Aperitifs & Medieval Illumination


Diapering. Lozenges. At the sides are two examples of my following our instruction (really, I don’t remember who was presenting it on those occasions) in a course on illumination, where gilding nine little 5mm square boxes is a start on gilding and provides something to build a square of diapering around. The one at the left is on vellum (warm) with “cold” colours – alizarin and cobalt; and the one at the right is on handmade paper from the Museu Molí Paperer at Capellades, with “warm” colours – vermilion and ultramarine. In the centre a range of examples where K played with diapering preparatory to a class, all on Capellades paper.

Here are a few historical examples…1)French, s XIIII…2)uncredited image – similar – French sXIII…3) background to full page initial from the Visconti Hours…4)uncredited image – s XIII…5) detail from the Lewis Psalter, Paris s XIII
If I held out for historical MSS I could cite by library and shelf mark this post might never appear…
K, long ago, suggested his phantasy of applying the visual tropes of medieval diapering to PIZZA. & told me about his idea. Indeed, I’ve wanted to apply his idea, myself. But I still have confidence he will actually do it.
Meanwhile, it has become increasingly difficult to resist the temptation…Look…Regard….
Eventually, I began to see that K’s idea about pizza might apply similarly to aperitifs. Just looking at the normal, everyday aperitifs that use odd bits of veg & cheese…sometimes without bread in the interest of lowering calorie counts while still taking advantage of our roof terrace – mustn’t waste it. That’s Sandy hiding under the aperitifs. & we take up the nuts really to provide the dogs with their aperitif…
Slowly the two ideas began to converge:
And perhaps the aperitifs begin to resemble the diapered backgrounds of the miniatures and initials.
1) September 23, 2011 – a birthday dinner with friends. Squaw candy [see below] – cream cheese, lemonpeel, black olives, homegrown chives and mint leaves… I’m getting tidier…
2) 14 October, 2011 – Conventional, commercial smoked salmon (no idea why, we haven’t run out of the real PNW local native American version yet), cream cheese, lemon zest, fresh basil…
3) You can see I don’t stretch myself about flavours, ingredients. What I have on hand…
August 9th – we practically/rudely invited ourselves to friends’ on the fringes of Paris – Madame had already left to visit her mother and was not available to cook. So I trawled the foodstocks in the car and came up with the Pacific Northwest hard-smoked [politically incorrect:] “squaw candy” salmon my elder daughter had brought us…and presented it on silly commercial “little toasts” – butter, thin slices of zucchini/courgette, sprigs of herbs found in hosts’ garden…I was really happy with this one – host avowed his son had left the cupboard bare, and between this and a salad and Col a la barcelonina we managed to keep our host and ourselves alive…
4) March 18 – a contribution to a stunning paella prepared by friends in El Tossal…They do such amazing dinners and so kindly invite us, that we have to contribute something…
Finally the concept begins to reflect the systematic symmetry of the diapered backgrounds of medieval illuminations…does it?
This is whole wheat bread from a local baker, cut as squarely as possible (by eye – I’m still lazy) and lightly toasted. The first layer is cream cheese. Then the black triangle is “diet” olivada – olivada made of only puréed black olives (“real” recipes are full of decilitres of extra olive oil), a little Dijon mustard…a mere fleck of garlic…then countercharged triangles of pimento de piquillo and thinly pared lemon peel accented with mint and celery leaves, carefully placed.
If I’d had the ingredients on hand, I’d’ve used Quark and lumpfish caviar in place of the cream cheese and olivada.
K claims the lemon peel “makes” it.
And that’s as far as I’ve gone, converging diapered backgrounds with aperitifs.
Please! Send me yours! Your diapered-background initials and your aperitifs! I’m waiting!
(Three bits of diapering of mine, and three of Keith’s. 1. a Z on vellum, 2. an “A” for an André, saggitarius, with the cross of St Andrew, 3. a medieval cat and a Hungarian G; 4. a “U” from the Corol·lari Català, 5. part of “Cacoethes Minuens” from Robot Magazine, and 6. a detail from the work reproduced in the introduction to C. Mediavilla’s “Calligraphie” in its Spanish translation “Caligrafía“.)

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About Catanea

I'm 1/2 of "Keith⁊Amanda" - that's a Tironian "&", but it confuses people, so we write it with a "7" [seven]. Calligraphers. In Catalonia.
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5 Responses to Aperitifs & Medieval Illumination

  1. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Just beautiful, all of them. Now that your aperitifs are well and truly diapered,* why not try collaging some organic shapes in, as well – a rhubarb stalk, half a radicchio leaf, some strawberries – how about some cubist diapering?

    Sandy looks just like Topsy.

    *I claim first usage of that phrase in the history of the world.

  2. catannea says:

    You mean a shape that would extend itself over more than one square? Is rhubarb poisonous when uncooked? (I don’t know where I’d get any around here, actually.)…Medieval wild strawberries…pictorial aperitifs.
    Hmmm. Contemplating…

  3. A. J. P. Crown says:

    Something like a lettuce leaf surrounded by diapered aperitifs. But I love them the way they are, so don’t feel pressured. Raw rhubarb is so strongly acidic that I don’t thing anybody’s ever eaten enough to find out if it’s poison.

  4. marie-lucie says:

    Lovely things! They look too good to eat!!
    No, rhubarb stalks are not poisonous, only rhubarb leaves, which contain the poisonous oxalic acid. I could see using cooked rhubarb (cooked to a mush with some sugar) as the first layer (or second layer over cream cheese) for some strawberry or blueberries, for instance. MMM…

    • catannea says:

      Still contemplating. Yes, Marie-Lucie. I see that you offer a way back to the more basic colours, red and blue. (For some reason it has taken me a couple of months to realize this.)
      Yes, contemplating.

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