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“One from ten leaves nought”

In writing this post I do not attempt to draw any particular moral, merely to share an episode of history I found out about by chance which has some incongruous parallels with the present day.

Quoting the Wikipedia article on the West Indies Federation:

Three member states were proposed as hosts for the capital city of the federation: Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Earlier in the federal negotiations the general opinion had been that the capital should be one of the smaller islands so that the capital would be in a neutral position to the larger territories and it would be able to inject some buoyancy into one of the (then) poorer economies.

The West Indies Federation had an unusually weak federal structure. For instance, its provinces were not contained in a single customs union. Thus, each province functioned as a separate economy, complete with tariffs, largely because the smaller provinces were afraid of being overwhelmed by the large islands’ economies. Also, complete freedom of movement within the Federation was not implemented, as the larger provinces were worried about mass migration from the smaller islands. In this sense, the current European Union can be said to have implemented a more unified economic space than the West Indian attempt.

Nor could the federal government take its component states to task. The initial federal budget was quite small, limiting the federal government’s ability to use its financial largesse as a carrot. It was dependent upon grants from the United Kingdom and from its member states. The provincial budgets of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were both larger than the federal budget. This led to repeated requests for those states to provide greater financing to the federal government. These requests were not well received, as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago together already contributed 85 percent of the federal revenue, in roughly equal portions.

For many Jamaicans it appeared that the Federation would then just hamper their development and movement towards independence.

As a result, the Bustamante-led Jamaica Labour Party (the local component of the West Indian DLP) successfully forced Manley to hold a referendum in September 1961 on political secession from the Federation. It passed, with 54% of the vote, despite the opposition of Manley, the province’s Chief Minister at the time.

On January 14, 1962, the People’s National Movement (the Williams-led Trinidad component of the WIFLP) passed a resolution rejecting any further involvement with the Federation. Williams himself stated that “one from ten leaves nought”—in other words, without Jamaica, no Federation was possible. Trinidad and Tobago became independent on August 31, 1962.

Without Trinidad and Jamaica, the remaining “Little Eight” attempted to salvage some form of a West Indian Federation, this time centred on Barbados. However, these negotiations ultimately proved fruitless. Without its two largest states, the Federation was doomed to financial insolvency.

60 comments to “One from ten leaves nought”

  • Paul Marks

    To judge from the information here, the West Indies Federation was pointless – it would not have had the money to defend itself or anything like that. Just a job creation scheme for politicians and bureaucrats – otherwise pointless.

    If that is all true – I am glad it is gone.

  • Patrick Crozier

    When it comes to leaving the EU – I presume this is the moral you weren’t drawing – I have long felt that it pays to assume a worst case scenario: that the EU won’t want to co-operate; will want to punish; and will survive more or less intact.

  • bobby b

    The Federation fell apart after Jexit.

    Norman Manley (who I thought was Jamaica’s Premier, not Chief Minister, at the time) considered the Federation to be the islands’ best means of reaching full independence from England – it would serve as the buffer that would shield all of the rather weak and shaky islands from a sudden loss of administrative and financial support. He thought that the combined powers of the islands would help their joint marketing programs of crops and tourism, as well as spread the costs of educating and supporting fairly destitute ex-slave populations.

    Manley’s cousin Alexander Bustamante was the driving force behind the Jexit vote, wanting Jamaica to go it alone. Manley, a strong believer in the people’s will, called for a referendum to take Jamaica out of the Federation even though he opposed it. Later, his son, Michael Manley, became Jamaica’s most popular and long-lived politician.

    For the longest time, Jamaica’s story was really the story of one family. (Sorry, I’m sort of a Jamaica-phile.)

  • Bulldog Drumond

    independence from England

    Independence from Britain.

  • Mr Ed

    “Now that she’s gone, there’s no point in carrying on!”


    “No, I begged her to stay!”

    But I digress.

    A few years back I made a trip to Barbados, visiting an expat friend. My impressions:

    The island imports most of things, quite a bit of chemical stuff from nearby Trinidad and Tobago, which has the backdrop of a lot of oil and a larger population. This is normal given the division of labour.

    The island persists in maintaining via a currency board the Bajan Dollar, fixed via a currency board at 2:! with the US $. This is just a waste, and they could and should simply dollarise and drop the nationalist fig-leaf of their own currency. On the plus side, you can spend US $ everywhere and only the sharkiest vendor offers a rate of e.g. 1.97, especially as US $ are in fact rationed for locals (the details escaped me).

    Corruption is endemic, the Immigration Service being in pole position with the ability to offer residence permits in a sunny place to shady people. Open talk was of tales of the Minister asking if someone seeking residence for a girlfriend might donate to his favourite charity by giving the donation to his secretary, in cash.

    Everyone goes through Customs and is personally asked by Customs what they have and what they are doing. It could be the rule of law, or that the import duties they levy on almost everything at sky-high rates make this routine.

    The state of the road in your parish may depend on the clout of your MP, judging by how the ring road turned from snooker table smooth tarmac to dusty chalk to rutted tarmac in equal measure in 10 miles.

