a lot of sour cream, so it ended up definitely spicier than was intended but really nice. And I did put paprika in as well.

HAZEL

Of course, just in case you needed some more red.

LIZ

Based on the name, I imagine paprika’s quite important to paprikash. I don’t know hungarian, but I’d guess.

HAZEL

I think hungarian food involves s lot of paprika. For good reason, it’s delicious.

LIZ

I love paprika we’ve got smoked paprika. The best kind.

HAZEL

Everything’s better smoked.

LIZ

Sweet paprika don’t at me.

HAZEL

What are we looking at this week?

LIZ

I statred looking at trifle just as a kind of this could be a fun local larder thing then I fell in a wikihole

HAZEL

You fell into a neverending hole of trifle.

LIZ

I did, I was engulfed by custard.

HAZEL

You trifled too much. One could say it was not a trifling research hole.

LIZ

But should one?

HAZEL

Maybe not.

LIZ

The main thing I learned is that we’ve been eating sweetened cream for a very long time, with such beautiful names as whim-wham and flummery.

HAZEL

I’ve heard of flummery.

LIZ

Yeah a flummery is a set custard it’;s like trifle just means also it’s a dismissal thing, specifically flummery is insincere flattery.

HAZEL

That is great, fantastic, every time someone uses an insincere compliment, I’ll say I don’t need your flummery.

LIZ

Yeah flummery, whim-wham, syllabub, probably more well known than flummery. Sounds like a children’s show.

HAZEL

It does, whim-wham and flummery.

LIZ

But the earliest reference to a thing called a trifle is 1598.

HAZEL

That’s quite old.

LIZ

Or possibly 1585, it depends on how exactly you’re defining trifle, cause one calls it a kind of clouted cream called a fool or a trifle in english, which fool is sort of a yoghurty creamy fruit thing.

HAZEL

I understand a fool being fruit puree mixed with cream.

LIZ

That’s a fairly good definition I think, where the earlier trifle is cream flavoured with sugar and rose water. I think that’s a bit more in the custardy realm.

HAZEL

So it’s a custard without all the biscuity things.

LIZ

It’s basically an eggless custard, just a sweetened cream, we don’t add jelly until hannah glass in the 18th century, which seems to be sort of you’ve got the rise of ice houses, so it’s a lot easier to have a jelly dessert. You need to refrigerate that.

HAZEL

Gotta keep your jelly cool.

LIZ

There’s some absolutely gorgeous illustrations of trifle in mrs beaton, one which is stacked with fresh fruit on top which looks absolutely gorgeous.

HAZEL

Can we have a trifle picture on our page?

LIZ

We definitely can. What I’m struggling to find out is when we started putting cake in. There’s a scottish version called a tipsy laird.

HAZEL

I like it already.

LIZ

A south american version called a tipsy cake and an italian version called zuppa inglese, or english soup.

HAZEL

That’s fair.

LIZ

You can have the cake soaked in alcohol, generally a rum or in the scottish version a whisky, but there’s definitely a trend of soaking the actual cake in jelly which there’s some speculation that it’s victorians using up leftover sponge cake.

HAZEL

That sunds like something they’d od.

LIZ

It’s not really something you think of when you think of victorian food you think of this, or even trifle generally, it’s this big elaborate thing with ltos of cream in it.

HAZEL

Yeah you see it in a big crystal dish where you can see all the layers, and lots of fruit on top.

l

you also get sherry in the cake a lot in the victorian era. it seems to be the accepted way of doing it now.

h

sherry trifle is the standard way of doing it now.

liz

so trifle came back sa a lot of questionable food choices did, when refrigerators became a thing, we’re talking 50s-70s, to the point where in the 70s it was cliche to serve your guests trifle.

HAZEL

a trifle explosion..

LIZ

I just find this specific date of trifle overload in the 70s interesting – angel delight was released in 1967.

HAZEL

Really?

LIZ

yeah. Anyone who doesn’t know which is anyone who isn’t british, angel delight is sort of a powdered blancmange.

HAZEL

Yeah it’s like a flavoured custard, instant one.

LIZ

Yeah I realise blancmange isn’t a helpful descriptor, kind of like an american pudding.

HAZEL

Yeah, which is a custard right?

LIZ

Like a custard or a mousse, that’s angel delight.

HAZEL

I’ve always hated it.

LIZ

I love angel delight. In just a few years of its release it doubled the value of the instant dessert market. It was advertised by wallace and gromit in 1999, there was an advertising campaign, because people were losing interest in it it was almost 2000, we didn’t want instant blancmange anymore.

