Category Archives: Middle Ages

Codex Calixtinus, or the tourist guide for pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela

Codex Calixtinus, the precious 12th century guide for pilgrims heading towards Santiago de Compostela,  was stolen yesterday from the Cathedral of that Spanish town. Since Santiago (Saint James) had a very influential cult in the Middle Ages, his alleged tomb in Compostela became an extremely popular pilgrimage site for people from all over Europe – in fact, the third most important one after Jerusalem and Rome. Streams of devout people came walking (there were no cars or bikes back then!) the Way of Saint James  all the way from France, Italy, Poland,  Hungary to ask the Saint for a favor or as a penance. Quite a feat. Continue reading


Textual food criticism

306564541_5249a67f89There was time when each kitchen had the same, single authoritative cook book, placed in its center on a little lectern and consulted with respect. Or, alternatively, some people owned the handwritten recipes coming from their grandmothers, copied word by word with care, kept in a wooden box and transmitted faithfully to the next generation. The cookbook publishing business was dull and predictable and maybe it wasn’t really a business. Continue reading

Monsters in stone

Besides gargoyles, the most famous of which are of course the Notre Dame gargoyles, there are chimeras (equally grotesque but not architecturally useful as spouts for rain water). But I love mascarons, especially this one above a door in Thonon-les-Bains, France, photographed by a friend:


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