On the twenty-third day of Christmas,
The Bakery gave to me:
A Guest Post from our American Offices
Offering a pronounced change of pace than the usual creative hotcakes the Bakery churns out, today’s post is brought to you by our bigger, better and more fashionable American offices. We (and definitely Tom German) need not look much further than Michael Moore’s jeans to realize that us Americans have always had a special eye for fashion.
Actually, what this post is about is the harsh realization of just the opposite. Americans have not only in the present day been ridiculed for our lack of fashion sense but historically as well. Did you know, this?!? It’s absurd, I know. As I dug deeper into this quagmire of harsh truths, what I unearthed was truly shocking.
Now, I know that fashion is of great concern to the Bakery boys which is why I’ve felt it my imperative duty to share this life-changing knowledge of Anglo-American history through fashion with all of you. First of all, I don’t think anyone would disagree with me here that the Bakery is chalk full of trendsetting metrosexuals. It has even been rumoured that the highly acclaimed plaid and Hawaiian print combo trend originated at the Bakery. You’d never find someone’s Mum buying their clothes or someone wearing an outfit more than once amongst this bunch. Anyway, fashioning their hottest new trends, this is a photo of the boys off out on a hip Saturday afternoon:
I believe the photo speaks for itself.
As many fans and friends of the Bakery may know, it is not long after becoming acquainted with the group that it is very likely you will acquire your very own personalized nickname. The origins of nicknames bestowed upon friends of the Bakery can arise from any manner of things – a misspelled text message, the metamorphosis of one’s last name into a popular Indian dish, or for having a jaw that unfortunately implies responsibility for the Holocaust, or of course— one’s nationality. Hailing from the great country of the land of the free, home of the brave; America, my nicknames naturally centred around my beloved nation of birth.
Amongst the nicknames bestowed upon me, some included but were not limited to: Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, The Prairie Queen, Ghandi Gurzon, Dirty Gerty, Gertzon, Morband Gorton, Morondo, La Bamba, Rambo, Goebles and last but not least, Yankee Doodle Randy. Often shortened to simply, “Doodle,” this nickname is of course inspired by the patriotic song “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. However, previously unbeknownst to me was that my adoring nickname was in fact motivated by unbridled bigoted nationalism on the part of Richard Dadd (big surprise there). However, Richard, or “Eagle hater” as I like to call him, in innocently creating this nickname has provided me an excellent point of departure to better understand America and England’s “special” relationship.
Now, I have not always had an interest in Anglo-American history. Or more accurately, not so much interest in the Anglo side of things. However, somewhere around the Summer of 2007 I happened to meet two lovely and charming Englishmen standing in line at a restaurant in Arctic Sweden. Those two gents turned out to be Chefs Al and Dan. However, back then they were still in culinary school and had not yet become full blown chefs and therefore spent their time meditating amongst Canadian geese and hiking around the hills of Sweden getting holes in the backs of their trousers and sun burning their legs. From that point on, my interest in also gaining an understanding of the side of our colonial oppressors has grown and grown, to finally blossom into a beautiful love-hate relationship of both fascination and frustration with English culture.
It was through taking a module during my final term at Uni called “Costume Design and the History of Fashion” that I was first introduced to understanding history through the clothes people wear. We studied nations’ relationships in history through the travelling and wearing of material objects; through understanding why we wear what we wear. It was genuinely a fascinating module. During one of the lectures, the professor unknowingly opened the door to a rather illuminating piece of history that unlocked the historical relevance of the song, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and moreover the complex relationship between England and America.
For those who need a refresher, this is this song I am referencing:
Now, I’m not sure if this song means anything to English children, but for us little ones over here it is ingrained as a quintessentially patriotic American tune. Despite its perceived importance we learned it was merely a silly song with no real meaning. I just thought Doodle was a fun word to say and that macaroni was an exciting type of pasta, and none of my school teachers ever said otherwise. But, oh was I wrong and oh did hearing the truth turn my world upside down.
Although there are many verses and versions of the song, the most well known is the first verse:
Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-riding on a pony;
He stuck a feather in his hat,
And called it macaroni.
Okay, in an attempt to unveil the true meaning of the song let me first do a little etymological break down of our glossary of terms:
Doodle effectively means a fool or simpleton. The macaroni wig was extreme fashion in the 1700s and became contemporary slang for foppishness. A fop, or dandy was a man concerned with his clothes and appearance in an affected and excessive way. A modern day fop could read as a metrosexual; a foolish person who is overly concerned with their clothing and incapable of engaging in intellectual conversations, activities or thoughts.
So, by my calculation, the implication of the verse was therefore that the Yankees were so unsophisticated that they thought by simply sticking a feather in their cap it would make them the height of fashion. Not such an innocent apolitical song after all!
Furthermore, it was actually the British who brought the tune to America during the French and Indian War in the mid 1700s. The British used the song and the term “Yankee Doodle” sarcastically, to ridicule the makeshift appearance of the dress of American Colonial troops. Eventually, when the Revolution began, the Americans adopted the song as a rallying tune and the song was even played to celebrate the American victory on Oct. 19th 1781, at the British surrender at Yorktown.
So there you have it.
Who would’ve known this song had such a complex and fluctuating history that beautifully represents a microcosm of Anglo-American ties at large? I certainly did not. Alas it is nevertheless an important realization to have that not all things, if not most things that America holds near and dear to their collective patriotic heart, do not have the most “American” of beginnings.
Perhaps this song even explains the mythological origins as to why the English often regard Americans as uncultured, unoriginal, slobbish meatheads and conversely why Americans occasionally postulate that the English are a bunch of pompous tea-drinking pansies.
Regardless of all this, beautiful things can and do happen when either side of the Atlantic come together without ridiculing each other.
But it’s considerably less funny.
Thank you all & to all a good night!
Guest Pastry Chef, Yankee Doodle Randy