HAZEL

It’s so 20th century.

LIZ

It’s coming back – it’s sold in five flavours, two low sugar ones.

HAZEL

I’m not surprised, like a nostalgia thing.

LIZ

It definitely is a nostalgia thing.

HAZEL

It reminds me of school dinner dessert, is the thing.

LIZ

One of the schools I went to had food so bad it put me off the idea of most foods, but what they did have was chocolate angel delight with 100s and 1000s on.

HAZEL

Hard to get that wrong.

LIZ

You eat the mushy vegetables the weird potatoes.

HAZEL

The watery gravy.

LIZ

Then you get a bowl of chocolate, with sugar on top is basically what that is.

HAZEL

Nutritious fuel for your learning.

LIZ

But with it being so custardy as well I’ve heard about using it as an ice cream base. Which I’m doing it next week, I’ve got butterscotch angel delight I’m going to turn it into ice cream, I’ll let oyu kinow how that goes.

HAZEL

That is true experimentation.

LIZ

We’ve come back around to trifle through angel delight becaues one of the serving suggestions of angel delight is layers of different flavours.

HAZEL

Aah, so you buy more angel delight.

LIZ

Probably but it coems back to the idea of a layered sweet cream dessert. And I mean the whole angel delight concept really brings it all the way back to flummery and syllabub, here’s a bowl of sweet cream with flavour in it.

HAZEL

Are you saying angel delight is hipster trifle?

LIZ

I wasn’t but now I am. I want some angel delight now.

HAZEL

I feel I could maybe handle it in a trifle, it’s the texture I don’t

like the soupy sweetness so if there were layers of cake and stuff in between I could probably handle it.

LIZ

Or possibly as an ice cream we’ll see how the experiment goes.

HAZEL

Good luck.

LIZ

It’s the 28th july now, the angel delight is coming with my asda order on the 1st of august so we’ll see.

HAZEL

I look forward to reading the reports.

LIZ

There shall be no flummery in them.

HAZEL

I hope there’s no whim-wham either.

LIZ

Oh heavedn forfend.

HAZEL

Hwim-wham in this podcast?>

LIZ

So yeah that is the results of my trifle wiki hole?

HAZEL

I enjoyed that dive into trifle.

LIZ

That sounds unpleasant.

HAZEL

No it doesn’t I’d love to dive into a trifle.

LIZ

All I can think of though is that gif of filling a croc with shaving foam and stepping in it so it comes out of the holes.

HAZEL

Why would you say that? It’s the most uncomfortable image I’ve ever seen. We’ve now got to post this to the twitter for context.

LIZ

Don’t worry I have it saved to my computer for the express purpose of making my game group uncomfortable.

HAZEL

It works.

Plug for probably bad rpg ideas

HAZEL

Can I change the subject?

LIZ

I think you probably should.

HAZEL

I’m going to talk about perry, is that okay?

LIZ

I promise not to talk about shaving foam.

HAZEL

Good. For local larder this week I’m going to talk about perry, which isn’t a member of little mix, it is a form of alcohol made from pears or as it’s often known these days pear cider, which is a controversial term.

LIZ

It’s bringing us back to an early episode where we talk about fruit wines.

HAZEL

Yes, and I can clear up from there – I remember you asking about the difference between fruit wine and cider – cider is made with the yeast from the fruit, while wine has yeast added.

LIZ

So if you added yeast to a cider to make it go faster you’ve made wine, technically.

HAZEL

I guess, yeah, and it’s debatable whether or not perry is a fruit wine or a cider but cider is kind of a fruit wine anyway so it doesn’t really matter it’s all delicious.

LIZ

It’s all alcoholic fruit juice.

HAZEL

Essentially. So alcohol has been made from pears since roman times at least it’s mentioned in pliny’s writings, um… Pliny or pliny I guess. I apologise to any ancient romans who listen to the podcast. There is a saying in the 3 counties of worcestersh- gloucester, herefordshire and worcestershire, which is plant pears for your heirs, it means if you plant pear trees you’d best prepare for your kids to take care of it. Pear trees can take 30 years. A lot longer than apple trees. Which might account for the decline in popularity in perry. Also they can’t be machine harvested because they’re easily bruised, so that obviously drives up the labour cost and you can’t really get day labour anymore at least in most of europe so it’s more expensive to harvest takes longer to mature, and perry pears are not really edible, the pear that makes the best perry is not the pear you want to eat, so you need a big orchard for just perry pears and that’s the income from that orchard.