    On entering a village, you see lots of posters for the local MP, not quite North Korean style, but certainly you’d think he was a local boy who’d won a Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology despite being self-taught.

    Even the barber seems to have a political affiliation, with posters up for the local MP.

    Parliament is unbelievably polite and well-mannered, and speeches eloquent, even when accusing the wife of a Minister of getting bribes from China.

    Petty thieving is rife. Crops vanish from allotments.

    Preachers get lots of radio time, on their own stations, and know their scripture.

    Petrol pumps have attendants, is this quaint or unionisation?

    Radio stations have earnest and informed debates on labour law, even if proceeding from fallacious assumptions.

    Bridgetown is like a hot Peckham (a neighbourhood in London).

    American-style racial politics is a major obsession, even though the Whites are a tiny, poor minority.

    You really don’t need two Labour Parties in an island that size (or anywhere else).

    But if this is a microcosm of Caribbean politics, what use is it to lump together several bricks as a load when someone might be trying to swim?

    I said in 2016 ‘If Barbados can be independent, why not the UK?‘. I’ve not yet had a response.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Mr Ed, “Redlegs”: Interesting, as is the rest of your info above. I had no idea. Thanks for the link. :>)

    If they actually have gas-station attendants, it would appear that they have managed to hang on to the advances of modernity, rather than jettisoning them as a “way to keep prices down” during the “OPEC oil shortage.”

    At least the gas stations initially continued to provide at least one “full-service” pump. Is that not the best of both worlds? Nowadays you’re lucky if you can find somebody at the station who even knows where the gas pump IS. 👿



    Speaking of Barbados, so how come somebody decided we should call it “BarBAYdos”? The name would appear to be of Spanish or other Latinate origin, and if so ought presumably to be pronounced “BarBAHdos.” Indeed, even WikiFootia allows that the word is derived either from Portuguese or from Spanish.


  • terence patrick hewett


    The short answer yr Barbados question is:

    Once a word is captured by the myriad of English usages anything goes:

    We do not pronounce Paris as Paree
    Moscow as Moskva
    Turkey as Türkiye

    We call Les Français – The French: and Deutschland – Germany.

    Ireland and the US say tomaytoe and the UK tomarrtoe!

  • Laird

    Julie, there is a town in Connecticut called “Versailles” (pronounced ver-SALES) and a river Thames (pronounced with a soft “th”, as in “the”, and a long “a”). Go figure.

  • Bod

    “Forget it Laird, it’s Connecticut.”

  • Bod

    However, we have had to bend to Mumbai, Beijing and Kolkata.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh well, the simple fact is that everybody in my part of the country knows perfectly well that the Chicago street is properly pernonced “GoEEEthee” (soft th). If a bus passenger, a Chicagoan, heard the driver announcing the next stop as “Göthe” (here I hope I’m hinting at how the poet pronounced his name), he would look up in perplexity, and possibly mutter something impolite at the driver, along the lines of “what a putzer!”

    So, contrary to Horace Mann, my advice is always, “Goethe, young man!”


    As for VerSales, Conn., I can only report that the NOAA radar site in these parts is located in Marseilles–or, as most say, MerSales–Illinois.


    I’m not unaware of the realities…it’s just that I weep for the casual acceptance of what is on its face ludicrous and contradictory. :>(((

  • Bruce

    “One from ten leaves nought”??

    That brought back ancient memories of primary school.

    Question to the class:

    There are ten crows sitting on a wire.

    You shoot one. (This was back when guns, shooters and shooting had not been totally criminalized by the ruling-class sociopaths).

    How many are left?


    That would be the answer expected from most kids.

    Correct answer?


    Crows, unlike most of the lamestream media, academics and politicians, are NOT STUPID.

  • I have assumed that the crass way in which the EU demands money from us for leaving reflects their general ineptness at appealing to people they exist to despise. This is consistent with their behaviour during the referendum itself, when they were obviously sure they could not lose.

    It is entirely possible their arrogant manner is also in part a bluff, intended to conceal the fact that their initial demand for 60 billion, then swiftly revised upwards to 100 billion, reflects an immediate very short-term post-Brexit need.

    Patrick Crozier (November 22, 2017 at 8:44 pm) wisely observes that we should not assume this in our planning.

  • Bruce (November 23, 2017 at 8:11 am), there is a socialist version of your ‘crows’ story.

    At one of the glumly festive parties Stalin used to inflict on his politbureau cronies, he told the story of how, while he was in exile in Siberia under Tsarism, he was out skiing and saw several crows perched on a branch. He shot a couple then skied back for more ammunition, returned and shot the rest. After he left the room, Beria said, “He’s lying” (understandably the others were cautious in responding, fearing a provocation). Conquest, in his biography of Stalin, charitably suggests the story may have been just a Siberian version of the old US Western “tall tale’, told for entertainment as a whopper not intended to be believed. It has also been suggested that the crows’ feet were frozen to the branch and Stalin for once in his life was telling the truth.

    Whatever the truth of it, the moral is clear: under socialism, the crows will not fly away.

