J.S. Bach’s Opera, “The Coffee Cantata,” Sings the Praises of the Great Stimulating Drink (1735)

From the time that a name­less genius in either Ethiopia or Yemen decid­ed to dry, crush and strain water through a berry known for mak­ing goats ner­vous and jumpy, cof­fee has been loved and wor­shiped like few oth­er bev­er­ages. Ear­ly Arab doc­tors pro­claimed the stuff to be a mir­a­cle drug. Thor­ough­ly caf­feinat­ed thinkers from Voltaire to Jonathan Swift to Jack Ker­ouac debat­ed lit­er­a­ture, phi­los­o­phy and every­thing in between at cof­fee hous­es. Author Hon­oré Balzac even report­ed­ly died because of exces­sive cof­fee drink­ing (it was either that or the syphilis.)

Johann Sebas­t­ian Bach (1685–1750) was also appar­ent­ly a cof­fee enthu­si­ast. So much so that he wrote a com­po­si­tion about the bev­er­age. Although known most­ly for his litur­gi­cal music, his Cof­fee Can­ta­ta (AKA Schweigt stille, plaud­ert nicht, BWV 211) is a rare exam­ple of a sec­u­lar work by the com­pos­er. The short com­ic opera was writ­ten (cir­ca 1735) for a musi­cal ensem­ble called The Col­legium Musicum based in a sto­ried Zimmerman’s cof­fee house in Leipzig, Ger­many. The whole can­ta­ta seems very much to have been writ­ten with the local audi­ence in mind.

Cof­fee Can­ta­ta is about a young viva­cious woman named Aria who loves cof­fee. Her killjoy father is, of course, dead set against his daugh­ter hav­ing any kind of caf­feinat­ed fun. So he tries to ban her from the drink. Aria bit­ter­ly com­plains:

Father sir, but do not be so harsh!
If I could­n’t, three times a day,
be allowed to drink my lit­tle cup of cof­fee,
in my anguish I will turn into
a shriv­eled-up roast goat.

Ah! How sweet cof­fee tastes,
more deli­cious than a thou­sand kiss­es,
milder than mus­ca­tel wine.
Cof­fee, I have to have cof­fee,
and, if some­one wants to pam­per me,
ah, then bring me cof­fee as a gift!

The copy­writ­ers at Star­bucks mar­ket­ing depart­ment couldn’t have writ­ten it any bet­ter. Even­tu­al­ly, daugh­ter and father rec­on­cile when he agrees to have a guar­an­teed three cups of cof­fee a day writ­ten into her mar­riage con­tract. You can watch it in its entire­ty below, or get a quick taste above. The lyrics in Ger­man and Eng­lish can be read here.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2014.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

“The Vertue of the COFFEE Drink”: London’s First Cafe Cre­ates Ad for Cof­fee in the 1650s

The Cof­fee Pot That Fueled Hon­oré de Balzac’s Cof­fee Addic­tion

The Birth of Espres­so: The Sto­ry Behind the Cof­fee Shots That Fuel Mod­ern Life

The Hertel­la Cof­fee Machine Mount­ed on a Volk­swa­gen Dash­board (1959): The Most Euro­pean Car Acces­so­ry Ever Made

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

A New Database Captures the Smells of European History, from 16th-Century to the Early 20th-Century

But when from a long-dis­tant past noth­ing sub­sists, after the peo­ple are dead, after the things are bro­ken and scat­tered, still, alone, more frag­ile, but with more vital­i­ty, more unsub­stan­tial, more per­sis­tent, more faith­ful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, wait­ing and hop­ing for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfal­ter­ing, in the tiny and almost impal­pa­ble drop of their essence, the vast struc­ture of rec­ol­lec­tion. — Mar­cel Proust, Swann’s Way

His­to­ry favors the eyes.

Visu­al art can tell us what indi­vid­u­als who died long before the advent of pho­tog­ra­phy looked like, as well as the sort of fash­ions, food and decor one might encounter in house­holds both opu­lent and hum­ble.

Our ears are also priv­i­leged in this regard, whether we’re lis­ten­ing to a Gre­go­ri­an chant per­formed in a cathe­dral or an ace sound designer’s cin­e­mat­ic recre­ation of the D‑Day land­ings.

With a few judi­cious ingre­di­ent sub­sti­tu­tions, we can even get a sense of what an Ancient Roman sal­ad, a 4000-year-old Baby­lon­ian stew, and a 5000-year-old Chi­nese beer tast­ed like.

