owlfish: (Fishy Circumstances)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 12:37pm on 03/09/2015 under ,
I was reading an article in Restaurant magazine the other week about "lesser eaten fish", and it profiled one called a "witch".

That gives a whole new spin to stories about witches if you imagine the antagonist (or protagonist, of course) as a fish. Fish need to live in water, so presumably it takes a bubble of water with it wherever it goes. Or it lives in a water-heavy cloud, so it rains heavily wherever it flies to.

The witch is also known as a lefteye flounder; perhaps suffering from entrenched prejudice against lefties?

The Arnoglossus scapha (or lamb-tongue) is native to China and New Zealand (and presumably lots of smaller countries in between...). No wonder witch-hunts didn't take off in Europe until contact with the far east was starting to be slightly better established. Long-distance sailing would have exacerbated the problem more than overland routes, I presume.

I had initially assumed it might be partial to exotic lettuce in the neighbor's garden, but given the righteye flounder eats worms and crustaceans, perhaps not. Although side salads are often a nice accompaniment to a heartier main.
owlfish: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] owlfish at 10:17pm on 09/10/2011 under ,
Yesterday's SHMTS talk by Alan Raistruck on Medieval Spinning Wheels was both very good and very underattended. One consolation of a small audience is, however, how easy it is for everyone to ask questions afterwards.

As the talk progressed, I became more and more confused as to how on earth Sleeping Beauty could have pricked her finger on a spinning wheel. Everything is blunt! So I asked.

Our speaker said there were two options he could think of. The less compelling one involves flax. Insufficiently retted flax can have splinters in it, from its pre-retted woody state. So that's a source of splinters, and any complications which might arrive from one, but that's it.

The better option involves wool, whose natural roughness can act as a kind of sandpaper on the wood of a spindle, sharpening it to a point over a long period of use. Unwashed wool, to my complete surprise, can also transmit tentanus. So a wool-sharpened spindle on a Great Wheel (like this one), infected by tetanus-bearing wool could indeed cause a pricking of a finger followed by stiffness and death. I find it both an elegant and satisfying solution!

Sleeping Beauty: She lived before tetanus shots were developed in 1924.*

* Or, of course, much later than that. Invention does not equal widespread availability.

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