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Original Essays | April 11, 2014

Paul Laudiero: IMG Shit Rough Draft

I was sitting in a British and Irish romantic drama class my last semester in college when the idea for Shit Rough Drafts hit me. I was working... Continue »
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1 Remote Warehouse Cooking and Food- Historical Food and Cooking

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt., Opened (1669)


The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt., Opened (1669) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A paperback edition of a classic of 17th-century English writing about food and drink. There is perhaps none more frequently quoted than this, no title more familiar. Its reappearance, therefore, will be very welcome to both the academic market, and the general reader. Digby was a European figure of some renown in scientific, philosophical and mathematical circles (besides being a military man, a pirate and a womaniser). This recipe collection made by him (in line with similar collections made by male enthusiasts and intellectuals of the time, for example the diarist John Evelyn) was published after his death by his former assistant George Hartman. It is perhaps the most literate of such cookery books. Digby was a natural writer, as entertaining as instructive. Many of the recipes are for drinks, particularly of meads or metheglins, but the culinary material provides a remarkable conspectus of accepted practice among court circles in Restoration England, with extra details supplied from Digby's European travels. The editors also include the inventory of Digby's own kitchen in his London house, discovered amongst papers now deposited in the British Library, and they have provided a few modern interpretations of Digby's recipes. The work was last printed in 1910, in a sound edition that is no longer easily available. This new version has several improvements. The editors discuss the role of George Hartman in the compilation of the book, and relate its contents to the work that appeared in 1682 under Hartman's own name, The True Preserver and Restorer of Health. There is a full glossary and the reader will be helped by the extensive biographical notes about people named in the text as the source of recipes. Sir Kenelm Digby (1611-1665) was born of gentry stock, but his family's adherence to Roman Catholicism coloured his career. His father, Sir Everard, was executed in 1606 for his part in the Gunpowder Plot. Digby went to Gloucester Hall, Oxford, in 1618. He spent three years in Europe between 1620 and 1623. Around 1625, he married Venetia Stanley. He had also become a member of the Privy Council. In 1628, Digby became a privateer, with some success, particularly in the Mediterranean. He returned to become a naval administrator and later Governor of Trinity House. His wife died suddenly in 1633. Digby, stricken with grief and the object of enough suspicion that the Crown had ordered an autopsy (rare at the time) on Venetia's body, secluded himself in Gresham College and attempted to forget his personal woes through scientific experimentation. Digby received the regional monopoly of sealing wax in Wales and the Welsh Borders and monopolies of trade with the Gulf of Guinea and with Canada. In the Civil War he went into exile in Paris, where he spent most of his time until 1660. He became Chancellor to Queen Henrietta Maria. Digby was regarded as an eccentric by contemporaries, partly because of his effusive personality, and partly because of his interests in scientific matters. Notable among his pursuits was the concept of the Powder of Sympathy. This was a kind of sympathetic magic to cure injuries. His book on this salve went through 29 editions. He was a founding member of the Royal Society. His correspondence with Fermat contains the only extant mathematical proof by Fermat. His Discourse Concerning the Vegetation of Plants (1661) proved controversial. He is credited with being the first person to note the importance of vital air, or oxygen, to the sustenance of plants. Digby is also considered the father of the modern wine bottle. During the 1630s, Digby owned a glassworks and manufactured wine bottles which were globular in shape with a high, tapered neck, a collar, and a punt.

Book News Annotation:

Sir Kenelm (1603-1665) was a soldier, pirate and philanthropist--a Renaissance man in every sense of the word. He jotted down and stashed away hundreds of recipes over his lifetime which were published after his death by his faithful assistant. This collection of those recipes, first published in 1669, offers a unique glimpse into the culinary and social habits of the upper class during the Restoration. The recipes, written in paragraph form and in the style and spelling of the day, usually note the person he received them from. Editors Stevenson and Davidson include biographies of all Sir Kenelm's culinary contributors which include lords, ladies and assorted luminaries. This text will appeal to the reader interested in food history, English history, or in the making of mead (there are dozens of recipes). Distributed in North America by The David Brown Book Co. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

Stevenson, Jane (edt)
Prospect Books (UK)
Davidson, Peter
Stevenson, Jane
Stevenson, Jane
Europe - Great Britain - General
Modern - 17th Century
Cooking and Food-Historical Food and Cooking
Publication Date:

Related Subjects

Children's » General
Cooking and Food » Reference and Etiquette » Historical Food and Cooking
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » World History » 1650 to Present
History and Social Science » World History » England » General

The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie, Kt., Opened (1669) New Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Prospect Books (UK) - English 9781903018705 Reviews:
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