Hope and History Rhyme

Earlier this week, one of my favorite writers passed away, leaving behind an entire generation of devoted readers hungry for words that defined their human connection. Seamus Heaney, an Irish writer and Nobel Laureate, wrote of his family’s agrarian life and the plight of the Irish and modern day politics, among other things. My favorite work is The Cure at Troy, an adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, but in actuality a reference to Nelson Mandela’s rise in South Africa, much like Philoctetes return to Troy to aid the Greeks. “The Cure” at Troy refers to the curing of Philoctetes’ poisoned foot, upon his victory at Troy. The passage below is frequently quoted, and when I still TA’d for an undergraduate public health course at Cal, I enjoyed ending the semester with these lines:

Human beings suffer, they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard. No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong inflicted or endured…

History says, Don’t hope on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles and cures and healing wells.

Call the miracle self-healing: The utter self-revealing
double-take of feeling. If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing the outcry and the birth-cry
of new life at its term. It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up And hope and history rhyme.

After a semester of learning about the myriad of issues in the world, it was optimistic and hopeful to end this way. And even today as we struggle through the vagaries and capriciousness of life, I still yearn for a day when hope and history rhyme. Thank you Seamus Heaney for your lovely words and your inspiration. I am no poet or writer or philosopher or savant; I am no digger, but I will do my best. Between my finger and my thumb, this keyboard/spatula/ chef’s knife rests, I’ll dig with it.


Assorted Flatbreads
Source: Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2013

Dough Ingredients
1 envelope (1/4 oz) instant dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1+ tbs extra virgin olive oil,
1 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 c all purpose flour

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast with 1 cup of warm water and sugar. Allow to rest until foamy, about 5-10 minutes. To the yeast, add 1 tbs of olive oil, flour, and salt. Use the dough hook of the stand mixer and combine at slow-medium speed until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and add the remaining 1/2 c of flour and knead (with flour-dusted hands) until dough is firm yet supple. Place dough ball in an oiled bowl, then brush ball with additional olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until doubled, about 1-2 hours. I like to place rising dough over my fridge – its extra warm and out of the way.

In the meantime, prepare your topping. In this case, the world is your oyster. I made several variations here. Pesto and sweet onions. Sausage, bell pepper and onions. And lastly, extra sweet and tangy grape tomatoes, pecorino and onions. Yes, onion seems to be the recurring theme here.


Other great topping combinations:
– tomato, basil, mozzarella
– peppers and susage
– mushroom, garlic and parsley
– roasted eggplant and ricotta
– onions and anchovies
– pesto and chicken (or bacon)
– figs and gorgonzola
– artichoke hearts, onions, and lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 450*F. Lightly oil 2 baking sheets. On a floured surface, roll and shape the dough ball (alternatively, you can cut the ball in half for smaller breads) into an approximate rectangle. Transfer dough to baking sheet, and brush with olive oil. Spread the topping over the flatbreads and bake for 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden and crispy. Remove from oven, cut into rectangles and serve.


This flatbread is great as a meal or an appetizer, depending on your toppings and accompanying dishes. It can also easily be grilled on your coal BBQ, perfect for summer entertaining.


Thanks for reading folks and have a restful Labor Day Weekend (not engaged in any labor),

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