Banquet scene from Maraş

Banquet scene from Maraş

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According to Burchard, the banquet was given in Cesare's apartments in the Palazzo Apostolico. Fifty prostitutes or courtesans were in attendance for the entertainment of the banquet guests. Burchard describes the scene in his Diary: [1]

On the evening of the last day of October, 1501, Cesare Borgia arranged a banquet in his chambers in the Vatican with "fifty honest prostitutes", [2] called courtesans, who danced after dinner with the attendants and others who were present, at first in their garments, then naked. [3] After dinner the candelabra with the burning candles were taken from the tables and placed on the floor, and chestnuts were strewn around, which the naked courtesans picked up, creeping on hands and knees between the chandeliers, while the Pope, Cesare, and his sister Lucretia looked on. Finally, prizes were announced for those who could perform the act most often with the courtesans, such as tunics of silk, shoes, barrets, and other things.

Alexander Lee notes that, "The so-called 'Banquet of the Chestnuts' . is, for example, attested only in Burchard's memoirs, and is not only intrinsically implausible, but was also dismissed as such by many contemporaries." [4]

De Roo interpretation Edit

Vatican researcher Right Reverend Monsignor Peter de Roo (1839–1926), rejected the story of the "fifty courtesans" as described in Louis Thuasne's edition of Burchard's diary (vol. 3). While granting that Cesare Borgia may have indeed given a feast at the Vatican, [5] de Roo attempts, through exhaustive research, to refute the notion that the Borgias – certainly not the pope – could have possibly participated in "a scene truly bestial" such as Burchard describes, on grounds that it would be inconsistent with:

  • Alexander VI's essentially decent but much maligned character [6]
  • Burchard's otherwise "decent ways" of writing [7]
  • The majority consensus of writers at the time, who either questioned the story, or rejected it as outright falsehood. [8]

De Roo believes that a more credible explanation for the alleged "orgy" is a later interpolation of events by those hostile to Alexander:

To support the interpolated story, the enemies of pope Alexander VI bring forth of late other writers of the time. So does Thuasne produce Matarazzo, or the Chronicle ascribed to him. But Matarazzo essentially alters the tale, taking away its greatest odium, when he replaces Burchard's courtesans and valets with ladies and gentlemen of the court. Thuasne also quotes Francis Pepi, who writes that it was Cesar de Borgia, not the Pontiff, who invited low harlots, and who cuts away the most abominable details, by saying that they passed the night in dancing and laughing, and by leaving out the presence of Lucretia de Borgia. The anonymous letter to Silvio Savelli is also mentioned to prop the report of Burchard's diary. This letter, however, states only that the courtesans were invited to eat at the palace and offered a most shocking sight. It notices no further particulars nor the presence of any of the Borgias. [9]

William Manchester's book A World Lit Only by Fire, embellishes the story: "Servants kept score of each man's orgasms, for the pope greatly admired virility and measured a man's machismo by his ejaculative capacity. After everyone was exhausted, His Holiness distributed prizes." [10] Professional historians, however, have dismissed or ignored the book because of its numerous factual errors and its dependence on interpretations that have not been accepted by experts since the 1930s at the latest. In a review for Speculum, the journal of the Medieval Academy of America, Jeremy duQuesnay Adams remarked that Manchester's work contained "some of the most gratuitous errors of fact and eccentricities of judgment this reviewer has read (or heard) in quite some time." [11]

The banquet is depicted in episode 4 of season 3 of the Showtime TV series The Borgias. In the show, the Banquet is shown to be a trap to blackmail otherwise disloyal members of the College of Cardinals, and is officiated by Giulia Farnese, and witnessed by Burchard who chronicles the debaucheries of the Cardinals while hidden behind a screen. None of the Borgia family are seen to be present, and loyal Cardinals such as Cardinal Farnese are warned not to accept the invitation. In the series, the event takes place in c. 1499.

‘Marriage at Cana’ Back on Display--and Purists Howl : Art: Veronese’s banquet scene is again on view at the Louvre, but critics claim the restoration destroyed the work’s ambience and character.

A colossal banquet scene by Venetian master Veronese has returned to public view at the Louvre after a near-fatal crash that sliced the canvas in five places.

But some prominent French artists are crying foul, saying the three-year restoration that removed centuries of patina and grit altered the work’s character and may have changed some of the original colors.

“The Marriage at Cana,” the largest Renaissance painting in France, has been put on display until March 29 along with 15 other Veronese works from the museum’s permanent collection.