  • Mr Ed


    we have had to bend to Mumbai, Beijing and Kolkata.

    I imagine that you don’t. Whoever bought Mumbai Mix, or Beijing Duck? And afaic, and stuff the BBC, there is no ‘r’ in “Pakistan’, and only one ‘h’ in ‘Afghanistan’. If I am wrong, then ‘Lisbon’ is ‘Lisboa’. However, ‘Stettin’ is much easier to pronounce and spell than ‘Szczecin’, sorry Poland and the same might go for Lemburg in the Ukraine.

    And Julie,

    ‘Barbados’ does mean in Portuguese ‘the bearded ones’ (i.e. the plural of ‘bearded’), reputedly a reference to some trees with particularly distinctive matting on their trunks that resemble beards.

  • terence patrick hewett


    You want ludicrous and contradictory? Consider Muffins and Crumpets:

    Have you seen the muffin man, the muffin man, the muffin man?
    Have you seen the muffin man that lives in Drury Lane?

    Goes the ditty.

    What was the muffin man selling? Was it a flat rubbery thing with holes in it or was it a sweet raised bun? Well: the muffin man in Victorian London was selling flat frisbees not the sweet bun. The muffin the muffin man sold was what the US calls an English Muffin. This type of muffin vanished in the UK in the late 19th century but was carried to the US by Plymouth born Samuel Bath Thomas in 1874 to re-appear in New York as “toaster crumpets” in 1894. These were re-named English Muffins to differentiate between those and American Muffins and indeed the Crumpet. The English Muffin forms the basis of the US breakfast dish Eggs Benedict and has reappeared in UK supermarkets as an English Muffin or confusingly sometimes just as Muffins: to both differentiate and confuse what is now called in the UK – A Muffin: the UK Muffin being very near to the American Muffin in being a sweet tea cake. So the name Muffin is now used in the UK for two different products.

    Real Londoners still call what you would call a crumpet – a muffin: this is simply a matter of dialect and history. And it engenders great and violent conflict since it reaches deep into the realms of childhood, identity and self. In Gloucestershire crumpets are called pikelets: The word pikelet is of Welsh origin where it was known as bara piglydd, and anglicised to pikelet and generally griddled without an iron ring.

    John Wycliffe refers to a “crompid cake” in 1382: early crumpets were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle rather than the soft and spongy crumpets of the Victorian era which were made with yeast. The name may have Celtic origins related to the Welsh Crempog: the Breton Krampouezh: the Cornish Krampoeth.

    The Oxford English Dictionary circa 1933 gives Muffin as:

    “A light, flat, circular, spongy cake, eaten toasted and buttered at breakfast or tea. Formerly: now dialect: applied to other kinds of tea-cake.”

    And a Crumpet as:

    “A soft cake made of flour, beaten egg, milk and barm, mixed into batter and baked on an iron plate”

    The older US dictionary Merriam-Webster gives English Muffin as:

    “bread dough rolled and cut into rounds, baked on a griddle, and split and toasted just before eating”

    First known usage of the name English Muffin in the US is circa 1858: specific product emergence circa 1902.

    In Dorothy L Sayer’s 1930s mystery The Nine Tailors, the obsessive campanologist the Reverend Theodore Venables rector of Fenchurch St Paul opines:

    “You will never beat it said Mr Venables, soaring to the heights of the belfry and waiving his muffin in the air until the butter ran down his cuff.”

    The muffin Reverend Venables was eating was what you would call a crumpet not a raised tea cake.

    So the usage was and is flexible and it really does seem to be a matter of regional dialect and only became formalised when bread products became seriously factory made in the late 20th century.

    I come from London so I call what you would call crumpets – muffins: even in the 1950’s London of my childhood the Muffin Man came around at night and sold crumpets – and called them muffins.

    There are hundreds of national and regional variants of crumpets, tea cakes and muffins: they go deep into childhood and are defended unto death. Here are just a few of them:

    • Crumpet
    • Muffin
    • Welsh Bara Piglydd – Pikelet
    • Midlands Pikelet
    • Gloucestershire Pikelet
    • Staffordshire Pikelet
    • Durham Pikelet
    • Irish Soda Bread Muffins
    • English Muffin
    • American Muffin
    • Welsh Crempog
    • Breton Krampouezh
    • South African Crumpet
    • Scottish Crumpet
    • Scones
    • Griddle Scones
    • Tattie Scones
    • Drop Scones
    • Bannock
    • Irish Scones
    • Welsh Bara Brith
    • Barm Cake
    • Lardy Cake
    • Gloucestershire Dripper
    • Irish Soda Bread
    • Scottish Farl
    • Scottish Oatcakes
    • Staffordshire Oatcakes
    • Yorkshire Scuffler
    • Stottie Cake
    • Waterford Blaa
    • Aberdeen Buttery
    • Manchet
    • Liverpool Nudger
    • Lancashire Oven Bottom
    • Scottish Morning Roll
    • Bath Bun
    • Chelsea Bun
    • Colston Bun
    • Hot Cross Bun
    • London Bun
    • Cornish Tea Treat
    • Sally Lunn
    • Irish Boxty
    • Irish Soda Bread Farl
    • Potato Farl
    • Irish Barmbrack
    • Irish Veda Bread
    • Dorset Knobs
    • Eccles Cake
    • Yorkshire Fat Rascals
    • Parkin Cake
    • Welsh Cakes
    • Welsh Llech Cymraeg
    • Welsh Jam Split
    • Welsh Newport Lovely
    • Welsh Mynydd Cymreig
    • The Kiwi Cake
    • Singing Hinny
    • Cattern Cake
    • Beigels
    • Croissants
    • Pretzels
    • Cornish Hevva Cake
    • Simnel Cake

  • George

    We don’t say tomaytoe. Greetings from Ireland.

