“In a good bookroom you feel in some mysterious way that you are absorbing the wisdom contained in all the books through your skin, without even opening them.” ― Mark Twain
The Malatestiana Library, known as the Biblioteca Malatestiana in Italian, was the first European civic library open to the public, and still open today. This means it belonged to the Commune, and not the Church. Built in 1447, it is the oldest library in Europe.
Malatestiana Library is what is known as a humanistic-conventual library. This means that they have preserved its structure, furnishings, and codices (manuscripts of hand-written books) since its opening in the mid-15th century, all of this despite wars and natural disasters. This became a model and inspiration for monastic libraries.
The reading room itself, known as the Aula del Nuti, after its architect Matteo Nuti. Hedesigned the rectangular plan with three naves surmounted by barrel and groin vaults is still accessed through the original wooden doors, which need two separate keys to open. Wandering Italy blog, explains, “Originally, one key belonged to the abbot, the other by a representative of the city; the sacred and the profane.”
According to Italian Ways, “with its 17,000 autographs and letters, and 250,000 volumes – including 287 incunables, about 4,000 books from the 1500s (‘cinquecentine’), 1,753 manuscripts from the 16th and 19th century, and even the smallest book in the world that can be read without a magnifying glass: a letter by Galileo Galilei to Christina of Lorreine, printed in 1897 and bound in just 15 x 9 mm.”
In 2005, it was recognized as the first UNESCO Memory of the World site in Italy. It is a “rare example of a complete and wonderful collection from the 15th century, just before printing became popular in Europe.”
If you want to see what books and manuscripts are in the Biblioteca Malatestiana, and can’t travel to Italy (on my bucket list!) check out the Open Catalogue of the Malatestiana Project, which has lots of manuscript images under the “Collection” link.
A friend posted about a novel quiz he took and realized that he didn’t know any of the Black Authors. He asked for suggestions as to what he should read. This got me thinking, and I thought I would share my reply. Bear in mind, this is MY OPINION. Let me know in the comments below of any that you recommend.
Richard Wright’s Black Boy and Native Son.
Black Boy (1945)
Native Son (1940)
Frederick Douglass’ memoir, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain and Notes of a Native Son (set during the civil rights movement)
Octavia Butler’s Kindred
W.E.B Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folks
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Alex Haley’s Roots, The Saga of an American Family and TheAutobiography of Malcolm X
Langston Hughes’ Not without laughter
Did you know? The play A Raisin in the Sunby playwright Lorraine Hansberry was named for a line from a Langston Hughes poem.
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting both Lisa and Tricia that day at the book launch. They are warm, funny, wicked smart, and talented.I would hang out with them anywhere, anytime. [They need to come West more often, however.]
Lisa Graves (left) and Tricia Cohen (right)
Revive your inner period cook and master the art of gode cookery with thirty-five recipes celebrating festivals throughout the year!
Fancy a leap back in time to the kitchens in the Middle Ages? Return to when cauldrons bubbled over hearths, whole oxen were roasted over spits. Common cooking ingredients included verjuice, barley, peafowl, frumenty, and elder flowers. You, too, can learn the art of gode cookery—or, at least, come close to it.
With gorgeous and whimsical hand-drawn illustrations from beginning to end, A Thyme and Place is both a cookbook and a history for foodies and history buffs alike. Cohen and Graves revive old original medieval recipes and reimagine and modify them to suit modern palates and tastes. Each recipe is tied directly to a specific calendar holiday and feast so you can learn to cook:
• Summer harvest wine with elder flower, apples, and pears for St. John’s Day (June 21st)
• Right-as-rain apple cake for St. Swithin’s Day (July 15th)
• Wee Matilda’s big pig fried pork balls with sage for Pig Face Day (September 14th)
• Roasted goose with fig glaze and bannock stuffing for Michaelmas (September 29th)
• Peasant duck ravioli and last of the harvest chutney for Martinmas (November 11th)
FRIED PORK BALLS WITH SAGE CREME
This dish was adapted from an original, circa 1390, recipe:
Sawge yfarcet. Take pork and seeþ it wel, and grinde it smal, and medle it wiþ ayren & brede ygrated. Do þerto powdour fort and safroun wiþ pynes & salt. Take & close litull balles in foiles of sawge; wete it with a batour of ayren & fry it, & serue it forth.
