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It’s been a month since I left The Pigeonhole, a digital publishing start-up, so for Throwback Thursday I’m going to recount my unexpected moments there:

  • Stroking a taxidermied pigeon.
  • Setting a lunch trend.
  • Encountering questionable websites in my media list research.
  • Trying to concentrate with a dog’s head heating up my lap.
  • Arguing over Brexit with everyone but the dog.
  • Receiving a photo of a newborn baby in an email.
  • Eating “the best falafel in London”.
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The BBC documentary ‘The Story of China’ got me thinking of the origins of the round table, or yuán zhuō (圆桌), which along with the lazy susan we nowadays associate with Chinese dining culture. From what I remember of my travels in China, the banqueting tables I saw in palaces and mansions were mainly rectangular or square, and the circular ones were in less grandiose settings, in teahouses and outdoor pavilions.

The round table puts everyone on an equal level, something we associate with the Chinese civil administration rather than imperial court. Since trends tend to stem from court fashion, I can’t imagine large round tables to have been in vogue in China’s imperial past. But it would make sense for it to have gained popularity in the Communist era, when the egalitarian spirit was forced into the Chinese, who had previously respected and fostered domestic and professional hierarchies.

My theory is that the round table is a western import (think King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), that gradually became common among the governing class of China, from the last years of the Qing dynasty and gaining momentum after the abolishment of imperial rule. Now they feature in the most elegant and pricey restaurants, and are the must-have furniture for banquets.

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Just saw some mind-blowing maths, courtesy of my uncle’s wisdom, that shows why 2016 will be a wonderful year, and it’s all to do with numbers that we Chinese find lucky!

2016 = 168+168+168+168+168+168+168+168+168+168+168

2016 = 666+666+666+6+6+6

2016 = 888+888+88+88+8+8+8+8+8+8+8+8

2016 = 999+999+9+9

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From Monday there will be a charge of at least 5p for each “single-use” bag shoppers use to carry their packaged food. Why are they called “single-use”? I use them to line my bin, carry my shoes, etc. And the category “single use” should technically also include the thin clear bags we use to put our groceries in, even though the regulations specify that these clear bags should be exempt. Surely the name “single-use” encourages shoppers to think that their basic shopping bags are not able to be reused, and therefore throw them away though they are perfectly reusable if there are no spillages inside or holes in the material. Why not use the term “branded bags”, a name that will not foster such an unethical habit?

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I can’t believe my time at Oxford is almost over, and also that my exams are almost upon me, and so I’ll spend the next few weeks posting about food in Oxford with material that I’ve compiled from times past.

The term ‘molecular gastronomy’ (or ‘molecular and physical gastronomy’ as it was first called) was coined by a Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti from the University of Oxford and the French chemist Hervé This from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique.

A student at Queen’s College was attacked on Christmas Day by a wild boar. His only weapon at hand was a copy of Aristotle, so he shoved the book down the boar’s throat. Afterwards, he wanted his book back, so he cut off the animal’s head and brought it back to the college where it was served for Christmas dinner, kickstarting the tradition of eating boar’s head for Christmas. I was dubious about the truth behind this story, but my friend from Queen’s says it’s true!

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I first heard of a Welsh instrument called the crwth, and saw it played in Lincoln College Chapel last week, by a duo called ‘Bragod’. Their website is well worth a read for those curious about medieval music, and explains a lot. The notation and ritualistic dance gestures were so alien to me! I didn’t even envision the crwth being held horizontally. As a Classicist, I very much enjoyed the introduction to the concert, where Mary told us about Boethius’ categories of music and Pythagorean tuning.