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Sheep droppings in tea

Culture / -

img Sterco di pecora nel tè

There have been times when tea was too expensive and so leaves were mixed with other, rather insalubrious ingredients. Taxes really can be damaging to your health.

In 1600 the English began to love tea with a passion that would forever burn bright. The beginning of this love was all-female: while men talked business in local coffee houses, women of the upper classes were taking tea with friends in the privacy of their homes. In short, the exotic drink was only for rich women. Female workers of the lower-middle classes could not afford it because it was just too expensive.
Taxes do not quench the thirst
So what was the reason for the high prices? Quite simply, heavy taxation. The first taxes on tea leaves was introduced in 1689 and was so high that it almost toppled sales. But the British could not give up their beloved beverage and brought about a new era of "tea smuggling" with organized crime gangs running the black market. The phenomenon, first circumscribed, became more and more worrying and by the end of the 18th century had been transformed, becoming a common practice, managed by structured criminal organizations: in fact, in England 5 million pounds of tea were imported legally, while 7 million were contraband.
Mysterious ingredients
Heavy taxation also brought sophistication to tea. Leaves and parts of other plants were dried and added to the mixture, changing however the color of the liquid. The solution? To make the drink as similar as possible to real Tea other "ingredients" were added, from sheep dung to poisonous calcium carbonate.
In 1784, the government realized that such heavy taxes were creating big problems, so the Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger significantly decreased the tax from 119% to 12.5%. It turned out to be a wise decision: tea suddenly became affordable and smuggling practically ended that very night. Tax on tea in England was abolished completely in 1964.

'Arts & Foods. Rituals since 1851'. Art in all its forms meet in food

Culture / -

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Angelo Morbelli, Asfissia, 1884, Fondazione Guido ed Ettore De Fornaris, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Torino
Jean Prouvé, La Maison des Jours Meilleurs, 1956, Collection Maja Hoffman, Heillecourt
Wahaika (ascia-coltello maori), XIX secolo, Museo Nazionale Preistorico Luigi Pigorini
Zambracca del Vittoriale, Fondazione Il Vittoriale degli Italiani Gardone Riviera
foto Marco Beck Peccoz
Giorgio Morandi, Natura morta, 1941, Museo Morandi, Bologna
ARMAN, Artériosclérose, 1961 _Image courtesy of the Arman Studio Archives New York
Tom Wesselmann, Still Life #3, 1962, Estate of Tom Wesselmann/Licensed by VAGA, NY, NY.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Sturges
Joe Colombo, Servizio di bordo Alitalia “linea ‘72”, AJC.218, 1970, Realizzazione 1972 ALITALIA
©Ignazia Favata-Studio Joe Colombo, Milano
Issey Miyake, Pleats Please, 2008, Rue des Archives/FIA/
Claes Oldenburg e Coosje van Bruggen, Leaning Fork with Meatball and Spaghetti II, 1994, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen Photo courtesy the Oldenburg van Bruggen Studio and Pace Gallery
Copyright 1994 Claes Oldenburg and Coosje, Photography by Ellen Page Wilson
Sharon Core, Apples in a Porcelain Basket, 2007
© Sharon Core, Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson
Giuseppe De Nittis, Colazione in giardino, 1884, Pinacoteca Comunale Giuseppe De Nittis, Barletta
James Ensor, Nature morte au canard, 1880, Collection Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Tournai , Tournai
© Ville de Liége - -BAL
Gerardo Dottori, Sala da pranzo di Casa Cimino, Collezione privata, Archivio Gerardo Dottori, Perugia
Claude Monet, Der Koch (Le Chef Père Paul), 1882
© Mondadori Portfolio, Milano/www.
Nikolai Mikhailovich Suetin, Coffee pot, 1923, Tsarenkov Collection, Londra
Theo van Doesburg, Café de l’Aubette, 1926-1928, Rotterdam, Collection Het Nieuwe Instituut
Georges Braque, Natura morta con clarinetto, grappolo d’uva e ventaglio, 1911 ca., Soprintendenza alla Galleria d’arte moderna e contemporanea, Roma, Archivio Fotografico
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Fish knife and fish fork for Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, 1902-1904
© The Hunterian, University of Glascow, Glascow 2015
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Il poema del vestito di latte, a cura dell’Ufficio Propaganda SNIA Viscosa, Milano, Officina Grafica Esperia, 1937. Copertina illustrata a colori di Bruno Munari, Collezione Guido Andrea Pautasso, Milano
Mimmo Rotella, Arachidina, 1963, Collezione privata, Milano
© Fondazione Mimmo Rotella/Foto: Alessandro Zambianchi, srl, Milano
Daniel Spoerri, Le coin du Restaurant Spoerri, 1969, Museo Vostell Malpartida, Gobierno de Extremadura, Spagna
© Mondadori Portfolio, Milano/Akg Images
Virgilio Forchiassin, Spazio Vivo, 1968, Snaidero Rino SpA, Udine
Joe Colombo e Ambrogio Pozzi, Set prima classe Alitalia, 1970-1972
courtesy Alessandro Pedretti Design Collection
Andy Warhol & The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground, 1966-1967
Andreas Gursky, 99 cent II, 2000, Andreas Gursky, Dusseldorf
© Andreas Gursky, VG BILD-KUNST, Bonn
Tom Sachs, Nutsy’s McDonald’s, 2001, Vanhaerents Art Collection Brussels, Londra/Bruxelles
copyright of Tom Sachs
Ambrogio Pozzi, Servizio impilabile CONO, Environement Pierre Cardin/Franco Pozzi, 1969, DDD Collection, Genova
Courtesy Vittorio Dapelo