Pity the poor neglect­ed nose. Scents are ephemer­al! How often have we won­dered what Ver­sailles real­ly smelled back in the 17th cen­tu­ry, when unbathed aris­to­crats in unlaun­dered fin­ery packed into high soci­ety’s unven­ti­lat­ed salons?

On the oth­er hand, giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty, do we real­ly want to know?

Odeu­ropa, the Euro­pean olfac­to­ry her­itage project, answers with a resound­ing yes.

Among its ini­tia­tives is an inter­ac­tive Smell Explor­er that invites vis­i­tors to dive deep into smells as  cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­na.

Devel­oped by an inter­na­tion­al team of com­put­er sci­en­tists, AI experts and human­i­ties schol­ars, the Smell Explor­er is a vast com­pendi­um of smells as rep­re­sent­ed in 23,000 images and 62,000 pub­lic domain texts, includ­ing nov­els, the­atri­cal scripts, trav­el­ogues, botan­i­cal text­books, court records, san­i­tary reports, ser­mons, and med­ical hand­books.

This resource offers a fresh lens for con­sid­er­ing the past through our noses, an unflinch­ing look at var­i­ous olfac­to­ry real­i­ties of life in Europe from the 15th through ear­ly 20th cen­turies.

Sur­vivors of ear­li­er plagues and pan­demics might have asso­ci­at­ed their tri­als with the puri­fy­ing aro­mas of burn­ing rose­mary and hot tar, just as the scents of sour­dough and the way a hand­sewn cot­ton face mask’s inte­ri­or smelled after sev­er­al hours of wear con­jure the ear­ly days of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic for many of us.

There are a num­ber of inter­est­ing ways to explore this scent-rich data­base — by geo­graph­ic loca­tion, time peri­od, asso­ci­at­ed emo­tion, or aro­mat­ic qual­i­ty.

Of course, you could go straight to a smell source.

Cham­ber pot” returns 18,152 results, “cadav­er“266…

The squea­mish are advised to steer clear of vom­it (421 results) in favor of the Smell Explorer’s  plea­sur­able and abun­dant food-relat­ed entries — bread, choco­late, cof­fee, pome­gran­ate, pas­try, and wine, to name but a few.

Each scent is built as a col­lec­tion of cards or “nose wit­ness reports” with infor­ma­tion as to the title of the work cit­ed, its author or artist, year of cre­ation and char­ac­ter­i­za­tion (“good”, “rank”, “pecu­liar­ly unpleas­ant and per­ma­nent”…)

Even more ambi­tious­ly, Odeu­ropa aims to give 21st-cen­tu­ry noses an actu­al whiff of Europe’s olfac­to­ry her­itage by enlist­ing per­fumers and scent design­ers to recre­ate over a hun­dred his­toric odors and aro­mas.

Odeu­ropa has also cre­at­ed a down­load­able Olfac­to­ry Sto­ry­telling Toolk­it to give muse­um cura­tors ideas for inte­grat­ing cul­tur­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant odors into exhibits, a trend that is gain­ing trac­tion world­wide.

While every­one stands to ben­e­fit from the added olfac­to­ry dimen­sion of such exhibits, this ini­tia­tive is of par­tic­u­lar ser­vice to blind and visu­al­ly-impaired vis­i­tors. Exper­tise is no doubt required to get it right.

We’re remind­ed of satirist PJ O’Rourke early-80’s vis­it to the Exxon-spon­sored Uni­verse of Ener­gy Pavil­ion in Walt Dis­ney World’s EPCOT cen­ter, where ani­ma­tron­ic dinosaurs were “depict­ed with­out accu­ra­cy and much too close to your face:”

One of the few real nov­el­ties at Epcot is the use of smell to aggra­vate illu­sions. Of course, no one knows what dinosaurs smelled like, but Exxon has decid­ed they smelled bad.

