Hunter S. Thompson’s Harrowing, Chemical-Filled Daily Routine

E. Jean Car­rol­l’s 1993 mem­oir of Hunter S. Thomp­son opens like this:

I have heard the biog­ra­phers of Har­ry S. Tru­man, Cather­ine the Great, etc., etc., say they would give any­thing if their sub­jects were alive so they could ask them some ques­tions. I, on the oth­er hand, would give any­thing if my sub­ject were dead.

He should be. Oh, yes. Look at his dai­ly rou­tine:

3:00 p.m. rise

3:05 Chivas Regal with the morn­ing papers, Dun­hills

3:45 cocaine

3:50 anoth­er glass of Chivas, Dun­hill

4:05 first cup of cof­fee, Dun­hill

4:15 cocaine

4:16 orange juice, Dun­hill

4:30 cocaine

4:54 cocaine

5:05 cocaine

5:11 cof­fee, Dun­hills

5:30 more ice in the Chivas

5:45 cocaine, etc., etc.

6:00 grass to take the edge off the day

7:05 Woody Creek Tav­ern for lunch-Heineken, two mar­gar­i­tas, coleslaw, a taco sal­ad, a dou­ble order of fried onion rings, car­rot cake, ice cream, a bean frit­ter, Dun­hills, anoth­er Heineken, cocaine, and for the ride home, a snow cone (a glass of shred­ded ice over which is poured three or four jig­gers of Chivas.)

9:00 starts snort­ing cocaine seri­ous­ly

10:00 drops acid

11:00 Char­treuse, cocaine, grass

11:30 cocaine, etc, etc.

12:00 mid­night, Hunter S. Thomp­son is ready to write

12:05–6:00 a.m. Char­treuse, cocaine, grass, Chivas, cof­fee, Heineken, clove cig­a­rettes, grape­fruit, Dun­hills, orange juice, gin, con­tin­u­ous porno­graph­ic movies.

6:00 the hot tub-cham­pagne, Dove Bars, fet­tuc­cine Alfre­do

8:00 Hal­cy­on

8:20 sleep

Ms. Car­roll, you have my atten­tion, I do declare. But when I get a grip on myself, I won­der: How did she get ahold of this list? Did Thomp­son map it all out for her? Did he note it in a diary, or jot it all down on a nap­kin? Or did Car­roll observe him fol­low­ing this rou­tine while vis­it­ing his 7,000-acre estate in Woody Creek, Col­orado? And, if the lat­ter, you have to won­der whether Thomp­son always lived this hard? Or was this a bit of schtick, the nur­tur­ing of a Gonzo per­sona now decades in the mak­ing? It’s hard to know what’s true, or what’s not.

Mean­while, if you want to delve more deeply into Thomp­son’s dai­ly rou­tine, you can explore HST’s ide­al break­fast. It con­sists of “four Bloody Marys, two grape­fruits, a pot of cof­fee, Ran­goon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned-beef hash with diced chilies, a Span­ish omelette or eggs Bene­dict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for ran­dom sea­son­ing, and some­thing like a slice of key lime pie, two mar­gar­i­tas and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert.” All eat­en naked and alone. Nat­u­ral­ly.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hunter S. Thompson’s Deca­dent Dai­ly Break­fast: The “Psy­chic Anchor” of His Fre­net­ic Cre­ative Life

Hunter S. Thomp­son Chill­ing­ly Pre­dicts the Future, Telling Studs Terkel About the Com­ing Revenge of the Eco­nom­i­cal­ly & Tech­no­log­i­cal­ly “Obso­lete” (1967)

Hunter Thomp­son Explains What Gonzo Jour­nal­ism Is, and How He Writes It (1975)

Free: Read the Orig­i­nal 23,000-Word Essay That Became Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

“The Virtues of Coffee” Explained in 1690 Ad: The Cure for Lethargy, Scurvy, Dropsy, Gout & More

Accord­ing to many his­to­ri­ans, the Eng­lish Enlight­en­ment may nev­er have hap­pened were it not for cof­fee­hous­es, the pub­lic sphere where poets, crit­ics, philoso­phers, legal minds, and oth­er intel­lec­tu­al gad­flies reg­u­lar­ly met to chat­ter about the press­ing con­cerns of the day. And yet, writes schol­ar Bon­nie Cal­houn, “it was not for the taste of cof­fee that peo­ple flocked to these estab­lish­ments.”

