This week has been pretty hectic. I have been spending my evenings grading papers and writing homework exercises, so I haven't been particularly active this week. I like this meme though, so I want to have some fun this week.
I read Soulless by Gail Carriger over the weekend. Carriger's books are always full of neat words.
"She had to give credit to his valet, who must be a particularly tolerant claviger."
: one that keeps the key or keys
Origin of CLAVIGERL, fr. clavi- 1clavi- + -ger bearing, bearer
In the book this term is used for the people who are human caretakers of the werewolves, presumably because they are responsible for locking them up during 'the change.' Neat re-purposing of a word.
I am not sure why she does this to me in each book so far, but the author comes up with a dessert that I have to look up. So this time ...
"The French maid vanished and moments later reappeared pushing a fully laden tea trolley, complete with cucumber sandwiches, pickled gherkins, candied lemon peel, and Battenberg."
Ah ha! This time the controversy is not over the general recipe for the cake, but the origin of the name. The myth is that British pastry cooks wanted to show off the skills they adopted from the Germans at the wedding of Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse-Darmstadt to Price Louis of Battenberg in 1884. In reality, at roughly the same time, recipes for very similar cakes show up with the names Gateau à la Domino (Domino cake), Napoleon Roll and Chapel Window.
This site has a lovely writeup: http://foodhistorjottings.blogspot.com/2012/04/battenburg-cake-history-again.html plus a picture of the bride's cake from the second 'Battenberg' marriage, when Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, Beatrice, married Henry, Louis's brother in 1885.
"All its many layers of green trim, picked to the height of fashion in lightening shades to compliment the cuirasse bodice, were being crushed into oblivion under her weight."
According to Wikipedia, a cuirasse (//; French: cuirasse, Latin: coriaceus) is a piece of armor, formed of a single or multiple pieces of metal or other rigid material, which covers the front of the torso. This was apparently the inspiration for our bodice.
The cuirasse bodice appears to be have come into vogue during a brief period of time (1875-1883) when gowns with a very slender and fitted silhouette were popular and the bustle was greatly reduced in size - the so-called "Natural Form." It fit like a long, tight jacket that was smooth to the hip and often came to a point in the front. A cuirass corset was a long, tightly fitted corset that smoothed the body from upper torso to hip was worn under the bodice. By 1883 bustles returned, but the cuirasse bodice remained popular into the 20th century.
The bodice could sport a high neck for day wear (see Fashion Plate below) or could have a low-cut square or scooped neckline for evening.
|Fashion Plate- Peterson's Magazine |
May, 1880 (source: http://www.maggiemayfashions.com/firstbustle.html )
Ahh - now the following dress is gorgeous ! See - now you understand why the covers of her books have been driving me nuts! (Up at the top look at that cover - is that woman's back broken? If you have the proper undergarments you couldn't even bend like that. Okay, okay, I will stop now.)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
It is French dress from 1879 but has the very slender top silhouette of the cuirass bodice with a bustle.