The Menu

Mulligatawny Soup (with sherry)
Haddock (with white wine)
Chicken (with Champagne)
Fruit (with port)

– Little drop of soup, Miss Sophie?
– I am particularly fond of mulligatawny soup*, James…I think we’ll have sherry with the soup.
– Sherry with the soup? Yes… oh, by the way, the same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?
– Same procedure as every year, James.

Dinner for one also known as The 90th Birthday, or by its corresponding German title, Der 90. Geburtstag, is a comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre in the 1920s. German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded a performance of the piece in 1963, in its original English language. This short comical play subsequently went on to become the most frequently repeated TV programme ever (according to the Guinness Book of Records, 1988-1995 eds.; later editions no longer have the category). Wikipedia

The 18 minute black-and-white 1963 TV recording features the British comedians Freddie Frinton and May Warden. In many countries New Year, without Dinner for One, would be like Christmas without It’s A Wonderful Life! The German airline LTU shows it on all its New Year flights, and Dinner for One recently ventured across the border to Austria, where it has become compulsive annual viewing. (The Daily Telegraph online)

Everywhere where it is regularly televised, it has become a cult, and translated into many languages, including Latin:

Ceterum, domina, iubesne me sequi eandem rationem procedendi atque anno superiore? – Same procedure as last year, milady? (BBC online)?

This sketch is absolutely hysterically funny, methinks. Rii

* Recipe for the Mulligatawny Soup is in this link.

“Literally meaning pepper water. Mulligatawny Soup is an Anglo-Indian invention. Created by servants for the English Raj who demanded a soup course from a cuisine that had never produced one. You can make this soup a day ahead and you can add chicken pieces in the soup as well.” (All Recipes online)

Haddock and other fish pictures.
Dinner for One BBC link.
Transcript for the dialogue between Miss Sophie and James.
Even a Quizz on the Dinner for One.


Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline,the first often tasting like the second.

Edward Abbey

According to the Wikipedia the history of coffee has been recorded as far back as the tenth century. During that time, coffee remained largely confined to Ethiopia where its native beans were first cultivated by Ethiopian highlanders. However, the Arab world began expanding its trade horizons, and the beans moved into northern Africa and were mass-cultivated. From there, the beans entered the Indian and European markets, and the popularity of the beverage spread.

The word “coffee” entered English in 1598 via Italian caffè. This word was created via Turkish kahve, which in turn came into being via Arabic qahwa, a truncation of qahhwat al-bun or wine of the bean. One possible origin of both the beverage and the name is the Kingdom of Kaffa in Ethiopia, where the coffee plant originated (its name there is bunn or bunna). It has remained very closely related to the original words in various other languages such as in Finnish: kahvi; and in Swedish: kaffe. The earliest mention of coffee may be a reference to Bunchum in the works of the 10th century CE Persian physician Razi, but more definite information on the preparation of a beverage from the roasted coffee berries dates from several centuries later. Coffee beans were first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen. Yemeni traders brought coffee back to their homeland and began to cultivate the bean.

The first coffee house was Kiva Han, which opened in Istanbul in 1471. Coffee was not well received to begin with; it was first imported to Italy, according to historic sources. The vibrant trade between the Italian city of Venice and the Muslims in North Africa, Egypt, and the East brought a large variety of African goods, including coffee, to this leading European port. Venetian merchants decided to introduce coffee to the wealthy in Venice, charging them heavily for the beverage. Yes, indeed the Merchants of Venice are still famous today in our day!

The first European coffee house (apart from those in the Ottoman Empire, mentioned above) was opened in Italy in 1645. Coffee became available in England no later than the 16th century according to Leonhard Rauwolf’s 1583 account and by 1675, there were more than 3,000 coffeehouses in England. In Victorian England, the temperance movement set up coffeehouses for the working classes, as a place of relaxation free of alcohol, an alternative to the public house (pub).

What is so interesting to read is that women were forbidden in some countries such as England and France, but not in Germany, to frequent these coffee houses at the time! She was ’allowed’ to boil and serve it, though! The banning of women from coffeehouses was not universal, but does appear to have been common in Europe. What is amazing is that there was a petition against the brew by women in 1674! How far have we women got now, for is it not our dearly loved beverage of choice these days?!

