Sup on a Syllabub

I cannot resist this post from the National Library of Medicine’s excellent blog, Circulating Now.

Circulating Now

By Anne Rothfeld

Caricature of food consumption; two men and a woman eating ice cream.Les Mangeurs de Glaces, 1825
NLM #A021418

Want an intriguing dessert from the past to satisfy your present day holiday palate? Serve the syllabub: a cream-based treat, mixed with sweet wine and lemon juice, then whipped with cream until frothy, and garnished with a seasonal herb. The acids, which rise from the lemons to firm the cream, then separate from the wine, which sinks into a two-part delectable sweet course. Syllabub, wine mixed with well-whisked cream, originates from the name Sille, a wine-growing region in France known for its sweet wine, and bub, an English slang word for a bubbling drink.

Eighteenth-century English cooks whisked syllabubs into a froth then placed the mixture into a pot to separate. Next, the mixture was spooned through a fine sieve to drain, oftentimes overnight. Before serving to guests, the creamy foam was topped with a splash of…

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The Corpse Walk: Paris, 1660

[This is excerpted from the talk I gave at the New York Academy of Medicine on 13 September 2016, which was itself excerpted from my book The Courtiers' Anatomists] Under cover of night, the dead of Paris made their journey from the burial grounds to the places of dissection.  In this era of recurrent plagues, … Continue reading The Corpse Walk: Paris, 1660

Vesalius and the beheaded man

On the 12th of May, 1543, Jakob Karrer von Getweiler was executed in Basel, Switzerland.  Reports say he was beheaded, although hanging was a more usual mode of execution.  Karrer was a bigamist who attacked his legal wife with a knife after she discovered his second wife.   According to a contemporary account, Karrer was a … Continue reading Vesalius and the beheaded man

The Witches

This review appears in The Public Historian, vol. 38, no. 2 (May 2016), pp. 98-99 The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff. New York, Boston and London: Little, Brown and Company, 2015. ix + 496 pp.; figures, notes, bibliography, index; clothbound, $32.00; paperbound, $30.00; eBook, $14.99.             Like many academic historians, I have a complicated relationship with … Continue reading The Witches

The Secret Horror of Dissection

The eighteenth-century anatomist William Hunter (1718-1783) told his students that the practice of dissection “familiarizes the heart to a kind of necessary inhumanity.”(1)   A few decades  earlier, Louis-Jean-Marie Daubenton (1716-1800) expressed more forcefully the “secret horror” that dissection, particularly of the human corpse, elicited in most of its practitioners.   His comments appeared in the “Description … Continue reading The Secret Horror of Dissection

Wellcome Trust Research Bursaries

An excellent opportunity to do research in a rich Edinburgh archive.

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) Library and Archive

cyril dobie 2

The Wellcome Trust have recently introduced a Research Bursaries scheme to support researchers wishing to work on library or archive collections which have been catalogued and preserved through a Wellcome Trust Research Resources Grant. The Library and Archive at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) is therefore inviting academic researchers, conservators, artists, performers, broadcasters, writers and public engagement practitioners to explore and use our collections, many of which remain unexplored. Our historical collections covering anatomy, surgery, medicine and pathology represent a unique resource dating from the early 16th century. The Research Bursaries are for small and medium-scale research projects (they need not be historically grounded) with support available in the range of £5,000-£25,000. You can see details of the funding stream, including applicant eligibility, here

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh is one of the oldest surgical corporations in the world.  Its story begins in the late 1400s when the roles of surgeons and barbers…

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