  • Watchman


    However, we have had to bend to Mumbai, Beijing and Kolkata.

    Of course if you are Peking University or Indian Institute of Technolgy Bombay, you are too well known to bother changing your name…

    It’s Chennai that gets me – how we got Madras from that is something I have never bothered to look up. The Indian Institute of Technology there is called Chenai though.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Julie, there’s also Calais (“Callus”), Maine, and the very British rendering of Livorno as “Leghorn”.

  • terence patrick hewett


    Tell that to my Dublin born wife.

  • terence patrick hewett


    But yes they also pronouce it “tomaaartoe”

  • Laird

    Terence, thank you for that history of what we in the US call “English muffins” (of which I am quite fond, by the way). Thomas’ are the best, of course, but I didn’t know the back story. We use the word “muffin” to refer to an individual semi-sweet cake, generally with a modifier to describe the type or flavor (i.e., bran muffin, corn muffin, poppy seed muffin etc.), but the English muffin is a breed apart.

    As to your extensive list, why is “pretzels” on it? Those are of an entirely different order. And why not doughnuts/donuts? Or are they also entirely different, being deep fried?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • otto kring

    Federations were the catch-all solution for the British Empire after the War. It was not believed that the separate colonies could survive on their own in the big bad world and various attempts were made, especially in africa, to organise them into groupings. I think Tanzania and Nigeria were the only ones which survived and the latter only after the bloody civil war in Biafra.

    Barbados used to be “Bar-bay-dohs” in the 18th Cent. At least if you read Moonfleet it is.

  • Julie near Chicago

    terence, strictly as a By-the-Way, my American cookbooks state that what we call “English muffins” the English call “crumpets,” and that the only real difference is that you (you are a Brit, I’m assuming) tend to drop yours onto the griddle (or skillet/frying-pan/spider) without constraining its shape by dropping it into a topless and bottomless tunafish can (or, for the very upscale, a “muffin ring.” (I have Elizabeth Davis within arm’s reach, but lack the energy to reach.)

    Laird prompts me to shriek: The word is “doughnut.” Do nut, er, do NOT, ever ever ever let me catch you lowering yourself to the stupidity of “donut.” (I’m quite sure that Laird is well aware of this. *g*)

    It’s bad enough that nobody anymore understands that “crispy” is baby-talk for “crisp.” The Anglophone “civilization,” if such it be, is definitely regressing. At least the American contingent thereof, but then of course Prof. ‘Iggins noted back in the ’50s that “in America, they haven’t spoken [English] for years.” 😥

    And too many American illiterates (that would be, apparently, around 319,990,999 of us if you include the Undocumented Aliens–but I may be unnecessarily dissing them in assuming they make the same verbal mistakes as everybody else) are unaware of the word “cream,” believing that it is spelled “creme” and takes neither the accent ague nor the accent circonflexe. (Neither of which appears to be included in my font set, BTW).

    I use what I fondly believe to be the French terms for the accents. This is to prove to everyone that I did too have high-school French. 😉

  • Julie near Chicago

    Quite a few people have said this over the years, and I need to weigh in in agreement with them.

    One of the great things about Samizdata is the O/T veerings (or, sometimes, one might say “lurchings”) into threads that are amusing, informative, interesting, and often enough all three at once.

    Thanks to our host and his Merry Elves, and to the Samizdatistas near & far who add to the flow of soul and astoundingly often to the feast of reason as well.

  • ns

    Here in the American Midwest there is Des Plaines, pronounced dess plane, and Des Moines, pronounced duh moon. Consistency is not out strong suit.

  • ns

    Autocorrect alert! Planes not plane and moin not moon.

  • terence patrick hewett


    I am afraid yr cookbook is wrong on that score: an English Muffin has a bread like consistency and a Crumpet is slighly waxy with small holes in it which soak up the melted butter.

  • terence patrick hewett


    Prezels were stuck in their because I like them! Likewise Bagels. In London we call them Beigels: In New York they call them Bagels: Beigel is the older form and has slight differences in constituents and manufacture but they are both in essence the same thing: but whatever you do don’t go down Brick Lane and ask for a Bagel.

    Beigel is pronounced Bygel and reflects the Polish Yiddish accent. Bagel pronounced Baygel reflects the Litvak Yiddish pronunciation. There was a majority of Polish Yiddishers in London and in NY a majority of Litvaks: hence the difference.

