How often have I said, "You haven't read a book 'til you've read it twice"? Well, it's true. Having read Murder Most Royal by S. J. Bennett over Christmas, I went back and reread Windsor Knot, the first in this murder mystery series with Queen Elizabeth II as the detective. I liked it better the second time around and, incidentally, admire the way Bennett set herself up for a lifelong series if she wants it. (NB: Her upcoming A Death in Diamonds is set in 1957).What does this have to do with the chocolate biscuit cake?
Picturing a World
Holidays are repetitious. Repetitions make commercial work easier. Even writers who try to avoid doing so repeat themselves unconsciously. After all, humans (as well as AI) are pattern-seeking creatures. Well, may your holiday fall into whatever pattern you love—or carry you into novel ways of picturing your world. Happy Thanksgiving!
Image via a Norman Rockwell Museum post, Illustrations as easy as pie.
In a family letter dated November 29th, 1887, I found this recipe for "Sweet Mangoes." What fun, thought I, mangoes! Who knew they would be familiar in 19th C Farmville, Virginia? The more I read, however, the more puzzling it became. Three gallons of mangoes? And cabbage? At this point I did the obvious: I Googled. It didn't take long to learn that a mango is "a green pepper stuffed with cabbage and mixed, minced picket, highly spiced and whole pickled together." Now if someone can just tell me what a picket is …
What a find! An early iron age concave clay stamp turned up recently during a highway excavation in Bavaria. It's just the right size for impressing a pattern on bread rolls. What I crave now is a dough stamp with a maze or a labyrinth. In fiction, it could be part of women's magic, or its discovery could figure into an archeological tale. This one was found with a mysterious clay figurine, which could offer further prompts for the story. Any ideas?
Via the History Blog.
Blog post alert: Food history and children's fiction are two of my hobbies, so I was delighted to stumble across an old post, Biscuits (Cookies) w/ Sugar Flowers | The Little White Horse, at Fiction-Food.com. As it happened, when I found this site, I had just reread A Wrinkle in Time and so was amused to see that the blogger's archive included a post on Sandwiches & Hot Chocolate. And her recipe for a Sugar-Topped Cake looks just right for Mr. Tumnus' tea in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. A good diversion when I was supposed to be doing something else.
Blog post alert: One of my heirloom treasures is a wooden Runkel Bros. Sweet Vienna Chocolate box from my great-grandmother's kitchen. I have used it as an ornament in my own kitchen, as a computer stand, and as—oh, I don't know—a talisman of some sort. Looking at it in this season when chocolate becomes important sent me off on an internet search. It landed me on A Golden Age: Chocolate in New York, 1850-1900, which has a section on the Runkel brothers and lots more. Enjoy!
The reward of blog-crawling on a rainy day was a post on "Harlequin Foods" at Victorian Paris. I knew that "pot-luck" soups were sold by street vendors to the poor, but get this: There was an entire trade in leftovers or rogatons from the kitchens of palaces, noble houses, fine hotels, embassies, and so on. The cook or the footman sold them to a vendor or reseller who came to the back door, and they began a journey of sorting and distribution until they reached a stall in Les Halles, where they might end up on a patchwork plate of mixed scraps more or less artfully arranged. In that form, they were called arlequins, probably because their patchwork appearance resembled the costume of the Commedia dell'arte character, Harlequin.