20 November 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating

JULIA CHILD  1912 - 2004
SIMONE BECK  1904 - 1991

"She dreamed of becoming a spy when the Second World War broke out, but instead Julia Child went on to publish what was in 1961 regarded as the definitive work on French cuisine for English speakers:  Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  The first of three volumes, it was ten years in the making, written and researched with the help of Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.  Soon afterwards, the American public began a long television love affair with Julia Child, a 6' 2" domestic goddess with a wobbly voice.  This self-confessed 'natural ham' demystified French cuisine for millions of Americans rather in the way that Fanny Cradock brought haute cuisine to the British during the same period.  In an effort to allay public fear of the fat used in French cooking, she noted:  'You don't see all those big fat people over there that you see lumbering around here at Disneyland'.  She herself never became overweight, and ended every show with the words, 'Bon Appetit!'"

The memory of a good French pâté can haunt you for years.  Fortunately they are easy to make, and you can even develop your own special pâté maison.  Do not expect a top-notch mixture to be inexpensive, however, for it will contain ground pork, pork fat, and usually veal, as well as cognac,  port, or Madeira, spices, strips or cubes of other meats, game, or live, and often truffles.  If the mixture is cooked and served cold in its baking dish it is called either a terrine or a pâté.  If it is molded in a pastry crust, it is a pâté en croûte.  A boned chicken, turkey, or duck filled with the same type of mixture in a galantine.  Pâtés and terrines will keep for about 10 days under refrigeration; they are fine to have on hand for cold impromptu meals, since all you need to serve with them are a salad and French bread.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Julia Child, Simone Beck, Curnonsky, Louisette Bertholle 
February 1953
(photo credit - Paul Child)

17 November 2015

A Folio Find 'The Lady in the Van'

Folio editions are lovely books so I was over the moon to find The Lady in the Van and Three Stories in a second-hand shop last month.
'June 1977.  On this the day of the Jubilee, Miss S. has stuck a paper Union Jack in the cracked back window of the van.  It is the only one in the Crescent.  Yesterday she was wearing a headscarf and pinned across the front of it a blue Spontex sponge fastened at each side with a large safety pin, the sponge meant to form some kind of peak against the (very watery) sun.  It looked like a favour worn by a medieval knight, or a fillet to ward off evil spirits.  Still, it was better than last week's effort, an Afrika Korps cap from Lawrence Corner:  Miss Shepherd - Desert Fox.'

It seems an odd thing to say that I was entertained by the story of an elderly woman living in such dire circumstance but Miss Shepherd's feisty nature under Alan Bennett's benevolent watch made it seem very okay.

13 November 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating

1837 - 1907

'Mrs. Halliday had cut the ham.  The slices were placed in boiling water, and boiled until they were thoroughly cooked.  Then they were put in a frying-pan and browned nicely.  After that, Marion fried some eggs to 'look like pictures.'  She didn't 'turn' them, but carefully dripped gravy over them, until they were done.  These eggs she laid upon the slices of ham, the golden centres shining through the pearly setting, and the ham was so pink where it was not brown, and so brown where it was not pink - truly, Marion's platter was like a bit of painting, and the pretty cook of fourteen was as proud of it as she could be.'

The Cooking Club of Tu-Whit Hollow

The Invalid's Breakfast by Emily Aldridge Crawford

9 November 2015

J. M. W. Turner and Turning Pages...Very Carefully

First premiered at the Tate Britain in 2014, this exhibit of J. M. W. Turner's work, completed during the last fifteen years of his life, has arrived at the AGO.  The art gallery was also hosting The Toronto Antiquarian Book Fair this past weekend.  With the wonderful worlds of art and books colliding in one stellar location there was only one thing for it....go!

I'll confess straight away that I knew next to zero about Turner before watching the brilliant film Mr Turner in 2014.  Twentieth-century art warms my heart and Hogarth's vignettes fascinate; Turner: Painting Set Free was a chance to see some of the art depicted in the film, just an arm's length away.  The muted tones and swirling, atmospheric seas and sky are stunning but so repetitive in style that thankfully the collection was broken up a few times by works of other artists as palette (pardon the pun) cleansers.  My favourite piece from the exhibit is The Angel Standing in the Sun (exhibited 1846).  

Reaching the end of the Turner exhibit we took the elevator up to the third floor to the book fair.  With books ranging from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands, I wasn't planning to carry a bagful home - this was strictly to entertain a case of awe.

I've quoted from Hannah Glasse's book for my Friday's Literary Feast post several times...this complete work, a first edition, is on sale for an eye-watering $50,000.

There is quite a glare from the lights but I took a quick photo of this book, published in 1935, for the charming cover art by Vanessa Bell.

A delightful exhibit compiled by the proprietor of Monkey's Paw, a bookshop in Toronto, displays bits of paper in various forms found in second-hand books.

My husband and I enjoyed the memory of Wintario Lottery tickets, handwritten cash receipts, and old-fashioned memo slips. 

Candy wrappers work every bit as well.  Much more pleasing than the very occasional square of toilet roll we find in books returned at the circulation desk at the library....ugh.

There were also several punch cards that mysteriously made computers configure information back when the machines were the size of a medium-sized vault.  Vintage illustrations quickly drew my eye away.

A gentleman from Peter Harrington Books in London occupied a booth and kindly gave me a catalogue full of treasures. Flipping through the pages I wondered about the most expensive book on my shelf - probably a first edition of E, M, Delafield's Love Has No Resurrection that I found for three dollars at an antique sale, and worth much more.  Then I wondered where my books would end up once I'm long gone.  Putting things away once we were back at home I pulled our ticket stubs for the Turner exhibit out of my purse.  I handed one to my husband and we went our separate ways to find a book, any book, on one of the shelves...and we tucked the stubs inside.