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  • Immortal Meals #1: Keats, Wordsworth, Haydon, Lamb, Monkhouse, Ritchie and the Comptroller March 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #1: Keats, Wordsworth, Haydon, Lamb, Monkhouse, Ritchie and the Comptroller

    Beachcombing spent yesterday looking for modern food-tasters and, in so doing, found himself inspired by another question. What meal  in history would he most want to have eaten at? Now, of course, there are two ways that the best meal might be judged: either in terms of the food eaten or in terms of the company. […]

    Killer Ice-Cream! March 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killer Ice-Cream!

    Beachcombing’s friends over at foodinitaly (Zach and SY) have put up a post from that magical period 1880-1900 when ice-cream was leaving the dining rooms of the super-rich and reaching the streets of northern Europe and North America. As with all new foods there is a period of chronic anxiety when the food in question is given unreasonable […]

    The Last Foodtaster in History? March 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    The Last Foodtaster in History?

      Beachcombing has long thought that food tasting must have been among the very cushiest jobs to have had in the Middle Ages. Why? (i) No one is going to be stupid enough to kill a monarch or a duke by poisoning their food if they know there’s a taster around. You are safe. Beachcombing doubts there’s […]

    Toasting Poland February 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Toasting Poland

      Beachcombing has always had a bit of a thing about the Poles: a nation of warriors and survivors. It is difficult not to get a little teary-eyed then when, in 1918, Poland officially becomes, after 120 years of dreaming, a nation again. Unlike Italy’s pretend risorgimento – to have a ‘resurrection’ you need to […]

    Painted Snowballs February 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Painted Snowballs

    For various reasons beginning with health and ending with this blog, passing through children, changing interests and daily walks in the woods Beachcombing has not sat down to write an academic article for two years. And when he thinks of the two or three pieces on his hard drive that just need some work and […]

    Bow Your Hamms to Chocolate February 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bow Your Hamms to Chocolate

    [[an onion]] Dieticians and quacks have long tried to convince humanity that certain foods can work wonders on our failing bodies. Beachcombing’s favourite example is Baldini’s De sorbetti (1775) where it is argued that Neapolitan ice-cream will cure everything from sniffles to tumours (another post another day). But there are others from, in the nineteenth […]

    Last Will and Testament of a Pig January 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Last Will and Testament of a Pig

    Beachcombing ran across a curious little work today: the Testamentum Porcelli, Will of a Pig. It is possible that he read it many years ago because it seemed vaguely familiar: there is certainly something pleasingly grotesque in its words – a bit Roald Dahl - that brought Beachcombing back to his early 20s when Beach drank too […]

    One Man’s Tulip, Another Man’s Onion December 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    One Man’s Tulip, Another Man’s Onion

    Tulip production was, in early Modern Europe, a challenging affair. For one the tulip itself was not an indigenous plant. It had come, with so many other items – including curiously goods from the New World – through the Ottoman Empire. Next, growing a tulip from seed takes from six to twelve years. These were […]

    Great Balls of Floury Fire November 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Great Balls of Floury Fire

    Food is dangerous at the best of times. But a thoughtful note by J van Leuven in an archaeological journal (Antiquity) from 1979 should prove of interest to all bizarrists as it suggests that food, more particularly grain, had the potential to bring powerful Mycenaean city states, including Knossos, to their knees. Now if this […]

    Zoological Soup and Aroused Pig: Futurist Cooking November 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Zoological Soup and Aroused Pig: Futurist Cooking

    Futurism was one of the twentieth century’s more bizarre ideologies. Founded in Italy just before the First World War – though coming to maturity in the 1920s – it made a cult out of what was new while despising the ‘old’. So speeding planes, falling bombs or soaring modern buildings were good. Whereas the canals […]

    Biodynamics and Nazi Market Gardens November 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Biodynamics and Nazi Market Gardens

    Biodynamics is a form of agriculture that Beachcombing can best describe as ‘organic and then some’. It demands that the farmer treat his or her farm as a single organism and that said farmer use ‘natural’ methods to raise crops and cattle. This includes supplements for fields that are, to say the least, unusual – e.g. […]

    French Kisses, Guinea Pigs and the Spanish vice November 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    French Kisses, Guinea Pigs and the Spanish vice

    Beachcombing had a terrifying dream last night. A great voice told him to find a bizarre story on turkeys, presumably one of the last shadows of his recent obsession with birds? Beachcombing has decided, however, not to do so because his subconscious has, frankly, been getting on his nerves in the last weeks. Instead, Beachombing is going to look at […]

    Hot Chocolate at High Mass November 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hot Chocolate at High Mass

    Beachcombing was doing some research, trying to catch up with a student’s reading on the origins of chocolate and came across this gem. It is the story of a bishop, Bernardino de Salazar, who was poisoned because he tried to stop the women in his congregation from taking chocolate drinks during high mass. Our narrator is […]

    Hunter-Shoppers October 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Hunter-Shoppers

    Beachcombing’s nickname at High School – concrete comprehensive school somewhere in the lush north – was Caveman. And Beachcombing’s peers – with that preternatural perception that adolescents still have before soap operas, nicotine and 9-5 set in  – were onto something as the Stone-Ager was always close to the surface. Even now, it is enough for Beachcombing […]

    Boiling mice in the name of history October 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Boiling mice in the name of history

    It is widely known, Beachcombing believes, that the Romans ate dormice. Despite sumptuary laws forbidding the practice – dormice were an indulgence – they were fattened in gardens and kept in winter in a glirarium (a large ceramic jar) to prevent them hibernating (and becoming thin…). They were then cooked, stuffed with  pine kernels, garum, […]

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