Thursday, 30 July 2020

omiyage—voyage, voyage

This Japanese word for souvenir (お土産) are representative meibutsu (名物, literally famous things) applied to regional specialties and are often exchanged among work colleagues and family member upon the return of one who was away not just as a keepsake but as a way to apologize for one’s absence and a consolation for those whom did not get to make the trip this time. Via Present /&/ Correct we are directed towards this rather brilliant and wonderfully granular map of the country from Haconiwa design studios. One can click on any section of the grid to summon up a sample of local delicacies and virtually vacation. Much more to explore at the links above.

Friday, 17 July 2020

a man, a plan, a can

Appropriately called out for its stereotypes and gendered biases that do not advance equity in the kitchen—though I do admit that it is often the most help and the least harm I can do is in setting the table and clearing up—we were struck with the illustrations of this vintage Working Couple’s Cookbook—via Weird Universe but curated then culled by our astute librarians (previously), which are strongly suggestive of adversarial graphic generation.
A Nitty Gritty production, written by Peggy Treadwell with artwork by Carl Torlucci—I can see that he specialised in this signature style but can’t find anything outside of this one collaboration unfortunately, with complimenting an author’s words seeming like an especially democratising task that is relatively accepted and well established as gender-neutral.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

in der römerischer weinstraße

Our penultimate overnight stop brought us to the Central Moselle (Mittelmosel) community of Trittenheim—this like most other steep vineyards advertising their local vintners and varietals in big white letters like the Hollywood sign, championed by a village Wine Queen (Weinkönigin) selected by a jury of past title holders and restauranteurs.
In 1999, however no suitable candidate could be found and the judges instead elected the first (and quite possibly sole exception but we’d like to think that such pageants are a bit more enlightened—a few years ago the Moselle named their first royal industry representative who was a Syrian refugee) Wine King in master mechanic, philanthropist, entertainer and developmental chieftain (Ngoryifia) Céphas Kosi Bansah of the Ewe people of the Hohoe region of Ghana.
Having come to Germany as part of a student exchange programme, Bansah stayed on and was invested with this honourific political office, realising that he was able to govern remotely and could achieve more education and outreach for his people in Germany, improving infrastructure and schools dramatically through his celebrityand his talent for networking. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

erbario farmaceutico

Building on a history of reference, anecdote and experimentation already established for millennia at the time of publication of this fifteenth century volume from the Veneto, we appreciated the prompt to learning more behind this category of guidebook known as the herbal (Herbarius, Erbario).
Pairing images that aid in identification with others that represented supposed pharmacological merit—as well as toxic, tonic, culinary and magical properties, extensive accompanying texts and captions inform modern ideas (but certainly do not supplant them—a feature of such collections is that they advance and improve tempered by science and scholarship but are always good to peruse for perspective and perhaps insight) of taxonomy, chemistry and medicine. Much more from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

149 us 304 or clearing the docket

Via our faithful chronicler we learn that this day along with many other events of pith and moment marks the 1893 anniversary of the US Supreme Court decision in the case of Nix v. Hedden that ruled that the tomato be classified as a vegetable and not a fruit for the purposes of customs and tariffs. Whilst seemingly frivolous—and harmless and even comparatively wholesome—and not a matter for the high court, it is a nuanced case with repercussions in terms of future US trade policy decisions (see also) and of course the US resolution six years later to annex Hawaiʻi at the urging of a pineapple magnate (previously here and here).
In the 1840s, a Mister John Nix founded a fruit shipping company in New York City that was the first operation to bring in produce from Bermuda and after four decades of nearly frictionless business, the administration of Chester Arthur imposed heavy protectionist barriers on the importation of food, with fruit but not vegetables being exempt. Lobbyists and tomato dealers persuaded regulators that the botanical definition should prevail with domestic growers crying foul and filed suit against Nix’ business and others,  championed by Port of New York customs assessor Edward L. Hedden, progressing through the justice system and calling on dictionaries as expert witnesses. The technical definition having no bearing on commerce or trade (tomatoes are ‘fruit of the vine’ because they bear seeds), once it made it to the Supreme Court, vacating the rulings of lower courts, ruled unanimously that custom, cuisine and popular meaning. The legal outcome also ruled that beans—though botanically a seed—were to be treated as vegetables, though less fraught and no known knock-on effects. Also uncontroversially, in the European Union regulatory regime a carrot is classified as a fruit but only when used in jams and preserves. Going against precedent, the US Food and Drug Administration under Reagan infamously deemed ketchup to be a vegetable for nutrition purposes for school lunch programmes.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