– Recipes from “Forme of Cury”
For the meatballs:
2 cups uncooked ground pork
1 large egg, beaten
7 tablespoons panko
1⁄2 teaspoon allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon ginger
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground saffron
1 1⁄4 teaspoons salt
4 fresh sage leaves, finely cut; plus a dozen sage leaves, whole
For the tempura batter:
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1⁄2 cup seltzer water
Salt, to taste
Lard (can substitute canola oil)
12 whole sage leaves
For the sage creme:
2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3⁄4 cup mead
3⁄4 cup heavy whipping cream
For the meatballs: Mix meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mold the mixture to form meatballs. Parboil meatballs for 10 minutes. Place meatballs on paper towel to cool.
For the tempura batter: While meatballs are boiling, create the tempura batter by mixing together the flour, cornstarch, seltzer and salt to taste. Mix until smooth. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Melt a hunk of lard in a heavy pan. After the lard has heated over medium to medium-high heat, take two forks and toss the cooled meatballs into the tempura batter.
Turn the meatballs gently in the lard until the tempura is golden. It does not have to look perfect … as long as it tastes good. When the meatballs are finished, toss the whole sage leaves in the tempura batter and give them a quick fry in the hot lard.
For the sage creme: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy pan. Toss in the minced shallots and minced sage. After the shallots are soft, pour in the mead and stir. Pour in the whipping cream and stir. Boil down by half until thick, on medium-high heat.
Garnish the meatballs with the creme and a piece of crispy sage.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
Zest (1 tablespoon) and juice of one lemon ( 1⁄4 cup)
Heat the olive oil in saute pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and rosemary to hot pan, cook until fragrant, then add the lemon zest (it smells sooo good).
Stir and add the chickpeas to mixture. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice, spinach, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Cook until the liquid is gone.
Remove from heat, add to a serving plate and finish with the cheddar and parsley.
1 1⁄2 pounds thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large sweet onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 mission figs, chopped (optional)
1⁄2 cup dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
1⁄2 cup apple-cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Drambuie or bourbon
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the bacon. Cover and cook for approximately 25 minutes. Check on the bacon with some frequency, giving in a stir each time.
After the bacon begins to crisp, remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Turn the heat off when the bacon is fully crisp. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Let the fat in the Dutch oven cool for a few minutes and then — hear us — save the stuff in a container for future cooking.
Leave all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the Dutch oven. Turn the heat back to medium. Add onions and garlic, scrapping up any delicious bacon bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook until soft. After they are soft, add the figs.
Drop the heat to medium low and add the brown sugar, cider vinegar, honey, ginger, pepper and Drambuie. Cook for 10 minutes, just enough time for the mixture to start to get jammy.
Adjust the heat to medium for 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Lower heat to medium low and add the bacon. Cook for 20 minutes, covered. Stir occasionally. Remove lid and cook for 5 more minutes. Add salt.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add mixture to food processor and chop to desired texture.
Tricia Cohen grew up in a house with two kitchens, surrounded by family, food, and love. In her adult life, she continues to share her love for food with the community as a hostess, gourmet home cook, and sous chef.
Lisa Graves is the author and illustrator of the series Women in History, as well as the illustrator of The Tudor Tutor. She is the creator of Historywitch.com, a site dedicated to illustrations of history’s most fascinating characters.
Apparently, there was a Pokémon— Rattata — on my hand in Starbucks, and I had no idea. For those who are wondering what the heck is going on, Jason is playing Pokémon GO: An augmented reality-based game from Niantic Labs, who created the very popular mobile game Ingress, in which real world locations are used to find and […]
I’m going to be traveling this week, so the usual Monday Musings and Word Wednesday posts may be delayed. (I know for a fact the Monday Musings posts will be). Maybe you will get Tuesday Travel instead!
When speaking aloud, you punctuate constantly — with body language. Your listener hears commas, dashes, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks as you shout, whisper, pause, wave your arms, roll your eyes, wrinkle your brow. In writing, punctuation plays the role of body language. It helps readers hear the way you want to be heard. […]
I decided today would be a good day to do a “Literary Recap: In the News”. There were so many good articles this week on various literary things, that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to let you see my top four.
“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”
Neuromancer(1984) was one of the best books I ever heard on audiotape (back in the day before Audible). When my husband and I were driving across country, we sat in the parking lot of the hotel for an hour and a half because we were so into Neuromancer and didn’t want to wait until the next day to hear the rest.
LitHub has launched BookMarks, a site developed as the book world’s answer to Rotten Tomatoes. Once a book has been reviewed three times by an “important outlet of literary journalism,” those reviews are aggregated, fed through a rubric, and a grade given. It could be a really handy tool for those who like to know what the book world is thinking about a book without taking the time to read through all of the (often problematic) reviews.
Note: Newspaper Cuts image courtesy of Emily Huff at ATextures