A spectacular journey during which works of art, drawings, architectural models, films, objects, books, menus, and album covers narrate food and rituals associated with it, from 1851, the year of the first Universal Exhibition in London, to the present day.

Curated by Germano Celant, the exhibition Arts & Foods. Rituals since 1851 takes place at the Triennale Museum in Milan from April 9 to November 1, 2015. The exhibition will explore the relationship between the arts and rituals related to food, with a special emphasis on how creative idiom has been impacted by the aesthetic and functional influence of food.  
Drawing on international sources, this multimedia exhibition moves from the past to the present, employing all levels of expression, creativity and communication from every area of culture.

Egypt. A thousand-year-old history behind each dish

Culture / -

nd egitto img rif e cover
© Kevin Fleming Corbis

An ancient land shrouded in the mysteries of time, Egypt was the birthplace of one of the greatest civilizations ever known. The charm of this country that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea stems not only from the secrets hidden in its desert sands and its thousand-year-old history, but also in the beauty of its territory.

In the past, when the Nile, the river that runs through Egypt from south to north, flowed high, food was assured for the country’s population. However, in more recent times, the government has had to take significant actions to stem the advancement of the desert. Today, dams and terraces characterize the inland areas, where the heart of the Egyptian economy lies in its agricultural fields. Agriculture and tourism are the main sources of income and development for the country.
One of the most multi-ethnic cuisines in the world
All Egyptian traditions are a blend of the ancient tribal culture and the religious customs that developed from the spread of the Muslim faith. Family unity and hospitality are sacred and trace their origins to a multicultural society that has been making its mark since the time of the pharaohs. Despite the strong Middle Eastern and African influences, Egyptian cuisine has much in common with that of the Mediterranean countries. The typical dish is the Molokhia, a very flavorful mallow and coriander soup accompanied by rice and pieces of meat. Koshari is also widespread in Egyptian cuisine, made from rice, fried onions and lentils and often seasoned by a spicy sauce called Da'a. Not to be missing from Egyptian tables are falafel made from bean flour, the Shawarma, a sort of flatbread wrap stuffed with meat, and the Kebab, consisting of pieces of meat on a skewer.
A pavilion that reveals the wealth of Egypt
The Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster houses the Egypt Pavilion, in which visitors can see a  number of interactive displays on Egyptian food traditions and learn about the country’s commitment to the use of renewable energy. Visitors should not miss out on the restaurant, which serves the most common foods of modern-day Egypt.

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