Buy one (or more) at or
Release date: 12/28/2004.
* * *
Click HERE to express outrage or approbation.

Or do you want to take another look at the homepage MENU?

Or do you want to SEARCH for something specific?

The Vexed Question of American Measures

Well, this really is a "mare's nest"...a "can of worms"...a downright embarrasment, in American parlance.

Yes, I've gotten many comments, worldwide, about my steady adherence to the antiquated American system of cups and quarts and tablespoons and teaspoons and pounds and ounces and such.

And my only defenses here are:

1) clean design (my eyes roll backwards when I see alternative measures in recipes--though, I admit, that may be a personal problem);
2) I am an American, after all, and old habits die hard (yes, this defense REALLY is weak); and
3) soups are pretty sloppy and antiquated propositions, all things considered, and do nicely with teacupfuls or coffeecupfuls of things and big spoonsful of things, and small spoonsful of things, and pinches and all.

So here's the history. All these scientific measures started out in prehistory on a freelance basis, with neolithic peoples passing on gourd-measure type wisdom...inching up into pharoah / emperor / king standards for different people to observe (generally based on average human body part lengths--Egyptian spans were the space of the little finger to the thumb; cubits, the space from the fingertips to the elbow; the Roman "mile" or "mille" was 1000 double paces (5000 Roman feet); the English yard, either the length of King Henry I's arm or the space from his nose to his thumb or the length of his archers' arrows, take your pick)...then English colonists moved to America with their king's standard--and we've been frozen in time with this our "ancient mythology" ever since. Colonial diaries and plantation recipes call for teacups full of broth and wine glasses full of milk.

Don't laugh. Every nation likes its antique roots--and ours just happen to be pretty recent. We think it would be unAmerican to give up the ancient British standard system, not to mention confusing. So here we are, bumping along with miles and yards and feet and inches and tons and ounces and cups and teaspoons. Call us hopeless romantics...or blithering idiots. We're still ages away from the metric system, even though it makes such good sense.

Is it hard to figure this out, anyway? No, certainly not. Anyone that can find a teacup, a big spoon, and a little spoon in a kitchen is bound to make good sense from all the recipes here. If you want to be picky:

1 cup=2 gills=240 millilitres (ml)=16 Tablespoons=48 teaspoons=8 fluid ounces
4 cups=1 quart (qt.)=32 fluid ounces=950 ml
3 teaspoons=1 Tablespoon=15 ml=1/2 fluid ounce
1 pound (lb.)=1/2 kilo (close enough)
16 ounces (oz.)=1 pound=454 grams

I really think that's about enough for everyone in the world to be able to make up these recipes. Please let me know otherwise!

When it comes to making soup, I think we all get a bit elemental anyway--throwing in stuff that's around and needs to be used or that just goes with the rest of the ingredients. Sniffing old cream and straining it just to be safe. Cutting the mold off old cheese. Creating primordial soup out of old ingredients in modern kitchens. It's enough to make you grunt and carve primitive pictures in local rock formations. Urgh--we want good soup!