  • Julie near Chicago

    terence, vis-á-vis the crumpets, your knowledge outweighs my ignorance. (Although just to be clear, it’s not “my cookbook” singular; at least three or four of them attest to the theory.) And I am a huge fan of (preferably homemade) American English muffins and whatever it is that I’ve eaten as “crumpets.” It’s the butter, you see. A girl just can’t have too much butter. :>)))

    Ditto bagels, of course. And they do cry out for lox, whether buttered or spread with “cream cheese,” or else to be nicely toasted and buttered. Or split, toasted lightly, buttered on both sides, which are then pressed into grated Parmesan or, even better, Romano, and put under the broiler (range or toaster-oven) until the cheese turns lightly golden.

  • Laird

    Good to know about bagels/beigels. And while I also like pretzels, that seems an insufficient reason for their inclusion. I like strawberries, too; can you add them to the list? 😛

    Julie, “creme” came into use thanks to (what else?) the government. Companies were/are prohibited from using the word “cream” in their wares when they do not, in fact, contain any dairy products whatsoever (such as that white stuff inside a Twinkie); hence the emergence of a neologistic homophone. I can thus explain, if not excuse, the common misuse of the word.

    And now I have a hankering for a creme donut!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, from Near Chicago west at least to Davenport, we say “Deh Moyne,” although some know-nuttinks pronounce the s. Then again, some Illinoisans pronounce the s in “Illinois,” or at least did when I was a kid. I have no idea why people throw in another i after the s: “Illinoisians.” Seems superflucious to me.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh lord help us, Laird, you’ve fallen to the Dark Side — twice in one sentence! 😥

    It’s sort of like “Seven at one blow,” only on the opposite side of the moral divide.


    Thanks for the info on the execrable “creme,” though. News to me, but not at all hard to believe. I figured it was just some marketing scheme dreamed up by underoccupied marketers. Veddy Fdench, don’tcha know. Worthy at the least of Maxim’s.

    . . .

    ns, too late I see your correction. Come home, all is forgiven, and I hope I too am forgiven. ;>)

  • Laird

    Julie: Gotcha! 😆

  • ns

    Julie – you’ve got a better phonetic spelling of Des Moines anyway.

  • Julie, terence is right that an English muffin is what in England is called a muffin, and I likewise confirm his definition of crumpet.

    BTW, just in case this discussion emboldens any shy transatlantic commenters to discuss crumpets elsewhere, be aware there is also a slang meaning of crumpet over here, perhaps slightly dated now but not forgotten: crumpets were sometimes eaten in bed, as a treat, and the slang meaning of ‘crumpet’ (singular) also refers to what might be enjoyed in bed as a treat.

    Laird, I must agree with Julie about the spelling of doughnut, not least because if this tendency is not checked, you will soon be spelling hiccough as hiccup. The lines I once contributed to the English Language Pronunciation poem (as its final verse) are:

    Plough on: say ‘Lough’. Though it seem tough,
    Be thorough – do not sough, “Enough!”
    Take thought, don’t cough, and say ‘Hiccough”.
    Alternatively, just give up.

    I’m sure you can see how spelling hiccough as hiccup would ruin the effect of my deathless verse. 🙂

  • Alisa

    Did someone say ‘melted butter’??? <3

  • terence patrick hewett


    What you need to know about flour and bread but wish you didn’t:

    There is a world of difference in taste and quality between shop-bought bread and homemade bread. And there are reasons for this. Bread production originated in the Middle Eastern Fertile Crescent where the warm weather encouraged grains with high Gluten content such as Emmer wheat and Einkorn wheat: all our current wheat grains are descended from these. It is the action of Yeast with Gluten which makes bread rise. The ancient breads were either unleavened or raised using the less active sourdough which does not rely on gluten to raise the bread: the more active baker’s and brewer’s yeast for raising bread are only of relatively recent introduction.

    Northern Europe however had rubbish weather which produced grains of low gluten content and had to settle for things like Pumpernickel and Rye Bread and Crispbread. British and Irish weather is notoriously fickle and produced superb flour of high-gluten content in some areas such as Durham and Heston and flour of low-gluten content in many others: so the breads produced in the UK and Ireland were very indifferent. In the general scheme of things this did not matter before the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions since grain, flour and bread were grown, milled and baked locally to serve local communities.

    But the Agricultural Revolution and Industrial Revolution changed all of that. Millions of people moved from the countryside to the towns with the addition of the tragedy of Ireland’s Holocaust and Diaspora. To feed them, common land had to be enclosed and utilised using advancing agricultural techniques and an automated bread production method had to be invented: the village mills could never have hoped to cope with the vast production of bread needed to supply the millions of people moving to the towns and cities.

    In 1862 a Scottish doctor called John Dauglish came up with the Aerated Bread Process whereby carbonic acid gas is produced in bread without yeast. He established that if carbon dioxide was introduced to the process by dissolving it into solution this would eliminate the need for fermentation. It is a highly automated process which cuts time and reduces labour costs. Traditional methods took ten hours: the Dauglish method took thirty minutes. Flours of high gluten content were no longer needed since there was no yeast and no fermentation present. The fact that the bread tasted like old privy carpets is neither here nor there: it beats the giblets out of starvation.

