I love old cookbooks, looking at how culinary fashions have changed but also picking up useful tips that have been forgotten. Such as the best way to judge when a pig is done ‘is when its eyes pop out’ (the Art of Cookery, by Hannah Glasse, 1747). I was very pleased to read, therefore, that the collection of cookbooks at Leeds University have been Designated by the MLA (Museums Libraries and Archives Council) as an ‘outstanding’ collection. I only hope that they can get some money from HLF to digitise them and make them available online.
WHERE DO YOU COME FROM?
Want to know more about the place you were born, the town you grew up in, or the city you’ve just moved to? http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/index.jsp gives you a detailed look at the history of places in the uk. It’s strapline is ‘A vision of Britain between 1801 and 2001. Including maps, statistical trends and historical descriptions.’ And it indeed has fascinating facts and figures that will keep you amused for ages.
They’ve had problems with the site in the past (a touch of the 1901 census disease) and this is third time lucky. It’s packed with information, and has a message in the credits page:
‘Finally, thanks to everyone who has paid their taxes, bought their lottery tickets or filled in a census form. Hope you like the results — it is supposed to be a portrait of us all, and where we have come from.’
THE FUTURE OF THE PAST
The future has always held a fascination for people, we’ve always imagining what new technology will bring, but particularly in the 1950s through to the 1980s thoughts of the 21st century influenced all aspects of life, from design through to adverts for Smash. The future was going to be space age, robots would be everywhere, travel would be transformed, food would be unrecognisable. Architects did their best to blot out the Victorian era from the skyscape, and interiors of old houses were ripped out and redecorated in the new style. The past was out, all eyes were looking forward.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and surprise surprise, those predictions made in the 60s of life on mars etc. didn’t come true. What has happened though is that people have started looking backwards into the past again. Maybe it’s because people have more leisure time, what with all the labour saving devices we now have. Maybe it’s because the extended family, with stories of years and family gone by, old pictures of relatives, family heirlooms and everything else that went with it, is becoming a thing of the past. Maybe it’s because of increased accessibility through the internet. Whatever, there’s no getting away from the fact that the past has become one of the boom industries of the 21st century.
Want to redecorate your house? There are some lovely reproduction wallpapers from any of the major styles from the past 200 years you can easily get your hands on. Going to B&Q for paint to spruce up the house? There are numerous shades of ‘heritage’ colours for you to chose from. Want to replace all the original features in your victorian house? Plenty of reproduction pieces out there for you. Just go have a look on Ebay at the collectors category to see what the market for old ephemera, books, etc. is like. Past, heritage, history all used to be evil words to large companies. They had to look forward, look to new technologies, they couldn’t risk being seen as looking towards the past. No more – just look at the drinks industry and the current Guiness marketing campaign – every ad harking back to advert campaigns from their past.
Family historians are visiting archives in their droves to trace their ancestors, find out who they were and what their lives were like. Companies continue to produce reproduction furniture, toys, decorations, stationery. TV companies have realised the appetite and commissioned historical documentaries, we’ve had historical reality tv shows, and the BBC is currently running a campaign ‘Who do you think you are?’ centered around family history. Indeed, one of their programmes, with Bill Oddie researching his family tree, was watched by 5.4 million viewers, twice the average audience usually tuning in to BBC2. The Guardian has branded genealogy ‘the new tv property porn’.
The heritage industry is booming, things are looking rosy. Heritage Lottery funding has meant that millions of pounds have been poured into much needed redevelopment of museums, archives, libraries. Yes some of the projects have been white elephants, but much of the money has been spent on ensuring that our past is being preserved properly, so that many more generations can get as much out of it as we are doing.
The past is back, and long may it continue!*
*disclaimer – the author’s opinions are in no way influenced by the fact that she works in the heritage industry, oh no.
Pub graffiti you have known
“Oats are a great herbal solution to depression. Eat porridge or muisli every day for breakfast for a week. I promise you you’ll be able to tell the difference”
This is the most annoying graffiti I’ve come across in a pub toilet, I think, and it will probably come as no surprise to you that it was located in stoke newington…
Normally, during the week, the only breakfast I manage is an alpen cereal bar, usually walking through the park on the way to work. this morning however I’m working from home, so I should be able to have a proper breakfast, or so i thought.
I woke up ‘late’ so had an alpen bar at my desk, then I kept on eating, in my usual working at home style (If I ever did work at home regularly I’d have to get Chris to put padlocks on the kitchen cuboards). In the past hour and a half I’ve had a peach (which gave me very unpleasant stubble burn, I’m sure I’ve still got peach hairs stuck in my chin) and polished off the leftovers of last nights ho fun noodles with char sui (which were much tastier cold this morning than they were last night)
It’s 12.05 now, so it’s lunch time! I was going to have the leftovers for lunch, so I’ll have to think of something else. There’s tongue on the fridge, and an onion and poppyseed bagel, but the bagel will be nicer toasted, so maybe I’ll use the bread we got. I could have the bagel tomorrow for lunch, instead, but by then it’ll be on the stale side and I won’t have time to toast it for breakfast, it would be a shame to waste it as they’re so tasty so I’d best have it today.
i’m sure that I’ll be working so hard this afternoon that I’ll have to have a break and a snack. There’s lots of fruit in the fruit bowl, so I’ll have an apple, but the plums aren’t ripe yet. Have you noticed how unsatisfactory apples are for filling you up? I suppose I’ll just have to go to the fridge and see if there’s anything else that needs eating up before it spoils. mmm, some strawberry and wholegrain yogurt you say? Just the thing to sit and watch tv with for a little break. And if I do really well and get lots of work done, then I can reward myself with another break. Goodness, there’s lots of cheese in the fridge that seems to be getting on a bit, can’t let that go to waste.
So what’s for tea, seeing as my husband will be back after a hard day at the office? Well, there’s three bags of salad in the fridge that need eating up……
THE ADVENT CALENDAR OF ALCOHOL – 14th December (13%-14%): Green Ginger Wine
It’s a wine, made from green ginger and dried grapes (i.e.raisins), and left for 9 months, which sounds pretty disgusting. I’ve never actually tasted it on it’s own, but when you mix it with any blended whisky, no matter how gaggingly awful, you get the most amazing elixir that man ever created. Or at least you think so, after you’ve had a handful of them!
Green ginger will always hold a place in my heart because of its wonderful healing properties. Many’s the cold it’s battled into submission, if only for the night, enabling me to get a good nights rest, but the ultimate in pain relief came when I received a footballing injury up on Primrose Hill. It was 6.30 on a saturday evening, and the last thing I wanted to do was go to an A&E anywhere near Camden, so I hobbled down to the pub, got a hankerchief full of ice from the bar for the swollen ankle, and proceeded to guzzle down countless whisky macs, thus numbing the pain from my injury. It probably numbed it a bit too much, as I didn’t think it was too bad an injury until the wednesday when I still couldn’t walk properly, and didn’t get confirmation that I’d broken it until the friday. Oh well.
To me it’s very much a winter drink, and just thinking about it makes my tastebuds tingle, but apparently Stones are trying to convince everyone to drink it in the summer too, as a long drink with lemonade, or in fruit punch. Apparently it’s very handy in the kitchen too. A quick trawl on google produces lots of recipes once you get beyond the first couple of pages.
All in all it’s a forgotten classic, I need to make sure it quickly joins the bottles in the drinks cabinet at home, and I can’t wait to get to the pub tomorrow night, and savour one.