In 1669, Soleiman Agha, Ambassador from Sultan Mehmed IV, arrived in Paris with his entourage bringing with him a large quantity of coffee beans. Not only did they provide their French and European guests with coffee to drink, but they also donated some beans to the royal court. Between July 1669 and May 1670, the Ambassador managed to firmly establish the custom of drinking coffee among Parisians. There is a coffeehouse in Paris The Cafe Le Procope’– established in 1686 – which still exists today.

In Les Entretiens des caffés, 1702, remarked:

“The cafés are most agreeable places, and ones where one finds all sorts of people of different characters. There one sees fine young gentlemen, agreeably enjoying themselves; there one sees the savants who come to leave aside the laborious spirit of the study; there one sees others whose gravity and plumpness stand in for merit. Those, in a raised voice, often impose silence on the deftest wit, and rouse themselves to praise everything that is to be blamed, and blame everything that is worthy of praise. How entertaining for those of spirit to see originals setting themselves up as arbiters of good taste and deciding with an imperious tone what is over their depth!”

The first coffeehouse in Austria opened in Vienna in 1683 after the Battle of Vienna, by using supplies from the spoils obtained after defeating the Turks, with the mysterious sacks of green beans left behind by the Turks. The officer who received the coffee beans, Polish military officer Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki, opened the coffee house and helped popularize the custom of adding sugar and milk to the coffee. Aha, that is where the origins of a good Latte are!

The introduction of coffee to the Americas is attributed to France through its colonization of many parts of the continent starting with the Martinique and the colonies of the West Indies where the first French coffee plantations were founded. The first coffee plantation in Brazil occurred in 1727 and by the 1800s, Brazil’s harvests would turn coffee from an elite indulgence to a drink for the masses.

Many believed coffee to have several medicinal properties in this period. For example, a 1661 tract entitled “A character of coffee and coffee-houses”, written by one “M.P.”, lists some of these perceived virtues:

“ ‘Tis extolled for drying up the Crudities of the Stomack, and for expelling Fumes out of the Head. Excellent Berry! which can cleanse the English-man’s Stomak of Flegm, and expel Giddinesse out of his Head. ”

And, not only the English-man’s insides but also this Finnish-woman’s et all the other nationalities these days!

This for now. Riihele xx


Picture: off the net.

Game Over: Football

Nokia Connecting People l

I put the ‘Nokia Connecting People’-thing – this a photograph that my elder sister took while in Vienna last autumn which I just took a chunk of –  in here because the populace of the earth: the old, the young, the haves, the have-nots, friendly nations, foe nations; all have been united under the umbrella, or should I say, under the shadow of a circle-shaped object called the football.

Read in my daily newspaper here in Finland, that there was a man in China who was so engrossed in the France – Spain game during the World Cup 2006, that even though his house burned down around him, he paid no attention to whatsoever to his wife’s neither his baby’s survival never mind to the earthly possessions they had, as all he did was to grab the television set outside and plug into the nearest socket in order to continue watching the said match!! Mind-boggling, so tis.

I do wonder what the man’s reaction was after the game was over if the reality of it all finally sank into his football-crazy head. Also, I’d like to know if it was the team that he was rooting for that did win in the end of the match he so wholeheartedly followed! For sure, it’d be double the disappointment if not only the house & goods burned down to cinders but his team went down as well. Could be too much to handle in one go.

Football is a great game, I think. So do not think that I am against the sport in any way. Nope. Well, let me tell you – I played football in the boys’ team where only the ones who could play were invited to play! I was the only girl they approved to play ’til I asked if my younger sister could join as well. The boys comment to that was:

“Well, does she know HOW TO play?”

“Of course”, I said not really knowing but trusting me blister to be as good as me trust on her!!

I watched the finals of the World Cup 2006 – I was on the French side, by the way. Now that I ponder it, it was great that Italy won as they have not won it since 1982, so I will gladly grant the victory to them. Brazil would have been my Numero Uno choice to win but but…

The one game that kept me perked up all through it at the World Cup Games last year, was the game of Holland versa Ivory Coast; my eyes did not shut in sleepiness or heaviness of boredom once! It was the most masterly and skilfully played of the games in my mind. Some of the games had the sleeping-pill effect on me – I was sound asleep before I knew. Delicious sleep, may I tell you, and didn’t dream of football.

