Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ein bisschen Volkskunst I

The fascinating Tiroler Volkskunst Museum in Innsbruck revealed a glory of items detailing life in the mountains and valleys of the Tirol. Traditions that seem, in many cases, regional but at the same time how people responded to the conditions of their times.

I thought over the next few days I'd post a few of the displays that I personally enjoyed and that made me do a bit of searching and researching.

There are few movies that I find I can go back to time and time again but one of them is Babette's Feast, Gabriel Axel's 1987 adaptation of the Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) novella. The story of a small aging religious community in Jutland that is shrinking physically and spiritually and the redemption and love brought to it by a famous French chef is a film I return to at least once a year or when I am feeling in need of confirmation of the goodness of life. When I first saw it in the cinema I recall being a bit repulsed by the scene where the two sisters show Babette how to make “bierbrot” - their main meal of the day. But this method of taking harden bread and reconstituting it in liquid – beer, milk, wine – was practiced in most parts of Europe, even in the finer households.

Bread would be baked two or three times a year and then stored in wood boxes and hung from the ceiling so mice wouldn't get into it. It would harden and, if kept dry, be good for many months - hardtack was a version familiar to sailors and many early settlers in North America.

The hardened bread would be brought down and broken up on this special bread board: the knife tip was on a pivot and the blade was used to break rather than cut the bread into usable chunks. Then it would be thrown into the pot of simmering liquid to expand and thicken. Certainly in the winter cold of Jutland and in the mountains of the Tirol it would have provided warming nutrition but I still have trouble at even the thought of it.

26 gennaio - San Policarpo

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3 comments:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Babette's Feast is a wonderful movie. I haven't seen it for years -- time to rent it again!

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

Babette's Feast..still one of the best movies I ever saw..just loved that movie..
and I love your new digs.

Lorraine said...

A) I'm with Debra and Granny as to the wonderfulness of "Babette's Feast".

2) I'm with you on appreciating the reasoning being but not being remotely interested in a big ol' steamin' bowl of beer bread. eeewwww.