Indeed, one irate pam­phle­teer defined cof­fee, which was at this time with­out cream or sug­ar and usu­al­ly watered down, as “pud­dle-water, and so ugly in colour and taste [sic].”

No syrupy, high-dol­lar Mac­chi­atos or smooth, creamy lattes kept them com­ing back. Rather than the bev­er­age, “it was the nature of the insti­tu­tion that caused its pop­u­lar­i­ty to sky­rock­et dur­ing the sev­en­teenth and eigh­teenth cen­turies.”

How, then, were pro­pri­etors to achieve eco­nom­ic growth? Like the own­er of the first Eng­lish cof­fee-shop did in 1652, Lon­don mer­chant Samuel Price deployed the time-hon­ored tac­tics of the moun­te­bank, using adver­tis­ing to make all sorts of claims for coffee’s many “virtues” in order to con­vince con­sumers to drink the stuff at home. In the 1690 broad­side above, writes Rebec­ca Onion at Slate, Price made a “litany of claims for coffee’s health ben­e­fits,” some of which “we’d rec­og­nize today and oth­ers that seem far-fetched.” In the lat­ter cat­e­go­ry are asser­tions that “cof­fee-drink­ing pop­u­la­tions didn’t get com­mon dis­eases” like kid­ney stones or “Scur­vey, Gout, Drop­sie.” Cof­fee could also, Price claimed, improve hear­ing and “swoon­ing” and was “exper­i­men­tal­ly good to pre­vent Mis­car­riage.”

Among these spu­ri­ous med­ical ben­e­fits is list­ed a gen­uine effect of coffee—its relief of “lethar­gy.” Price’s oth­er beverages—“Chocolette, and Thee or Tea”—receive much less empha­sis since they didn’t require a hard sell. No one needs to be con­vinced of the ben­e­fits of cof­fee these days—indeed many of us can’t func­tion with­out it. But as we sit in cor­po­rate chain cafes, glued to smart­phones and lap­top screens and most­ly ignor­ing each oth­er, our cof­fee­hous­es have become some­what pale imi­ta­tions of those vibrant Enlight­en­ment-era estab­lish­ments where, writes Cal­houn, “men [though rarely women] were encour­aged to engage in both ver­bal and writ­ten dis­course with regard for wit over rank.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

“The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink”: An Ad for London’s First Cafe Print­ed Cir­ca 1652

How Caf­feine Fueled the Enlight­en­ment, Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion & the Mod­ern World: An Intro­duc­tion by Michael Pol­lan

Philoso­phers Drink­ing Cof­fee: The Exces­sive Habits of Kant, Voltaire & Kierkegaard

How Human­i­ty Got Hooked on Cof­fee: An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry

The Birth of Espres­so: The Sto­ry Behind the Cof­fee Shots That Fuel Mod­ern Life

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.“The Virtues of Cof­fee” Explained in 1690 Ad: The Cure for Lethar­gy, Scurvy, Drop­sy, Gout & More

Salvador Dalí’s Surreal Cutlery Set from 1957

In 1957, Sal­vador Dalí cre­at­ed a table­ware set con­sist­ing of 1) a four-tooth fork with a fish han­dle, 2) an ele­phant fork with three teeth, 3) a snail knife with tears, 4) a leaf knife, 5) a small arti­choke spoon, and 6) an arti­choke spoon. When the set went on auc­tion in 2012, it sold for $28,125.

