Horn Rim Eyeglasses — Goats Again!

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In the past, if eyeglass frames weren’t made from wire, they were made from animal horn. Eyeglass frames in Italy, and probably everywhere else, were made from goat’s horn until replaced by plastic in the 1970s. Those horn rims on Buster Keaton, JFK, and many others were likely made from patterns cut from softened, flattened goat’s horn, which was sanded and routed to make stylish eyeglasses. The colors ranged from dark to light, with soft striations that are often erroneously called tortoise shell. Horn rim glasses have returned to high style, as craftsmen cater to high-dollar customers, making frames from a variety of animal horn, mostly water buffalo from China, as well as some domestic goat horns.

Here’s an article about the popularity of custom eyeglasses made from water buffalo horns — http://www.forbes.com/forbes-life-magazine/2006/1030/093.html

Thanksgiving & Goats

     Thanksgiving dinner symbols are comforting and create pleasant memories—crispy turkey, creamy potatoes, spicy pumpkin pie. Our national dinner is modeled after what the original Thanksgiving feast might have included for those newcomers to Plymouth Colony back in 1620. They dined on poultry (and venison), root vegetables of some kind, pumpkin and corn certainly, from the Wampanoegs’ fields. The pilgrims didn’t provide much of the meal that first autumn, as they were thankful simply to be alive. They leaned heavily on the natives for victuals, but there’s one thing they did eat that’s missing from the story: goat cheese. Yes, it’s time to give goat cheese it’s due as a colonial staple and bring it back to the Thanksgiving table, front and center.

     When the pilgrims set out on the Mayflower voyage they took along a few small animals that didn’t take up much room and would be indispensable once they settled in their new home. The livestock rode on deck in sheltered pens. Records show that a few pigs, some chickens, and several milk goats went ashore at New Plymouth.

     It wasn’t until four years after the initial landing at Plymouth in 1620 that dairy cows arrived aboard ship from England. By 1627, the colony had 16 head of cattle and twenty-two goats. Jamestown, settled almost ten years later on Massachusetts Bay, began with shipments of 30 cows and more to follow. Milk goats however, were nearly always present in the colonies as well as back home in England. In fact, the most popular goat of the day, a breed long lost now, was the Old English Milk Goat, which milked for about ten years after a single kidding. Milk wasn’t a popular beverage before refrigeration, but was for making cheese, pudding, or chowder.

     At those early thanksgiving feasts, goat milk products would have been front and center on the table. Cultured goat’s milk, drained in a cheese cloth sack, would have made a tasty cream cheese, similar to chevre today. As a spread, it would have topped potatoes, carrots, or corn bread (there wouldn’t be any butter until those cows arrived). Cultured milk (like yogurt), along with fresh eggs and wild honey would have been mixed with pumpkin and squash to make thick puddings—similar to a pumpkin cheesecake (without the crust—that would require grain and lard). Simple “curds and whey” was a dietary mainstay—a bit like today’s cottage cheese.

     So, bring on the goat cheese this Thanksgiving!  Re-imagine Norman Rockwell’s famous Thanksgiving painting, Freedom from Want, which has become such a symbol of the American holiday. As Grandma hovers over the table with the huge turkey platter, we can see it. There. On the table. A dish of chevre.  

 

Children and Goats

Love this eighteenth century painting of French children Louis and Clotilde, who happened to live in the Palace of Versailles, enjoying their pet goat. He was later King Charles X of France and she became the Queen of Sardinia.