Completed in a record 15 months’ time in 1563 to decorate an entire wall of a Benedictine monastery in Venice, the giant painting--22 feet by 32 feet--depicts the biblical repast at Cana where Jesus Christ miraculously transformed water into wine.

The painting has been hailed as the first banquet scene of modern times and is considered a masterpiece because of its spectacularly symmetrical architecture, perspective and attention to detail.

However, the meticulous cleaning job, which has laid bare magnificent hues of red, blue, green and gold, has drawn fire from art purists who contend it has destroyed the work’s ambience and fundamental character.

A group of 160 artists calling themselves the Assn. to Protect the Integrity of Artistic Heritage, headed by the respected artist Jean Bazaine, published a statement accusing the Louvre of violating the painting’s integrity.

A similar controversy erupted during the restoration of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in Rome.

Yet, curators, critics and art historians have argued convincingly that the cleaning has breathed new life into the work.

“I think that viewers will now be able to appreciate Veronese’s painterly skills as well as the work’s complexity,” said Pierre Schneider, art critic for the weekly news magazine l’Express.

A team of restorers wielding cotton swabs and experimenting with special solvents removed countless layers of grime, dust and varnish that had accumulated on the surface of the canvas over the centuries turning bright reds, greens and golds into a gloomy study in dark yellow and faded browns.

Visitors need just turn their heads to see the toll that time takes on fragile art. Several of the other Veroneses on display have not been restored.

The restored work is breathtaking. For example, the sumptuous patterns of the silk and brocade fabrics are clearly visible, as are the musical instruments, eating utensils, dishes, food on the table.

“This isn’t a restoration, it’s a veritable resurrection,” said Nathalie Volle, the chief curator who oversaw the project. “The main discovery was that the work was a veritable symphony of colors.”

Volle told reporters that the most dramatic change in the painting involved a large male figure standing in the forefront and wearing a turban.

“For centuries, this figure was dressed in a reddish-brown robe that turned out to be green once the top layers of paint and varnish had been removed,” Volle said.

A hazy, brooding sky turned into the lapis lazuli blue of a clear summer day.

Also on exhibit--on the opposite side of the Salle des Etats where the restored work is on show--is a life-size X-ray of the painting.

The X-ray tells the story of the tempestuous history of “The Marriage at Cana.” First, there are dozens of holes from the wooden nails that attached the mural to the abbey wall until Napoleon’s soldiers tore it down to bring it back to France as war booty.

The X-ray also reveals some of the work’s long-hidden secrets. One stiff figure dressed in black turned out to have been created on paper and then glued onto the canvas. The X-ray, however, was taken before the painting’s most recent brush with destruction.

Last June, as workers checked its wall anchorings, a specially built tower supporting the painting jiggled, sending a powerful ripple through the two-ton canvas that then crashed to the floor.

“I wasn’t there when it happened, but when I arrived 20 minutes later, everyone was in tears,” recalled Pierre Rosenberg, head painting curator of the Louvre.

“It was a very emotional and dramatic moment. Fortunately, the damage turned out to be minor. But because the canvas was wrapped in protective gauze, we wouldn’t find out until a few days later.”

Rosenberg said the canvas was pierced in five places--in the columns and balustrade--which meant repairs were relatively easy.

“Surface abrasions are far more serious,” Rosenberg said. “But we were very lucky. There was no damage to any of the figures.”

How Napoleon Became One of History’s Most Rapacious Art Looters

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Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast
By Cynthia Saltzman

On Aug. 10, 1793, France’s revolutionary government brought into being one of the crowning projects of the Enlightenment: the Louvre Museum. Once the province of kings and popes, Europe’s greatest artworks would now belong to the people in the name of science, the arch-modern state would offer Titians and Rembrandts as instruments of public learning and republican liberty. With such exalted purpose, the interior minister Jean-Marie Roland predicted, the new gallery would be “among the most powerful illustrations of the French Republic.”

But where to get the art? Amid the chaos of revolution, a third of the country’s royal collections had been sold abroad. Even the pillaging of the French Catholic Church could not make up for it. Within a year, as their armies pushed the Austrians out of the Netherlands, France’s new leaders hit upon an answer. Paintings could be “liberated” by conquest Rubenses were carted back to Paris with the artillery. This innovation was not lost on the glory-addled young general who was preparing to invade Italy. In “Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast,” Cynthia Saltzman, the author of two previous books about art, exposes the rich contradictions of the 1796 Italian campaign through the story of a prized Venetian masterpiece. Under orders from the Directory, Napoleon set out to “enrich” the new French museum with the treasures of each vanquished city. Highly organized, the seizures took place through peace treaties, the art selected by specialists ships laden with Correggios, Leonardos and Raphaels sailed under military escort to Marseille.

