Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Font Overfloweth

Last week I went to see the movie, "Avatar". On the whole it's a pretty good film (read: an overdone plot done very very well), however I was continuously thinking about my website for almost the entire film. Why? Because of the subtitles. Cameron used the same freakin' font - Papyrus for the movie's subtitles as I've been using on my website for years.

Way back when I started the site, I chose Papyrus because it was attractive, vaguely medievalish, and was relatively unknown - especially compared to all the "Ye Olde English" fonts. More and more over the past few years I've been seeing it everywhere. It's on menus and signs and t-shirts and even packaging for socks. Some in the graphic design business now feel that Papyrus is overused.

This gives me just that much more encouragement to replace it on my site. Now of course the question is, what do I use in its place? I'd prefer something with a little historic accuracy, but it also has to be readable (I found a really nice reproduction of a 14th century script, but it's hard for even me to read and I'm a language geek).
I did some searching on various font sites and here are the candidates I found.

One option is to choose a font similar to medieval blackletter calligraphy.


Manuskript Gotisch

1454 Gutenberg Bibel

1456 Gutenberg

1492 Quadrata Lim

Then there are some fonts that are more script-like.

Cantzley AD1600


Gotische Minuskel

Gotyk Poszarpany

Magna Carta

For the moment I'm leaning towards 1456 Gutenberg or Magna Carta. I'll have to do a couple test pages to see how they look.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's in My Google Books Library

There's some really neat stuff available through Google Books, and I realized that over the past few months I've used their "Library" feature to build up a nice reference list.

The art of bookbinding - Joseph William Zaehnsdorf
Fac-similes illustrating the labours of William Caxton at Westminster - Francis Compton Price

Medii ævi kalendarium - Robert Thomas Hampson

Le vrai cuisinier françois - François Pierre de La Varenne
The forme of cury - Samuel Pegge
Old cookery books and ancient cuisine - William Carew Hazlitt
De opsoniis et condimentis - Apicius, Johann Michael Bernhold
De honesta uoluptate - Platina
The art of cookery, made plain and easy - Hannah Glasse
A new system of domestic cookery - Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell

Domestic Life
Domestic life in England
Early English meals and manners - Frederick James Furnivall
The household of a Tudor nobleman - Paul Van Brunt Jones
Dialogues in French and English - William Caxton

The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer - Geoffrey Chaucer, Walter William Skeat
Le morte Darthur - Sir Thomas Malory, Sir Edward Strachey, William Caxton
The fables of Aesop - Aesop, William Caxton, Joseph Jacobs
Book of Sir Balin - Sir Thomas Malory, William Caxton

Caxton's Game and playe of the chesse, 1474 - Jacobus (de Cessolis), William Caxton

Kalendarium hortense (1683) - John Evelyn
Kalendarium hortense (1699) - John Evelyn

Health Manuals
Regimen sanitatis Salernitanum - Sir John Harington
Regimen sanitatis - Robertus Gropretius
Regimen sanitatis Salerni - Jean Petit

On early English pronunciation - Alexander John Ellis
Dialogues in French and English - William Caxton

Le Bastiment de Receptes
A collection of above three hundred receipts - Mary Kettilby
Ars magirica - Jodocus Willich, Jachian Bifrun

The fifteen O's, and other prayers - Stephen Ayling
The lay folks' catechism - John Thoresby
The lay folks' Mass book - Thomas Frederick Simmons
The Primer; or, Lay folks' prayer book, v1 - Edmund Bishop
The Primer; or, Lay folks' prayer book, v2 - Edmund Bishop
The golden legend: or, Lives of the saints - Jacobus (de Voragine), William Caxton
The New Testament (1852) - James Murdock
The clergyman's vade-mecum - John Johnson

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Medieval Hot Dog Stand?

I'm browsing through the collection of "Culinary Prints" at Academia Barilla when I come aross this image.

La grigliata - The Grill
17th century German etching
Livio e Wilma Cerini di Castegnate Collection

On the website it's described as "A rare representation of a women selling grilled vegetables outdoors." A nice, simple picture. No surprises in terms of cooking utensils or methods. No big deal. I'm about to go on to the next image when I take a closer look at what's in the customer's hands. For all the world, it looks like a sausage in a bun. Maybe it's just being served with a piece of bread? No, it definitely looks like the bread is cut down the middle, with the sausage between the halves.