    Then one hundred years later in the 1960s the Chorleywood Process was invented which went even further: the Chorleywood Flour Milling and Bakery Research Association laboratories developed a method which added hard fats, emulsifiers, enzymes and chemicals which were mixed at high speed to produce a dough in a fraction of the time it normally took. And it uses the lowest levels of flour which cannot be utilised in any other way. Chorleywood has conquered the world: the process is now used in more than 30 countries: even in France the loaves are now made the Chorleywood way although not the baguette.

    Trouble is it tastes like – nothing at all and there are complex health, nutritional, allergy and digestive issues. So bake your own bread: it tastes wonderful and you can make a loaf at a quarter of the supermarket price. And if you have a food mixer then it only takes 5 minutes to make the dough and bang it in the bread tin.

    The devil’s arsenal of additives which go to produce a supermarket loaf in more than thirty countries where the Chorleywood Process is used are not pleasant to contemplate: extra yeast, extra gluten, fat to improve crumb softness, reducing agents to help create pliable dough, soya flour to add volume and softness, emulsifiers to produce bigger, softer loaves and retard staling, preservatives to extend shelf-life and a wide variety of enzymes defined as “processing aids” which do not have to be declared on the label.

  • terence patrick hewett


    My old friend Niall O’Connor insists that his name is pronounceced “Nyal” But I rather think it should be pronounceced “Neill”

    FFS put me out of my misery.

  • Alisa

    settle for things like Pumpernickel and Rye Bread

    Settle? Settle???! Julie, avert your eyes and try to forget what this man (who has the temerity to claim that he knows his bread) wrote!

  • terence patrick hewett


    Melted butter is essential for crumpets: or muffins!!!

  • terence patrick hewett


    It is just bread Alisa: But as I said earlier, it engenders great conflict because it goes deep into childhood and is defended unto death.

  • Alisa

    So true about bread, Terence. As to butter, it is essential for life in general.

  • terence patrick hewett


    My own thesis is this:

    • The best cooks are ladies who have cooked a lifetime for their families and husbands or lovers or both. The magic ingredient? Love. Or if it involves ground glass: Agatha Christie.

    • Most men are rubbish cooks – because they don’t in actuality really care that much.

    • Never ever serve steak at a dinner party for male guests: they all imagine that they are experts at cooking beefsteak and will have you going back and forth endlessly to the kitchen getting what they imagine is a perfect steak. Never ever serve curry at a dinner party for male guests: they all imagine that they are experts at cooking curry and will bore everyone shitless for hours. What they really need is a good kick up the jack.

    • If you are having a dinner party: relax: don’t work too hard. Cook something you like yourself not something fancy to impress. Keep it simple to minimise the work and you will have a good time: the whole thing is about conversation not the brilliance of the cook. Knockouts are Asparagus Soup or Oxtail Soup: deep-freeze weeks in advance. Lamb Kleftiko: can be done over-night. Turkish-Delight, Nougat, Cheeses, Dorset Knobs and homemade bread to finish.

    • Most cookbooks with pretty pictures teach you: “monkey see monkey do” Avoid. With some items such as Bread, Pastry and Paella you really need to know what you’re trying to achieve before you kick off.

    • Celebrity cooks are celebrity crooks: these people maintain that Mrs Beeton was a rubbish cook and was simply an editor who pinched everything from Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery for Private Families. Nonsense: Isabella Beeton was a slip of a girl of twenty-eight years when she died but she came from an extended family of twenty-one souls before she married Sam Beeton. She collected and had sent recipes from all over and published Household Management in magazine instalments through Sam’s publishing company before they were made into a book. In the end it is just snobbery: Eliza Acton was a gentlewoman and poet and nothing wrong with that: but Isabella Beeton was nouveau riche and her book was aimed at the upwardly mobile of Victorian society: the section of today’s society which is sneered at still. The 18th century Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy was a best seller for a century after publication and dominated the English-speaking world. Beeton, Glasse and Acton’s works are still amongst the best cookbooks ever written.

    • The best food is the food cooked in the home. The French say “as good as I get at home” when they wish to compliment a restauranteur.

    • Thus the best restaurants are extensions of the family kitchen: as in Greece, Italy and France: In Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland some of the “greasy spoons” and pubs are superb. Some of the above establishments may be insanitary, disease ridden, flyblown and grotty: but the food is great so you can at least die happy.

    • Most restaurants are 98% bullshit: if La Patron is a great personality then the food doesn’t have to be that good. When the ghost of Keith Floyd is there who gives a feck about the food. It is all presentation and many of these restaurants are great fun.

    • Indian regional cooking is as extensive as the French cuisine but most of what you hear and read is made up. Anyone can cook Indian food just as anyone can cook French food. And who came up with the one that only Asians can serve it? The truth is that historically they did not have restaurants in the sub-continent until contact with the British: and regarded people who ate in public as absolutely infra dignitatem. China incidentally did have a tradition of inns and eating houses.

