All the Fun of the Fair

The trusser and his family proceeded on their way, and soon entered the Fair Field … they looked around for a refreshment tent among the many which dotted the down. Two, which stood nearest to them in the ochreous haze of expiring sunlight, seemed almost equally inviting. One was formed of new milk-hued canvas, and bore red flags on the summit; it announced ‘Good Home-brewed Beer, Ale and Cyder.’ The other was less new; a little iron stove-pipe came out of it at the back, and in front appeared the placard, ‘Good Furmity Sold Hear’. (Thomas Hardy, The Mayor of Casterbridge‘) Continue reading “All the Fun of the Fair”

A Greedy Villain

The Count … plaintively devoured the greater part of a fruit tart, submerged under a whole jugful of cream – and explained the full merit of the achievement to us, as soon as he had done. ‘A taste for sweets’, he said in his softest tones and his tenderest manner, ‘is the innocent taste of women and children. I love to share it with them – it is another bond, dear ladies, between you and me.’ Continue reading “A Greedy Villain”

The Take-Away in Literature

It was a nice little dinner …being entirely furnished forth from the coffee-house 
(Great Expectations, Charles Dickens)

Until I visited Pompeii – during a holiday on the Amalfi coast a few years ago – I had always assumed take-aways were a recent invention.  But in the ancient Italian city devastated by the  volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD the streets were lined with thermopolia, service counters opening onto the street where people could buy food to take away.  There were more than 200 of these in Pompeii, and the remains of houses show few traces of kitchen and dining areas, suggesting that cooking at home was unusual. Continue reading “The Take-Away in Literature”