Pi(e) Day pop-up exhibition 2018

Pi(e) Day 2018, a pop-up exhibition at the Folger, took place on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 from 1:30-4:00 pm in the Deck B Seminar Room. It was curated by Sarah Powell, Beth DeBold, and Emily Wahl.

The exhibition, in celebration of Pi(e) day, highlighted some pi and pie themed items from the Folger collection.

Items included

1) Cookbook [manuscript], 17th century. Folger: V.a.19. Available in Folger digital image collection.

This seventeenth-century cookbook contains recipes for lamb, chicken, veal or olive pies, and as transcribed below, a “curious Lumbart pie":

To make a curious Lumbart pie
Take a capon or pullet parboiled & minced with=
sweet herbs, then put to it halfe a pound of
beife suet made very fine the marrow of 3 bones
in little Lumps 10 yelks of eggs halfe a pint or
lesse of creame a quarter of a pint of rose water
as much veriuce the crumms of a halfe penny=
loafe grated or lesse 2 nutmegs beaten some
cloues & mace beaten a little leamon pill minced, halfe
pound of currans, as much sugar, a few barberryes striped
from the stalks a quarter of an ounce of carrow wayes
seeds, a quarter of a pound of minced dates, and salt to
season it then haue a 3. cornered pye readye made, or any
other fashion and make your meate into balls in the big=
nesse of eggs, laye them in the pye one by one as you doe,
wardens, then bake it, this is the best waye for the pye.

2) Cookbook of L. Cromwell [manuscript], 17th century. Folger: V.a.8. Available in Folger digital image collection.

L. Cromwell’s minced pie recipe, transcribed below, is made with beef, apples, currants, raisins, and prunes:

To make minced Pyes
Take a peece of the Butt of beefe &
boile it a little then cut of the outside
of it & waigh the rest & to 10 pounds of
beefe take 13 of suett, mince them smale
together & take 12 apples & mince uery
smale & put to the meate then of cur=
rence take 7 pound of reason 8 pound
of pruens 2 pound 8 Nuttmegs 4 ounces
of dates cloues & mace 1 ounce halfe an
ounce of sin: beaten a little beaten san=
ders a pint of rosewater a little pepper
& salt & beaten ginger & carraway seeds
& 3 orrange peeles minced smale.
(nb. “sin:” likely refers to cinnamon)

3) Webster, Nicholas. Certain profitable and well experienced collections for making conserve of fruits . . . as also of surgery, approved medicines [manuscript], ca. 1650. Folger: V.a.364. Available in Folger digital image collection.

In addition to recipes for calves’ feet pie and quince pie, Nicholas Webster’s receipt book gives the order in which meat should be served at a meal; he suggests serving pies at different courses.

Here foloweth
the order of meates
how they must be ser=
ved att the Table with
the most of their
sawces for flesh daies
att dynner…

In the first column
The first course.
Potage or stewed
broth boyld meat or
stewed meat, chickins
and baconn, powdred
beeife, pies, goose
pigg, rosted beefe
rosted veale custard…

In the second column
Second course
Capons rosted, connies
roasted, chickins rosted,
pegions rosted, larkes
rosted a pie of pegions
or chickings baked venison

4) Cookbook of Susanna Packe [manuscript], 1674. Folger: V.a.215. Available in Folger digital image collection.

This chicken pie from Susanna Packe's cookbook uses nine to twelve chickens, as well as cherries, grapes, and gooseberries:

A Chicken Pie
Take 9 or 12 chickens about 3 wee
=ks or a mounth old sald them & truss them
Then make puff past Roole out a sheet
for the Bottom Then take you chicke
=ns & lay them 3 square season them
with cloues & mace pepper & salt lay
on them Blads of large mace then=
Take dats sliced presarved Cherries=
graps & goossberryes & put vpon=
them Then couer them ouer with mar
row & Butter; After lay one your=
other sheet of past & cut it 3 sq=
=uar as your chickens lie; Bake it
an houer when you take out of the=
ouen Take some whit wine Butter and
sugar melt all to gaither and put in=
you pie garnish your dish with

5) Letter from Sir Harvey Bagot, Oxford, to Walter Bagot, 1610/1 January 26. Folger: L.a.60. Available in Folger digital image collection.

Harvey Bagot was studying at college in Oxford when he wrote this letter home to his father Walter. Here he expresses thanks to his mother for a pie she has sent:

…I pray you remember my duety to my mother and thanke her
for her token and her pye it was brought more carefully then
any that euer I had brought me. I haue no Newes to write
to you of but that (god be praysed) we are all in good health…

6) Hollar, Wenceslaus. Illustration for The City Mouse and the Country Mouse. Ogilby, John. The fables of Aesop paraphras’d in verse. London : Printed by Thomas Roycroft, for the author, MDCLXVIII. [1668]. Folger: A697. Selections available in Folger digital image collection.

One of the most important considerations in storing provisions was dry, rodent-proof space. In this etching for "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse," the famous Bohemian engraver Wenceslaus Hollar depicts common strategies: the use of baskets, barrels, and covered earthenware jugs, hanging meats on nails, and placing pies securely on high shelves.

Originally, the crusts for pies were referred to as "coffins." Although this may sound morbid, the word "coffin" originally meant simply "basket" or "box." Thick and hard enough to be baked on their own in the oven without a container, the rye crust was not eaten and could even be reused. The top crust was removed and portions were scooped out and served to the diners. In time, the word also came to mean a mould or dish in which to make a pie. A partially eaten pie, standing alone in its "coffin," is shown here behind the mouse.

7) Bosse, Abraham. [The pastry chef] [graphic] Paris : Chez Mel[chi]or Tauernier, [ca. 1634]. Folger: ART Box B745 no.1. Available in Folger digital image collection.