Still, Venice was different. A proud republic in its own right, the city-state was hardly under the imperial yoke before Napoleon marched in. And some of its most important artworks were far too large, and too fragile, to move. Among them was “The Wedding Feast at Cana” (1563), the astonishing, open-air banquet scene that Paolo Veronese had painted, in situ, for the refectory of San Giorgio Maggiore. Measuring more than 22 by 32 feet, it transformed the biblical story into a sparkling pageant of Venetian life. It also formed the centerpiece of a building by Andrea Palladio that was itself a work of art. Any attempt to remove the monumental painting, Venice’s chief restorer warned, risked destroying it and its exquisite setting.

But Napoleon’s men could not be dissuaded. The artwork was brazenly taken down, wrapped in a Tintoretto, a Titian and two other Veroneses, and shipped to Paris. So precarious was its condition on arrival, Saltzman writes, that French conservators had to cut the painting in two in order to reline it, a procedure that sounds a bit like open-heart surgery. Even stitched back together, “The Wedding Feast at Cana” raised a larger question: What was Europe to make of the painting’s new home, a vast public museum stocked with war booty?

In Saltzman’s scrupulous telling, there was rancor, but also awe. Jacques-Louis David, France’s pre-eminent painter, protested the removal of the “Apollo Belvedere” and the “Laocoön” from Rome. A Leipzig scholar likened such pillage to a “crime against humanity.” Yet by 1802, some 10,000 British visitors were flocking to Paris to see “all the treasures of Italy” gathered in one place — anticipating the perverse allure of leading Western museums today. Hitler would take note.

In the end, Napoleon’s seizure of power quickly put the lie to the Louvre’s lofty civic ideals. The revolution defeated, his later campaigns were aimed as much at matching the splendor of Louis XIV as at benefiting what was now more accurately called the “Musée Napoléon.” With his downfall, some of the art was repatriated. But not all: Louvre officials said that “The Wedding Feast at Cana” was too fragile to move. Today it shares the same gallery as the “Mona Lisa.”


The oldest known depictions of dance in this region are found in Predynastic era rock carvings, a linen shroud, a wall painting, a clay model, and pottery in Upper Egypt. [7] The earliest examples of Predynastic dancers come from pottery of the Badarian culture from the 5th millennium B.C. and Naqada I and Naqada II cultures from the 4th millennium B.C. [7] The importance of dance appeared to lessen over time as dancing scenes became rare in the late Naqada period. [7]

The first illustrations of dance in ancient Egypt come from scenes in Old Kingdom tombs of performers associated with funerals. [2]

Researcher Irena Lexová authored the first monograph entirely on ancient Egyptian dance. [8] [9]

Professional groups of singers (ḥsı͗t), musicians (ḥnı͗t or ḥnwt), and dancers (ḥbw) often performed at important festivals and funerary services. [10] These groups were referred to in the Old and Middle Kingdoms as the ḫnr or khener, [2] [11] which in context translates to "musical performers." [12] [13] Khener can also be used to describe a troupe of singers and dancers arranged through a bureau. [14] Victorian scholars often confused the term khener with a harem due to poor understanding of the depictions and cultural differences. [14] The khener are depicted as entertainers for religious ceremonies, entertaining the deceased kings, but the khener may not be solely religious. [14] Khener were used at the Temples of Hathor, Bat, Wepwawet, and Horus Iunmutef. [14] Some kheners were itinerant, traveling from their permanent seat to offer their services as indicated in the story of Ruddedet. [15] [11] [13] Dancers also took on work outside performances in order to support themselves. [15]

The main types of ḫnr thought to have existed are those associated with cults and temples, the king and funerary estates. [2] [16] The ḫnr appear to have been dominated and headed by females until the latter days of the Old Kingdom. [2]

Foreign dancers and musicians became more represented in the New Kingdom. [13] Scholars recognize these dancers' origins by costume, hairstyle, and names in texts among other attributes. [13] They apparently could join an ḫnr, but their participation may have been limited. [13] Scenes in temple reliefs indicate that some cult performances were only reserved for elite Egyptian women. [13]

Female dancers rarely wore the restrictive ordinary dress – a strapped white sheath starting at the bust and running down to the ankles. [17] [18] An exception in the Old Kingdom was for funeral dances. [18] Old Kingdom dancers are not only depicted in dresses but in men's aprons with a scarf or men's skirts. [19] [17] [2]

