Monday, February 13, 2012

Evoltion* (for Evolution*)

Charles Darwin, born on February 12, 1809, seems to have grown, or dare I say evolved, into his looks, but perhaps you'll forgive me for choosing this somewhat sketchy portrait of him in his prime, considering his own blatant double standard when it came to the (not necessarily always) "fairer sex." I mean, come on, somebody's got to say it, what with that sloping forehead and heavy brow, he resembles nothing so much as our closest hominid cousin, the ape. (Which does not make me a creationist, just a feminist.) I was reminded of Darwin's lasting legacy and contribution to science the other night when the New York State Museum once again celebrated his birthday with another installment of its wildly popular program "Cooking the Tree of Life." Their theme this time was milk and dairy products. We were treated to samples of Nettle Meadow's Crane Mountain Chevre and Old Chatham's Ewe's Blue, plus a couple of cheeses from Massachusetts—Maggie's Round from Cricket Creek in Williamstown and a raclette from Spring Brook Farm—along with some dessert made by what has to be one of the best-named bakeries ever: Cheesecake Machismo. In past years, the program has focused on vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, fungi, peppers, birds, sugar, yeast, etc. One of my favorite Darwin anecdotes emerged during the mushrooms and fungi event. Apparently, Darwin's daughter Henrietta hated the stinkhorn mushroom due to its uncanny resemblance to the human penis. "Etty" was a prude, but no wuss, it seems, aggressively collecting the offensive fungi in the woods around Cambridge with a pointed stick. "At the end of the day’s sport the catch was brought back and burnt in the deepest secrecy on the drawing room fire with the door locked—because of the morals of the maids." The typo Evoltion* was found four times in OhioLINK and 45 times in WorldCat.

(Pastel drawing of Charles Darwin by Samuel Laurence, 1853, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

No comments: