Monthly Archives: July 2012

Risk One’s Hair, Risk One’s Head: Losing the Periwig

As I am wont to do, I was recently digging around a volume of The Gentleman’s Magazine when I discovered a fictionalized account regarding the first brave soul to don natural hair après the periwig fashion and the row that ensued.  Dare I say this is a version of Gentlemen brawlers, bandying over hairstyle supremacy? Victor Hugo, if only it were true!  I would be most amused.

From ‘By Order of the King: A Romance of English History’ by Victor Hugo

“Lord David held the position of judge in the gay life of London.  He was looked up to by the nobility and gentry.  Let us register a fact to the glory of Lord David.  He dared to wear his own hair.  The reaction against the wig was beginning.  Just as in 1824, Eugene Deveria was the first who dared to allow his beard to grow, so in 1702 Price Devereux dared for the first time to risk his natural hair in public, disguised by artful curling.  For to risk one’s hair was almost to risk one’s head.  The indignation was universal.  Nevertheless Price Devereux was Viscount Hereford, a peer of England.  He was insulted and the deed was well worth the insult.  In the hottest part of the row, Lord David suddenly appeared without his wig and in his natural hair. Such conduct shakes the foundations of society.  Lord David was insulted even more than Viscount Hereford.  He held his ground.  Price Devereux was the first; Lord David Dirry Moir, the second.  It is sometimes more difficult to be second than first.  It requires less genius, but more courage.  The first, intoxicated by the novelty, may ignore the danger; the second sees the abyss and precipitates himself therein.  Lord David flung himself into the abyss of no longer wearing a periwig.

Later in the century these lords found imitators.  After these two revolutionists, men found sufficient audacity to wear their own hair and powder was introduced as an extenuating circumstance.  In order to establish, before we pass on an important period of history, we should remark that the true pre-eminence in the war of wigs belongs to a Queen Christina of Sweden, who wore man’s clothes and had appeared in 1680 in her hair of golden brown, powdered and brushed up from her head.  She had besides, says Nisson, a slight beard.  The pope on his part, by his bull of March, 1694, had somewhat let down the wig by taking it from the heads of bishops and priests and in ordering churchmen to let their hair grow.”

Related Posts:

18th Century Wig Curlers

On the Road to Rouen: Photos

Admittedly, this post has nothing to do with the 18th century.  It does, however, have travel photos of Rouen that include pastoral scenes, pockmarked buildings, fruit stalls, one pissing boy foundation, and Gothic churches aplenty.  Plus, the Tour de France ends in Rouen today.  Need any more convincing?  (I hope not cause I’m not giving any!)

En route from Paris

In town

Rouen Cathedral

Joan of Arc memorial

Église St. Maclou

I’m in the process of researching the Mad Monks of Medmenham and the Dilettanti Society. This means that those of you hungering for lascivious 18th century tales of ritualistic sex, scandal, and art will soon get your fix.  You have been warned.

Eating Belgian Style: Liège Waffles

I’ve been collecting reasons for buying a waffle iron FOR YEARS (silly, I know) but today I’ve discovered the coup de grâce that will send me straight to the store come Monday.   They’re called gaufres des Liège, otherwise known as Liège waffles, and they’ve obliterated my pre-waffle-iron-owning self.

Full disclosure: Yes, I’m watching Stage 1 from Liège to Seraing of the Tour de France, and I’m hungry.  Really, really hungry.

Fresh from the racks in Liège (Source)

A diminutive variation on the Brussels waffle that relies less on toppings than dense, chewy perfection, the Liège waffle took its inspiration from brioche bread dough and pearl sugar, which caramelizes into crunchy pockets as the waffle cooks.  Deliciously aromatic of vanilla and butter, the eponymous waffle first delighted the Prince-Bishop of Liège when his cook whipped up the recipe in the 18th century.  They were an instant hit and filled Belgians with waffle frenzy soon after their debut.  Today they’re a common street food, wrapped in paper, and dusted with cinnamon or eaten plain.

To make an authentic Liege waffle you really must get your hands on some pearl sugar (many recipes recommend Lars’ Own).  Unlike cube sugar, the pearls are designed to withstand high heat without melting, thus ensuring those sweet pops of crunch when you bite into the waffle.  I would recommend the authentic recipe for enthusiasts only since the prep time will likely leave you thinking these waffles are best left to the professionals.   But don’t despair.  Shortcuts abound and there are a gazillion recipes to choose from, though they might cause waffle purists to thumb their noses at what we’ll proudly Fauxliege waffles.  The following recipes, curated according to active prep time, should help you started.

If any of you lovely readers try these recipes, let me know how they turn out. Once I hunt down a perfect waffle iron (recommendations are most welcome), I’m going to give the authentic recipe a whirl.  I might even blog about making waffles in what will inevitably become the swear kitchen, but then again, I’ll probably be too busy eating.  After all, anything that takes hours to make should be extraordinaire.