Infor­ma­tion on the cut­lery set remains hard to find, but we sus­pect that it sprang from Dalí’s desire to blur the lines between art and every­day life. It’s per­haps the same log­ic that led him to design a sur­re­al­ist cook­book—Les Din­ers de Gala—16 years lat­er. It’s not hard to imag­ine the uten­sils above going to work on his odd­ball recipes, like “Bush of Craw­fish in Viking Herbs,” “Thou­sand-Year-Old Eggs,” and “Veal Cut­lets Stuffed with Snails.” If you hap­pen to know more about Dalí’s cre­ation, please add any thoughts to the com­ments below.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Sal­vador Dalí’s 1973 Cook­book Gets Reis­sued: Sur­re­al­ist Art Meets Haute Cui­sine

Sal­vador Dali’s 1978 Wine Guide, The Wines of Gala, Gets Reis­sued: Sen­su­al Viti­cul­ture Meets Sur­re­al Art

How to Actu­al­ly Cook Sal­vador Dali’s Sur­re­al­ist Recipes: Cray­fish, Prawns, and Spit­ted Eggs

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How Humanity Got Hooked on Coffee: An Animated History

Few of us grow up drink­ing cof­fee, but once we start drink­ing it, even few­er of us ever stop. Accord­ing to leg­end, the ear­li­est such case was a ninth-cen­tu­ry Ethiopi­an goatherd named Kal­di, who noticed how much ener­gy his rumi­nant charges seemed to draw from eat­ing par­tic­u­lar red berries. After chew­ing a few of them him­self, he expe­ri­enced the first caf­feine buzz in human his­to­ry. Despite almost cer­tain­ly nev­er hav­ing exist­ed, Kal­di now lends his name to a vari­ety of cof­fee shops around the world, every­where from Addis Aba­ba to Seoul, where I live.

His sto­ry also opens the ani­mat­ed TED-Ed video above, “How Human­i­ty Got Hooked on Cof­fee.” We do know, explains its nar­ra­tor, that “at some point before the four­teen-hun­dreds, in what’s now Ethiopia, peo­ple began for­ag­ing for wild cof­fee in the for­est under­growth.” Ear­ly on, peo­ple con­sumed cof­fee plants by drink­ing tea made with their leaves, eat­ing their berries with but­ter and salt, and — in what proved to be the most endur­ing method — “dry­ing, roast­ing, and sim­mer­ing its cher­ries into an ener­giz­ing elixir.” Over the years, demand for this elixir spread through­out the Ottoman Empire, and in the full­ness of time made its way out­ward to both Asia and Europe.

In no Euro­pean city did cof­fee catch on as aggres­sive­ly as it did in Lon­don, whose cof­fee hous­es pro­lif­er­at­ed in the mid-sev­en­teenth-cen­tu­ry and became “social and intel­lec­tu­al hotbeds.” Lat­er, “Paris’ cof­fee hous­es host­ed Enlight­en­ment fig­ures like Diderot and Voltaire, who alleged­ly drank 50 cups of cof­fee a day.” (In fair­ness, it was a lot weak­er back then.) Pro­duc­ing and trans­port­ing the ever-increas­ing amounts of cof­fee imbibed in these and oth­er cen­ters of human civ­i­liza­tion required world-span­ning impe­r­i­al oper­a­tions, which were com­mand­ed with just the degree of cau­tion and sen­si­tiv­i­ty one might imag­ine.

