ISSN 1188-603X

No. CCCLX April 1, 2006 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


Next year we are to bring the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly.
We want the money for themselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right.

It's hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it's been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds.

Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it's a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money.

[The author's name has been withdrawn to avoid possible copyright infringement proceedings against BEN.

Quiz: What did the author mean when he said "Next Year"?



Robin Abrahams, AIR psychology editor observes:

Scientists have proved, beyond much doubt, that prayer is valuable. Yet another study has been done on the efficacy of prayer: this new one, with over 1,800 subjects, showing yet again that prayer has no direct effect on the health of the person prayed for. The New York Times reports (March 31, 2006) that:

The study cost $2.4 million, and most of the money came from the John Templeton Foundation, which supports research into spirituality. The government has spent more than $2.3 million on prayer research since 2000.

None of the studies thus far have indicated that prayer is efficacious in healing the sick. But the experiments show that prayer is good for generating grant money.

[For instructions how to subscribe to mini-AIR see the note at the end of this BEN.]


From: Ferrone, J. 1999. The armchair James Beard. The Lyons Press, Guilford, Connecticut.

In the beginning, there was James Beard. Julia Child

Rhubarb grew in so many gardens in nineteenth-century America and found its way into so many puddings and pies that it came to be known as "pie plant." It wasn't admired by all Americans, however. Miss Eliza Leslie, a rather starchy lady and a prolific writer of cookery books between 1828 and about 1858, observed: "This [rhubarb] is sometimes called a spring fruit of pie plant. It comes early but is by no means as good as gooseberries. We do not think it worth preserving or making into a sweet." Maria Parloa, redoubtable principal of the Boston Cooking School, ignored rhubarb completely in her New Cook Book of 1880, but then she disapproved of fruit-and-pastry desserts altogether. She heralded the advent of family-sized ice cream freezers with joy, "as they will soon do away with the unhealthy dish - pie." Well, unhealthy or not, I'd say that pies are here to stay.

Technically a vegetable, rhubarb is used mainly as a fruit and turns up in puddings, pies, tarts, and preservers on both sides of the Atlantic. As long ago as 1760, the famous English cookery writer Hannah Glasse gave a recipe for rhubarb tarts, commenting that they might be odd but were actually very fine, with a pretty flavor. (Then she went on to recommend rhubarb leaves as a fine thing to eat for a pain in the stomach, which is rather unfortunate, because the leaves - though not the fleshy stalks - contain oxalic acid and are, in fact, poisonous.)

For Polish people treat rhubarb as the vegetable it is. They combine it with new potatoes and flavorful dried wild mushrooms and herbs and use it as an accompaniment to pork and chicken. Here, in this country, I've been served a very tasty side dish with venison that consists of rhubarb cooked with fatback, raisins, onions, a touch of vinegar, and a little brown sugar. Like apple sauce with pork, the contrast in flavours is a delight to the palate.

Some years ago, a friend cooked a wonderfully spicy and aromatic dish for me that one might almost term a Middle Eastern version of sweet and sour, using lamb instead of pork. I obtained a recipe, of course, and made the dish when spring rhubarb first comes into the markets. If you want to try it, get cherry red rhubarb (rather than the green) if you can. It is an excellent flavour.

[The recipe for Persian Lamb with Rhubarb follows on pages 152 & 153 of The Armchair James Beard.]

I've noticed that rhubarb is turning up in nouvelle cuisine entrees these days. Its tart, sweet-sharp quality makes a fine foil for duck's fatty richness, for example. For all that, I still have a sneaking fondness for a traditional rhubarb pie or perhaps a creamy fruit fool. Unlike Miss Leslie, I DO think rhubarb worth preserving and making into a sweet. Or a sweet and sour.

[The Rhubarb Fool recipe follows, page 153.]


BEN does not allow advertisement, but we decided to break the rule by the two postings below. The first one is for those who do not have their e-mail boxes cluttered enough by BEN and similar items, and the second is an advertisement of my presentation on the history of spinach.


mini-AIR is a monthly newsletter, sent by email. It contains items too tiny or too timely or too something-or-other to fit into the real magazine. It is free.

To subscribe to mini-AIR, send an email message to The message body should contain only the words "SUBSCRIBE MINI-AIR" followed by your name.

For example:
   SUBSCRIBE MINI-AIR Irene Curie Joliot

To unsubscribe, send a message to the same address whose message body is:

Note that you must send this message from the email address with which you subscribed.


BEN decided to establish a Distinguished Lecture Series Speakers' Circle, a circle that would include scientists who pushed the frontier of science forwards. So far, this circle has only one speaker, i.e., the BEN Distinguished Editor.

His lecture on Spinach and Civilization_ has been favorably accepted as after-dinner lectures for instance at the annual meetings of the North American Rock and Alpine Garden Society, or at the annual meeting of SPNCH (Society for Preservation of Natural History Collections).

The lecture comes in the following two formats:

  1. A short version, 27 min. 25 sec. long, dealing only with spinach (most popular), and
  2. A longer version, 48 min. 55 sec. long, with potatoes, kiwi fruit and pineapples added to the spinach (slightly boring). Rhubarb may be added on request with no special charge.

In order to arrange the speaker's tour or to participate in the Distinguished Lecture Series Speakers' Circle, please, contact BEN at .

Send submissions to
BEN is archived at