Tasting Life Twice

Author Crystal King muses on life, history, writing and food.

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Beauty and Makeup in Ancient Rome

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Crystal King May 31, 2018 8:00:00 AM
Beauty and Makeup in Ancient Rome

Women have been using makeup for thousands of years and beauty in Ancient Rome was just as important as it is today. Just as we do, they even had books that helped women stay on top of beauty trends. Many of you might be familiar with the poet Ovid's Metamorphoses and Amores but I would bet you've not heard of his Medicamina Faciei Femineae or Women’s Facial Cosmetics, sometimes seen as The Art of Beauty. The fragment we have from this book (see the link above) is fascinating, offering up three and a half beauty tips for Roman women. The first is a lengthy and messy recipe on how to make your skin whiter. The second recipe on getting rid of pimples would, as we know now, kill you slowly over time. I imagine that many women paid such a high price to be beautiful:

Fit for Royalty - Flamingo Tongue, an Ancient Roman Food

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Crystal King May 7, 2018 9:00:00 AM
Fit for Royalty - Flamingo Tongue, an Ancient Roman Food

 According to the ancient Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, "Apicius, the most gluttonous gorger of all spendthrifts, established the view that the flamingo's tongue has a specially fine flavor."  The poet Martial, who was born a few years before Apicius died, agreed, saying: “My red wing gives me my name, but epicures regard my tongue as tasty. But what if my tongue could sing?”  They don't actually sing, however. They tend to honk and squawk.

L'Amore Esiste - Love Exists

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Crystal King Jan 26, 2016 10:37:14 AM
L'Amore Esiste - Love Exists

One of my favorite Italian songs is by a young pop star, Francesa Michielin, from her 2015 album di20. She rose to fame when she won the 5th season of Italy's X-Factor. I find great emotion in this song. I think she captures much of what I have felt in my life when I have been (and still am) in love. Lyrics in both Italian and English after the video. 

My 100 Favorite Books

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Crystal King Jan 23, 2016 11:26:31 AM
My 100 Favorite Books

David Bowie's death hit me much harder than I could have anticipated. I was still basking in the amazingness of Blackstar, telling everyone I knew that they needed to go buy it, that I thought it was the best Bowie album yet. I certainly didn't expect it to be his last. I could write a whole post on how much he has impacted my life but I think everyone is starting to weary of the collective mourning that Bowie fans are going through. Instead, I wanted to share another place where he inspired me. A few years ago, he shared a list of his 100 favorite books, and of course, it's going around again. It was another poignant reminder of why I admired him so much. It got me to thinking about my own voracious reading habit. If I had to list my 100 favorites, what would they be? I found that it was a hard list to come up with--I have read SO many books. In recent years my reading time has dwindled but I bet on average, over the years, I have read 75-100 books a year. So which of those has really stayed with me?

I Did It! 52 Books in 2015: November - December

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Crystal King Jan 3, 2016 1:04:22 PM
I Did It! 52 Books in 2015: November - December

My 2015 New Year's Resolution of reading 52 books in 2015 is complete! I even did better than that and read a few more too.
60.  Slade House - David Mitchell  Ending the year with Slade House was a good decision. I slurped it up in about two nights of reading--it was that good. It's one of the most unusual ghost stories that I've read. Mitchell toys with point of view in the most artful of ways and his method of telling the story across the decades is equally masterful. I didn't find it to be a scary story, just one that kept me wondering what on earth might happen next.

Buon Natale!

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Crystal King Dec 25, 2015 9:00:16 AM
Buon Natale!

One of the most well-known Italian Christmas carols outside of the US is Caro Gesu Bambino which means "Dear Baby Jesus." It's a newer carol, dating to about 1960 and one of the earliest American-known singers to cover it was Frankie Avalon. The lyrics are here  (Italian and English) if you are interested, and below, Italian treasure Andrea Bocelli does a beautiful version of the song. Buon Natale my friends! And Buone Feste to those of you who are celebrating other holidays. I wish the best for you and yours this season. 

The Fabulous Kessler Twins

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Crystal King Nov 25, 2015 8:55:27 AM
The Fabulous Kessler Twins

I was watching the Italian station RAI Interational the other day and one of the things that I love about the station is that they have little segments with snippets from variety and music shows over the last 40 years or so. It's a fascinating look at the wacky, beautiful, funny and talented side of Italian performers. One of the things they showed last night was a bit from a show that the Kessler Twins did. The Kesslers hail from Munich and were well known in Europe back in the day, particularly in Germany and Italy. Here's a sample of their awesomeness: 

52 books in 2015: A reading list for Jul-Oct

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Crystal King Nov 7, 2015 2:30:58 PM
52 books in 2015: A reading list for Jul-Oct

I have been rather remiss, I fear, in keeping my book list updated here on my blog. I've been reading far more than I had hoped, but certainly not as much as I would like. I am happy to have passed the 50 book barrier with more than a month to spare! Let's see if I can get close to 60 books this year. I'm confident I'll finish at least 2-3 more this month, and hopefully another 3-4 in December. October

Incredible Infographic on the Impact of Ancient Rome, a City of Firsts

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Crystal King Aug 7, 2015 10:23:47 AM
Incredible Infographic on the Impact of Ancient Rome, a City of Firsts

As a result of my research a knew a lot of this great information already but it's great to see how History.com and the design firm Column 5 put it all into such an easily digestible visual.
Allow me a tiny bit of commentary before you dig in below.

Honey in Ancient Rome

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Crystal King Jul 2, 2015 7:09:20 AM
Honey in Ancient Rome

Back in 1987, archaeologists discovered a treasure trove in a floor drain of the Roman Forum. This "treasure" was 86 loose teeth, all intact but with cavities in various stages. Three decades later, they've finally determined that they were all extracted by a highly skilled dentist of the time.  Also of interest, up in England, researchers have pinpointed the advanced stages of dental decay in a young Roman toddler, to excessive consumption of honey.
Medicine was quite advanced in Ancient Greece and  Rome. Surgeons regularly practiced lobotomies, Caesarean sections (didn't you ever wonder where that name came from?) and amputations, and were the inventors of tools such as forceps, catheters, scalpels and bone drills. Along with all of this fancy "technology" the Romans also relied heavily on herbs and the beneficial properties of food. Pliny writes (in addition to telling us how bees manage their colonies) that honey is good for afflictions of the mouth, pneumonia, pleurisy and snake bites.

Rome by Drone!

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Crystal King Apr 9, 2015 1:39:19 PM

I'm not entirely sure what I think about drone technology. It has incredible possibilities and on the flip side, terrifying possibilities. On the incredible side of things, I love that you can be an armchair traveler and have a birdseye view of beautiful places in the world. One of my favorite videos of this sort is this wonderful view of Rome by drone. It makes me feel desperate to be there again, walking the streets where my novel's characters once walked.  httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTw-kvXS9Sk