Cooking, Hercules Segers, Economics, Malaco, Birding

Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Cooking For The Pope

Edward White | Paris Review | 3rd March 2017

Bartolomeo Scappi cooked for popes and cardinals when the mid-16C Vatican was at its most decadent and depraved. “A Venetian ambassador recorded a sixty-course meal that featured monkey brains and parrot tongues”. But then came a swing to austerity with the election of Pope Pius V in 1565. Scappi retired and poured his genius into the world’s first illustrated cookbook, Opera dell’arte del cucinare, a 900-page guide to overdoing it. “Sugar features in 90 percent of the recipes” (2,550 words)

Master Of The Unreal

Christopher Benfey | New York Review Of Books | 3rd March 2017

“An air of unreality hangs over the astonishing exhibition of seventeenth-century Dutch artist Hercules Segers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I found myself wondering whether this extraordinary etcher and painter — the creator of mesmerising prints of spectral trees dripping with moss, ships foundering in rough seas, prints combining early Chinese landscape aesthetic with Surrealist fantasy — actually existed. He seems a character dreamed up by Bruce Chatwin or W.G. Sebald” (1,750 words)

What Do Economists Know?

Russ Roberts | Medium | 2nd March 2017

Most claims in economics are “not verifiable or replicable”; they are conjectures based on statistical techniques meant to simulate simplified versions of small parts of real life. Controlled experiments are generally impossible in macroeconomics because they would involve manipulating entire nations. So it is not unusual to encounter eminent economists claiming scientific and mathematical certainty for diametrically opposed theories: They may be sincere, but they do not know (3,900 words)

Play Me Down Home

Rashod Ollison | Oxford American | 28th February 2017

Affectionate memoir of Malaco Records, a Mississipi label which resisted the mainstreaming of American southern blues in the 1970s and 1980s. “The Malaco records that played on the Seeburg at Ma Rene’s didn’t wallow in self-pity or perpetuate caricatures of poor blacks. Those records celebrated an indomitable spirit, encouraging listeners to laugh, not cry; to rise in love, not fall — extending a very old ethos of black music, the blues in particular, as a healing force” (2,400 words)

Bird Man

Eva Holland | Longreads | 27th February 2017

Extreme birding. An Oregon birder claims a new “Big Year” record by sighting 6,042 species in 2015. A Dutchman beats him in 2016 with 6,833 — two-thirds of the world’s known species. Modern birding was popularised by Roger Tory Peterson’s handbook, The Field Guide To The Birds, published in 1934. Birders began collecting sightings of birds rather than the birds themselves. It was a pastime before it became an obsession. Peterson claimed the Big Year record for 1953 with just 572 species

Video of the day: The Art Of Compositing

What to expect:

Mindblowing guide to the power of computer graphics in film. Stay tuned for the dénouement around the 1’50” mark (3’00”)

Thought for the day

When we read, someone else thinks for us
Arthur Schopenhauer

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