Enter the Odeu­ropa Smell Explor­er here.

via Smith­son­ian

Relat­ed Con­tent

The Chem­istry Behind the Smell of Old Books: Explained with a Free Info­graph­ic

The Dis­gust­ing Food Muse­um Curates 80 of the World’s Most Repul­sive Dish­es: Mag­got-Infest­ed Cheese, Putrid Shark & More

Does Play­ing Music for Cheese Dur­ing the Aging Process Change Its Fla­vor? Researchers Find That Hip Hop Makes It Smelli­er, and Zeppelin’s “Stair­way to Heav­en” Makes It Milder

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Winston Churchill Gets a Doctor’s Note to Drink Unlimited Alcohol While Visiting the U.S. During Prohibition (1932)

In Decem­ber 1931, hav­ing just embarked on a 40-stop lec­ture tour of the Unit­ed States, Win­ston Churchill was run­ning late to dine with financier Bernard Baruch on New York City’s Upper East Side. He hadn’t both­ered to bring Baruch’s address, oper­at­ing under the incor­rect assump­tion that his friend was so dis­tin­guished a per­son­age, any ran­dom cab-dri­ving com­mon­er would auto­mat­i­cal­ly rec­og­nize his build­ing.

Such were the days before cell phones and Google Maps.…

Even­tu­al­ly, Churchill bagged the cab, and shot out across 5th Avenue mid-block, think­ing he would fare bet­ter on foot.

Instead, he was very near­ly “squashed like a goose­ber­ry” when he was struck by a car trav­el­ing about 35 miles an hour.

Churchill, who wast­ed no time ped­dling his mem­o­ries of the acci­dent and sub­se­quent hos­pi­tal­iza­tion to The Dai­ly Mail, explained his mis­cal­cu­la­tion thus­ly:

In Eng­land we fre­quent­ly cross roads along which fast traf­fic is mov­ing in both direc­tions. I did not think the task I set myself now either dif­fi­cult or rash. But at this moment habit played me a dead­ly trick. I no soon­er got out of the cab some­where about the mid­dle of the road and told the dri­ver to wait than I instinc­tive­ly turned my eyes to the left. About 200 yards away were the yel­low head­lights of an approach­ing car. I thought I had just time to cross the road before it arrived; and I start­ed to do so in the prepossession—wholly unwar­rant­ed— that my only dan­gers were from the left.

Yeah, well, that’s why we paint the word “LOOK” in the cross­walk, pal, equip­ping the Os with left-lean­ing pupils for good mea­sure.

Anoth­er cab fer­ried the wound­ed Churchill to Lenox Hill Hos­pi­tal, where he iden­ti­fied him­self as “Win­ston Churchill, a British States­man” and was treat­ed for a deep gash to the head, a frac­tured nose, frac­tured ribs, and severe shock.

“I do not wish to be hurt any more. Give me chlo­ro­form or some­thing,” he direct­ed, while wait­ing for the anes­thetist.

After two weeks in the hos­pi­tal, where he man­aged to devel­op pleurisy in addi­tion to his injuries, Churchill and his fam­i­ly repaired to the Bahamas for some R&R.

It didn’t take long to feel the finan­cial pinch of all those can­celled lec­ture dates, how­ev­er. Six weeks after the acci­dent, he resumed an abbre­vi­at­ed but still gru­el­ing 14-stop ver­sion of the tour, despite his fears that he would prove unfit.

Otto Pick­hardt, Lenox Hill’s admit­ting physi­cian came to the res­cue by issu­ing Churchill the Get Out of Pro­hi­bi­tion Free Pass, above. To wit:

…the post-acci­dent con­va­les­cence of the Hon. Win­ston S. Churchill neces­si­tates the use of alco­holic spir­its espe­cial­ly at meal times. The quan­ti­ty is nat­u­ral­ly indef­i­nite but the min­i­mum require­ments would be 250 cubic cen­time­ters.

Per­haps this is what the emi­nent British States­man meant by chlo­ro­form “or some­thing”? No doubt he was relieved about those indef­i­nite quan­ti­ties. Cheers.

Read Churchill’s “My New York Mis­ad­ven­ture” in its entire­ty here. You can also learn more by perus­ing this sec­tion of Mar­tin Gilbert’s biog­ra­phy, Win­ston Churchill: The Wilder­ness Years.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2016.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

What Hap­pens When Mor­tals Try to Drink Win­ston Churchill’s Dai­ly Intake of Alco­hol

Oh My God! Win­ston Churchill Received the First Ever Let­ter Con­tain­ing “O.M.G.” (1917)

Win­ston Churchill Goes Back­ward Down a Water Slide & Los­es His Trunks (1934)

Win­ston Churchill’s List of Tips for Sur­viv­ing a Ger­man Inva­sion: See the Nev­er-Dis­trib­uted Doc­u­ment (1940)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She lives in New York City, some 30 blocks to the north of the scene of Churchill’s acci­dent. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Jacques Pépin Teaches You How to Make James Beard’s Famous Onion Sandwich

Wor­ried that hol­i­day enter­tain­ing may put you in dan­ger of over­spend­ing?