The world’s first com­mer­cial espres­so machine was show­cased in Milan in 1906, a sig­nal moment in the indus­tri­al­iza­tion and mech­a­niza­tion of the cof­fee expe­ri­ence. By the mid-nine­teen-fifties, “about 60 per­cent of U.S. fac­to­ries incor­po­rat­ed cof­fee breaks.” More recent trends have empha­sized “spe­cial­ty cof­fees with an empha­sis on qual­i­ty beans and brew­ing meth­ods,” as well as cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for cof­fee pro­duc­tion using “min­i­mum wage and sus­tain­able farm­ing.” What­ev­er our con­sid­er­a­tions when buy­ing cof­fee, many of us have made it an irre­place­able ele­ment of our rit­u­als both per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al. Not to say what we’re addict­ed: this is the 3,170th Open Cul­ture post I’ve writ­ten, but only the 3,150th or so that I’ve writ­ten while drink­ing cof­fee.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Cof­fee and How It Trans­formed Our World

The Birth of Espres­so: The Sto­ry Behind the Cof­fee Shots That Fuel Mod­ern Life

How Caf­feine Fueled the Enlight­en­ment, Indus­tri­al Rev­o­lu­tion & the Mod­ern World: An Intro­duc­tion by Michael Pol­lan

The Curi­ous Sto­ry of London’s First Cof­fee­hous­es (1650–1675)

Black Cof­fee: Doc­u­men­tary Cov­ers the His­to­ry, Pol­i­tics & Eco­nom­ics of the “Most Wide­ly Tak­en Legal Drug”

“The Virtues of Cof­fee” Explained in 1690 Ad: The Cure for Lethar­gy, Scurvy, Drop­sy, Gout & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

J.S. Bach’s Opera, “The Coffee Cantata,” Sings the Praises of the Great Stimulating Drink (1735)

From the time that a name­less genius in either Ethiopia or Yemen decid­ed to dry, crush and strain water through a berry known for mak­ing goats ner­vous and jumpy, cof­fee has been loved and wor­shiped like few oth­er bev­er­ages. Ear­ly Arab doc­tors pro­claimed the stuff to be a mir­a­cle drug. Thor­ough­ly caf­feinat­ed thinkers from Voltaire to Jonathan Swift to Jack Ker­ouac debat­ed lit­er­a­ture, phi­los­o­phy and every­thing in between at cof­fee hous­es. Author Hon­oré Balzac even report­ed­ly died because of exces­sive cof­fee drink­ing (it was either that or the syphilis.)

Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach (1685–1750) was also appar­ent­ly a cof­fee enthu­si­ast. So much so that he wrote a com­po­si­tion about the bev­er­age. Although known most­ly for his litur­gi­cal music, his Cof­fee Can­ta­ta (AKA Schweigt stille, plaud­ert nicht, BWV 211) is a rare exam­ple of a sec­u­lar work by the com­pos­er. The short com­ic opera was writ­ten (cir­ca 1735) for a musi­cal ensem­ble called The Col­legium Musicum based in a sto­ried Zimmerman’s cof­fee house in Leipzig, Ger­many. The whole can­ta­ta seems very much to have been writ­ten with the local audi­ence in mind.

Cof­fee Can­ta­ta is about a young viva­cious woman named Aria who loves cof­fee. Her killjoy father is, of course, dead set against his daugh­ter hav­ing any kind of caf­feinat­ed fun. So he tries to ban her from the drink. Aria bit­ter­ly com­plains:

Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I could­n’t, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my lit­tle cup of cof­fee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriv­eled-up roast goat.

Ah! How sweet cof­fee tastes,
more deli­cious than a thou­sand kiss­es,
milder than mus­ca­tel wine.
Cof­fee, I have to have cof­fee,
and, if some­one wants to pam­per me,
ah, then bring me cof­fee as a gift!

The copy­writ­ers at Star­bucks mar­ket­ing depart­ment couldn’t have writ­ten it any bet­ter. Even­tu­al­ly, daugh­ter and father rec­on­cile when he agrees to have a guar­an­teed three cups of cof­fee a day writ­ten into her mar­riage con­tract. You can watch it in its entire­ty below, or get a quick taste above. The lyrics in Ger­man and Eng­lish can be read here.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2014.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

“The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink”: London’s First Cafe Cre­ates Ad for Cof­fee in the 1650s

