Wednesday, 31 January 2018

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil The largest library in Latin America owes its existence to an Old World earthquake and a Napoleonic invasion

The Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro is the largest library in Latin America and the seventh largest in the world. But were it not for a devastating earthquake and a Napoleonic invasion, it may never have reached such heights.

On November 1, 1755, a massive earthquake almost destroyed the city of Lisbon, the capital of the Kingdom of Portugal. Between 10,000 and 100,000 people were killed in the city, and countless buildings turned to rubble, in what remains one of the deadliest earthquakes in history.
Also lost in the quake was the 70,000-volume Royal Library inside the devastated Royal Ribeira Palace. At the time, this library was considered one of the finest and most important in Europe.
Soon after the earthquake, King Joseph I of Portugal organized the construction of a new Royal Library, and over the next half century the collection grew significantly with many valuable books and prints. Still, the threat of another major quake loomed over the library, prompting talk of moving the entire collection to the Portuguese colony of Brazil.
The Napoleonic Wars gave the royal collection its final push towards the New World. When an Imperial French corps under Jean-Andoche Junot invaded Portugal in 1807, Portugal’s then Prince Regent John of Braganza (later John VI of Portugal) decided to flee to Brazil, along with the rest of the royal family.
As quickly as he could, John gathered up the collection from the royal library and had it loaded onto the Portuguese fleet. The Prince Regent, along with the first batch of his prized collection, arrived in Rio de Janeiro on March 7, 1808. A second batch, packed in 230 crates, arrived in mid-1810. On October 29, 1810, John founded a new Royal Library on Brazilian soil, which would later become the Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil, or National Library of Brazil.
Today, the Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil houses a collection of approximately 9 million items, and is considered one of the main national libraries in the world by UNESCO. General works account for some 2 million pieces, occupying about 11 linear miles of shelf space. The collection also contains 21,742 photos from the 19th century; 22,000 maps and about 2,500 atlases; and some 250,000 pieces in its music and sound archive.
And ever since an official decree in 1907, Brazilian publishers are required to send one copy of every title they publish to the Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil, ensuring that the collection will continue to grow and grow.
Know Before You Go
The Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil is located at Avenida Rio Branco 219 on Cinelândia Square in central Rio. It’s open to the public Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

BLATCE, CZECHIA Houska Castle Folklore says this medieval fortress was plopped atop a portal to hell to trap the demons below.

In the second half of the 13th century, a mysterious Gothic castle was built. It wasn’t near any water, wasn’t strategically important, and didn’t seem to have anyone living in it. So why was this random fortress built? According to local legend, it was meant to trap demons.

Supposedly, a gate to hell opened on the craggy Czech mountain. The castle was constructed around the portal, and a chapel was plopped directly atop the hole to keep evil monsters from spilling out of the underworld and slipping into the human realm.
Folklore says the supposed gate to hell was so deep no one could see the bottom of it, and those who did attempt to enter the dark orifice encountered demonic human-animal hybrids. People claim cars won’t start near the castle and strange, bleeding beasts still roam the area after dark.
In reality, the castle was built as an administrative center to oversee the management of royal estates. But it still has some real-life demons in its past. Nazis occupied the fortress during World War II, and multiple myths abound about their supposed occult involvements there.
It’s possible to tour the mysterious castle and scope out any hauntings for yourself. You can view the old knight’s drawing room, the chapel that supposedly covers the gate to hell, and admire the old frescoes and murals adorning the building’s wall.
Know Before You Go
This is hard to get to with public transportation, as it it about 30 miles north of Prague, and the bus doesn't run too often. Best bet is to rent a car and drive through the countryside. There is parking at the base of the castle, and then a little hike uphill through the grounds.

I have been Called many Names—but my Name is Woman Via Monika Carless

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“I was born in the middle of a storm
You won’t find me under the sun
My feet are chaos
I belong to the wild things” ~ Evy Michaels

I Am. Woman.