Pre­serve your bank account and those joy­ful fes­tive feel­ings by serv­ing your friends onion sand­wich­es.

We assure you, they come with the utmost of culi­nary pedi­grees.

Esteemed chef and cook­book author Jacques Pépin hap­pi­ly demon­strates the sim­ple recipe, above, con­fid­ing that it was a favorite of his late wife’s.

Every­thing tastes bet­ter when cooked with love, even if the chef’s not doing much more than slic­ing a cou­ple of half moons from an onion and slather­ing bread with mayo.

(If you’re aller­gic to either of those ingre­di­ents, try swap­ping them out for radish­es and but­ter.)

Pépin cred­its his old friend, James Beard, “America’s first food­ie”, with the recipe. It caused a sen­sa­tion when Beard pub­lished it in 1965’s Menus for Enter­tain­ing.

He revis­it­ed the sub­ject in 1974’s Beard on Food: The Best Recipes and Kitchen Wis­dom from the Dean of Amer­i­can Cook­ing, while unabashed­ly fan­boy­ing over the hum­ble veg­etable in its many forms, from tiny pearl onions to “big del­i­cate Bermu­das and the enor­mous Span­ish vari­ety that are in sea­son from fall to late spring:”

Just the oth­er day I was enchant­ed to receive a box of these giant gold­en globes, per­fect­ly matched in size and con­tour, that flour­ish in the vol­canic soil of Ore­gon and Ida­ho. They make absolute­ly superb eat­ing. I love them raw, thin­ly sliced, with a ham­burg­er or cold meats or in a hearty, fla­vor­ful onion sand­wich.

The day my gift box arrived I hap­pened to have some slight­ly stale home­made bread, about two or three days old. I sliced this very thin, but­tered it well, cov­ered it with paper-thin slices of Span­ish onion, sprin­kled them with some coarse salt, and pressed anoth­er slice of bread firmed on the top—and there was my sup­per. I can eas­i­ly make a whole meal of onion sand­wich­es, for to me they are one of the great­est treats I know…

Delight­ful! But hold up a sec. The New York Times’ Tejal Rao, reports that Beard, who had a “rep­u­ta­tion for chron­ic, unapolo­getic pla­gia­rism” appar­ent­ly “lift­ed” the recipe from cook­book authors Irma and Bill Rhode, his one-time part­ners in a New York City cater­ing com­pa­ny:

It was basic but con­fi­dent, and it came togeth­er with inex­pen­sive ingre­di­ents. It was so good that you could eas­i­ly eat a dozen, and so sim­ple that it bare­ly required a recipe. You glance at the direc­tions, feel­ing a lit­tle sil­ly rolling the sand­wich­es in chopped pars­ley, a cru­cial step that makes the sand­wich, and that Irma Rhode said came from Beard. You’d make it once, and then the dish would be com­mit­ted to mem­o­ry — as James Beard’s onion sand­wich.

Sand­wich­es of History’s Bar­ry W. Ender­wick digs even deep­er, truf­fling up a remark­ably terse onion sand­wich recipe in Mat­tie Lee Wehrley’s The Handy House­hold Hints and Recipes, from 1916.

Inter­est­ing how Ms. Wehrley takes care to note that the Toast­ed Cheese on Bread pub­lished direct­ly below that Onion Sand­wich is a recipe of her own inven­tion.

It appears we all bor­row from the best. Sure­ly, there’s no rea­son not to get cre­ative and make that onion sand­wich your own.

You could start by vary­ing the ingre­di­ents…

Soak some slices of red onion in cold water for 5 min­utes to take away their raw bite.

Exper­i­ment with pumper­nick­el or dark rye.

Chop up a blend of win­dowsill herbs for that showy, savory edge.

Or y’know, buy an onion, a bagel and cream cheese as sep­a­rate com­po­nents, assem­ble, and boom!

As Beard remarked, “Design­ing hors d’oeuvres is not dif­fer­ent from design­ing sets and cos­tumes … Food is very much the­ater.”

