Monday, October 27, 2014

His meat was locusts and wild honey

"Animal trials" are not a topic to raise in the Riddled tea-room for fear of triggering traumatic memories, so let me make it clear right at the start that what I have in mind is the Medieval tradition of invoking criminal or canon law against animals (singularly or in swarm). As opposed to purely hypothetical episodes involving puppies, and the Evolvamat, and angry mobs standing in the way of progress, and sternly-worded letters from the ethics review panel.

Here are two hurebers.

After drying them and grinding them into coarse meal, they can serve as a basis for cakes or bread. Sam Beckett mentions them in Watt:
He was alluding (as any fule kno) to the 'Insect trial' of 1531. The insects lost their case, forfeited their rights of Usufruct, and were called upon to render up their bodies as a nutritious replacement for the grain they had consumed. They did not acquit themselves well under cross-examination.
Subsequent scholastic logic-chopping led to the ecclesiastical verdict that locust-based foods are not meat, and can be eaten on fast-days, much in the manner of another man's poisson.

At this point the blogpost was leading up to a disquisition on transforming commonly-available insects into perfectly serviceable substitutes for commercial snackfoods* (largely inspired by B^4's recent report on entomophagia). Unfortunately we have been thwarted by an injunction from Mrs Miggins (Proprietress of Pie-Shaped Products llc) -- accompanied by Writs of Estoppel and Mandamus -- alleging that our serving suggestions were a breach of copyright, infringing on her recipe for All-Kinds-of-Critter Fritter. Our legal counsel (Messrs. Trahison & Clerisy) assure us that in the course of overturning the injunction and bringing the suit to a favourable conclusion they will leave no tern unstoned, no camel unstrawed and no hour unbilled. However, this will take time.

To fill the temporary gap on the page, let me observe instead that early manuscripts of Watt went into more detail -- much, much more -- about the culinary aspects of the so-called 'Beaune Bread'. But Beckett's manuscripts are a nexus of errata and amendments and critical dispute, such that modern editions consist of more critical apparatus than auctorial text, trying to distinguish Beckett's deliberate errors and lacunae from the erroneous errors introduced by his handwrithing. In particular, the Beaune-bread footnotes were lost in the transcription from one draft to another.

They have recently been re-discovered in the archives of the University of Chester, and will shortly see  long-delayed publication in the university's literary magazine, the Flash.

Another Kiwi was heard to vouchsafe that "Watt's 'Bread-in-the-Beaune' will come out in 'The Flash'".
* Above: There are nine-and-sixty ways of preparing Frito-Lays.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Here's the music for your cocktail party.

M. Bouffant said...

Animals are a trial.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

(largely inspired by B^4's recent report on entomophagia).

And I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling theologians!

Hamish Mack said...

All that we are asking for is labels on the biscuit tin in the tea room. Such as might stop people saying "Oh, is it time for Chocolate Hob Nobs?" And then shrieking when they find locust crème brûlée in there.

Yastreblyansky said...

"All that we are asking for is labels on the biscuit tin in the tea room."


nick keller said...

Holy crap, I was long witless about that bit