The Cof­fee Pot That Fueled Hon­oré de Balzac’s Cof­fee Addic­tion

The Birth of Espres­so: The Sto­ry Behind the Cof­fee Shots That Fuel Mod­ern Life

The Hertel­la Cof­fee Machine Mount­ed on a Volk­swa­gen Dash­board (1959): The Most Euro­pean Car Acces­so­ry Ever Made

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

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A New Database Captures the Smells of European History, from 16th-Century to the Early 20th-Century

But when from a long-dis­tant past noth­ing sub­sists, after the peo­ple are dead, after the things are bro­ken and scat­tered, still, alone, more frag­ile, but with more vital­i­ty, more unsub­stan­tial, more per­sis­tent, more faith­ful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, wait­ing and hop­ing for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfal­ter­ing, in the tiny and almost impal­pa­ble drop of their essence, the vast struc­ture of rec­ol­lec­tion. — Mar­cel Proust, Swann’s Way

His­to­ry favors the eyes.

Visu­al art can tell us what indi­vid­u­als who died long before the advent of pho­tog­ra­phy looked like, as well as the sort of fash­ions, food and decor one might encounter in house­holds both opu­lent and hum­ble.

Our ears are also priv­i­leged in this regard, whether we’re lis­ten­ing to a Gre­go­ri­an chant per­formed in a cathe­dral or an ace sound designer’s cin­e­mat­ic recre­ation of the D‑Day land­ings.

With a few judi­cious ingre­di­ent sub­sti­tu­tions, we can even get a sense of what an Ancient Roman sal­ad, a 4000-year-old Baby­lon­ian stew, and a 5000-year-old Chi­nese beer tast­ed like.

Pity the poor neglect­ed nose. Scents are ephemer­al! How often have we won­dered what Ver­sailles real­ly smelled back in the 17th cen­tu­ry, when unbathed aris­to­crats in unlaun­dered fin­ery packed into high soci­ety’s unven­ti­lat­ed salons?

On the oth­er hand, giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty, do we real­ly want to know?

Odeu­ropa, the Euro­pean olfac­to­ry her­itage project, answers with a resound­ing yes.

Among its ini­tia­tives is an inter­ac­tive Smell Explor­er that invites vis­i­tors to dive deep into smells as  cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­na.

Devel­oped by an inter­na­tion­al team of com­put­er sci­en­tists, AI experts and human­i­ties schol­ars, the Smell Explor­er is a vast com­pendi­um of smells as rep­re­sent­ed in 23,000 images and 62,000 pub­lic domain texts, includ­ing nov­els, the­atri­cal scripts, trav­el­ogues, botan­i­cal text­books, court records, san­i­tary reports, ser­mons, and med­ical hand­books.

This resource offers a fresh lens for con­sid­er­ing the past through our noses, an unflinch­ing look at var­i­ous olfac­to­ry real­i­ties of life in Europe from the 15th through ear­ly 20th cen­turies.

Sur­vivors of ear­li­er plagues and pan­demics might have asso­ci­at­ed their tri­als with the puri­fy­ing aro­mas of burn­ing rose­mary and hot tar, just as the scents of sour­dough and the way a hand­sewn cot­ton face mask’s inte­ri­or smelled after sev­er­al hours of wear con­jure the ear­ly days of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic for many of us.

There are a num­ber of inter­est­ing ways to explore this scent-rich data­base — by geo­graph­ic loca­tion, time peri­od, asso­ci­at­ed emo­tion, or aro­mat­ic qual­i­ty.

Of course, you could go straight to a smell source.

Cham­ber pot” returns 18,152 results, “cadav­er“266…

The squea­mish are advised to steer clear of vom­it (421 results) in favor of the Smell Explorer’s  plea­sur­able and abun­dant food-relat­ed entries — bread, choco­late, cof­fee, pome­gran­ate, pas­try, and wine, to name but a few.