Basic Onion Sand­wich (serves one):

Remove the crusts from 2 slices of bread or cut them into rounds, reserv­ing the scraps for a more involved recipe requir­ing bread­crumbs 

Spread may­on­naise on the face of both pieces

Remove a thin slice from the thick­est part of a sweet onion and place atop one of the pre­pared slices

.Sprin­kle with sea salt and top with the oth­er slice of bread.

Spread may­on­naise around the perime­ter of the sand­wich, and roll in the chopped herbs.

(Can refrig­er­ate for up to 6 hours before serv­ing)

Relat­ed Con­tent 

An 1585 Recipe for Mak­ing Pan­cakes: Make It Your Sat­ur­day Morn­ing Break­fast

A Stun­ning, Hand-Illus­trat­ed Book of Mush­rooms Drawn by an Over­looked 19th Cen­tu­ry Female Sci­en­tist

10,000 Vin­tage Recipe Books Are Now Dig­i­tized in The Inter­net Archive’s Cook­book & Home Eco­nom­ics Col­lec­tion

David Lynch Teach­es You to Cook His Quinoa Recipe in a Strange, Sur­re­al­ist Video

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Thanksgiving Menu at the Plaza Hotel in New York City (1899)

Above, we have the menu for an 1899 Thanks­giv­ing din­ner at the Plaza Hotel in New York. If you were a turkey, you had it rel­a­tive­ly easy. But the ducks? Not so much. On the menu, you’ll find Mal­lard duck and Rud­dy duck. But also Red-head duck, Long Island duck­ling, Teal duck and Can­vas-back duck, too. A duck in NYC was not a good place to be.

And, oh, those prices!  Not one item above a dol­lar. But let’s account for infla­tion, shall we? In 2021, one Red­di­tor not­ed: “I found a cal­cu­la­tor and it turns out that $.30 in 1899 equals $10.00 now. The Fried oys­ter crabs would be $24.99 now and a Philadel­phia chick­en would be $66.65. So, the cheap­est thing on the menu is Sweet but­ter­milk for $.10, but today would be $3.33.”

For our U.S. read­ers, enjoy your hol­i­day tomor­row…

via Red­dit

Relat­ed Con­tent 

A Relax­ing, ASMR Re-Cre­ation of Peo­ple Cook­ing Thanks­giv­ing Din­ner in the 1820s

Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Hand­writ­ten Turkey-and-Stuff­ing Recipe

Read 900+ Thanks­giv­ing Books Free at the Inter­net Archive

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 13 Tips for What to Do with Your Left­over Thanks­giv­ing Turkey

Bob Dylan’s Thanks­giv­ing Radio Show: A Playlist of 18 Delec­table Songs


David Lynch Teaches You to Cook His Quinoa Recipe in a Strange, Surrealist Video

A sta­ple of Andean diets for thou­sands of years, quinoa (KEEN-wah) has been tout­ed as a super­food recent­ly for its high pro­tein con­tent and poten­tial to solve hunger crises. It’s rep­re­sent­ed by the usu­al celebri­ties: Kate Moss, Gwyneth Pal­trow, Jen­nifer Anis­ton … and David Lynch. Oh yes, have you not tried David Lynch’s quinoa recipe? Well, you must. If you’ve remained unswayed by the glit­terati, per­haps this very Lynchi­an of pitch­es will turn you on to the grain. Watch the first part of Lynch’s video recipe above, part two below. It opens at peak Lynch: puls­ing omi­nous music, gar­ish light­ing, and the obses­sive kind of patience for the slow build that may be David Lynch’s alone.

By Part Two of Lynch’s video recipe, we are ful­ly immersed in a place seem­ing­ly far away from quinoa, a place of the por­ten­tous topog­ra­phy of David Lynch’s inner life. Every­day objects take on a mys­te­ri­ous glow­ing res­o­nance. Small rit­u­al­is­tic exchanges stand in for glob­al shifts of con­scious­ness.

So in a way, maybe we’re still close to the mag­ic of quinoa. Lynch made the short video as an extra for the 2006 Inland Empire DVD. As Dan­ger­ous Minds points out, its cur­rent YouTube iter­a­tion “looks like crap” and “there’s at least a cou­ple of min­utes miss­ing… it’s still worth a look.”

If you don’t have David Lynch’s patience but do have his taste for quinoa, read the full recipe below. It’s like­wise full of delight­ful asides and digres­sions.