corn dollies

At the crafty crossroads where creativity meets cult, Messy Nessy Chic presents a thoroughgoing history and how-to on cereal and straw art—referencing the ancient customs of the harvest (which continue into modern times) that saved the first (see also) and last sheaves of grain to fashion them into corn maidens or matrons that would winter with the family, exchanged as gifts during Yule to be ploughed into the furrows of the next season’s planting to ensure the continuity of abundance. Straw is worked, plaited, woven, spun according to centuries old tradition into some rather fantastic monuments, costumes and handicrafts—certainly worth admiring and wondering about their meaning and power, if not trying to create charms of our own.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020


meringue: recipes for transparent pies

it happened on the way to cordtland street: how filmmakers distort New York City in the imagination—see also—via Messy Nessy Chic

the great court: the British Museum (previously) makes millions of images of art and artefacts in its collection freely available under a creative-commons license

got your back: more artistic backgrounds for one’s video calls and virtual meetings—via Waxy

slum lord: Woody Guthrie sings a lament about his landlord, Fred Trump—via Everlasting Blört

bleachman: a mascot from the 1980s who encouraged San Franciscan to shoot-up responsibly, absent federal aid and coordinated intervention

à la omurice: fried rice from ramen noodles sound like a scrumptiously easy and malleable survival food—more recipe ideas here

moment of zen

Via the always excellent Nag on the Lake, we are directed to designer Manami Sasaki who has transformed her breakfast toast into creative canvases and are seconding the nomination for favourite subject: we are really enjoying this depiction of a traditional Japanese Rock Garden (枯山水—literally a dry landscape and meant as a heuristic tool to help the gardener contemplate the meaning of existence by representing the essence of Nature and not its physical manifestation), with cream cheese spread carefully raked with nuts and condiments artfully arranged as stones and other elements. We also admired the care and repair dedicated to another slice of torn bread.

Friday, 10 April 2020


egg²: check out Box Vox’ egg-themed week starting with this recipe for apéroeuf including innovations in cartoning and carting

public display: open up and curator your own virtual gallery space in this social simulation game

all hail our morlock overlords: after forcing the in-person ballot in Wisconsin, GOP death cult refuses to ban large gatherings for Easter holiday

contact tracing: a nice primer on how the method can combat the spread of contagious diseases without compromising individual privacy

animal crossing: a quarantined couple in London creates an art museum for their pet gerbils’ edification

armisonous: obsolete. rare. that which produces or is accompanied by the sounds of arms or armour, like clanging pots and pans

after all, you’re my wonder wall: a selection of collaborative music videos shot in isolation

victory garden: some ideas for plant anywhere seed beds and substrates

Saturday, 4 April 2020


orgonon torpedoes: Wilhelm Reich (previously) used a battery of surface-to-air cannons beginning in April 1952 to defend the Earth from alien invasion

tuppence a bag: animal charity groups fearful that urban pigeons face starvation over lack of human traffic and are starting relief campaigns

part gum commercial level romance mixed with creepy horror elements with an insane musical score: a thoroughgoing review of the 1972 film Love Me Deadly starring Mary Wilcox and Lyle Waggoner

stay the f*ck home: a truly frightening heat map showing where Americans have been flouting lockdown (some other possible explanations here) and going about business as usual—via TYWKIWDBI

the master would not approve: Manos—The Hands of Felt, a puppet-version of the MST3K classic—via the Art of Darkness (lots of other goodies to see here as well)

may thou withstand the loathsome that yond the land fareth: the nine herb charms to cure infection

hyperlocal micromarkets: design interventions and new business models more conducive to social distancing and better for the environment

Friday, 27 March 2020

⚡biscuit or shredded tweet

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we get an example of the sort of tenacious curiosity that gets to the bottom of branding—even when the manufacturer itself was uncertain—and seemed a bit cagey in fact. Tri is definitely not three, not three wholesome ingredients or thrice-baked. Invented and granted a patent in 1902 before going into production the following year by the Shredded Wheat Company of Niagara Falls—the factory powered by the mighty waterfalls’ hydroelectric generation, the snack cracker boasted that it was the only one of its kind baked by this new-fangled electricity.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020


inside out & upside-down: hundreds of posters from CalArts students ranging back to 1980

r360: how the coupe and microcar informed Mazda’s design

area rug: custom parametric carpets informed by their settings that really bring the room together

the floor is lava: advice for keeping the cat off the kitchen counters plus an assortment of more humourous tweets

noodles and pandas: innovative ways to discuss the pandemic without attracting the attention of the authorities

happy mutants: Cory Doctorow’s daily curated links—via Waxy

white russians: contemporary fermented dairy drinks

Saturday, 22 February 2020


The always interesting Strange Company directs our attention to contemporary survey of the restaurants and public houses of Westminster that are still outfitted with the now sadly disappearing division bells (see previously) meant to recall members to Parliament to cast his or her vote.  These mechanical alarms, largely replaced by other forms of signals, are relics—usually maintained as marks of honour—from the rebuilding of the palace in 1834 after its devastating conflagration (see more), when kitchens and other provisioning sufficient for the entire chambers were not part of the rebuilding, and representatives were allowed to wander out during legislative sessions. Learn more at Spitalfield’s Life at the link above and even arrange getting a map of the establishments left with such a feature of democracy-in-action to recreate this gastronomic tour oneself.

