Smithfield Market

Is it just me, or is there something a bit off about the English staging their public executions across the square from the oldest and largest wholesale butcher’s market in London? Admittedly, Smithfield boasted one of the larger open spaces in town, and executions were one of the […]

Rubha an Dùnain

My mother’s McCaskills collided with their dreary little bit of history in 1832, when they were evicted from their village Rubha an Dùnain on the Isle of Skye and booted off to North Carolina to make way for flocks of more docile and profitable sheep. Thus arrived on […]

Flora MacDonald

When Flora MacDonald died in March, 1790, more than 3,000 mourners made the long and difficult trek to the Isle of Skye in Scotland to drink 300 gallons of whiskey in her honor. And small wonder, because Flora had led a life for the ages. Loyal her entire […]

Truffles

No vegetable is invested with more hype and idiosyncrasy in its cultivation and consumption than the hideously ugly, yet über-expensive European truffle. French blacks (Tuber melanosporum) and Italian whites (Tuber magnatum) regularly fetch more than $1,000 per pound at market and are then doled out, one hyper-thin slice […]

Vittel

The European Spa Movement was synonymous with la Belle Époque, the 40-year dream period from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 until 1914 and the carnage of the Great War.  European aristocrats and politicians held their collective breath and noses and tried their hardest not to notice the churn […]

Nancy

On 10 May, 1951, in a true exercise in dynastic futility, Archduke Franz Joseph Otto Robert Maria Anton Karl Max Heinrich Sixtus Xaver Felix Renatus Ludwig Gaetan Pius Ignatius von Habsburg-Lotharingen married Regina Helene Elisabeth Margarete, Princess of Saxe-Meiningen. The ceremony took place here in Nancy, France, at […]

Roma

A detail from the Roman victory column, Columna Centenaria Divorum Marci et Faustinae, shows how bloody and gruesome most Roman victories were. This particular structure, from AD 193, honors the old sage and Emperor Marco Aurelio (bearded and dispensing wisdom at top left) for his assiduous repression of […]