Yield: 1 bowl
Cook­ing Time: 17 min­utes

1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups organ­ic broc­coli (chilled, from bag)
1 cube veg­etable bul­lion
Brag­gs Liq­uid Aminos
Extra vir­gin olive oil
Sea salt

* Fill medi­um saucepan with about an inch of fresh water.
* Set pan on stove, light a nice hot flame add sev­er­al dash­es of sea salt.
* Look at the quinoa. It’s like sand, this quinoa. It’s real real tight lit­tle grains, but it’s going to puff up.
* Unwrap bul­lion cube, bust it up with a small knife, and let it wait there. It’ll be hap­py wait­ing right there.
* When water comes to a boil, add quinoa and cov­er pan with lid. Reduce heat and sim­mer for 8 min­utes.
* Mean­while, retrieve broc­coli from refrig­er­a­tor and set aside, then fill a fine crys­tal wine glass—one giv­en to you by Agnes and Maya from Lódz, Poland—with red wine, ‘cause this is what you do when you’re mak­ing quinoa. Go out­side, sit, take a smoke and think about all the lit­tle quinoas bub­bling away in the pan.
* Add broc­coli, cov­er and let cook for an addi­tion­al 7 min­utes.
* Mean­while, go back out­side and tell the sto­ry about the train with the coal-burn­ing engine that stopped in a bar­ren, dust-filled land­scape on a moon­less Yugosla­vian night in 1965. The sto­ry about the frog moths and the small cop­per coin that became one room-tem­per­a­ture bot­tle of vio­let sug­ar water, six ice-cold Coca-colas, and hand­fuls and hand­fuls of sil­ver coins.
* Turn off heat, add bul­lion to quinoa and stir with the tip of the small knife you used to bust up the bul­lion.
* Scoop quinoa into bowl using a spoon. Driz­zle with liq­uid amino acids and olive oil. Serve and enjoy.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sal­vador Dalí’s 1973 Cook­book Gets Reis­sued: Sur­re­al­ist Art Meets Haute Cui­sine

The Recipes of Famous Artists: Din­ners & Cock­tails From Tol­stoy, Miles Davis, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, David Lynch & Many More

10,000 Vin­tage Recipe Books Are Now Dig­i­tized in The Inter­net Archive’s Cook­book & Home Eco­nom­ics Col­lec­tion

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

How to Pour a Beer the Right Way


How do you pour a beer? You think you know the answer. You’re pour­ing the beer into a tilt­ed glass, and min­i­miz­ing the foam. Accord­ing to Max Bakker, a Mas­ter Cicerone (or som­me­li­er for beer), you’re get­ting it wrong. Above, he demon­strates the prop­er tech­nique. Watch and learn.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Every Style of Beer Explained: An Expert Breaks Down 100 Types of Beer, from Malty Lagers, to Lon­don Brown Ales, to Bock Beer

Watch Beer Fer­ment in Time-Lapse Motion, and Then Learn How to Make Beer with an Ani­mat­ed Video

Dis­cov­er the Old­est Beer Recipe in His­to­ry From Ancient Sume­ria, 1800 B.C.

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When the US Government Commissioned 7,497 Watercolor Paintings of Every Known Fruit in the World (1886)

A pic­ture is worth 1000 words, espe­cial­ly when you are a late-19th or ear­ly-20th cen­tu­ry hor­ti­cul­tur­ist eager to pro­tect intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty rights to new­ly cul­ti­vat­ed vari­eties of fruit.

Or an artis­ti­cal­ly gift­ed woman of the same era, look­ing for a steady, respectable source of income.

In 1886, long before col­or pho­tog­ra­phy was a viable option, the US Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture engaged approx­i­mate­ly 21, most­ly female illus­tra­tors to cre­ate real­is­tic ren­der­ings of hun­dreds of fruit vari­eties for lith­o­graph­ic repro­duc­tion in USDA arti­cles, reports, and bul­letins.

Accord­ing to the Divi­sion of Pomol­o­gy’s first chief, Hen­ry E. Van Deman, the artists’ man­date was to cap­ture “the nat­ur­al size, shape, and col­or of both the exte­ri­or and inte­ri­or of the fruit, with the leaves and twigs char­ac­ter­is­tic of each.”

If a spec­i­men was going bad, the artist was under strict orders to rep­re­sent the dam­age faith­ful­ly — no pret­ty­ing things up.