See me
Rising like Venus from an ocean of dreams.
The whispers of the ancients have woken my soul.
I am woman—birther of galaxies, mother to stars.
I am woman. The magic that knits souls into flesh within my womb.
I am woman, shedding blood that heals; the blood of the Divine Feminine Being.
I rise incandescent, in my power yet humble, divinely She.
Hear me…
“F*ck equality!” I shout at the sky. I am tired of fighting a patriarchal war.
I embody my fullness, Priestess, Mystic. I am the Sacred Song.
My strength is etched within the marrow of my bones.
I have been called by many names—Saint. Sinner. Witch. Whore.
Comfortable in my skin, comfortable with my color, comfortable with my tears.
Comfortable with the words that fail to describe my Wholeness.
I am shadows and light, beauty and terror.
Unashamed, uninhibited, sensual, seductive, intuitive, emotional, raw.
I am Woman. Goddess. Gaia. The incarnation of Pacha Mama.
I am Fire and Water and Soil.
F*ck equality…because I know who I am.
You can’t gift me something that is already mine.
Perseverance and wisdom course through my veins.
I am Sister to every woman ever born. Embracing. Encouraging. A container for Love.
See my feet on the ground
My drum in my arms
Wilderness in my howl
The moon in my blood
Sorcery in my cauldron
Wisdom in my heart
I will not be silenced, I will not be burned.
I am not too much.
I will not be told what is womanly or not.
Shakti. Magdalene. Maiden. Mother. Crone.
Temptress. Creatress. The sound of the Wind.
I am Woman.
I am All.
Author: Monika Carless
Image: Karen Cantu Q/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Little-Known History of Seafaring Pets

From war to exploration to pleasure cruising, pets have often accompanied us on the oceans.

Putting Ancient Recipes on the Plate

To better understand the distant past, it can help to taste and smell it.

A Novel Romantic Gift: Making an Aphrodisiac Basket for your Lover. Via Seren Charrington-Hollins

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Food, love, romance, and sex have a long intertwined history; and it is rooted in our biology.

So, whenever I am looking for a romantic gift for my husband, it’s not really a surprise that I always end up including something food related in his gift bag—even if it’s just some dark chocolate.
This Valentine’s Day, however, I’ve stepped up the food element of my gift giving, and I’m creating an aphrodisiac basket.
I found myself struggling to think of a special and romantic gift for Christmas for my beloved, and then it occurred to me that instead of chocolates, I would create a basket filled with foods and delicacies reputed to have aphrodisiac qualities.
I didn’t want to just go out and buy a load of food from the supermarket; instead, I wanted to create some homemade goodies which I could lavish some love into the making of and also give some real thought and effort to. So my “aphrodisiac basket for a lover” is a mixture of shop-bought goodies and homemade ones.

My guide to creating an aphrodisiac basket.

Included in my basket is:
Homemade cherry brandy
Brandy-infused cherries (ideal for hand feeding)
Red wine
Homemade black truffle tapenade
A watermelon
Homemade fig jam
Dark chocolate
Homemade dark chocolate & chili truffles
Tropea onions
Red wine.
in 2009, an Italian research group published a study that showed a correlation between drinking wine (specifically red wine) and an increased sexual appetite in women. The study surveyed 800 Italian women who drank red wine, other alcohol, or no alcohol at all. The red wine drinkers scored two points higher than other alcohol drinkers and four more points than teetotalers.
Now, my husband is not a wine drinker. Instead, he’s a rum and cola man; but he loves cherries, so I’ve included a small bottle of red for me and a homemade cherry brandy for him.
Homemade Cherry Brandy Recipe.

