Zero to Hero: Day 9: Lasagne with peas and corn

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Day 9 zero to hero had us socialising again. I visited and followed several blogs as instructed and am wondering whether Le Chef is going to feel neglected as I read everyone’s posts. He is not used to having  to call me to set the table and put out the plates. Usually I am aware of where he is up to and appear out of thin air to play my small part in the meal. Not so the last three nights.

You have seen this meal before. I pictured it in the question “what is my favourite foods?” which I answered for the Liebster award. I can tell you this award has done amazing things to the number of views I received today. So far it has hit 66 from a low of 3 a week ago. I sure hope depression doesn’t kick in tomorrow when my visits will probably return to pre Liebster award levels.

Back to the meal. You’ve probably guessed it was lasagna. Le Chef cheated with this one. He purchased a ready-made lasagna from the supermarket and then pulled it to bits. Added his own sauce which had lots of tomato, basil, capsicum, onion and garlic and goodness knows what else  (plus a minute amount of ground beef) and then he reconstructed it. No-one would have been able to tell and it didn’t taste shop bought I can tell you. It was delicious. Served with one of those delectable potatoes I raved about the other night and a few peas and sweet corn the meal was complete. Totally yummy.

Tonight we talked art. We both enjoy looking at works of art although neither of us paint or do anything arty. We eventually came to a point in the conversation where we were deliberating on why  US artists had such different early art to Australian artists. The US was settled somewhere around 1607 and Australia in 1778 and the settlers both came from the same background so it would be fair to think that there would be some parallels. However, the art was quite different.

Le Chef put forward that it was due to religious and geographical differences. His argument was along these lines:- Australia early population were convicts and the army, many of whom then became free settlers. These convicts had a huge array of expertise and the army were given watercolour classes and encouraged to paint what they saw. There were no cameras and as a record of the landscape and animals needed by the authorities in Britain,  the First Fleet included art teachers. In Australia the population remained small, starting at around 2,000 people in 1800 and swelling to 10,000 people by 1811. The US on the other hand started as free settlers at Jamestown and the population grew rapidly. In 1790 it was 3.5 million, 5.5 million by 1800 and 7.5 million by 1811.

There were huge physical differences between the countries. Australia had no river  systems and no real mountains where in the US there were mountain ranges on both sides of the country and a fantastic system of rivers.  The US started with a British class system and had African slaves. Neither of these existed in Australia.  In the US no artists came with the free settlers with the first artist being John Smybert , a scot who did Rococco style portraits.

Due to the religious beliefs of the Puritans paintings did not happen as they did not believe in graven images. The indigenous population was almost wiped out and went from 72,000 people to 200 in 10 years due to Smallpox. By 1860 the North was well established and Harvard had opened 1836.

The Quakers settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Again there were no artists but they were great business people. They lived a simple, plain life – quilting and simple furniture. Also arriving in Pennsylvania were Dutch Germans recruited by Penn who had travelled extensively attracting settlers. Sadly no-one liked them and it was four generations before they spoke English.

Then there were the Amish somewhere around 1737. They were an offshoot of the Swiss group Anabaptist. They believed in the separation of the church and state. Old is best, new is the devil. They didn’t believe in graven images which was how they classified paintings, therefore there were no artists. Their art was their quilts.

As a result the early artists in the State such as Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley were predominantly self-taught as there were no professional artists. The only teachers of art were a few fellows (not really artists) who had come from England to teach young ladies.

Australia on the other hand had quite a number of artists as they had been sent out to record what they saw and send it back to England. As free settlers many of these artists set up art schools and art took off early in Australia’s history.

I think Le Chef is probably quite right about why the differences occurred in the early days of each country but nevertheless there have been some absolutely fabulous artists from both countries such as James Whistler (US), John Singer Sargent (US), Grant Wood (US), Norman Lindsay (Aust), Albert Tucker (Aust), Ethel Carrick Fox (Aust) and one of my favourites Georgia O’Keefe (US).

I can’t wait for tomorrow night’s dinner.

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