As Alice Tan­geri­ni, staff illus­tra­tor and cura­tor for botan­i­cal art in the Smithsonian’s Nation­al Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry writes, “botan­i­cal illus­tra­tors and their works serve the sci­en­tist, depict(ing) what a botanist describes, act­ing as the proof­read­er for the sci­en­tif­ic descrip­tion:”

Dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy, although increas­ing­ly used, can­not make judge­ments about the intri­ca­cies of por­tray­ing the plant parts a sci­en­tist may wish to empha­size and a cam­era can­not recon­struct a life­like botan­i­cal spec­i­men from dried, pressed mate­r­i­al… the thought process medi­at­ing that deci­sion of every aspect of the illus­tra­tion lives in the head of the illus­tra­tor.

 …the illus­tra­tor also has an eye for the aes­thet­ics of botan­i­cal illus­tra­tion, know­ing that a draw­ing must cap­ture the inter­est of the view­er to be a viable form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Atten­tion to accu­ra­cy is impor­tant, but excel­lence of style and tech­nique used is also pri­ma­ry for an illus­tra­tion to endure as a work of art and sci­ence.

Pri­ma­ry con­trib­u­tors Deb­o­rah Griscom Pass­more, Mary Daisy Arnold, Aman­da Almi­ra New­ton and their col­leagues estab­lished norms for botan­i­cal illus­tra­tion with their paint­ings for the USDA’s Pomo­log­i­cal Water­col­or Col­lec­tion, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pro­vid­ing much-need­ed visu­al evi­dence for cul­ti­va­tors wish­ing to estab­lish claims to their vari­etals.

(Fruit breed­ers’ rights were for­mal­ly pro­tect­ed with the estab­lish­ment of the Plant Patent Act of 1930, which decreed that any­one who “invent­ed or dis­cov­ered and asex­u­al­ly repro­duced any dis­tinct and new vari­ety of plant” could receive a patent.)

The collection’s 7,497 water­col­ors of real­is­ti­cal­ly-ren­dered fruits cap­ture both the com­mon­place and the exot­ic in mouth­wa­ter­ing detail.

Both aes­thet­i­cal­ly and as a sci­en­tif­ic data­base, the Pomo­log­i­cal Water­col­or Col­lec­tion is the berries — specif­i­cal­ly, Gandy, Chesa­peake, Excel­sior, Man­hat­tan, and Gabara to namecheck but a few types of Fra­garia, aka straw­ber­ries, pre­served there­in.

Oth­er fruits remain less­er known on our shores. The USDA spon­sored glob­al expe­di­tions specif­i­cal­ly to gath­er spec­i­mens such as the ones below.

Queen Vic­to­ria report­ed­ly offered knight­hood to any trav­el­er pre­sent­ing her a man­gos­teen — still a rare treat in the west.  They were banned in the U.S. until 2007 in the inter­est of pro­tect­ing local agri­cul­ture from the threat of stow­away Asian fruit flies.

The thick, square-end­ed Popoulu banana would nev­er be mis­tak­en for a Chiq­ui­ta from the out­side. Accord­ing to The World of Bananas in Hawai’i: Then and Now, its lin­eage dates back tens of thou­sands of years to the Van­u­atu arch­i­pel­ago.

If you cel­e­brate the har­vest fes­ti­val Sukkot, you like­ly encoun­tered an etrog with­in the last month. The noto­ri­ous­ly fid­dly crop has been cul­ti­vat­ed domes­ti­cal­ly since 1980, when a yeshi­va stu­dent in Brook­lyn, seek­ing to keep costs down and ensure that kosher pro­to­cols were main­tained, con­vinced a third-gen­er­a­tion Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus grow­er by the name of Fitzger­ald to give it a go.

Explore and down­load hi-res images from the Pomo­log­i­cal Water­col­or Col­lec­tion here.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

A Col­lec­tion of Vin­tage Fruit Crate Labels Offers a Volup­tuous Vision of the Sun­shine State

In 1886, the US Gov­ern­ment Com­mis­sioned 7,500 Water­col­or Paint­ings of Every Known Fruit in the World: Down­load Them in High Res­o­lu­tion

A Stun­ning, Hand-Illus­trat­ed Book of Mush­rooms Drawn by an Over­looked 19th Cen­tu­ry Female Sci­en­tist

Via Aeon

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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