By now, readers may have finally gotten around to reading every last drop of trivia in last year's oddball bestseller (here and in the U.K.), Schott's Original Miscellany. Just in time, the London "miscellanist" returns, bestowing upon hungry readers every random thing they've ever wondered about the culinary arts and then some. It's just as addictive and enlightening as the first book, as Schott uses his signature objectivity to relay such obscure facts as "The Romans developed a taste for the edible dormouse (Myoxus glis), which they fattened in special cages (gliraria) before stuffing and roasting." Servants' wages, rates of digestion, blessings for wine and bread, dining times for monks, cognac nomenclature, Laotian cooking measures, ways to ask for the bill in 22 languages, microbial count in raw meat, Latin names for herbs—Schott addresses all these subjects and more, hopping between completely useless (though always fascinating) information and eminently practical tidbits. The "Some slang for drunkenness" entry (which lists, among other terms, "got a crumb in his beard," "wankered" and "sniffed the barmaid's apron") makes the book a wise choice for placement on the coffee table, while the "Measuring spaghetti" diagram suggests it is an indispensable kitchen reference.
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A photographer, designer and miscellanist, Ben Schott lives in London, where he divides his time between Highgate and the British Library.