Monday, November 1, 2010

Toothsome quotations: 'In herbis'

In an age when just the composition of a salad required a great knowledge of herbs, their flavours and combined tastes, it was commonly said that "In herbis, et in verbis et in lapidibus sunt virtues" ("There are powers in herbs, words, and stones"). The syncretic character of late medieval cuisine... finds a mirror-like reflection in the taste for farce and linguistic blending, and in the interweaving and overlapping of words. Farce, whether "stuffed" or "mixed," makes up the combination of seasoned ingredients which conspire to please the palate; it is the dietary archetype at the origin of linguistic structuring and presides over the stuffing of vocabulary and locutions.

-Piero Camporesi, Bread of Dreams, from the collection The Ravenous Muse, Karen E. Gordon, ed.

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