Each scent is built as a col­lec­tion of cards or “nose wit­ness reports” with infor­ma­tion as to the title of the work cit­ed, its author or artist, year of cre­ation and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion (“good”, “rank”, “pecu­liar­ly unpleas­ant and per­ma­nent”…)

Even more ambi­tious­ly, Odeu­ropa aims to give 21st-cen­tu­ry noses an actu­al whiff of Europe’s olfac­to­ry her­itage by enlist­ing per­fumers and scent design­ers to recre­ate over a hun­dred his­toric odors and aro­mas.

Odeu­ropa has also cre­at­ed a down­load­able Olfac­to­ry Sto­ry­telling Toolk­it to give muse­um cura­tors ideas for inte­grat­ing cul­tur­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant odors into exhibits, a trend that is gain­ing trac­tion world­wide.

While every­one stands to ben­e­fit from the added olfac­to­ry dimen­sion of such exhibits, this ini­tia­tive is of par­tic­u­lar ser­vice to blind and visu­al­ly-impaired vis­i­tors. Exper­tise is no doubt required to get it right.

We’re remind­ed of satirist PJ O’Rourke early-80’s vis­it to the Exxon-spon­sored Uni­verse of Ener­gy Pavil­ion in Walt Dis­ney World’s EPCOT cen­ter, where ani­ma­tron­ic dinosaurs were “depict­ed with­out accu­ra­cy and much too close to your face:”

One of the few real nov­el­ties at Epcot is the use of smell to aggra­vate illu­sions. Of course, no one knows what dinosaurs smelled like, but Exxon has decid­ed they smelled bad.

Enter the Odeu­ropa Smell Explor­er here.

via Smith­son­ian

Relat­ed Con­tent

The Chem­istry Behind the Smell of Old Books: Explained with a Free Info­graph­ic

The Dis­gust­ing Food Muse­um Curates 80 of the World’s Most Repul­sive Dish­es: Mag­got-Infest­ed Cheese, Putrid Shark & More

Does Play­ing Music for Cheese Dur­ing the Aging Process Change Its Fla­vor? Researchers Find That Hip Hop Makes It Smelli­er, and Zeppelin’s “Stair­way to Heav­en” Makes It Milder

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Winston Churchill Gets a Doctor’s Note to Drink Unlimited Alcohol While Visiting the U.S. During Prohibition (1932)

In Decem­ber 1931, hav­ing just embarked on a 40-stop lec­ture tour of the Unit­ed States, Win­ston Churchill was run­ning late to dine with financier Bernard Baruch on New York City’s Upper East Side. He hadn’t both­ered to bring Baruch’s address, oper­at­ing under the incor­rect assump­tion that his friend was so dis­tin­guished a per­son­age, any ran­dom cab-dri­ving com­mon­er would auto­mat­i­cal­ly rec­og­nize his build­ing.

Such were the days before cell phones and Google Maps.…

Even­tu­al­ly, Churchill bagged the cab, and shot out across 5th Avenue mid-block, think­ing he would fare bet­ter on foot.

Instead, he was very near­ly “squashed like a goose­ber­ry” when he was struck by a car trav­el­ing about 35 miles an hour.

Churchill, who wast­ed no time ped­dling his mem­o­ries of the acci­dent and sub­se­quent hos­pi­tal­iza­tion to The Dai­ly Mail, explained his mis­cal­cu­la­tion thus­ly:

In Eng­land we fre­quent­ly cross roads along which fast traf­fic is mov­ing in both direc­tions. I did not think the task I set myself now either dif­fi­cult or rash. But at this moment habit played me a dead­ly trick. I no soon­er got out of the cab some­where about the mid­dle of the road and told the dri­ver to wait than I instinc­tive­ly turned my eyes to the left. About 200 yards away were the yel­low head­lights of an approach­ing car. I thought I had just time to cross the road before it arrived; and I start­ed to do so in the prepossession—wholly unwar­rant­ed— that my only dan­gers were from the left.