Middle and New Kingdom dancers never wore men's skirts, but did wear men's aprons without the scarf. [20] By the New Kingdom, adult dancers appear more scantily clad, often wearing only a belt or scarf about their hips, sometimes with a transparent robe to allow observation of their bodies. [20] [2] New Kingdom dancers also wore variations of ordinary dress in their transparent broad long cloaks. Dresses often left the right breast exposed. [20] [21]

Dancers adorned themselves with bracelets and ribbons or garlands on their heads. [22] [23] Old Kingdom dancers would wear ribbons around their chests. [23] New Kingdom dancers would wear floral collars, earrings and cones made of fragranced semi-solid fat or beeswax, used to give out a pleasant perfume as the dancers performed. [23] [2] Dancers' eyes were thickly outlined with kohl. [2]

In the Old and Middle Kingdoms, women's hair dress was characteristically “evenly cut and smoothly combed down, divided into two thinner plaits hanging from the shoulders down to the chest and one broad plait covering the upper part of the back.” [21] Female dancers who did not have long hair resorted to wearing wigs styled in the same fashion. [ citation needed ]

Female dancers are also depicted with a tattooed or painted symbol on their thigh of Bes, a god of fertility and childbirth affiliated with music and dance. [24] [25] It is unclear whether this decoration was unique to dancers or if women commonly had it applied. [24]

Male dancers had short hair [26] and typically wore the standard men's dress viz. skirt in the Old and Middle Kingdoms, they would also wear an apron with round edges in the front. [23]

Among the ornaments male dancers would wear were collars [23] or chains around their necks, [ citation needed ] whereas the younger boys wore bracelets on their feet. [23]

Lexova also added that dancers of that era used a short curved stick or cane while dancing, which is a prop still used by modern Egyptian dancers. [27]

Before the New Kingdom, dancers were mostly accompanied by clapping or percussion instruments. [2] Afterward, performers could dance to a greater range of music with the introduction of stringed instruments like the lute and the lyre. [2]

The ancient Egyptians used a vast array of musical instruments such as sistrums, harps, drums, flutes, cymbals, clappers, and tambourines that played a prominent role in melodic compositions of ancient Egyptians composers and musicians. It was rare to find wind or stringed instrument players close to dancers in the same scene. However, it was noted that whenever musicians are depicted, dancers were not generally far away.

Lexová set out classifications for the various dances of the period: the purely movemental dance, the gymnastic dance, the imitative dance, the pair dance, the group dance, the war dance, the dramatic dance, the lyrical dance, the grotesque dance, the funeral dance and the religious dance. [8]

Dance scholar and performer Elizabeth "Artemis" Mourat also categorized dances into six types: religious dances, non-religious dances, banquet dances, harem dances, combat dances and street dances. [1]

Solo, pair and group dances Edit

Ancient Egyptian dancers danced either as soloists, in pairs or in groups, depending on the occasion and type of the dance performed. Individual or solo dances included performances by the king or priests designated as his representatives. The king would perform the sun dance and he or his deputy danced at the harvest festival honoring Min of Koptos, a fertility god. [28] [29] [30]

Pair dancing Edit

In pair dancing, two people of the same gender would perform together. [31] [30] This form of dancing was established by the 6th Dynasty. An image from this time depicted female pair dancers with canes. 5th Dynasty female dancers are shown to hold hands while performing in unison. The dances used symmetrical and dramatic movements and conveyed emotions such as longing or depression. [30]

Group dances Edit

There were two types of Egyptian group dances. One was performed in individual movements that confirmed a theme or idea or was carried out spontaneously as in prehistoric times. Dancers competed with one another, often in groups, substituting movement that were later established in funeral dances rites.(Lexová 1935) A second type featured pairs or ranks of dancers who executed repetitive movements in a circle. Banquets and festivals often included performances by trained pair dancers. [30]

Funeral dances Edit

Dances associated with funerals included ritual, postures and gestures and secular dances. [32]

Old Kingdom performers included a specialized group of female dancers called “the acacia house.” [33] Dances by the acacia house followed mummification and were aimed at appeasing the goddess Sekhmet and rejuvenating and mourning the dead. Khener dancers are often portrayed entertaining the rejuvenated deceased while he eats from the offering table. [13] [33]

The women in banquet scenes playing music and dancing for the deceased and his family, especially in New Kingdom tombs, were not all professional and sometimes included close family relations. [11] The scenes reflected what was hoped to be replayed in the afterlife. [11]

During the Middle and New Kingdom periods, a separate funeral dance was practiced dedicated to Hathor in the goddess's role as guide for the dead into the afterlife. It involved leaping or skipping and was accompanied by a sung or spoken prayer to the sounds of percussion, including the clapping of hands and sticks. [33]

Another specialized troupe of sacred dancers, mww or muu dancers, existed across the Kingdoms. They performed at various points in the funeral, wearing kilts and crowns of woven reed or palm fiber that signified their role as ferrymen. [2] [1] [13] The crowns themselves were cone-shaped and resembled the king's White Crown of Upper Egypt. [13] [26] Through their dance, they symbolically delivered the deceased to the netherworld. [13] [33] One researcher finds that the "dances. made by the sacred dancers at the door of. [the] tomb" in the Story of Sinuhe [34] is named the "Dance of the Weary-ones." [13] The title referred to the deceased's ancestors.