    • Anything with a foreign name must be far superior to anything home-grown: people who eat Pot au Feu turn their nose up at Boiled Beef and Carrots. Navarin of Lamb is Irish stew: The Greek Lamb Kleftiko cooked on the hob is good old Boiled Lamb much enjoyed by the Victorians. Bouillabaisse and Cotriade are both very similar Fish Stews. They are all working peoples’ dishes taken over by the chatterati: and they pretend that there are “proper” recipes and argue about them ad infinitum: the rule is and always has been is to put in what you have.

    • Bad meals can be as memorable as the good: the worst meal I ever had in my life was in 1972 at the James Hotel, Jamestown, Eastern Cape, South Africa. It was so bad it was the epicurean equivalent of William McGonagall’s poetry: so bad it was a work of genius. I ate it all and thanked them very much: I shall cherish it until the day I die.

    • If you are invited out to dinner and the food is crap: for goodness sake don’t say so: just thank your host and say the meal was great. Even if it was lousy: cooking is hard work and he or she has tried their best: and you will not have made a friend.

    • Always thank the waiter at some stage: not every time he serves you but at some time during the proceedings: the fashionable belief that you should not do this is just pretentious bollocks.

    • Never ever be rude to the waiter. They can wreak terrible vengeance upon your person: How? Use your imagination and then some. If you don’t like the service: don’t go back. The uncharitable suggest that a lack of politeness to the service is a sign of ill-breeding. Even if you are like me in that you are a pretty impatient and rude bastard: be diplomatic. It is not the waiter’s fault: if you have ever dealt with the public you will know what I mean. The apocryphal story of a gentleman in a Cork hotel who sent his breakfast back for the third time and got the riposte: “cook says would you like to do your own feckin breakfast.” And so say all of us.

    • Tell anyone who tries to get you to eat sheep’s eyes to stick it.

    • Never eat anywhere with a service charge: the staff never get it.

    • Tip the waiter 10% of the score: never more unless you are umbriago.

  • Julie near Chicago


    Agree completely, made my first loaf of Real Bread as a new bride, some 52 years ago. Homemade bread is, just as you say, the Real Deal.

    Thanks very, very much for the interesting history on commercial bread-making processes. I had no idea!

    Alisa, my father-in-law was an immigrant from near Altenbürg, in the ’20s, and became a deli distributor in Chicago. Therefore I became acquainted with, nay addicted to, the best rye bread I ever ate, namely real roggenbröt (if the umlauts are in the right place).

    This was a perfectly heavenly, properly chewable rye bread darker than “light rye” but not a 100% rye loaf. Without caraway seeds, which I will eat but prefer not to. And super, super for a sandwich of just about any kind of real-Jewish/German/Polish deli cheese or cold cuts. Alas, no longer available. Don’t think any of the chain-stores ever did carry it. The stuff that lowers the tone of every supermarket deli counter in the known world, namely Rosen’s Rye, isn’t worth the effort of picking it up off the shelf.

    He also had Koch’s Liver Sausage, and I’m a liver-sausage/braunschweiger fan anyway, but this sausage by a German sausage-maker was as to other liverwursts as the Great Frog is to lesser so-called Divinities, if you see what I mean. Indescribable. Unfortunately the business closed many years ago.

    (Speaking of cheese, can any of you guys anywhere persuade Frau Merkel to let the German producers of Tilsit go back to tilsit-making-and-exporting? I was devastated to learn a few years back that my all-time favorite cheese is no longer available here because somebody in Germany got the wind up about Sanitary Issues or some such dreck.

    And, alas, real American Liederkränz, a Wisconsin invention and my second-most-favorite cheese ever, died years and years ago…. This cheese for my $ was far better than its nearest relative, a good Limburger, but simultaneously stronger and more subtle. [That this contradiction exists in Real Life is the complete refutation of Miss R on the impossibility of real contradictions in the Real World. 😉

    [I want my old life back.]

    Lastly, I know of no source whatsoever for Butterkaese that tastes like butter in cheese form, with nary a speck of tang (sourness!) nor even any stink (and I really go for stinky cheese) to it. Heavenly. (Real German Tilsit would be almost Butterkaese, were it not for the very mild stinky undertone.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa on butter, just above: You go, girl! :mrgreen:

  • terence patrick hewett, (November 24, 2017 at 4:25 pm), were I Irish, then my name would be pronounced like that of your friend Niall O’Conner (whom I guess is Irish). Were I Welsh, it would be pronounced as the alternative you offer. As I am Scots and spell it the Gaelic way, I pronounce it something like Knee – ah – l, with the ‘a’ both hovering between long and short ‘a’ sound and being deemphasised (much more than writing it out phonetically implies) relative to the ‘e’ in the diphthong.

    For obvious reasons, I have long been accustomed to accepting without comment or complaint any well-intention attempt at pronouncing it. 🙂

  • bobby b

    Julie: I got some Butterkaese several months ago at Costco, of all places. Wonderful stuff. Trader Joe’s used to carry it, too.