So in the year 2010 it shall be South Africa that the World Cup in football shall be played in next time. Läcka – “right on” –  in Afrikaans slang.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

Going back to the winners of the World Cup 2006 what can one expect of a country that is shaped like a boot but to win?!!

Incidents & Such Like: Kaiser


I have been in Germany a few times and particularly when the Oktoberfest is on, which is an interesting event with some six million people attending it yearly; attending!! Sure. The right expression would be, perhaps, guzzling drinking their way through the entire range of the beers available. This incident did not happen at the Fest but in a store at the centre of Munich where there is a very novel idea which I have not seen the like of in any other country: an area for the gents to sit in a bar-like setting and have liquid refreshments served by a glamorous dolly-bird while their other halves spend their money undisturbed. So he is happy with the dolly and she is happy with all the shopping. This system beats the male following your every step and saying things like: ‘You don’t need that!’ She: ‘Of course, I need it. Otherwise I would not be shopping for it!!’, sure! The right expression would be, perhaps, guzzling drinking their way through the entire range of the beers available.

We – that is – himself and I were shopping in the men’s section of this large store and himself wants to get his stuff without my expertise, so I am sitting there on a seat looking what the other people are doing, when this man – the size of, let’s say: he would be a giant among the pygmies, with a very large frau come near to where I am right besides the full-length mirror.

He is trying on a vast selection of winter overcoats by the large mirror, turning this way, turning that way, looking very pleased with himself while the shop assistant and the frau look on with approval. They talk about the different styles and what would be the best for him to buy.

I say nothing at this stage but smile benevolently at their direction, as tis not my man and none of my biz what he buys or not buys.

Then he tries on this very dark, large and long overcoat with a kind of military style to it. Oh, he is ever so pleased with what he sees of his reflection in the mirror; doing positively ‘napoleonic’ gestures and looking so imperial.

He puts his arm inside the buttons at the front and does his kaiser-like pose stretching to his full height and the heels nearly clicking when, at this point, I say to him:

“Kaiser Wilhelm!”

He cracks up with a hearty laughter falling over nearly and sees it for himself, too. After a minute or two he begins to tell his frau and the sales assistant what I had said for they did not hear it.

The assistant is not that happy, I must say. His commission on that particular coat must have been substantial if he had managed to sell it, of course.

To this day I do not know for sure if the man bought this Kaiser Wilhelm-coat or not because himself came laden that very moment with his shopping and we moved off the spot.

So, anybody living in Munich, if you see a man walking around in an overcoat looking like the Kaiser Wilhelm, let me know. Please. It could be HIM.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.


It is always risky to say anything to anybody one does not know and I took a quickly calculated risk – hmm, about 2 secs – in saying to him what I did. Thank God, his sense of humour was brilliant and he did not get mad at me!

Lapland, Tornio Valley and Childhood – Part3


Riihele at the age of around 4 in Ylitornio, Lapland.

Now I will say a few things of the war called the Finnish War between Russia and Sweden, and other wars and also, other things about the life and culture in the Tornio Valley – as seen through my eyes.

So – that war of 1808-1809 was the very last war that Sweden as a country has suffered while Finland, on the other hand, has been forced to go through several wars such as the Civil War of 1918 and the Russian-Finnish Wars, because there were two wars during the WW II. The first one is called The Winter War, which began in November 1939. It lasted until March 1940, when both of the countries signed a peace treaty where Finland agreed to cede 10 per cent of its territory and 20 per cent of her industrial production to the Soviet Union. This is a compiled account in English about the events of that war.