Dwarfs and pygmies Edit

Dwarfs and pygmies were known from the Old Kingdom and were prized for their rarity and as dancers were hired for special occasions. The dances they performed were farewell performances associated with the departure of the sun. The dwarfs were used as they were thought to represent the sun due to their stunted growth. [35] There are indications that dancing dwarfs replaced mww dancers at the tomb entrance by the Twentieth Dynasty. [13] [26] Lexová notes an image of the dancers of the dwarf dances wearing similar crowns. [26]

After the New Kingdom changes of tomb decoration took place funerary dances were no longer depicted on tomb walls but were found in temples instead. The dancing scenes portrayed in temples reflected both royal and divine ceremonies. All dancing scenes had one common feature that being the solemn procession of the sacred barks carrying a god. [36]

Festive dances Edit

Among the festivals during which dancing took place the following are enumerated: [37]

The Greatest Food Scenes In Cinema History

Sometimes, in art as in life, food means more than just food.

In the following list of scenes from cinema history it is variously deployed as an act of communion, a dangerous threat and a gesture of identity.

Oh - and one of them is just a bloody lovely looking sandwich. Sometimes food really is just food, and that can be great too.

Raging Bull - "You Bother Me About a Steak?"

This early scene in the greatest film Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese ever made together (yeah, we said it) shows aspiring boxer Jake LaMotta embroiled in a violent domestic row over the relative merits a rare vs medium-rare steak. While we agree it's an important distinction, Jake's impatient and volatile overreaction tells you everything you need to know about his character and acts as a premonition of what is to come: the downfall of a man who is his own worst enemy.

The Breakfast Club - Lunch Break

Sushi for the posh girl. Four giant sandwiches for the jock. Peanut butter and jelly with the crusts cut off for the geek. Sugar and crisps for the weirdo. John Hughes' still-definitive teen comedy used five very different packed lunches to establish the five very different high school students forced together for detention.

Inglourious Basterds &ndash Strudel and Cream

As Tarantino's favourite ever character, Christoph Waltz's portrayal of Hans Landa is repulsive and captivating all at once. The scene where he is unknowingly reunited with the girl whose family he slaughtered is made all the more tense as we watch Shosanna gulp down the perfect looking strudel. Landa extinguishing his cigarette in the cream of his unfinished strudel is a revealing touch.

Rocky &ndash Breakfast of Champions

Type the words "Rocky" and "Eggs" into Google, and you'll be met with thousands of people desperate to know if it's actually healthy or helpful to gulp back a box of free-range chicken slime. Such is the devotion to Rocky that people are willing to completely ruin their mornings in tribute to the early-rising Italian Stallion. Why? Because, like running up some steps or mumbling like you've downed sixteen pints and then been run over, downing a raw egg makes you feel a bit like Rocky, and feeling a bit like Rocky is what Rocky is all about.

American Psycho &ndash Opening Credits

In amongst the scenes of disturbing torture in American Psycho are some very astute take downs of the New York fine restaurant scene - such as this opener. There is something quite visceral but still delicate about watching forks prise apart the beautiful desserts on a perfectly laid table, while the waiter reeling off the specials of "squid ravioli in a lemongrass broth with goats cheese profiteroles" against classical music is a brilliantly deceptive opener for what is a seriously macabre film.

Goodfellas - Cooking in Jail

Is there a better single metaphor for the mafia and what we find so fascinating about it than Paulie chopping garlic with a razor blade in Goodfellas? It's all there - family, tradition, menace and a total disregard for the law (he's in prison, technically). "Cutting it so thin meant the garlic melted in the pan," explains Henry Hill's narration, making the thought of eating a meal prepared by a psychotic murderer suddenly quite palatable.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom &ndash The Dinner Of Doom

The scene that earned the film a temporary ban in India, the 'Dinner of Doom' is by far the most controversial entry on this list.

