22 August, 2008

Tarte au citron

The script shown in this image is an interpretation of the anglaise, more fully the écriture anglaise, the script that was thus named in France after its model, the 18th-century English round hand.
The forms of all styles of writing are influenced by the tool with which they are written and the medium that it employs. In the present case the tool is that of the pâtissier and the medium is chocolate.
There is not a lot more to add, except that the tarte au citron which is the substrate of the script came from Belle Époque, a pâtisserie at Newington Green in London which consistently maintains a level of quality that its equivalents in Paris would be glad to reach, even occasionally.
Newington Green, and Stoke Newington just to the north, across the fields, were known during the 18th century as centres of Dissent. Their inhabitants were disinclined to accept uncritically any doctrines, whether those of the established church or of any arbitrarily asserted system of political values. It is a tradition that, happily, the district still respects. Daniel Defoe was a notable resident of Stoke Newington. Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of A vindication of the rights of women (1792), set up her school at Newington Green. The young John Stuart Mill, who lived at the Green shortly afterwards, remembered walks before breakfast ‘in the green lanes towards Hornsey’, while he gave his father an account of what he had read the day before. His earliest recollections were ‘of green fields and wild flowers’.
Hornsey was the name of the civil parish that began just to the north of the Green. The busy road that runs to the north-west is called Green Lanes. Sheep may no longer graze on Newington Green, but a good phrase to apply to one of its chief attractions would be that of Michelin: vaut le voyage.

The first image above shows Newington Green in the early 19th century, from a drawing by T. H. Shepherd reproduced in Claire Tomalin’s biography of Mary Wollstonecraft (1974). Below is the scene as it appeared in September 2011. The unitarian chapel that she knew, with its new façade of 1860, is on the left. Belle Époque, boulangerie and pâtisserie, is to the right.