Yeah, well, that’s why we paint the word “LOOK” in the cross­walk, pal, equip­ping the Os with left-lean­ing pupils for good mea­sure.

Anoth­er cab fer­ried the wound­ed Churchill to Lenox Hill Hos­pi­tal, where he iden­ti­fied him­self as “Win­ston Churchill, a British States­man” and was treat­ed for a deep gash to the head, a frac­tured nose, frac­tured ribs, and severe shock.

“I do not wish to be hurt any more. Give me chlo­ro­form or some­thing,” he direct­ed, while wait­ing for the anes­thetist.

After two weeks in the hos­pi­tal, where he man­aged to devel­op pleurisy in addi­tion to his injuries, Churchill and his fam­i­ly repaired to the Bahamas for some R&R.

It didn’t take long to feel the finan­cial pinch of all those can­celled lec­ture dates, how­ev­er. Six weeks after the acci­dent, he resumed an abbre­vi­at­ed but still gru­el­ing 14-stop ver­sion of the tour, despite his fears that he would prove unfit.

Otto Pick­hardt, Lenox Hill’s admit­ting physi­cian came to the res­cue by issu­ing Churchill the Get Out of Pro­hi­bi­tion Free Pass, above. To wit:

…the post-acci­dent con­va­les­cence of the Hon. Win­ston S. Churchill neces­si­tates the use of alco­holic spir­its espe­cial­ly at meal times. The quan­ti­ty is nat­u­ral­ly indef­i­nite but the min­i­mum require­ments would be 250 cubic cen­time­ters.

Per­haps this is what the emi­nent British States­man meant by chlo­ro­form “or some­thing”? No doubt he was relieved about those indef­i­nite quan­ti­ties. Cheers.

Read Churchill’s “My New York Mis­ad­ven­ture” in its entire­ty here. You can also learn more by perus­ing this sec­tion of Mar­tin Gilbert’s biog­ra­phy, Win­ston Churchill: The Wilder­ness Years.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2016.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Hap­pens When Mor­tals Try to Drink Win­ston Churchill’s Dai­ly Intake of Alco­hol

Oh My God! Win­ston Churchill Received the First Ever Let­ter Con­tain­ing “O.M.G.” (1917)

Win­ston Churchill Goes Back­ward Down a Water Slide & Los­es His Trunks (1934)

Win­ston Churchill’s List of Tips for Sur­viv­ing a Ger­man Inva­sion: See the Nev­er-Dis­trib­uted Doc­u­ment (1940)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She lives in New York City, some 30 blocks to the north of the scene of Churchill’s acci­dent. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Jacques Pépin Teaches You How to Make James Beard’s Famous Onion Sandwich

Wor­ried that hol­i­day enter­tain­ing may put you in dan­ger of over­spend­ing?

Pre­serve your bank account and those joy­ful fes­tive feel­ings by serv­ing your friends onion sand­wich­es.

We assure you, they come with the utmost of culi­nary pedi­grees.

Esteemed chef and cook­book author Jacques Pépin hap­pi­ly demon­strates the sim­ple recipe, above, con­fid­ing that it was a favorite of his late wife’s.

Every­thing tastes bet­ter when cooked with love, even if the chef’s not doing much more than slic­ing a cou­ple of half moons from an onion and slather­ing bread with mayo.

(If you’re aller­gic to either of those ingre­di­ents, try swap­ping them out for radish­es and but­ter.)

Pépin cred­its his old friend, James Beard, “America’s first food­ie”, with the recipe. It caused a sen­sa­tion when Beard pub­lished it in 1965’s Menus for Enter­tain­ing.

