An Alphabet of My Likes and Dislikes: “E”

This is a post belonging to a new blogging project — the title is pretty much self-explanatory, I think; the project’s introductory post can be found HERE.  Credit for the idea: BeetleyPete.

As always, the only thing linking the two items mentioned in this post in my mind is that they both start with the same letter of the alphabet.




Clay, pottery, ceramics, terracotta — the whole kit & kaboodle, and every kind of use it can be put to as well.  Among my earliest childhood heroes were the gods and heroes of Greek (and to a somewhat lesser extent, Roman) mythology, so I was familiar early on, in turn, with the depiction of mythological scenes and figures on ancient Greek amphoras, bowls and similar items; and I learned to marvel at the technique by which these works of art had been produced.  It was not until having reached adulthood that I actually managed to visit Greece and Rome for the first time; however, by this time I had long become a fan all things clay, pottery and earthenware, both ancient and modern.

What had, by then, clinched my admiration once and for all was being introduced to Mexican and Native American art (both pre-Columbian and modern) by relatives who had returned to Germany from an extended stay in the Southwestern U.S. at around the same time that I developed an interest in Greek mythology.  When they moved back to the American Southwest for another, similarly extended stay towards the end of my high school years, they graciously invited me to spend time with them during my holidays, and they took me on several trips through the Four Corners States and into Mexico.  I instantly fell in love with Santa Fe and its adobe cityscape — it continues to be one of my favorite places in all the world, and I returned there several times (once even for Christmas) after I had, myself, moved to California many years later — and the area’s pottery, as well as other Southwestern Indian arts and crafts and similar pieces from Mexico, have since made their permanent mark on my home in everything from bowls and vases of various sizes, cat figurines, Christmas ornaments, and even my daily use tableware, which I brought home from California and whose pattern and color scheme is inspired by that of Southwestern and Mexican pottery.

(Image sources here and here.)

Left: detail of an amphora, depicting Themis (note that unlike other depictions of her, as well as of her Roman counterpart Justitia, here she is not blindfolded, as she is acting as an oracle) (ca. 440-430 BC, height: 12.5 cm; Berlin, Altes Museum, Antikensammlung, inventory no. F 2538).  Right: amphora depicting Athena bearing a shield with a lion device (ca. 480BC-460BC, height: 40 cm; London, British Museum, registration no. 1867,0508.959).

Crete: ancient amphoras at the archeological site of Knossos, terracotta figurines of Minoan deities in the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, and modern pottery ware for sale in Margarites village in the foothills of the Psiloritis (Mount Ida) massif.

Santa Fe, NM: Indian arts market at the Palace of the Governors, and San Miguel Mission in winter

(Note: All images in this section of the post except for the top two ones are mine.)




And frogs’ legs.  I can look at them (and post a picture, FWIW), but the mere thought of eating them gives me the willies to such an extent that I’m not even able to swallow the first bite.  As should have become clear from the previous posts in this series, I do care about food — but if eating escargots and frogs’ legs is what it takes to make you a gourmet, that’s an honor I’ll gladly renounce.  (Seriously, whoever had the idea that ingesting something moving on a layer of slime — snails / escargots — or consisting of tiny limbs of flesh that have to be peeled out from under a slick, slippery layer of skin — frogs’ legs — might be a good idea to begin with??)  Moreover, when being prepared, the snails are typically thrown into boiling water alive, and similarly, the frogs’ legs are often severed while the frogs are still alive; both of which methods, for all that is known (and, frankly, easily imaginable) causes the animals immense pain and suffering — and though I am not a vegetarian, I won’t eat anything that I have every reason to expect to have been made to suffer needlessly just so I can consume it.  (I don’t eat lobster, either, largely for the same reason.)

(Image source)


10 thoughts on “An Alphabet of My Likes and Dislikes: “E”

  1. 1. I’m with you on ceramics, so many of them potentially things of great beauty in all their sensual delight. I’ve seen those massive jars in Knossos, each large enough to hold one of Ali Baba’s forty thieves, and handled bits of broken Roman Samian ware, Neolithic potsherds and medieval glazed ware from southwest France on various digs. But I’m no expert.

    2. Escargot? I’ve had a few — but only at the one sitting. In lashings of butter found them like chewy mushrooms, though knowing they were not mushrooms — since I had to extract them from shells with special tweezers — made it less gastronomic and more, er, gut-churning. But I would try them again! Less sure about those legs though…

    1. “[L]large enough to hold one of Ali Baba’s forty thieves“ … they really are, aren‘t they? They‘re *huge*!! I don‘t think I‘d ever seen clay-made containers this big before, or at the very least not this ancient, richly decorated *and* big. They‘re one of the things that stand out in my memory of Knossos, in addition to the labyrinthine size and makeup of the “palace“ structure … and the rather surprising fact that it was literally built wall to wall with ordinary citizens‘ houses.

      One of the very few „“guided tour“ holidays I ever went on was to Sicily, with a historian (post-doc, on his way to becoming a professor) specializing in the late Roman / early medieval Mediterranean world as our guide. He made it possible for us to get “up, close and personal“ with some of the finds at the archeological sites we visited; at least those where there wasn’t any risk that we’d wipe out any color, glazing or other markings by touching them. Quite a thrill, to hold something this old and wonder who else might have owned and handled it many centuries ago … and what they would have thought if they‘d known the shards of their pot / vase / jar etc. would be held by strangers from barbaric realms all those centuries later — and what they would have wanted to say to us if they had been able to communicate anything.

      As for escargots, yes, that‘s what I keep hearing. I’ll still gladly go without the experience! 😀

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