This takes six weeks to infuse, but it’s well worth the wait. Not only do you get fabulous cherry brandy to warm you up on a wintery night, but you also end up with luscious brandy-soaked cherries that are great for eating by themselves—or, for a divine treat, dip them in dark chocolate.
1 kg cherries
1 litre brandy (I used the cheapest bottle on the shelf, because there is absolutely no point using a fine cognac in this recipe)
300g golden caster sugar
Find a jar that has a tight-fitting lid that is large enough to take the cherries and the liquid. Sterilise the jar; I wash my jar in warm, soapy water and then pop it in the dishwasher on a hot cycle.
Prick the cherries several times and place into the jar. Leave the stones in. Add the sugar and the brandy. Give the jar a good shake. Place the jar somewhere where you will see it daily to remind you to shake it every day for the next week.
For the remaining five weeks, shake the bottle weekly, tasting it occasionally to see if the taste is “cherry” enough for your taste buds. Once it is ready, strain back into sterile bottles. You can now drink it—or, if you can manage to keep your lips off it, leave it for 12 months to mature. The strained cherries are ready for eating or using in recipes.
Black Truffles.
For thousands of years they have been prized by humans as an aphrodisiac, but while a fresh black truffle may be a great culinary treat, it’s not great for including in an aphrodisiac hamper, so I have made a tapenade that can be spread on little crackers and fed by hand.
60g pitted black olives
1 Tablespoon drained capers
3 medium cloves garlic (crushed)
5 fresh basil leaves
1 Tablespoon loosely packed fresh oregano
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil, as required
50g black truffle slices
Place the pitted black olives, the capers, garlic, herbs, mustard, and lemon juice in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Add a little drizzle of olive oil as required to ensure a smooth paste is achieved.
Transfer the mixture to a sterile jar and top the mixture off with olive oil before sealing.
Label with recipe name and date and keep in a cool area until ready to use.
Refrigerate after opening.
This fruit contains citrulline, which relaxes the blood vessels in much the same way as Viagra does. It a great food for cutting up and finger feeding.
Fig and Brandy Jam.
This jam is thick—almost like a compote—and it’s delicious eaten with fresh bread and soft oozy cheeses. I really like to serve this with baked camembert or brie.
1kg soft, ripe figs
400g granulated sugar
25ml brandy
Juice of 1 lemon
100ml water
1 tbsp Liquid pectin
Remove the stalks from the figs, then slice them quite thinly. Place them in a heavy-based saucepan, with the brandy and water.
Cook them for five minutes on a low heat, so the juices run and the figs begin to break down.
Add the sugar, the lemon juice, and the pectin. The lemon juice and the pectin will help the jam to set.
Slowly bring the mixture to boil, stirring all the time so that the figs don’t catch on the bottom of the pan. This is a jam that requires constant stirring and attention. The mixture should become quite thick.
Boil for approximately five minutes. Keep stirring gently throughout. Reduce the heat if it bubbles too furiously and add a drop of water if the mixture looks to be drying out—but remember it is meant to be a thick consistency.
Turn off the heat, and let the jam cool down for five minutes.
Spoon the mixture into well sterilized jars, seal, and label.
Once cooled, this jam will keep for up to 12 months unopened. Once opened, they will keep for around two weeks in the fridge.
Pickled Tropea Onions.
Tropea onions are said to be such a strong aphrodisiac that in ancient Greece, priests were banned from eating them. If you are lucky enough to be able to buy these onions raw, then you can pickle them yourself. But if, like me, you struggle to find them raw, then you can either grow them from seed for next year or buy them already pickled, which is what I choose to do.
Dark Chocolate.
Dark chocolate is considered to be an aphrodisiac. Not only is it an energy booster, but it contains L-arginine, an amino acid that can be an effective natural aphrodisiac for both women and men.
It works by increasing nitric oxide and promoting blood flow to the sexual organs, which increases sensation, satisfaction, and desire, all of which make chocolate a must for an aphrodisiac basket.
Chocolate also stimulates and lifts the mood. Chocolate has earned its reputation as a libido food because it is a rich source of phenylethylamine, sometimes referred to as the “love supplement” or the “romance chemical.”
As a stimulant, phenylethylamine can induce sensations of euphoria—and it’s naturally released by your brain when you’re are in love. In turn, it promotes the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which increases feelings of well-being, joy, and pleasure.
I include not only a good quality block of dark chocolate in my lover’s hamper, but some homemade chili chocolate truffles. Chili peppers are said to aid the release of powerful endorphins and also to increase the heart rate
Chocolate Chili Truffles.
250g good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70 percent cocoa solids)
125ml double cream
25g salted butter
1 pinch of sea salt
50g good-quality cocoa powder
2 teaspoon of chili powder
Break the chocolate into chunks and place them in a small bowl. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, add the chili powder and butter, and take off the heat.
Pour the cream over the chocolate chunks and leave to stand for a few minutes, giving the chocolate a chance to melt. When you get the cream to the boil, you don’t want it boiling for too long; it’s just a case of bringing it to the boil, adding the chili powder and the butter, and then getting it off the heat.
Stir the mixture and leave it to cool for two minutes. Stir it again to make sure it’s mixed thoroughly, then cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or until set.
Place the cocoa in shallow bowl or cake tin. With a teaspoon, scoop out little balls of the set truffle mixture. Roll in the palm of your hand, then roll in the cocoa powder.
Once all the truffle mixture is used up, place them in the fridge to firm up for about half an hour before placing them into a gift box or serving them.
With your goodies made and lined up, simply place the items in a basket and write a note explaining the idea of a aphrodisiac basket. I like to include little cards explaining the properties of each ingredient.