Friday Favourites: things we read and watched in September
By Hodderscape Team
Posted on September 25, 2015 in Friday Favourites with tags
From drag queens to master thieves, the best things we read and watched in September…. it’s an eclectic mix.
Consuming Passions: A History of English Food and Appetite by Philippa Pullar
I first read about this book in a book about books, curiously enough; the author of that book was decrying the fact that this strange and utterly unique history of English tastes never seemed to find its audience. And Consuming Passions doesn’t disappoint; it’s a voluptuous, heady whirl through 2000 years of English eating, beginning with the Romans and their lavish feasts, through to the brothels of 18th century London, the middle class households of the high Victorian period, and on into the modern day. It’s less academic than it is poetic, calling to mind the lush prose of the Victorian intellectuals who combined architecture, history and society in their criticisms of art. Pullar weaves together a rich tapestry of food and eating, of scents and perfumes, of luxury, of poverty, of sex and depravity, of feast and famine to create as vivid a portrait of appetite as any I’ve ever read.
Consuming Passions is supplemented with menus, recipes, illustrations and appendices, but nowhere is it more overwhelmingly wonderful than in its author’s sumptuous, delightful prose:
‘A melancholy picture springs up of [the Roman] Empire, furnished as a luxurious bath-house; warm jets of water rush perpetually out from massive silver mouths; all is marble and magnificence; some of the oligarchy can be seen, pink and plump, reclining before mounds of food while eunuchs stroke oil onto their skin; others vomit. Trimalchio is there behind a pillar, his wife lies in adultery with Augustus, while Claudius bends over a steaming sausage, stuffing handfuls into his mouth. In the middle distance porticoes swing out to the hills revealing several hairy barbarians leering in, while on the horizon with erected spars their hordes approach, surging to take the Empire.’
The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book in Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastard series. It follows a gang of elite con artists who relieve nobles of their gold in a fictionalised version of Venice filled with filthy canals, dazzling palaces and thieves.
Laughing at rich people is always fun, and watching Locke Lamora con his way into their coffers is a complete joy. And also pretty nerve-racking. Though Locke is a master dissembler, he has a reckless streak, and he manages to piss off some very important people. The odds against him and his band of loveable rogues stack up, and you root for him every step of the way.
Bear with me.
I’m not usually one for reality TV. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid it. But I’ve been sucked into RuPaul’s Drag Race. Yes, it’s full of cattiness and pageantry, as you might expect. But there are also quite a few misfits – unusual and downright strange contestants.
Contestants like Sharon Needles.
Sharon set herself apart right away from the pageant queens. She was never afraid to go for the gore, or choose substance over looking pretty. She didn’t fit into any kind of box, and Drag Race fans salute her for it.