Thursday, 13 February 2020


royal gift: George Washington’s convoluted scheme to set the new Republic (see also) on course through mule breeding, via Miss Cellania

fiddle-free: a functional mobile phone with a rotary dial to cut down on distractions

we’ll fire his identical twin, too: Tom the Dancing Bug takes on Trump’s impeachment acquittal

no man is an island: an exploration into the most isolated individuals through history

bird’s eye view: travel around the globe through some of the superlative telemetry captured by Google Earth, via Maps Mania 

 🈁: the lost and found bureau (see previously) of Japan, via The Morning News

pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun: minimalistic advertising

double helix: a look at the remarkable Bramante Staircase (previously) of the Vatican museum

 💌: a look into how the heart symbol (see also) came to represent love

Friday, 7 February 2020


multiplicands: an interesting demonstration of an ancient method of numerical decomposition that intuits algorithms base-two number systems

still life with daishi: the exquisite three decades of detailed food diaries of a soba chef

bee space: a look at how apiculture informs architecture

enhance: artificial intelligence applied to an 1896 film upscales the Lumière Brothers’ l’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Cioatat significantly

mergers and acquisitions: a clip of two Chinese young men lip-syncing the Back Street Boys’ I Want It That Way in 2006 convinced Google it the YouTube platform could be a promising investment

from sack to shift: Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic Mondrian-inspired dress (previously), including one for Lady Penelope

Saturday, 18 January 2020


economies of ale: after a decade of steep declines, UK pub numbers are seeing a slight uptick charted

parkverbotszone: plans for the future IKEA am Westbahnhof in Vienna is being designed for a post-auto world

women hold up half the sky: Liang Jun, the tractor driving figure, iconically featured on the one yuan bill, has passed away, aged ninety

best in show: winners and honourable-mentions of the Ocean Art Photography competition

the id, the super-ego, and the psyche: the strange, singular encounter between Salvador Dalí and Sigmund Freud

triangle man, triangle man: celebrating thirty years of They Might Be Giants’ (a reference to Don Quixote’s tilting at windmills) seminal album Flood

there and back again: a remembrance of Christopher Tolkien (*1925 – †2020), executor of his father’s literary estate and map-maker of Middle Earth

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

l’habitat et à l’infrastructure

Via the always engrossing Maps Mania, we are invited to contemplate land use by the Swiss and take notice how for instance, geography and terrain considered, the dominant percentage for Switzerland is found in managed and untamed forests.

In contrast this survey of the American landscape reveals that the majority of its built environment is given over to livestock with the majority of arable land dedicated to growing feed for said cattle and pigs. One wonders how land use might shift in the future and how we might take a more hands-off approach to our empty spaces.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

braeburn and bismark

Our heirloom tree having taken this season off, we really enjoyed perusing this gallery of uncommon, and in many cases threatened, apple cultivars (a selection of the seven and a half thousand varieties out there) from around the world, beautiful captured by William Mullan and curated by the intrepid explorers at Gastro Obscura. We especially enjoyed learning about the Api Etoile (la pomme d’api) raised in orchards in France and Switzerland, so named for its star-shaped form.  More to explore at the links above.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

table d’hôte

Via the always brilliant Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to a fine dining experience in a restaurant in the cellars beneath Stockholm’s City Hall (previously, quite literally Stadshuskälleren) where one can sample from the multicourse banquets served during Nobel awards ceremonies from years past or by laureate of one’s choosing.
Just below the actual VIP dining area, the Blue Hall that can accommodate thirteen hundred invited guests, and helping cater the event, their kitchens have been recreating the historic menus (here are some examples) for guests for the past fifteen years and put some serious research into the preparation and present, locally-sourced and sustainably plated (on actual Nobel porcelain), to make it as authentic and reflective of the fare presented as possible.

Monday, 9 December 2019

gumdrops and gatehouses

Carrying on a holiday tradition of crafting and featuring Modernist and Brutalist confectionary miniatures, Present /&/ Correct juries a new selection of gingerbread architectural models. It’s fun to try to identify the individual candy-types that make up the different architectural elements and appreciate the designers’ resourcefulness. According to lore, ginger was to be among the gifts of the magi but this particular wise man had to convalesce in Syria (see also) and did not make it to Bethlehem with the others but propelled his gesture onward with the baking custom.