Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Inka Dinka Doo. I Like Ink. Do You?

Has anyone ever been unhappy shopping for art supplies?  I went to an art supply store the other day.  It's in an old enough building, the floors creak while you walk the aisles.  My goal was to find a new color of ink to use with a fountain pen that hadn't been active in a while.  So many art supplies shops that were present in my youth up until now are gone.  I truly mourn the loss of Pearl Art (still in New York) that we had for a while.  I could spend hours in there looking at paint and colored pencils and all of the beautiful handmade papers.
I studied the inks and decided I wanted to focus on the line made by Winsor & Newton, a company based in London, England, but the ink is made in France.  I also like using Pelikan ink which is made in Germany.  I've never settled on just one color of ink when I'm using a fountain pen.  My mother always used a navy that was then universally called "blue-black."   Even though I was writing thank you notes and letters as soon as I could write, I didn't begin with a fountain pen until I was about 11, and my first color choice was a turquoise then called "Peacock Blue."  I probably remained loyal to that color for two years, then played around a bit more, even using ink colors seasonally (red for Christmas, etc.) which I still do.

Sometime in my early 20's it was all about a mahogany brown that I used with a cream stationery, the envelopes lined with a reproduction of an antique browned map of the world.  My first time in London I went to Smythson's and fell in love with color bordered papers (they even made mourning paper--something I had first read about in "Brideshead Revisited," by Evelyn Waugh.  Sebastian Flyte writes to his friend Charles on his parent's Victorian mourning paper, because he's bored and wants company after breaking his foot in an alcohol fueled fall--and I've always been loyal to Crane paper, started by Stephen Crane in Boston in 1770.
I chose a sanguine red, called "Deep Red" that looks rather like dried blood, and I'm using it for my Moore fountain pen, Moore being a defunct pen company out of Boston.  I bought the pen several years ago from a fountain pen specialist in Somerville, just a short distance from Harvard.  It's nothing fancy, a real workhorse of a pen and it has sentimental value.  I tend to use one color of ink with each pen so that hues don't muddied and not reflect their true shade.  I photographed a recent pen I bought that has a silver and checkerboard effect that I use for emerald ink, and probably for the longest period of my fountain pen existence, I've been writing with green inks. 
You have to slow down and think when writing with ink.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pomegranate Porno: Taste of Persia

 Taste of Persia:  A Cook's Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran and Kurdistan by Naomi Duguid. 
Such an unusual cookbook covering the author's travels and recipes from the Persian regions.  Saffron water, mint oil, rhubarb syrup, tons of flat breads and meals using "greens" (herbs.) A real work of love in this book. I had to share the section where the author teaches you to eat a pomegranate "nomad style." The author was taught this technique by a Khamseh nomad man in the mountains east of Shiraz, Iran.  

 Here is his method:  Pomegranates are full of juicy seeds held in place by bitter pith.  When the fruits are ripe and fresh, sucking the juice is the easiest and best way to eat them.  Start by holding the pomegranate in your hands and squeezing it all over, pressing on it with your fingertips all over until it goes from being a tight-skinned fruit to feeling very soft.  Feel for any firm places and press on them.   
Poke a small hole in the fruit and immediately put your mouth over the hole and start swallowing the juice (it will spurt out if you're not careful.)  Suck and swallow some more.  Keep pressing on the fruit as you suck and keep rotating it around.  The pressing breaks up the seeds, releasing the juice.  As you continue to suck, the fruit will get more and more like a basketball that has host its air, with dents and hollows and softness.  Eventually, when it is very saggy, you can break the pomegranate open.  Inside, the seeds will be a pale pink, having had their juice pressed and sucked out of them.  There may be the odd renegade still red seed or two, those you can eat one by one.  At the end of the process, your pucker muscles will be a little tired, but you'll have had a delicious drink of fresh pomegranate juice without having had to deal with the messiness of the seeds and pits and membranes. 
HA!  I wonder, after writing this out, if I can market it as porn!

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