The story in the archives: dirty books and bread.
As our faithful readers know, yesterday we celebrated our fifth birthday! We now have more than 500 posts in our archives, more than 120 pages for readers to screen. Our wonderful contributors are knowledgeable about recipes. However, with so much information on the site, early works are easy to forget. So, the editor decided, from time to time, we pulled something out of the archive and re-shared it with the readers in the archive legend series.
This month, we got a bonus story from our archives. In Britain, on Tuesday night’s great British baking festival, this season’s contestant, Kate Lyon, often USES historical recipes. Tonight, bread is on the menu! This post, by Anke Timmermann, is one of my favorite bread-related posts. We just say miracle bread has a whole new meaning!
We would also like to congratulate anco on its new business. She left academia a few years ago to enter the antique book industry and recently opened her own bookstore in London: AT Scriptorium.
The editor Lisa Smith
By enke Timmermann
There are some things that even the most innocent literati can’t avoid, including dirty books. This article will discuss the traces left by rough readers at the beginning of writing: the smudges and cracks that arise from the physical contact between the book and the reader. Recently I have found flaws and broken manuscripts in my name in different names, because I am tracing alchemy in the Cambridge manuscript collection. The following three observations are likely to intrigue the current audience, not least because they link bread, cheese and other foods.
Bad and good dirt.
Richard DE Bury, the author of the book guide for the book lovers and book-lovers of the early fourteenth century, wrote enthusiastically about the proper handling of manuscripts. The book is to be seen, but not touched. In the proper name of “philosophical biblon”, DE Bury illustrates the destructive behavior common to readers in the image of “some die-hard young people” :
He is not afraid to eat fruit or cheese in an open book, or accidentally take it out of his mouth. Because he had no wallet at hand, he threw the remaining pieces into the book.
Many modern library users will find this familiar when they look at readers.
But in recent years, scholarships have hidden the use of historical books. An excellent article in 2010 showed the use of densitometers, a “dark machine that measures the surface of a reflective surface”, such as revealing a medieval kiss on the image of a saint.  people can only imagine and infer from the obvious stains that the analysis of similar recipe books will be uncovered.
Medieval bread and books.
The dirt on the page doesn’t have to wait for the attention of modern technology. In the late middle ages, bookstore owners commented on this and tried to find a solution to the material they didn’t need on their manuscript pages. Examples of recent discoveries include paw prints and body fluids left in the manuscript, but after the fact, the manuscripts are unlikely to be cleaned. 
If you want to get your bock dirty or crushed 
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The formal recipe text relies on a single “ingredient” : bread. Although bread is widely used in cooking and religious texts, the prison (bread and water) proverb diet and the “bread and salt” pairing, early mention of bread deserves more consideration in cleaning instruction. It USES the recipe type, bread as a cooking product in the kitchen, as well as the alienation of its texture and other material properties, secondary use. In addition, the paper also provides a silent similarity to modern cleaning POTS and pans, tools and instruments. I wonder if the above techniques can find traces of bread on the manuscript page?
Modern books and miracle bread.
Bread as a cleaning device for books continues to this day and may be familiar to some readers of the blog, especially those who deal with books or paintings professionally or otherwise. The American Bread, called Wonder Bread, is said to have a particularly good cleaning capacity. However, in V&A, this approach is “not doing anything… ”
Don’t use old-fashioned cleaning remedies.
Bread is a traditional dry cleaning material used to remove dirt from paper. If you rub a piece of fresh white bread with your fingers, you will find it very effective in picking up dirt. The slight stickiness of bread is why it works, and why it becomes a problem. It can leave a sticky residue that will attract more dirt. Oily residues or debris trapped in paper fibers will support mold growth and promote pest attacks. 
The proposal forms the antidote to the book’s sanitization: conflicting advice over the centuries.
I would like to thank the free library of Philadelphia for the use of the image of the privilege set in this blog post.