This engraving shows the interior of a large kitchen in this depiction of a pastry shop. In the center, the chef removes a pie from a wood-burning oven. On the right, two workers labor: one rolls out the dough, while the other shapes it into crust. Further to the right, a proprietress accepts money from a woman who has just bought a small pie, possibly for the child sitting in her arms. Food overflows in the space, giving the viewer a strong sensory experience: finished cakes and pies sit on a table in the foreground, baskets of fruit are piled around, and cuts of meat hang from the ceiling.

8) May, Robert. The accomplisht cook, or The art & mystery of cookery. London : Printed for Obadiah Blagrave at the Bear and Star in St. Pauls Church-Yard, 1685. Folger: M1394. Selections available in [ http://luna.folger.edu/luna/servlet/s/qb9vm2 Folger digital image collection].

Robert May wrote this keystone work of cookery in 1660, the year of the Restoration, when he was 72. Hailing from a family of Catholic English chefs, May had apprenticed in Paris as a young man, and cooked for members of the British aristocracy for many years. His section on "Triumphs and Trophies" famously includes instructions for concealing live birds and frogs in a pie. Yet, his cookbook also includes simple recipes, "that those whose purses cannot reach to the cost of rich dishes,...may give... a handsome and relishing entertainment in all seasons of the year."

In his recipe for an elaborately decorated and tiered "Bride Pie," May riffs on his earlier instructions for live animals in a pie, writing that the cook may choose to include birds or a snake in one of the tiers. He writes that this "will seem strange to the beholders, which cut up the pie at the Table. This is only for a Wedding to pass away the time."

9) Receipt book of Margaret Baker [manuscript], ca. 1675? Folger: V.a.619. Available in Folger digital image collection.

Margaret Baker’s receipt book contains a handful of recipes for pies, including this one. By "dowsett," Margaret may be referring to the county of Dorset, or to a now-obsolete term for a sweet dish from French: doucet.

To make a dowsett pey;
Take sume veale either rosted or parboyled; & shred it
very smale with suett; & all maner of sweet herbs; then
put sume corrancs & season it with suger & nutt:mege and
sinnamon; then take as many egges beat as will wett it
and make it vpe like egges & put a dait in the midest
of them & lay them in the pye; with butter & sume dryd
plomes; then take some white wine & suger & butter &
pouer in a little before you drawe it

10) The lamentable and tragical history of Titus Andronicus ...To the tune of, Fortune my foe,... London : Printed by T. Norris, at the Looking-glass on London-bridge. And sold by J. Walter, at the Hand and Pen in High-Holborn, [1720?] Folger: V.b.35 (19).

This woodblock print illustrates "The ballad of Titus Andronicus," a short rendering of Shakespeare's play with all the gory plot points. Written in the first person from Titus's perspective, this ballad was certainly printed because there was popular demand for the shocking story. The wormholes in the print tell us that this block was kept for a long period, and likely used many times. The image illustrates only a few of the most important events in the lengthy narrative, including the moment when Lavinia painfully writes out what has happened to her using a stick held between the stumps of her amputated hands, the burial of the treacherous Aaron alive up to his neck, the murder of Queen Tamora's sons, and the way in which she is tricked into cannibalizing them.

Titus explains the murderous ruse: "I cut their throats, my Daughter held the pan / Betwixt her stumps, wherein the blood it ran : / And then I ground their bones to powder small / And made a paste for pies straight therewithal. / Then with their flesh I made two mighty pies, / And at a banquet serv'd in stately wise ; / Before the Empress set this loathsome meat, / So of her sons own flesh she well did eat." As such a popular, universal form of food, the idea of pies made out of human flesh must have been particularly horrifying (and has maintained its grip on popular imagination to the present day).

11) Hall, T. The Queen’s royal cookery, or, Expert and ready way for the dressing of all sorts of flesh, fowl, fish. London : Printed for C. Bates, at the Sun and Bible in Gilt-Spur-Street, in Pye-Corner, and A. Bettesworth, at the Red Lion on London-Bridge, 1713. Folger: 269- 969q.

The woodcut title page of this cookery book, published during the reign of Queen Anne, features her portrait presiding over several busy kitchen scenes. Beyond the general scene showing roasting meats and food preparation, the bottom-most moments show two important things a reader will find in this collection: recipes for "chymistry," or distillation, and recipes for "pastry."

A sickly child, Anne was the younger daughter of James, himself the younger brother of Charles II. She came to the throne after the death of her childless brother-in-law William III in 1702. She was immediately popular, as she was seen to be truly English, in direct opposition to the Dutch William. This book, like several others published at the time, claims to reveal the secrets of her royal kitchens.

12) Jones, W. (William). Synopsis palmariorum matheseos: or, a new introduction to the mathematics. London : Printed by J. Matthews for Jeff. Wale, 1706. Folger: 167- 873q.

William Jones was a Welsh sailor and mathematician, and is most recognized today as the first person to use the Greek letter "π," or pi, to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. As a teenager, Jones took a position as a merchant's accountant, and became deeply interested in the mathematics of navigation. In 1709, having returned to London for good and becoming employed as a private tutor, he published "Synopsis palmariorum matheseos," or "A summary of achievements in mathematics," aimed at beginning students of geometry and arithmetic. It is in this work that the symbol π first appears as we think of it today.

It is possible that Jones chose π to represent 3.14[...] because it was the first letter in the Greek words for "perimeter" and "periphery," used at that time to describe circumference, and had been used in the 17th century by mathematician William Oughtred in his discussions of circumference. The symbol "π" was later used by Swiss mathematician Leonard Euler in 1737, but wasn't adopted as the universally accepted symbol for this irrational number possibly until 1934.