Fat Ladies, Receipts, Recipes, and Love Talk

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November 10, 2015 by libroshombre

“Two Fat Ladies” is a delightful BBC cooking show featuring a couple of chubby upper-crust cooks who cruise around on a sidecar motorcycle visiting famous sites in Britain where they ostentatiously drawFeatured imageupon “receipts” to prepare culinary feasts. It’s part of our public library’s excellent DVD collection, but rather than being housed with the movies and television series, it’s kept in its main subject area with the nonfiction books, like most of the nonfiction DVDs. However, the hunt’s part of the fun; the serendipitous aspect of unimpeded browsing of our library’s shelves is one of the most obvious ways American public libraries differ from the rest of the world.

Traditionally, libraries kept the general population from their collections, but access to information has always been prized in our country, and that sentiment’s reflected in our libraries’ open bookshelves, where the books and other materials are arranged to facilitate people looking around for themselves, and perhaps discovering the unexpected. Serendipity’s a powerful ingredient to add to theFeatured imagebasic recipe for scratching intellectual itches that begins with “Take one good library, organize it logically, allow people to utilize it well, and keep it in order for the next users.”

“Recipe” originally meant “medical prescription” in English in the 1580s, according to the Online Etymological Dictionary, coming from the Latin “recipe,” which meant “take!,” being the imperative singular form of “recipere,” “to take.” “Receipt” meant the same as “recipe,” but dates from the late-1300s, when Chaucer used it. It originated from the Latin “receipt,” or “he receives.” WorldFeatured imageWideWords.org says “recipe,” or “take!,” was traditionally the first word in a prescription, heading the list of ingredients. This was often abbreviated to a letter R with a bar through the leg, a form that still sometimes appears on modern prescription forms.”

Medical receipts and incantations were frequently recorded by the Sumerians, the world’s first writFeatured imageers. Most of the ancient clay tablets recovered in Mesopotamian ruins are lists and tallies: accounting rather than literature. The first great exception was the Epic of Gilgamesh. The online Ancient History Encyclopedia says “Gilgamesh is the semi-mythic King of Uruk best known from the Epic of Gilgamesh (written c.2150-1400 BCE) … the oldest piece of epic western literature … Gilgamesh is widely accepted as the historical 5th king of Uruk whose influence was so profound that myths of his divine status grew up around his deeds and finally culminated in ‘The Epic of Gilgamesh.’”

This great story was written in cuneiform, an alphabet of wedge-shaped impressions pressed into soft clay tablets that were then fired and hardened. A recent LiveScience.com article described the discovery of a lost tablet from the Gilgamesh epic poem thaFeatured imaget describes the hero’s adventures in a forest. An Iraqi museum purchased the tablet from a smuggler and translated it within five days. “The new tablet adds 20 previously unknown lines … filling in some of the details of how the forest looked and sounded … It is full of noisy birds and cicadas, and monkeys scream and yell in the trees.”

“Phonaesthetics” is the “study of the aesthetic properties of speech sound, in particular the study of sound sequences.” After encountering the term in a DailyTelegraph.com article by Angela Mollard titled “Pashing. Spooning. Bonk. The Language of Love is joyless,” I anticipate professional phonaestheticians will appreciate and grapple with elucidating Gilgamesh’s jungle sounds. Hopefully Sumerian has better expressions of love that Ms Mollard’s found in English. “Ours may be the third most spoken language in the world,” she wrote, “but it’s either utilitarian, schmaltzy, or downright crass when it comes to matters of the heart … the nomenclature used to describe not just relationships, but what takes place in them, is dispiritingly ugly.”

Mollard notes that other languages abound in graciously loving expressions. “Cavoli riscaldati” is Italian for “reheated cabbage” and “atteFeatured imagempting to fix a failed relationship.” “Razbliuto” is Russian for “the lingering fondness you have for one you once loved.” And the Germans speak of “kummerspeck,” “which literally translates to ‘grief bacon’ for the emotional overeating that follows heartbreak.”

When it comes of our library, give me the Norwegian “forelsket” “the euphoric feeling of falling in love.”

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