“You don’t have to watch anything close anymore,” he tells Dr. Onarga, at one appointment, “’cause it’ll always be repeated.”

May 21, 2013 § Leave a comment


I have been known to buy them in moments of weakness, but I don’t really approve of joke cookbooks. I own dozens of cookbooks with barely usable recipes, but I make a distinction between books that are intentionally bad and those that have merely aged poorly. Cooking for Orgies and Other Large Parties: How to Cook and Serve Fabulous Six-Course Gourmet Dinners for Ten to Thirty People in One Hour for $1.00 per Person has always been a crowd pleaser, though, and I feel some genuine affection for it.

The authors, Jack S. Margolis and Daud Alani, claim to be “Hollywood Bachelors” with no first-hand knowledge of orgies. Their “friend,” Ernie Lundquist, “has an orgy… every Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m.,” and has taught them everything they know. Perhaps because of their lack of experience, or perhaps, as I suspect, because they are mostly excited about their cooking method (see below), Margolis and Daud don’t devote much of the book to talk of orgies. There are naughty line drawings throughout, and there is a perfunctory “Special Consideration” section at the beginning, complete with a suggested time-table (“9:30-12:00: Free Play”), but that’s about it.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Kawaguchi Haruhiko

I’ve seen your picture in the paper and wondered what you looked like

April 12, 2013 § 1 Comment


Whilst perusing some seventeenth century recipes for medicines I stumbled across a few curious ingredients. Granted, many of the ingredients found in Johanna St. John’s recipe book – aside from now common herbs and spices like cinnamon or saffron – might look odd to the modern eye. Some of the ingredients that struck me were spermaceti (sperm whale fat); the sole of an old but clean shoe, burnt to ashes; a crab’s eyes, and the black tips of its claws.

As I read I couldn’t help but assume that the addition of spices, or the use of wine, sugar, and brandy might have best served to make some of the recipes more palatable. But then something caught my eye that all the cinnamon, saffron, and distillation could not possibly conceal. To put it lightly, it was, well, poo. Precisely, for smallpox, “a sheep’s dung, cleane picked”. Clearly you would want to make sure you were getting pure, uncontaminated crap. The recipe goes on to instruct the user to mix a handful of the stuff into a pint of white wine, “mash it well” and after leaving it to stand a full night, to serve a spoonful or two at a time. But wait, there’s more! A note tucked into the margin recommends this smelly recipe for gout and jaundice. Fecal wine, if you will: good for what ails you.

In the mid-seventeenth century Nicholas Culpeper’s Pharmacopoeia Londinensis (1652) heavily criticized the Royal College of Physician’s required inventory for Culpeper and his fellow apothecaries. In his work, which translated the tome on medicine to English from Latin for the first time during the English Interregnum, Culpeper wrote this of a section featuring “living creatures” and “their excrements”: “alack! alack! the king is dead, and the College of Physicians want power to impose the turds upon men”. Culpeper was right, it seemed many were holding onto ideas about fecal medicine. However, while most insisted that ordure altered by the art that was physick was medicinal, some practitioners had more radical ideas about the uses of feces and medicine.  read more


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