Now the common belief is that sausage sellers first started putting sausages into split rolls sometime in the late 19th century, so I doubt my own eyes and post a link on a cooking mailing list. The quick consensus is that it does indeed look like a sausage in a bun. Then someone suggests that the caption on the etching might shed some light on things. My German is only good enough to know that it says something about "good fried sausages", but a better translation is provided moments later.

Here, a decent sausage is roasted for not much money, with which hunger can be appeased but not thirst.
This (thirst) can be appeased later as much as someone wants in a place where wine and beer is sold.
[translation courtesy of Emilio Szabo, via the SCA-Cooks mailing list]

So the notes are incorrect - the woman is selling sausages, not vegetables, and she is serving them in a bun. No sign of ketchup or mustard though.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Medieval Calendar

One of the things that I've always tended to get all geeky about is calendars. For some reason the various methods used around the world and throughout history to measure the passage of time are like chocolate cupcakes to me. I'm pulled to them irresistibly and can't help but to eat four or five ... ok, maybe the simile breaks down there. Anyways, I think calendars are cool, and since I'm also into medieval European history, and into food, it's no surprise that I'm very interested in the type of calendar used throughout Europe in the middle ages.

There's a lot of stuff out on the net about medieval calendars and the like, including some beautiful images, but what I really wanted was a typical example that had links to information about the saints it listed. Nope, I couldn't find one. This of course meant that I had to make one for myself.

So it is with great pleasure that I present Halidai's Kalendarium - a medieval-style calendar that lists the feast days for the saints, as well as the information about those saints taken from the Golden Legend. There really isn't anything groundbreaking here - it's all stuff that's already freely available online. I've just put it together in a way that I thought would be useful to me. Hopefully others will find it useful as well.

Oh, and tomorrow is the feast day of Saint Hilary.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A busy time without much to show for it...

The last couple of months went by in a blur, but apparently very little of what I did was related to medieval food.

The holiday insanity of course started with Thanksgiving. This year we spent it at my parents' house, which limited my cooking a bit. Still, the food was good. I've posted before on what I cook for Thanksgiving - the short version is that I focus on all new-world foods, and not medieval at all (a fun sort of cognitive reversal for me).

I did do a little bit of medieval cooking in December though. For our regular solstice dinner I used the Sauce Madame recipe from Forme of Cury to go with a roast turkey (the last time I cooked a goose - which was good, but not good enough to merit the extra cost). I think I'll have to look into other types of stuffing for next year, just for the sake of something different.

I also made a batch of Cameline Sauce for Christmas Eve dinner with the in-laws. It went really well with the beef tenderloin and duxelles (just learned about duxelles this year - Oh my! - why didn't anyone tell me about them before? Wikipedia says they go back to La Varenne, but I'll have to look and see if there's anything similar in the medieval sources).

There are some neat things in the works for 2010. I hope to teach a couple of cooking classes, which will be a bit of a new thing for me. I've also got one transcription project and a couple of other bits for the web site that I hope to have done soon. I'll be trying out the odd recipe here and there - Kristen told me yesterday that she got some more deer kidneys. Then there's helping others nearby to cook medieval feasts, and in my copious free time I'll finish writing a novel.

I get the feeling that 2010 might be a blur too.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Kalendarium Hortense - January

The Kalendarium Hortense was published by John Evelyn in 1683. It contains instructions for what a gardener should do throughout the year. The excerpt below is the section titled "Fruits in Prime, or yet lasting" for the month of January.

Kentish Pepin, Russet Pepin, golden Pepin, French Pepin, Kirton Pepin, Holland Pepin, John-Apple, winter Queening, Maragold, Harvey Apple, Plome-water, Pomeroy, Golden-Doucet, Reineting, Lones-Pear-main, Winter-Pearmain, &c.

Winter-Musk (bakes well) Winter-Norwich (excellently baked) Winter-Bergamot, Winter-Bon-crestien, both Mural: the great Surrein, &c.