He revis­it­ed the sub­ject in 1974’s Beard on Food: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wis­dom from the Dean of Amer­i­can Cook­ing, while unabashed­ly fan­boy­ing over the hum­ble veg­etable in its many forms, from tiny pearl onions to “big del­i­cate Bermu­das and the enor­mous Span­ish vari­ety that are in sea­son from fall to late spring:”

Just the oth­er day I was enchant­ed to receive a box of these giant gold­en globes, per­fect­ly matched in size and con­tour, that flour­ish in the vol­canic soil of Ore­gon and Ida­ho. They make absolute­ly superb eat­ing. I love them raw, thin­ly sliced, with a ham­burg­er or cold meats or in a hearty, fla­vor­ful onion sand­wich.

The day my gift box arrived I hap­pened to have some slight­ly stale home­made bread, about two or three days old. I sliced this very thin, but­tered it well, cov­ered it with paper-thin slices of Span­ish onion, sprin­kled them with some coarse salt, and pressed anoth­er slice of bread firmed on the top—and there was my sup­per. I can eas­i­ly make a whole meal of onion sand­wich­es, for to me they are one of the great­est treats I know…


Delight­ful! But hold up a sec. The New York Times’ Tejal Rao, reports that Beard, who had a “rep­u­ta­tion for chron­ic, unapolo­getic pla­gia­rism” appar­ent­ly “lift­ed” the recipe from cook­book authors Irma and Bill Rhode, his one-time part­ners in a New York City cater­ing com­pa­ny:

It was basic but con­fi­dent, and it came togeth­er with inex­pen­sive ingre­di­ents. It was so good that you could eas­i­ly eat a dozen, and so sim­ple that it bare­ly required a recipe. You glance at the direc­tions, feel­ing a lit­tle sil­ly rolling the sand­wich­es in chopped pars­ley, a cru­cial step that makes the sand­wich, and that Irma Rhode said came from Beard. You’d make it once, and then the dish would be com­mit­ted to mem­o­ry — as James Beard’s onion sand­wich.

Sand­wich­es of History’s Bar­ry W. Ender­wick digs even deep­er, truf­fling up a remark­ably terse onion sand­wich recipe in Mat­tie Lee Wehrley’s The Handy House­hold Hints and Recipes, from 1916.

Inter­est­ing how Ms. Wehrley takes care to note that the Toast­ed Cheese on Bread pub­lished direct­ly below that Onion Sand­wich is a recipe of her own inven­tion.

It appears we all bor­row from the best. Sure­ly, there’s no rea­son not to get cre­ative and make that onion sand­wich your own.

You could start by vary­ing the ingre­di­ents…

Soak some slices of red onion in cold water for 5 min­utes to take away their raw bite.

Exper­i­ment with pumper­nick­el or dark rye.

Chop up a blend of win­dowsill herbs for that showy, savory edge.

Or y’know, buy an onion, a bagel and cream cheese as sep­a­rate com­po­nents, assem­ble, and boom!

As Beard remarked, “Design­ing hors d’oeuvres is not dif­fer­ent from design­ing sets and cos­tumes … Food is very much the­ater.”

Basic Onion Sand­wich (serves one):

Remove the crusts from 2 slices of bread or cut them into rounds, reserv­ing the scraps for a more involved recipe requir­ing bread­crumbs 

Spread may­on­naise on the face of both pieces

Remove a thin slice from the thick­est part of a sweet onion and place atop one of the pre­pared slices

.Sprin­kle with sea salt and top with the oth­er slice of bread.

Spread may­on­naise around the perime­ter of the sand­wich, and roll in the chopped herbs.

(Can refrig­er­ate for up to 6 hours before serv­ing)

Relat­ed Con­tent 

An 1585 Recipe for Mak­ing Pan­cakes: Make It Your Sat­ur­day Morn­ing Break­fast

A Stun­ning, Hand-Illus­trat­ed Book of Mush­rooms Drawn by an Over­looked 19th Cen­tu­ry Female Sci­en­tist

10,000 Vin­tage Recipe Books Are Now Dig­i­tized in The Inter­net Archive’s Cook­book & Home Eco­nom­ics Col­lec­tion

David Lynch Teach­es You to Cook His Quinoa Recipe in a Strange, Sur­re­al­ist Video

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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