Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

It is a little known fact that the entire course of European history has been shaped by mortars and pestles. We unravel a little tale from Venice that highlights why the mortar deserves pride of place in any good culinary armamentarium.

article summary —

The mortar and pestle take pride of place in the hidden europe kitchen. No other instrument in our culinary armamentarium carries such weight, is so laden with potential or just feels as lovely as a heavy mortar and pestle shaped from high quality basalt. We are not alone in having an eye for a good mortar and pestle. Frederick the Great, despotic ruler though he may have been, had his own mortar and pestle. Naturally it was embellished with the imperial monogram.

Mortars (and pestles too of course) figure frequently in literature. The Book of Numbers has a nice piece about ground coriander while the Book of Proverbs advises that kitchen instruments have no place in character-building. “Pound the fool in a mortar as you may, you will not separate him from his folly,” reads the verse.

This is just an excerpt. The full text of this article is not yet available to members with online access to hidden europe. Of course you can also read the full article in the print edition of hidden europe 30.

About the authors

hidden europe

and Susanne Kries manage hidden europe, a Berlin-based editorial bureau that supplies text and images to media across Europe. Together they edit hidden europe magazine. Nicky and Susanne are dedicated slow travellers. They delight in discovering the exotic in the everyday.

This article was published in hidden europe 30.