    Bread: People who brew beer or mead tend to also be people who bake their own bread. People Of The Yeast, we are. The stuff sold in plastic bags in grocery stores bears little resemblance to the real stuff. Like Laird’s example above of non-dairy “cream” products being labeled “creme” to get around the fiction, store-bought bread ought to be called “bred.”

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa: Heh !!

    Speaking of which, why not run on over here? We can go for pancakes! (And, of course, extra butter.)


    bobby, both of your sources would require me to move back to Naperville! (You just wouldn’t believe what-all isn’t in Rockford.)

    Interestingly enough, my acquaintance with really good butterkaese is the result of my having shopped at a local supermarket called “Trig’s.” (No relation to young Master Palin, or at any rate not that I know of.)

    Now when I say “local,” I mean local to Minocqua, Wisc., in case you weren’t aware.

    Unfortunately, at some point they quit carrying that particular brand. And it takes rather longer to get to Minocqua from here than to Naperville, anyway.

    Thanks for the info, though. You never can tell where you’ll be two years from Tuesday. 😉

    Also, let me note my approval of your suggestion for the proper nomenclature for Unreal Bread.


    Although, strictly aside, I don’t see how calling that stuff in Twinkies “creme” solves the problem, since the word does indeed mean “cream.” In French, so what?! It’s like calling doodled-up tofu “Butterkaese” on the grounds that calling it “butter cheese” would imply that it contains butter and/or cheese.

    Nowadays, of course, lots of products that never saw a cow (or a sheep or a goat or, probably, a yak) are simply labelled “non-dairy” or some such.

    . . .

    From here, it would be very easy to get into the vexed subject of the elasticity of words. If persons think I have already relieved myself of the full burden of lectures (and rants) on that topic, they are sadly mistaken. And I’ve got various Horrible Examples of allegedly Real Human Beings of currently Great Renown and Regard whom you can see and hear in full spate on UT. (In this case one of them is a Crazy Man and another is a Slither, var. Progressiviensis, though both have doctorates, if that signifies.)


  • Laird

    Like bobby b, I enjoy occasionally dabbling in yeast: I’ve been known to make beer, and bread is pretty simple (and rye is my favorite!). I’ve even tried my hand at English muffins, with satisfactory results. Also cheese, sauerkraut, pickles, etc,; all foods involving fermentation or some relative of it. But only when the urge strikes; it’s not a regular occurrence.

    As to Terence’s “devil’s arsenal of additives which go to produce a supermarket loaf“, I commend to you this book. Seriously. Written by someone who began the project as a standard-issue food snob who looked down on Twinkies as you would something adhering to the bottom of your shoe, by the time you’ve finished it you will have a far greater appreciation for the the miracle (and chemistry) of modern food production. Those additives are all there for very good reasons.

  • JadedLibertarian

    I don’t doubt they’re there for a good reason Laird, but the reason why they’re there is nothing to do with my enjoyment of the food. One of my homemade loaves goes stale in around 24 hours, and its quality has noticeably declined within 12. A store-bought loaf will keep for up to a week with no real noticeable change in its quality. But for that initial 24 hour period, my loaf kicks its ass every which way.

    Shelf life, cost and storage considerations are perfectly laudable goals and manufacturers are right to consider them. I buy store bought when I can’t be bothered making bread. Sourdough in particular is almost impossible to make in our cold house in a Scottish winter (unless you cheat and raise the dough in the crockpot), so store bought is a real blessing. But to be honest, a shrink wrapped pack of Warburtons or Hovis only superficially resembles true bread.

  • Alisa

    One of these days, Julie…

  • Julie near Chicago

    Perfectly willing to believe that additives come in two categories (which are far from disjoint, by the way): Helpful, or at least not harmful to the health of most people, and Not Good for You (which, notice, is not quite the same as “Bad for You”).

    Whatever “additives” may be in Twinkies doesn’t worry me. It’s just that having eaten the things, after all I was a reasonably normal American child, it was borne in upon me that they’re not actually edible. It’s not the “cake” part; it’s the goop in the middle. It looks like grainy toothpaste, but is less flavorful. 😉

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, I eagerly await the day.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    I make a loaf every three days or so because salt is bad for my blood pressure; the potassium chloride I use works just as well.

    Taste isn’t really a factor for me, although home-baked is at least as good as what I used to buy. I use a bread machine to mix and knead the dough, then remove it to a loaf pan to rise for oven baking. This is partly to avoid the work of kneading, but also for the heat the machine applies to the dough, which makes its rising a lot less chancy. Thrift store bread machines cost five to ten dollars.

    The cost of supermarket yeast is ‘way high; bulk yeast from the local health-food store works well and tastes OK; and it’s probably 20% the cost of supermarket yeast. I’d love to make sourdough bread, but the damn starters keep dying on me, or getting contaminated.

  • Rich Rostrom

    How can you spot a Chicago intellectual?

    He tells a cab driver to take him to State and Schiller, a block north, rather than say “Go-thee”.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Hah! You got it, Rich!