Indie, alongside Willie and Short, has been invited to a grand banquet in tribute to the pre-teen Maharajah. The first dish arrives at the table: a huge snake that is sliced open to reveal hundreds of smaller, no less terrifying serpents wriggling for freedom. To Willie's horror, the diners gulp them down. Next comes the giant stag beetle course, then eyeball soup, and then finally, a dessert of chilled monkey brains.

As a piece of visual comedy, it's hilarious. As a realistic reflection of Hindu cuisine, it's ridiculously off the mark &ndash but that didn't stop Americans taking it as fact, with over half of U.S students believing monkey brains to be a genuine Indian delicacy.

Pulp Fiction &ndash The Big Kahuna Burger

Anyone who has seen Pulp Fiction will recall Samuel L.Jackson threateningly - and somewhat spuriously - declaring hamburgers "the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast" as he intimidates someone who owes his boss some money. Despite the highly hostile situation, the glossy bun, cheap American cheese and puddle of ketchup on the patty still looks like a delicious guilty pleasure. Even the distinct rustle of the packaging paper when he picks up the burger is familiar and tantalising.

For Tarantino, the scene is surprisingly blood-free but there is something particularly unsettling about taking someone else's food and so aggressively eating it in front of them. We think so anyway.

American History X - Dinner with Dad

Towards the end of American History X, a monochrome flashback brings us to a prophetic scene in Nazi Derek's childhood.

Derek - teenage, floppy-fringed and sans-swastika - is eating dinner with his family. He begins to gush over his new English teacher Dr. Sweeney, and the black literature unit that he's introduced.

This sends Derek's father into a hot-faced diatribe over "affirmative black-tion", concluding that the literature course is just "n*****r bullshit." Eager to earn his dad's respect, Derek agrees, earning a pat on the arm. "Good boy. I'm proud of you."

It's a striking example of how hate is so easily transferred from one generation to another. Of how conversation can lead to curb-stomps. Over food, amongst family, in the most wholesome and disarming of settings.

Chef &ndash Cuban Sandwiches

Jon Favreau's 2014 foodie flick Chef has so many moments of culinary seduction it is hard to pick one standout moment, but father and son recreating the sacred ritual of the Cuban sandwich just takes the top spot. There's magic in watching the tangy marinade massaged into a hunk of pork whilst John Leguizamo taps his heels to latin music.

You can practically smell the wafts of slow cooked meat as they surgically slice fatty strips of it off to taste. Even the bread is crucial which is slathered in butter before being toasted, "When that cheese is melted," Favreau tells his son, "And that bread is golden but not burnt. You call me." The dedication pays off with the perfect cheesy golden package.

The Blues Brothers - Fur fried Chickens and Dry White Toast

One of the most expensive comedies ever made &ndash mainly due to John Belushi's off screen drug abuse &ndash cult classic The Blues Brothers has more than its share of iconic scenes, including this one when the duo request 'four fried chickens and some dry white toast'. A bit like martinis shaken not stirred in bars, fans of the film will be familiar with the strange impulse to place the same order that whenever they're in an American diner (note: not advised).

Independence Hall

Independence Hall, Chestnut Street facade

Independence Hall is the birthplace of America. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both debated and signed inside this building. The legacy of the nation's founding documents - universal principles of freedom and democracy - has influenced lawmakers around the world and distinguished Independence Hall as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Construction on the building started in 1732. Built to be the Pennsylvania State House, the building originally housed all three branches of Pennsylvania's colonial government. The Pennsylvania legislature loaned their Assembly Room out for the meetings of the Second Continental Congress and later, the Constitutional Convention. Here, George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in 1775, the Articles of Confederation were adopted in 1781, and Benjamin Franklin gazed upon the "Rising Sun" chair in 1787.

There is much history to explore - from the Georgian architecture, to bells and clocks, to fugitive slave hearings - in addition to the founding of the nation. Planning a visit? Learn more about hours, tickets and programs.

Assembly Room of Independence Hall

The Assembly Room
The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed in this room. Later, the room became a shrine to the founding of the nation, proudly displaying the Liberty Bell and original paintings of the Founding Fathers. That was the scene when President-elect Abraham Lincoln visited the Assembly Room and praised the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Following his assassination, Lincoln's body lay in repose here for two days. Visitors today can ponder their own role in the on-going experiment in self-government.

Courtroom on the first floor of Independence Hall.

Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania sat in this room in the 1700s. On July 8, 1776, an act of defiance occurred here when a group of Pennsylvania militiamen stormed in and tore down British King George III's coat of arms. A hundred years later, visitors came to this room during the Centennial to experience the National Museum, a collection of artifacts celebrating the founding of the nation,

Long Gallery on the second floor of Independence Hall

Long Gallery
The Long Gallery on the second floor of Independence Hall served as a reception area for visitors meeting with Pennsylvania's governor. It was also the scene of dinners and celebrations. During the British occupation of Philadelphia, the Long Gallery became a hospital for wounded American prisoners of war. Later visitors to this room marveled at Peale's Museum, one of the earliest museums in America.

Governor's Council Chamber on the second floor of Independence Hall.

Governor's Council Chamber
Pennsylvania's Supreme Executive Council met in this room in the 18th century. Later use of the room includes U.S. District Court, the scene of fugitive slave trials in the 1850s. Displayed on the table today is the surveyor's tool used by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to determine the boundary between Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Committee of the Assembly Chamber on the second floor of Independence Hall.


The Guardian of Tradition Dinner scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is remembered to be one of the film's memorable scenes and has been parodied in other movies, television shows and video games.

Indiana Jones director Steven Spielberg fulfilled one of his greatest dreams on including all sort of extravagant dishes in Pankot Palace's dining room, filmed at Elstree Studios. It should be noted, however, that not all the dishes were included in the final cut. Α]

Banquet scene from Maraş - History

The history of Fran's Restaurant in Toronto

Stay in the loop

Fran's restaurant is the type of place that is found in many cities throughout the world. It's not necessarily known as a famous gourmet destination, but rather the kind of place where people seek good food at modest prices.

For several decades, Fran's on College Street is where people grabbed a burger or sandwich with fries prior to a Leafs game at the Gardens, or enjoyed a coffee and slice of pie after a hockey game.

Late-night inhabitants of the city visited the restaurant after imbibing generously in the bars and pubs on the Yonge Street strip, in the days when it was Toronto's entertainment centre.

Women often met at Fran's after shopping at Eaton's College Street, across the road from the restaurant.

Fran's Restaurant on College Street in 1981. Photo by Toronto Archives.

The Eaton's College Street store is gone, the Entertainment District has relocated, and the Leafs have departed from the Gardens.

However, Fran's still serves food to the breakfast, lunch and dinner crowds, and remains a destination for those who inhabit Yonge Street during the late-evening and early-morning hours.

My earliest recollections of Fran's are from the year 1957, when I worked at the British American Oil Company on the northwest corner of Bay and College. Each workday morning, I journeyed south on the Yonge Subway to the College Station.

At that time, the subway had been in service for only three years. Walking west on College Street, I visited Fran's to purchase two take-out coffees, one for a fellow worker and the other for myself. Visiting Fran's was a pleasurable morning ritual.

In October of 2016, I revisited the restaurant to relive a few fond memories. On this occasion, the coffee and the clubhouse sandwich with fries, were just as good as ever.

Although the dining room had retained its family-style atmosphere, major changes were visible. A street patio and open rooftop deck had been added.

Thus, although the eatery had changed, it had also remained the same. Fran's is still a vital part of the city’s restaurant scene for comfort food.

Fran's Restaurant patio on Front Street (now permanently closed).

Fran's Restaurants were opened by Francis (Fran) Deck, who relocated from Buffalo to Toronto in 1940. His brother Greg remained in Buffalo and managed his own chain of eateries.

Fran brought his experience from Buffalo to Toronto, and opened a restaurant that offered good food and low prices, available 24 hours a day.

Along with his wife, Ellen Jane, Fran's first restaurant was at 21 St. Clair Avenue West, a short distance west of Yonge Street. Containing only 10 seats, it was a small diner that specialized in hamburgers, steaks and wheat cakes.

However, it soon became well known for its chili, rice pudding and apple pie. Late-night bottomless cups of coffee and over-sized breakfasts also became highly popular. The famous pianist, Glenn Gould was a regular customer at Fran's on St. Clair as he lived nearby.

Fran was reputed to have been the first to use the term "banquet burger," which was a burger served with bacon and cheese. The term is now employed widely in restaurants throughout North America. He also created his own brand of coffee, which was sold in his establishments.

In 1945, Fran opened another site at 2275 Yonge Street, near Eglinton, another at 1386 Bathurst south of Vaughan Road, and the location on College Street near Yonge in 1950.

Others were opened in the years ahead, including one in Hamilton and another in Barrie. The head office of the company was on Mt. Pleasant Road, north of Merton Street.

Fran Deck died in an automobile accident in Arizona in 1976. The business was sold to investors, but Joon Kim purchased the College Street site in 1997.

The St. Clair and Yonge Street sites have now closed, but the business on College Street remains.

