I read something a while back that mentioned humpty dumpty .. . either that or I looked in the mirror and felt a certain kinship with theeggy fellow. Whatever . . . it got me wondering about theorigin of the little rhyme.
Way back when . . . and I mean waaaaaaaaaaay back to the 15thcentury . . . Humpty Dumpty was a termused to describe someone who was . . .uhm . . . stout. Yeah, that’s it . . . stout. Or, to be less delicate . . . really friggin’ fat.
Anyhoo . . . much to my surprise, Mr. Dumpty was not a reference to a particular person; orany person at all, for that matter. Noreven an egg as the illustrations would lead you to believe.
I had always assumed it was a linguistic slam of a king orsomething. Well, it turns out the HumptyDumpty was an allusion to a weapon of war . . . a big ass (pun intended) cannon,to be exact.
In sixteen hundred andforty-eight,
suffered the pains of state, England
The Roundheads laidsiege to
Where the king's menstill fought for the crown.
There was a siege on the town of
in 1648. Thetown contained a castle and several churches and was . . . dum diddy dum . . . protected by the city wall. Not just any wall. . . but THE wall . . . Humpty’s wall! HumptyDumpty was strategically placed said wall. Colchester
There One-EyedThompson stood on the wall,
A gunner of deadliestaim of all.
From St. Mary's Towerhis cannon he fired,
Humpty Dumpty was itsname.
During the siege, a bombardment from the attacking forcesbusted a hole in the wall beneath the cannon which, not surprisingly, causedthe great fall.
Humpty dumpty sat on awall,
Humpty dumpty had agreat fall;
Threescore men andthreescore more,
Could not place Humptyas he was before.
‘All the king's horsesand all the king's men’ . . . i.e. the cavalry and knights . . . attemptedto raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall. But because Humpty wasso . . . uhm . . . stout . . . that is, the cannon was so frickin’ heavy . . . they couldn’t get him back up on thewall.
Humpty Dumpty had agreat fall;
All the king's horsesand all the king's men
Couldn't put Humptytogether again.
This caused the town to fall into the enemy hands. The end.
3 Cups All-Purpose Or Bread Flour, More For Dusting
¼ Teaspoon Instant Yeast
1¼ Teaspoons Salt
Cornmeal, As Needed
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowlwith plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, atwarm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a littlemore flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plasticwrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to worksurface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball.Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran orcornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran orcornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. Whenit is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily springback when poked with a finger.
At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex orceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot fromoven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up;it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Cover with lid andbake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loafis browned. Cool on a rack.