The amazing thing about that war was that even though the Russians outnumbered the Finns by three to one, the battle was not a walk-over for the Russians looking at the statistics of the casualties and other details. Stalin and his cohorts had thought that it would be just that. The arrogance and attitude of superiority of the Soviets, was such that they started the war with the marching bands and soldiers arm in arm singing stirring Soviet anthems while advancing towards the Finnish lines!! What they had planned, was a short and sharp victory. But God had decided otherwise. My future would have been very, very different to what it has been, IF, Finland had been a state within the USSR. A state like Estonia, our ‘relatives’. There would have been NO freedom to travel to begin with, so I would have been ‘stuck’ and not being able to go anywhere at all!
The Continuation War is the war that was fought between the years 1941-1944. The Lapland War against the former German allies was battled from September 1944 until April 1945. The reason for this war, was the Soviet demand that all German troops were to be expelled from Finland. The task of expelling was made particularly hard because of the other simultaneous Soviet demand of demobilizing the major part of the Finnish armed forces.

The withdrawing Germans used the scorched earth tactics, so that more than one third of the dwellings were destroyed in Lapland. The provincial capital, Rovaniemi, was burned to the ground. This is the town where my mother was born and where she spent her first few years before the family moved to the Tornio Valley in the 1930’s. Rovaniemi was rebuilt after war and the world famous Finnish architect called, Alvar Aalto was very much at forefront of the same. All of mother’s eldest (five) brothers were in the war. And ALL came back – alive. The horrors of the trauma of war and gore, live on the psyche of the Finnish male – passed from generation to generation. My own ‘concrete’ evidence of the Lapland War, were the bullet holes on the flagpole, in the centre of the yard of the houses, where we lived in Ylitornio.

There are a few books on this subject of the Lapland War: the first one is by a colonel called Wolf H. Halsti. His book is in Finnish called – LAPIN SODASSA. That translated into English is like this: IN THE WAR OF LAPLAND. I do not know if it has been publiced in English or any other language. He writes very honestly and pointedly about the whole sad affair. There is a lady who wrote a book about her life in Lapland during these times of hardship, called, Laila Kanon and the book of hers is called – STADIN friidu ja metsien mies, jatkosodan rakkaustarina”. (WSOY 1997) The title in English would translate into something like: “Town Chick and a Man of the forest, a Love Story during the Continuation War.”

The property losses, at the time, were calculated to be at the 1945 US$ as 300 million dollars. HUGE amount! In addition to the financial losses, was the human distress and suffering. The number of the refugees within Lapland was 100,000. My mother with her parents and siblings, that were still at home, fled across the Tornio River over to the Swedish Övertorneå. Karelian refugees were numbered as over 425,000.

I don’t obviously have any personal memories of any of the above, but indirect ones, I do. What do I mean? Well, of that Civil War, I have my grandparents memories and view points that I still quite clearly do remember. In that war there were the Whites against the Reds. It is fairly simple as to figure out what these colours mean. Yes, they mean the hues of one’s political standing. My grandparents, on the father’s side that come from Karelia, were on the White side. I do remember Grandma Helena saying still in her old age, that when she was in an old people’s home, she was made to share a room for a time with one that had been on the Red side. Apparently, the poisonous verbal darts between them were still flying like missiles…
I found that rather amusing but had I lived through the horrors of it, I am sure, my reaction would have been different. It is so very tragic that that should have happened after about sixty years of that civil war. The sadness that there was no forgiveness and forgetting in the depths of the people’s hearts and minds!

Of all the kinds of wars, the civil war between brothers, is the most horrendous of all. No doubt. It really is the most un-civil thing imaginable. Deep, deep wounds are left in the nations that have had to go through it.

The Russian-Sweden War of 1808-1809 over Finland, also known as, the Finnish War, became “familiar” to me through the history lessions at school and also through the Finnish literature. We read Vänriikki Stoolin Tarinat The Tales of Ensign Ståhl – year in, year out, so that, even today, I can give direct quotes of the same! I used to love reading those stories in rhyme about that war.
This is the war (February 1808 ’til September 1809) – that resulted the Valley being cut in two parts with the Tornio River as the border. The choices for the actual border included the River Kalix on the Swedish side – the Russian request – the River Kemi on the Finnish side, to the south of Tornio – the Swedish request. The Tornio River was the agreed joined compromise. From that time on in 1809, Finland became part of the Russian Empire until her independence in December 1917.