LIZ

Do you know if the black pear, the symobl of worcestershire, is a perry pear?

HAZEL

I don’t but that makes sense there’s a lot of varieties of perry pears in worcestershire, and those 3 counties and it’ sa drink that was often made there.

LIZ

I’m going to have to find out.

HAZEL

Those are the reasons perry isn’t popular today, though it is coming back with real ale and real cider.

LIZ

Yeah it’s a culinary pear, it does not truly ripen.

HAZEL

Interesting I guess that’s a cider pear or a perry pear.

LIZ

Could be used in pear pies, but I’ve never come across pear pies so I’m assuming it’s mainly for perry.

HAZEL

I’ve had the odd pear crumble, that was pretty good.

LIZ

I’ve just seen there’s a reference in winters tale to pies made out of worcestershire pears.

HAZEL

Really?

LIZ

Warden pies.

HAZEL

That sounds pretty go0od.

LIZ

Sorry for itnerrupting, but it was interesting.

HAZEL

Shakespeare’s always a good interruption. Usually. Yeah perry pears not great to eat and dessert pears don’t make good perry. There’s one variety of perry pear that will burn the roof of your mouth. You can imagine being the kid scrumping that pear.

LIZ

You wouldn’t do it twice.

HAZEL

There was a revival of pear based alcohol in the 90s with babycham.

LIZ

Babycham is perry?

HAZEL

Yeah, I checked with my mum and babycham is a pear drink; not really perry but it’s a pear based sugary drink. It was marketed as a glamorous 60s drink that was in a champagne glass and had blue foil in the tops of the bottles and my grandparents would drink it at christmas. My mum also told me that my mum and my uncle would buy a flagon of cider for my great grandfather at christmas, which was a great present. So babycham is kind of a pear cider, less popular today, it’s kind of a 60s thing, but what is quite popular today is flavoured ciders, like rekorderlig, and I can’t remember any other brand.

LIZ

I think bulmers does some?

HAZEL

They do. Those are debatable, this is where the controversy comes in.

LIZ

Ooh tell me.

HAZEL

I’ll give you all the gossip; the perry gossip. It’s mostly an argument between CAMRA and cider manufacturers; CAMRA is the campaign for real ale, which was quite big int he 90s early 2000s it’s happened now real ale is bag.

LIZ

We did it!

HAZEL

We did do it. I love CAMRA controverysy because I’t; always so petty it’s amazing so CAMRA dispute the term pear cider to mean drinks made from concentrate; so rekorderlig, bulmers, they’re made from concentrate not from actual fruit juice, they’ll get concentrate add water, apple juice, ferment it.

LIZ

This seems overly pedantic to me – concentrate is how they make it last longer in transit. So I’m against CAMRA on this.

HAZEL

I’m on the fence cause on the one hand I think perry does refer to it probably does refere to the traditional method, but that doesn’t mean fruit ciders or pear cfiders aren’t good, I guess it just refers to the way that they’re made, although I guess I do tend to use pear cider interchangeably with perry, but if you want a real ale sort of thing go for perry I guess, but sometimes it’s anice summer day and you just want fruit cider.

LIZ

I do enjoy the alcohol free strawberry and lime cider, which I guess it’s just juice. I think kopparberg?

HAZEL

Taht’s the other one. Given the popularity is coming back, maybe that’s the good point in the favour of fruity ciders they’re bringing back the desire for that kind of thing, maybe it’ sgetting people back into0 perry as well. So people are trying to revive the old varitiest of perry pear, apparently there’s 100 varieties of perry pear extant and they have fantawstic names. For example, late treacle, merrylegs, mumblehead, lumberskull, huffcap, longford, stinking bishop.

LIZ

Sounds like ways to describe someone who’s had too much perry.

HAZEL

They do you lumberskull. You huffcap. Apparently that’s how stinking bishop cheese is made as well, they wash it in that variety of juice.

LIZ

I wonder if they go together.

HAZEL

That would be interesting, a nice cheeseboard and a glass of perry. There you go that is a wild and wonderful dip into perry.

LIZ

I was not expecting so much controversy.

HAZEL

It is a bitter dispute.

LIZ

Bread and thread bringing you all the controversy from the world of fermented fruit drinks.

HAZEL

The stories you really need to know.

LIZ

We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. If you want to suggest an episode or a local larder you can email us at breadandthreadpodcast@gmail.com

HAZEL

You can also find us on twitter at breadandthread and we have a patreon of the same name where you can find instructional videos, recipes, chat servers, all sorts of good stuff.

LIZ

So we will see you next time.

Closing music.