Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How to Replace a Nose, 1587

Gaspare Tagliacozzi,
De curtorum chirurgia (1598)
"An incision is made in the skin of either arm, left or right, down to the flesh, that is, only as far as the surface of the muscles... Furthermore, the extent of the mutilation of the nose will indicate the length and breadth of the skin which must be taken... When the skin is recognized as fit for grafting, its margins, as well as those of the nose, are lightly scarified so that the arm skin may be joined to the nose with sutures by the art. However, in order that in the various motions of the body those parts joined in this way may not be torn apart and injured, the arm should be kept bound to the head with proper bandages, while the wound and suture are being healed with cicatrizing agents... But when excellent union of the wound and nourishment of the skin is observed, sever the arm from the face, and care for the wound as you do for other wounds for a period of several days; but the remaining skin, that is, the result of the grafting, which, of course, is attached to the nose, has to be made into the shape of a nose... Now this procedure, as well as the rest of the operation, does not prove as difficult as practically everyone until now has seemed to believe, even the most illustrious men."  
Gaspare Tagliacozzi, Letter to Girolamo Mercuriale (1587)
The wonders of home rhinoplasty: just join Flap I to Appendage L, spend a couple weeks with your arm tied to your face, and voilà! A new you, with a slightly less-mutilated nose.

Friday, April 25, 2014

How to Know if You're Pregnant, 1684

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger,
Portrait of a Woman in Red (1620), Tate
"The women are troubled with nauseating and loathing of their meat, and oftentimes covet and greedily long for things contrary to Nutriment, as Coals, Rubish, Chalk, Lime, Starch, Oat-meal, raw Flesh and Fish or the like, which desire proceeds from a former contraction of evil humours... some Women as it has been noted by divers Authors of Credit, have been so extravegant in their longings, that they have coveted Hob-Nails, Leather, Horse Flesh, Mans Flesh, and the Flesh of divers ravenous Beasts..." 
Aristoteles Master-piece (1684)
Forget the home pregnancy test. Have you been craving ravenous beast flesh? Or... oatmeal? Congratulations: you're expecting!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to Eat Bread, 1634

Arm und Reich (17th c.)
"Bread that commeth hote from the Oven is unwholesome... hot bread causeth thirstinesse, by reason that it is hot, for it swimmeth in the stomacke, by reason of his vaporous humidity: yet it is of quicke digestion, and descendeth stoutly downe. And although that hote bread... be unwholesome to eate: yet the smell thereof is right wholesome, for it relieveth one in a swound: and it is possible, that some folke may live by the smell of new bread... Beware of crusts eating, because they ingender a dust cholor, or melancholly humours, by reason that they bee burned and dry. And therefore great estates... cause the crustes above and beneath to be chipped away, wherefore the pith or crumme should be chosen, the which is of a greater nourishment than the crust." 
Regimen sanitatis Salerni: or, the Schoole of Salernes Regiment of Health (1634)
Fresh-baked bread! Its aroma alone can revive you from a swoon and keep you alive in tough times, but don't, you know, actually try to eat it. Also: here's some hard science to back up the crust-trimmers out there.

Friday, April 18, 2014

How to Wake or Sleep, 1685

Look deep into the eye of the toad...
Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents (1658)
"To make one wake or sleep. You must cut dexterously the Head of a Toad, alive, and at once, and let it dry, in observing that one Eye be shut, and the other open; that which is found open makes one wake, and that shut causes Sleep, by carrying it about one." 
Nicolas Lémery, Modern Curiosities of Art & Nature (1685)
Who needs caffeine or Ambien when you've got the shriveled head of a winking toad?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Exchange Photographs, 1891

Portrait of an Unknown Daguerrotypist, 1845
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

"Photographs should never be solicited from a mere acquaintance. Wait till you know a lady well before asking for her likeness. No gentleman should be allowed to possess, nor should he seek to possess, a lady's picture without first having met her at least seven times... And it is also unnecessary to comply with a like request from the lady till of fast acquaintance."

Mortimer Delano de Lannoy, Simplex Munditiis. Gentlemen (1891)

Best practices for dating: Keep plenty of headshots on hand, but never hand them over before the seventh date.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to Choose Meat, 1772

Thomas Rowlandson, The Wonderful Pig (1785)
"Lamb is more Nutritious than any kind of Poultry, Mutton than Lamb, Veal than Mutton, and Beef than Veal; But Pork is more Nutricious than any of these; for the Juices of Pork, which is more like Human Flesh than any other Flesh is, are more adapted to the Nourishment of a Human Body than the Juices of any other Flesh." 
Directions and Observations Relative to Food, Exercise and Sleep (1772)
On reflection, I can understand why the US Pork Board chose "Pork: The Other White Meat"over "Pork: More Convenient than Cannibalism."

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to Talk About Your Kids, 1558

"You got a problem with my Momo?"
Paolo Veronese, Giuseppe da Porto with his
Son Adriano

"Those who are constantly talking about their children, their wives or their nursemaids, are equally at fault. 'Yesterday my boy made me laugh so much. Listen to this...You have never seen a more lovable son than my Momo...' No-one has so little to do that he has the time to answer or even to listen to such nonsense and so it irritates everyone." 
Giovanni della Casa, Galateo (1558)
History teaches us many timeless and important lessons. Chief among them: no one wants to hear about Momo.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How to Use Bacon, c. 530

"The Little Hunt," Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina (4th c.)
"At this point I will explain how bacon may be eaten to the best effect... if it has been simply roasted in the same way as a joint of meat, the fat drains into the fire and the bacon becomes dry, and whoever eats it is harmed and not benefited; it also produces bad humors and causes indigestion. But if bacon that has been boiled and cooled is eaten, it is more beneficial... As for raw bacon which, so I hear, the Franks have a habit of eating... they are healthier than other people because of this food. Let me give a good example so that what I am writing may be believed: thick bacon, placed for a long time on all wounds, be they external or internal or caused by a blow, both cleanses any putrefaction and aids healing. Look at what power there is in raw bacon, and see how the Franks heal what doctors try to cure with drugs or with potions." 
Anthimus, On the Observance of Foods (c. 511-534)
Well, the bad news from Late Antiquity is that your crispy bacon is giving you bad humors. On the plus side, though, no medical treatment beats a bacon Band-Aid. Who needs emergency medical care when you've got raw bacon?