Monday, April 19, 2010
keeping traditions alive
Had a nice time visiting the Carturesti bookshop yesterday – which spreads over about 7 floors and offers delightful varieties of tea and sweets. Emerged with about 12 books - many about Bucharest. It may be a city I profess to hate – but, amongst the aggression of the traffic and monstrosities of both Ceacescu and post-modernity, are so many glimpses of superb architecture from another world. Hats off to Arcub (the Arch association) which has produced a 3rd edition of their Bucharest – architecture and modernity, an annotated guide which offers a very friendly guide to the best of the buildings in the city. 344 of them to be precise! At another level, there is the flamboyant The Romanian National Style – produced with the support of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. It’s beautifully produced with glorious detail – often in full-page spreads. And all for less than 10 euros!
In Romanian language only is historian Adrian Majuru’s Bucuresti- diurn si nocturn – a collection of stories about people. He is one of the few who has tried to kick up a fuss about the neglect of the old buildings here.
Moving to modern times, Magda Carneci and Dan Hayon offer Bucuresti – a collection of smells – which captures, in whimsical black and white pictures, the sights a sharp-eyed walker can glimpse in the city. Amazingly, I also picked up Bucharest 2010 – survival guide for expats – which is a very useful collection of addresses and recommendations. I didn’t think the city was a place for ex-pats!
Romanian food also figured on the purchase list – I would recommend very highly the English version of Romanian dishes, wines and customs by Radu Anton Roman. A lovely collection of recipes, regional commentary and black and white pics of old Romania. A gem – worth every euro of its 15 euro price. More prosaic is A Taste of Transylvania produced by Maureen Carnell for the Hospice movement here.
My real finds I have kept to the last – first a small notebook for 2010 for craftsman and craftsmanship produced by a non-profit association dedicated to keeping alive the old building crafts. Exactly what I had been asking for while we were redoing our old house – and having the schite tiles put on the roof. Apart from the illustrations, there are lists of the masters of the various crafts (stove builders, blacksmiths etc) with their telephone numbers. Some of the names are amazing – mesteri de cuptoare; mesteri in impletituri; chirpicar; caramidar; stufar. The association website is www.ahiterra.ro
And, finally, a book about Italian cooking – but not any book – Beaneaters and bread soup – portraits and recipes from Tuscany by Lori de Mori and Jason Lowe. This must be one of the most beautiful books ever – both in its concept, language, pictures and layout. It is a real celebration not only of the simple, old cooking – but of the individual craftsmen in Tuscany who keep the tradition alive.
My thanks to Valentin Mandache and his great blog (Historic Houses of Romania) for the photograph which graces this entry. I didn't have such a picture and surfed to find one. I'm delighted to havefound such a blog.