Vancouver Public Library: The Country Kitchen 1850

V.P.L.After a long week, Ginger Man and I decided to spend part of his day off at the library (yes, we are ubernerds). I love libraries, the smell of books, browsing through the stacks, and coming away with a few borrowed treasures. We have a local branch in the neighbourhood, but the main branch downtown is the coolest. You might recognize it in films and TV shows including the Bastille Day episode of Battlestar Galactica and The 6th Day starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The building at Library Square (designed by architect Moshe Safdie) is easily accessible via public transportation (bus or SkyTrain) and plenty of bike racks are available. The square is bordered by four streets: West Georgia, Homer, Robson, and Hamilton. Across West Georgia Street is a colourful Canada Post Office, and across Homer Street is the attractive Centre for Performing Arts (also designed by Moshe Safdie).

The Vancouver Public Library hosts a variety of events as well as monthly readings, workshops, and classes. Pay telephones, computers, and copy machines are available on each floor. Wireless internet access is free. The lobby section has a few retail shops, and you can pick up a drink or a nosh at several eateries in the square.The central library owns over 1.3 million items, and books and materials are moved through the 9-story building on vertical and horizontal conveyors (neat, huh?).

Front CoverI spend a lot of time on the 4th floor, where the cookbooks and toymaking books live. This trip, I came back with three pattern books and a nifty little reprint of The Country Kitchen 1850, which explains how to properly feed your woodburning stove and provides a great deal of detail regarding proper techniques for making and storing bread, butter, and cheese in addition to advice for the selection, care, and feeding of a dairy cow.

The illustrations and adverts are absolutely charming. the Alimentary Store ad promises “confectionary of the rarest quality” and “more than twenty different qualities of superior health chocolate. Also, the No. 1 homeopathic chocolate of the best French manufacture.” But my favourite “alimentive novelty” is the enormous list of items recoomended for “ill persons” including cordials, Absinthe, very old Cognac, Venus Oil, Champagne, and other such cures. I think I’m coming down with something.

Reading this little gem makes me very glad that I have electricity and that I don’t have to spend the whole day milking, churning, kneading, baking, and washing until the hard working head of the house comes home. Incedentally, according to Mrs. Cornelius, “many a day-laborer, on his return at evening from his hard toil, is repelled by the sight of a disorderly house and a comfortless supper; and perhaps is met by a cold eye instead of ‘the thriftie wifie’s smile,’ and he makes his escape to the grog-shop or the under-ground gambling room.” Sounds like an Andy Capp comic, yet maybe, there is a wee bit of truth in there, eh?

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2 responses to “Vancouver Public Library: The Country Kitchen 1850

  1. I would love to visit that library. I am drawn to books like the moth to a flame. Truly we must revisit the art of making do, using it up, or doing without. Here in our beloved mountains we have the ability to do extensive wildcrafting. You will be glad to know that your sisters will be making several runs of blackberry and wild grape jelly. We may even put up some apples for the winter. That may not sound like much, but at least we know how. And with Blackberries at $4.99 a pint, think of the money we could save. Or maybe we could just sell the berries we pick? Something to think about.

    • curiousdomestic

      I wish I could eat your grape jelly. There aren’t many places in the city where I would want to harvest anything; they spray pesticides on most things, I’m sure. I’d like to go out of town and visit some local farms this summer.

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