Finland was under the Swedish rule from 1352 – 1808, and under the Russian rule from 1809 – 1917. We have, as a nation, learned how to live as a “filling in-a-sandwich” to the bigger and more powerful nations than ourselves that are on either side of us! It takes skill.

Tis for now. Riihele xx

North & South


I am a Northern Gal myself as I was born and grew up in the far north at The Arctic Circle, in Lapland which even in Finnish terms is considered to be exotic. Here is the link to my Memories: Childhood in Lapland entry. The map of the world shows that Finland is at the same latitude as Alaska and Lapland is at the very northern part of the same. The title for this entry comes from the most excellent book of the same name:


North & South* is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell, first published in 1854.
It originally appeared as a serial in the magazine, Household Words. The title indicates a major theme of the book: the contrast between the way of life in the industrial north of England and the wealthier south.

North & South presents, as the title suggests, a contrast between the old agricultural gentry of the South of England and the new industrialists of the north. As the wife of a Unitarian minister in Manchester, Elizabeth Gaskell herself worked among the poor and knew at first hand the misery of the industrial areas. She is today ranked among the most highly regarded British novelists of the Victorian era. (Wikipedia)

In Finland the south is where the capital city, Helsinki, is situated, where the industry is and where most of the people of the nation live in. Lapland has a very strong tourist industry; particularly, this time of the year when visitors from all the corners of the world flock to see the Red Man himself. The people in Lapland have more in common with the Swedish Lapland than with the Southern Finland, and that is not so strange as the there used to be one nation across the River Tornio until the war that Sweden had with Russia about Finland in the 1808-09. In this entry here I am talking about the special relationship that Finns and Swedes do have and in the entry here about my growing up in Lapland and about the background to the situation in there.
The north-south situation is similar in Sweden, in The UK and in Norway as well where it is like that of in Finland. Whereas in Germany, France, Spain and in Italy the situation is reversed: the north is more wealthy and the place where tis happening.

What amazed me in being and living with the various nationalities that, for example, the northern Italians consider that Africa starts south of Rome! One friend from Rome was teased by the others from northern Italy absolutely mercilessly because of his Roman accent in Italian. Then on to the Germans in Bavaria, where I was, considered the northern Germans to be Prussians and that the southerners should build a nation of Tirolia with the Italian and Austrian Tyroleans.

Further on to Spain: The northern parts of the country as in the Basque Country and Catalonia are very patriotic for their own areas and consider that they are the ones forced to pay the bulk of the costs in Spain. And they so resent it. I used to say to the Catalonians and the other Spaniards that I will hand them a pair of boxing gloves each to see ‘who is who’ in this matter when the discussions became so heated up!

In Ireland the North is part of the UK and used to be miles ahead of the South in nigh every way. What do I mean? Here is an entry I did on the Twelfth of July and another one on Belfast. Here is a snippet of the same:

Belfast is so very near to Dublin in the Southern Ireland and yet so far. What that? Well, the mentality of the Northerner compared to the Southerner is miles apart, in almost every way. Where the Dubliner and the rest of the population in the south are laid-back, witty, fatalistic and not-so-terribly efficient in whatever they do, the Northerner is uptight, serious, strong willed and highly efficient in his/her basic nature.

We used to be simply awed by the state of the roads as soon as one crossed the border in Newry over to the Northern Ireland. One could really put the boot down from here on the motorway and be in Belfast in a jiffy! Marvellous. The state of the roads in the Republic were – and still are in parts – such that the journey even though not that long in miles or kilometers took a lifetime!

I belong to a society that has a lot of co-operation between the south and the north of Ireland and there was a serious plan to unite the two into one all-Ireland society. We were all at first so gong-ho about it and it was a must to have the formal unity, until we came to see that the southerner and his northern counterpart are in every day life in their manner and thinking too far apart. For example, I would tell a joky comment and the southerners would be rolling laughing on the floor getting it immediately; whereas the northerners were like: WHAT is she talking about? They would/could not get it even when explained point by point!!

Do not get it wrong as I do love going to the Northern Ireland and the people there. Their accent is priceless in my mind as well.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.

What is the situation, as You see, in Your Country?

* Book in eFormat available at Project Gutenberg online.

The BBC most excellent dramatization of the North & South of 2004 is in this link.