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Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

A Dream of Toasted Cheese

June 25, 2014 | by

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An early drawing by Beatrix Potter. Image via Retronaut.

Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe was a prominent nineteenth-century chemist—a pioneer in photography and the first to obtain the element vanadium in its pure form. He was also, incidentally, Beatrix Potter’s uncle. In 1906, he wrote,

I also wrote a First Step in Chemistry which has had a large sale. With reference to this little book, I here insert a reproduction of a coloured drawing by my niece, Miss Beatrix Potter, as original as it is humorous, which was presented to me by the artist on publication of the work.

Although by 1906 Potter was already the successful author of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, and The Tailor of Gloucester, she would’ve been a girl when First Step in Chemistry was published. The image, however, is interesting not merely because of its accomplished style—the precocious Potter received childhood art lessons—but because it recalls her interest in science. While she’s well known now as a conservationist and animal artist, her early scientific interests were broad: she studied archeology and entomology and made a serious study of mycology. Indeed, in 1897 she had a male friend submit her paper “On the Germination of the Spores of the Agaricinea” to the Linnean Society.

Roscoe supported her in these endeavors: using his university connections, he arranged meetings for Beatrix with prominent botanists and officials at Kew Gardens. The congratulatory picture is a testament to their affectionate relationship. Nevertheless, the image, while fantastic, is peculiar: the mice seem to have taken over the lab by night to conduct risky cheese-toasting experiments with terrifyingly large Bunsen burners. And while the bespectacled lead mouse seems scholarly enough, behind him, the scene is anarchic: the effect is more that of Ratatouille than of a well-organized laboratory. And let’s face it, the resulting treat is less than tempting. The mice are sort of like scientific Tailors of Gloucester—albeit less organized, and less altruistic.

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Your Likeness in Cheese, and Other News

January 28, 2014 | by

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Vincenzo Campi, The Ricotta Eaters, 1580. Via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Gift idea: cheese portraits. The medium is the message here—this cheese is made with bacteria cultivated from your mouth or toes. It’s you, indubitably, microbially. The artist adds, “The bacteria that you find in-between the toes is actually very similar to the bacteria that makes cheese smell like toes.” You don’t say.
  • Amazon has purchased another block of Seattle. A technofortress, no doubt, soon to be swarming with drones.
  • The Sims is the bestselling PC game of all time. It also has—no mean feat—the most poetic, surreal software-update notifications of all time. “Sims will no longer walk on water to view paintings placed on swimming pool walls.”
  • Presenting the Daphne, an award for the best book to have been published fifty years ago.
  • Melville the prognosticator: Moby-Dick, Benito Cereno, and modern-day imperialism.

 

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Book and Cheese Pairings

July 9, 2013 | by

Virginia Hazen Blue

Bayley Hazen Blue: Virginia Woolf.

“It would be too simple to say this is any ordinary cheese with the blues—it’s dense with flavor, care and feeling. The Bayley Hazen has a balanced mix of flavors that range from buttered toast, to chocolate and hazelnuts, and even the dark bitterness of liquorice. This Stilton-like blue is a mix of narratives—the Mrs. Dalloway of cheeses, if you will. It’s a delicious modern classic. Its taste, and the moment you first fell in love with it, will permeate in your memory for years. Don’t let this one get away.” (Via Airship Daily.)

 

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