SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 7 - December 3, 2005

TECH TALK: The Librie inter text TEXT COLLECTIONS: Explorion inter text AUSTEN: Etymologies inter text LA BARRE: Ten years after

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: Lizard Chicken


TECH TALK: The Librie

I suppose everyone has a different idea of the Holy Grail of portable e-text readers. Being able to read such a device in any light that works for a print book would be one basic one. Personally, I'd want to be able to at least bookmark pages and probably annotate them as well.

Thus far the model is a normal printed book. But of course we're all just a little spoiled by technology. People like me with truly awful handwriting pretty much count these days on having a keyboard or similar device for legible notes. And, unless a new document standard somehow takes over, being able to download PDF's (preferably a lot of them) would be very nice. And battery power should be enough not to make recharging a nuisance.

Sounds like a job for Apple, doesn't it? If only younger consumers were as attached to their reading matter as to their music and videos.

For now, the most recent offering comes from Sony: the Sony Librie. It is said to work in any light, and at any angle. It also has 10 mb of internal memory and can handle 10,000 pages on 2 AA batteries. Otherwise? Well, it uses a proprietary format, for one thing. And it doesn't appear to have any manual input device. So it's still a long way from MY Holy Grail.

Oh, and it's only being made for Japan. Just now. (Which probably means your local upscale electronics place will have it next year.) But if you're a hard core early adopter, you can always get your mitts on one here:

Me, I'm still watching for Sir Gawain.

back to top


This is yet another on-line collection of text, but with a wrinkle: it's completely focused on travel literature:

Other collections have some of these documents, but having them grouped has at least one advantage: if you want to search only travel accounts, you can target your search engine here. Say you had an inexplicable fascination with the French word 'dejeuner' and wanted to find travelers' references to it. Entering:

dejeuner site:

in Google and probably some other engines will find you all the references to a French lunch (or more likely breakfast, depending on the year) by various travelers listed here.

back to top

AUSTEN: Etymologies

Here's a curious bit of bloggerie for our Austenites:

back to top

LA BARRE: Ten years after

For those who don't know this famous 'cause' espoused by Voltaire: in 1765, a cross was mutilated on a bridge in the northern French town of Abbeville. In the ensuing investigation, the young Chevalier de La Barre was arrested. Though his judges knew he probably hadn't struck the cross, they accumulated a potpourri of minor blasphemies (most famously not stopping for a procession) as charges against him and the next year he was tortured and executed. Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary was burned with his body (Voltaire's niece, Mme. De Hornoy, was also friends with La Barre's local cousin, so the philosopher had a double interest in the case.)

Voltaire's involvement, too late to save La Barre, nonetheless raised indignation about the whole affair throughout Europe and helped saved La Barre's co-defendants. So, in the bright light of Voltaire's wisdom, everybody realized a wrong had been done, end of story, right?

Cut to ten years later, when a ceremony was held in Abbeville to replace the mutilated cross with a new one (someone had been carving really slowly...). Louandre, in his Histoire d'Abbeville (II 173-174), describes this ceremony and how it ended: "One of the valets of the Bishop of Amiens burned the works of Jean-Jacques, those of Voltaire and Raynal, while his master blessed the cross with which all participating were equipped."

Ah, the healing power of polemic.

back to top

18th CENTURY RECIPE: Lizard Chicken

This is a recipe for serving chicken so that it looks like a lizard. I suspect the only people who might be tempted to make it would be those with small boys. I can't quite work out the mechanics myself (especially the bit with the omelettes). Anyway, if someone DOES make it, I hope they'll post a picture somewhere.

From the Art of the Cook (l'Art du Cuisinier), 1814. (309-310)

Empty and singe two nice chickens; remove the feet as well as the wings, keeping the skin up to the head; open them along the back until the parson's nose; de-bone them entirely, stretch them out on a white cloth, garnish them inside with a stuffing cooked of fowl: pour them [sic] and give them the form of a lizard, proceeding so: with stuffed skin of the neck make the lizard's tail: with the legs make the rear legs and with the two ends of the wings, the front legs, with the stomach the back, and to make the head, take a truffle, which you will shape like the head of a lizard; if you do not have a truffle, use a turnip, which you will insert into the body of this sort of lizard; loose a little cooked stuffing with a little velouté; spread a thin layer on the back of your lizards; decorate them with little omelettes, colored white, green, red, and yellow; basically imitate in all its richness the skin of the lizard: this done, line an oval casserole with strips of lard; place your lizards on this: be careful that they keep their shape; fry them...; cover them with thick paper and a cover; take them off [sic]; cook them under a low fire so as not to alter their decoration: once cooked, drain them, lay them out and serve under a ravigote or a green Hollandaise sauce.

back to top

End quote

HOMEOWNER: We wanted something like the Versailles house.
MORLEY SAFER: You mean the palace?
HOMEOWNER: Right. The palace.

Owner of new megahouse describing his family's housing goals
"Sixty Minutes"

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

For some sample 18th century vegetarian recipes, click here.

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
When using brief extracts from this site, please credit properly and provide a link back to this site.
(NOTE: Most translations, except where otherwise noted, are by Jim Chevallier and are copyrighted as such.)
Please do not reproduce extended pieces (recipes, translated pieces, etc.) without prior permission.


Questions? Comments? Corrections? Write:

Chez Jim

Memoirs of

the Bastille

Return to
Welcome to

the Bastille
Chez Jim