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Before Farm to Table

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Love-in-idleness, Part Two: Intoxicating botanicals in 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'
Oberon and Titania
Shakespeare & Beyond

Love-in-idleness, Part Two: Intoxicating botanicals in 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'

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Author
Marissa Nicosia
Love-in-idleness, a flower also called pansy or heartsease, plays an important role in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," as Marissa Nicosia explores.
Love-in-idleness, Part One: Adapting an early modern recipe for heartsease cordial
purple pansy floating in pink cocktail
Shakespeare & Beyond

Love-in-idleness, Part One: Adapting an early modern recipe for heartsease cordial

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Author
Marissa Nicosia
Marissa Nicosia adapts an early modern recipe for heartsease cordial. This purple pansy syrup was used to “clear the heart” – to treat the chest and lungs or to reduce fever – but also for healing heartaches and other amorous ailments.
Eating plants in the early modern world
Shakespeare & Beyond

Eating plants in the early modern world

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Author
Julia Fine
Explore turmeric, cinnamon, mint, and sugar to learn more about plants as food, and what they reveal about the early modern age and today.
The three most popular recipes from Before 'Farm to Table'
Cogs Biscuits
Shakespeare & Beyond

The three most popular recipes from Before 'Farm to Table'

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Author
Shakespeare & Beyond

With the Folger’s four-year Before ‘Farm to Table’ project drawing to a close, we’re revisiting three of the most popular early modern recipes adapted by the project team and shared on the Shakespeare & Beyond blog. Before ‘Farm to Table’:…

Spilling the beans: The Islamic history of coffee
Shakespeare & Beyond

Spilling the beans: The Islamic history of coffee

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Author
Neha Vermani

Before there were Starbucks and the quirky coffeeshops masquerading as cozy work corners for many of us, there was the mid-17th century coffeeshop boom in England. During the 1600s, the general conversation about coffee nodded to its status as the…

The turkey’s journey from the Atlantic to the early modern Islamic world
Shakespeare & Beyond

The turkey’s journey from the Atlantic to the early modern Islamic world

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Author
Neha Vermani
Follow the turkey on its fascinating journey from America to Europe to the Mughal and Ottoman empires, through early modern trade networks.
The early modern precursor to turducken: Adapting an old recipe to make mini pies
Shakespeare & Beyond

The early modern precursor to turducken: Adapting an old recipe to make mini pies

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Author
Michael Walkden
Learn about the early modern precursor to turducken (a huge turkey pie with duck but no chicken) and make your own mini pies using this adapted recipe.
Before the Thanksgiving turkey came the banquet peacock
Shakespeare & Beyond

Before the Thanksgiving turkey came the banquet peacock

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Author
Elisa Tersigni
Lavish dinners—and the cookbooks and instruction manuals for how to execute them—were popular during the Renaissance, and they emphasized the art of food, in addition to—and at times, over—its taste. Peacocks were thus an ideal banquet food because their colorful plumage made for artful display. But over the early modern period, turkeys came to replace peacocks as the customary food of ceremonies and holidays.
Eggs in moonshine and spinach toasts: Two early modern recipes for a sweet breakfast
Shakespeare & Beyond

Eggs in moonshine and spinach toasts: Two early modern recipes for a sweet breakfast

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Author
Michael Walkden
Even though the combination of eggs and sugar along with butter and flour forms the cornerstone of baking, the idea of poaching eggs in sweet wine, or adding sugar to your scrambled eggs, might seem heretical to many. But this is exactly how egg dishes were often prepared in the upper-class households of early modern England. In a time when sugar was still a luxury commodity, enmeshed in colonial trade networks, and purchased at the cost of countless human lives, its inclusion in practically every dish became a marker of wealth and status among elite households across Europe. The two recipes presented here will strike many modern readers as unusual.
“Ambiguous and dangerous meat:” Herpetophagy in the early modern world
Newts
Shakespeare & Beyond

“Ambiguous and dangerous meat:” Herpetophagy in the early modern world

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Author
Michael Walkden
Why was herpetophagy (eating reptiles and amphibians) linked with madness in Shakespeare's "King Lear"? Unpack the cultural anxieties involved in early modern English encounters with unfamiliar dietary norms.
The dinner table as classroom: Home-schooling gone wrong in 'The Taming of the Shrew'
The Taming of the Shrew
Shakespeare & Beyond

The dinner table as classroom: Home-schooling gone wrong in 'The Taming of the Shrew'

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Author
David B. Goldstein
Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew showcases one of the earliest and thorniest examples of teaching in a home environment—thorny both because of the way pedagogy in the play is full of cynicism and brutality, and because, on the surface at least, it seems to succeed.
“As luscious as locusts”: Othello and locust-eaters in the early modern world
locusts
Shakespeare & Beyond

“As luscious as locusts”: Othello and locust-eaters in the early modern world

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Author
Michael Walkden

Hiob Ludolf, Iobi Lvdolfi Dissertatio de locvstis anno praeterito immensa copia in Germania visis, 1694 (Wellcome Images, Public Domain) Folger 250379 (folio) In Act 1, Scene 3 of Othello, the manipulative Iago urges Roderigo, a wealthy Venetian recently disappointed in…

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