When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

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Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.


Brothers' Original Fairy Tales Offer Up A Grimm Menu

Nov 9, 2012
Originally published on December 4, 2012 8:37 am

If you've only come across fairy tales courtesy of Walt Disney, or some other sweetened retelling, the dark culinary themes in the 19th-century versions told by the two German brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, may come as a shock.

When I started browsing through Maria Tatar's new, illustrated bicentennial edition of The Annotated Brothers Grimm, it was with the idea of reviving fond childhood memories, and whipping up a delicious little something for The Salt. (Fairy cakes, anyone?)

I went in search of Hansel and Gretel's seductive candy house, the bright green lettuce leaves that Rapunzel's mother craves, and the wild strawberries that the outcast daughter finds growing in the snow outside the door of The Three Little Men in the Woods.

I wasn't disappointed.

The little house in Hansel and Gretel is as appetizing as ever, with its walls of bread, its roof of cake, and "windows of sparkling sugar." And I still wanted the children's "fine meal of milk and pancakes, with sugar, apples and nuts" for my own supper, even though I no longer have to make do with an English nursery tea of Marmite soldiers.

I discovered that the verdant salad that Rapunzel's pregnant mother finds irresistible is actually a savory herb called rapunzel or rampion; and as Tatar notes (such is the pleasure of this annotated edition) the heroine's name in the earlier Italian version of the story is Petrosinella, which is derived from the word for parsley! The French Rapunzel is Persinette.

And as for those winter strawberries "bright red in the snow," there they are, popping up beneath the bare trees in Arthur Rackham's classic illustration from his edition of the stories published in London in 1917.

What I wasn't quite prepared for was all the culinary horror that goes along with this fairy tale deliciousness. Forget about edible houses, magic apples, and winter strawberries. Young women and small children are just as likely to top the menu. Variously gulped down whole, fattened for roasting, neatly sliced for serving, or cut up into stew.

In the story "The Robber Bridegroom," the gruesome kitchen prep is the final stage of what can only be described as a gang rape. A band of drunken thieves drag home a young woman, force her to drink three full glasses of wine "one white, one red, one yellow," tear off her clothes, and finally, they "chopped her beautiful body into pieces, and sprinkled them with salt."

"The Juniper Tree" goes even further. A wicked stepmother kills her husband's young son so that their daughter will inherit everything. In order to conceal the hideous crime, she chops up the little boy's body and turns him into a pot of stew. When his father returns home, he tucks into a hearty meal. "Oh, dear wife, this stew tastes so good!" he declares. And then he demands a second helping.

And almost as bad as the prospect of becoming dinner is the prospect of having no dinner at all — many of these stories are haunted by the specter of hunger. It's famine and despair that sets the whole plot machinery of Hansel and Gretel in motion. Mothers threaten to eat or abandon their own children because there is no food. Outside of the palace or noble house, people survive on a meager diet of bread, roots and herbs with the occasional egg or apple. Step children and outcasts get dry crusts and whatever they can forage.

Now, it has to be said, that once you've gotten over the shock, things often turn out better than you might expect. Despite being swallowed, sautéed, or roasted whole, the culinary victims are usually restored to life in one form or another, whether released by impromptu cesarean, or subjected to a series of beautiful and mysterious transformations into plants or animals.

The little boy in "The Juniper Tree" reappears first as a bird, who sings about the whole nasty business and then drops a millstone on the evil stepmother's head. Smoke, flames and fire rise up from the spot and when they vanish, the little brother is back.

What's really going on here, explains Tatar in an email to The Salt, is that these stories draw on the ancient and universal idea of a circle of life. "We start with myths of creation, which often feature dismemberment and reconstitution of bodies," she writes. "Fairy tales give us loss and restitution in powerful ways. Even if you suffer mutilation, there is regeneration and the promise of resurrection".

But there is no getting away from the fact, Tatar continues, that the "the tales had their origins in a culture where famine was common and life was nasty, brutish, and short. The young and vulnerable may have indeed felt at risk when there was nothing to eat, even if, as we know, cannibalism was a fairly rare phenomenon."

She points out that adults still "express their affection with phrases like 'You're good enough to eat up.' We make strange nibbling noises when we kiss babies! And so it's no wonder that fairy tales, which engage with our deepest fears and fantasies, tell us about predator/prey relationships and how to escape someone who is planning to have you for dinner."

And while the tales may seem shocking, Tatar reminds us that they were not originally meant for children. "Fairy tales were once adult entertainment, designed to help pass time and told to the rhythms of repetitive labor. To stay awake, you needed melodrama and an opera of emotions — or, to put it another way, sex and violence... Today we have the Paranormal franchise, Stephen King novels, and all kinds of other things to scare us out of our wits."

(You can hear Tatar talk in more detail about these darker issues, and the many pleasures of these stories, in a recent edition of the program On Point, from our friends at WBUR in Boston.)

It all seems a very long way from the sugar-frosted world of gingerbread houses and fairy cakes that I started out with.

But as Tatar also says, these stories remind us over and over again of the central importance and pleasure of food in our lives. "Often a great meal is the highest good in the fairy tale." She writes: "Yes, gold sparkles and shines, castles lure, and princesses await the transformative kiss, but there is almost nothing like a full stomach for those living in fairy-tale worlds. There is a lesson there for us all — I'm sure of that."

And here at The Salt, we'll drink to that!

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