these are the posts tagged ‘walking on history’:


walking on history, X: operation mincemeat

on a quaint cemetery in the outskirts of huelva, there’s a perfectly normal stone grave, with an interesting story hidden behind. we did a pit stop there on our way back from córdoba to learn about major william martin…

… a man who actually did not “exist”, and yet changed the course of the second world war. tom does a better job at explaining the story than i ever could:

sometimes, history happens in unexpected places.


more from this series.

walking on history, IX: garum

my first encounter with fish sauce (back in groningen via a vietnamese neighbour) might have been a bit rocky. i still remember him pouring the stuff on a hot wok and the unbelievable stench it would leave on the corridor as it evaporated… which sounds funny to me now, because i have to say, ten years later, it has kind of grown on me.

visiting the ruins of an ancient garum factory in the ria formosa, i wonder why the garum, the european equivalent of this fermented sauce, got lost in time.

in these stone tanks that are still around in quite a few places in portugal, fish bowels would be mixed with salt water and left to ferment and dry for several months. the resulting paste would be rich in protein and minerals — and probably just as stinky as it was umami. it was prized in roman cuisine where there are numerous records of its usage — poets even make jokes about its smell!

today, all that is left are these decaying tanks by the water… and some geek curiosity! :)

walking on history, VIII: maulbronn’s monastery

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hesse and kepler stepped on these same stones on their way to class on maulbronn’s monastery (which used to be home to a seminary). it’s a striking place — from the vaulted ceilings to the tombstones that lay on the cloister’s floors.

previously on this series.

walking on history, VII: escape tunnels


thirty nine tunnels were dug under the berlin wall, through which over 250 people escaped to the west – and almost as many were arrested by the stasi. many tunnels ended up never being used.

this one on bernauer straße was dug by hasso herschel, who helped smuggle over 1000 people to the west through tunnels, modified cars or airport exchanges.

more on this series.

walking on history, VI: the wall

on july 1963, herr günter climbed over the wall near a construction site, when a truck was blocking the view from the guards. bernauer straße is filled with these small memorials to the people who fled from east to west – or died trying.

more on this series.