Category Archives: Coffee and Pastries

History Cafe Shot – What do we mean by Violence in history?

This month on the History Cafe, we’re trying something new.  This isTurkish Coffee 4 - Tulip Cafe Brattleboro a relatively short podcast (10 minutes) that asks a question with a handful of examples.  It is in no way exhaustive, but hopefully sparks a fair amount of thought.  It is also an example (to me, anyway) of how history often plays out in its roll as an explainer of the world today.  The podcast is about historical violence – I ask the question: how do we argue that a certain ideology, religion, or group is violent?
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Church and State in Early Modern Spain

It has been a while now, but I’m back with hopefully a string of new podcasts.  First off, I have a small, on-location, observation about the relationship between church and state power in Spain.  This is a topic that has lots of depth to it, and this little intro only scratches the surface, but standing between the Cathedral of Madrid and the Royal Palace seemed like a good place to at least contemplate the symbolic relationship between those two institutions, something that Spain has dealt with in several ways over the last few hundred years.  Much of Spanish history over the last five hundred years has been competition between centralizing forces and centripetal forces pulling away from centralized power.  Continue reading Church and State in Early Modern Spain

The Royal Botanical Gardens – Madrid Spain

This time on the History Cafe, I have an experiment in field recording.  About a month ago, I went to Spain for a couple of weeks and while there I recorded a few sets of thoughts about Spain’s history in a couple of locations.  I’ll be editing a few of them as History Cafe broadcasts over the coming couple of months.  These recordings attempt to capture some sense of the sound of the place I’m talking about, while discussing a broader historical idea.  I’ve tried to describe the location as well as the historical significance so that you can imagine both.  The locations are all quite different, but to look forward to them, I have three good ones from the Valley of the Fallen, the Royal Palace, and the Mezquita-Cathedral in Cordoba.  For a couple of these, it was my first experiment with recording outside, and sometimes the wind got the better of me, but generally they sound alright and the background noise worked out nicely. Continue reading The Royal Botanical Gardens — Madrid Spain

Spices in Medieval Cuisine

This is the very first podcast from the History Cafe.  If you google spices in medieval cuisine, you will find fairly prevalently the myth that spices appeared so often and so heavily in medieval food because they covered up the taste of rancid meat (sometimes you get a more subtle version stating that spices help preserve food and prevent rancidness to begin with, which is at least somewhat true.)  At any rate, more and more work demonstrates quite convincingly that this explanation simply does not do justice to what we know about medieval cuisine and their love of spices.  A lot of work, in particular, has been done by my own dissertation advisor, Paul Freedman, so I dedicate this inaugural podcast to him.  You can also see some of his excellent lectures online through the Yale Courses feed. Continue reading Spices in Medieval Cuisine