In 2004, a Fran's was opened on the northwest corner of Shuter and Victoria Streets. Fran's had a booth in the Food Building at the CNE in 2014, when it offered deep-fried rice pudding.

On May 14, 2012, Leonard Cohen was awarded the Glenn Gould Prize in a gala concert in Massey Hall. Afterward, Cohen topped off the evening with a visit to Fran's.

For Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs, Life Was a Banquet, But the Afterlife Was the Greatest Feast of All

In Ancient Egypt, inanimate objects—particularly images created for tombs or temples—were believed to contain latent magical powers. What was drawn or etched on stone could later come into being in another cosmos. That is why so many pharaonic works of art show tables piled high with food. Nobody wanted to go hungry in the afterlife. On the contrary, the ancient Egyptians hoped they would enjoy the greatest feast of all in that other realm.

The steward Mentuwoser, who lived roughly two millennia before Christ, was surely wishing for such a feast. He had worked for King Senwosret I, overseeing his linens, his granaries, and his domesticated animals—cows, goats, donkeys, and, most interesting, pigs. (Many people think that pigs were not eaten in ancient Egypt, but they most definitely were.) Those loyal efforts did not go unrecognized. The pharaoh had a gorgeous limestone stela made for Mentuwoser, to be placed at Abydos, where Osiris, the god of the afterlife, presided.

The stela, now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, shows Mentuwoser seated in front of a table bearing a massive amount of food. At the bottom of the heap is the head of a calf—its meat young and tender, delicious to eat. Also stacked there are onions, a squash, at least two types of bread, a calf’s leg, and a lotus flower to delicately scent the food. Lotuses are mildly hallucinogenic: When mixed into wine, the wine became more potent. They were also powerful in another way: In the afternoon and evening, the floating lotus flower descends underwater, rising again with the sun at dawn and reopening its petals—a quintessential symbol of rebirth and resurrection, associated with the sun god.

Mentuwoser’s daughter is shown smelling a lotus flower, and his father is presenting him with two vessels, one with food and another filled with beer. His son, in the upper right, calls forth his father’s spirit to enjoy the offerings. The Egyptians believed you could take everything with you when you died, and they wanted to have a perfect afterlife, with as much stuff in it as possible. At the cult center of Abydos, Osiris could watch over Mentuwoser, and pilgrims could say blessings, make offerings, or pour libations before the stela. In this way the gods would be satisfied and Mentuwoser would continue the blissful existence shown on the carving into eternity.

In addition to 2-D depictions, artisans carved 3-D models of food preparation and feasting. Some of the best examples were found in the early 20th century by a team from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a secret chamber at the tomb of Meketre, who lived shortly after Mentuwoser. These dioramas show vignettes of food preparation: cattle being counted, then force-fed and fattened, then slaughtered and cured. The culminating scene shows two boats, one carrying Meketre, his guests, and a small orchestra, the other carrying cooks and helpers. The cooks are preparing roasted goose, and their boat has wine, beer, and enough other supplies for a perfect outing. Helpers pass bread from one boat to the other.

Some ancient Egyptians may have doubted the power of a simple carving or even a model to keep them fed in the afterlife. They took matters a step further and mummified actual food to bring with them. Sometimes these feasts were more lavish than anything people would actually enjoy in daily life. The menu might include salted poultry, red meats (made in a way similar to ham, but of beef), and a kind of dried meat, resembling modern biltong, that had been salted, strung up, and hung to dry in the desert sun. On some of this mummified meat you can still see the little indentations that the string made. Other meals were precooked with oils, flavorings, and herbs to make them more delicious. King Tutankhamun’s tomb included more than 30 boxes of mummified victuals, perhaps because he was a teenager with a healthy appetite. 

For someone like myself, an Egyptologist who has studied these food mummies in detail, it’s hard not to wonder what they taste like. At a museum in the United States, I once got the opportunity to find out. I was looking at food mummies from 1500 B.C. and noticed that a few bits had fallen off. So I asked permission to take a nibble, and the official I was with said, “Go ahead!” It was very chewy, a bit like salty cardboard—hardly the eternal delicacy that people in a desert kingdom imagined more than three millennia ago.

This article is a selection from our Smithsonian Journeys Travel Quarterly Atlas of Eating Issue

Every culture has its own cuisine, and every cuisine its own secret history. This special issue of Journeys provides an in-depth look at food and culinary culture around the globe, including in-depth stories and favorite recipes.

About Salima Ikram

Salima Ikram is Distinguished University Professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo. Her fieldwork focuses on the role of animals in the ancient Egyptian diet. She currently directs the Darb Ain Amur Survey, in North Kharga, and an excavation in the Valley of the Kings.

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