The Flower Inn

copyright holder unknown2For men who work day and night, driven by the passion of their dreams, there is no time for the entertainments enjoyed by others.  For those employed in the behemoth projects underway at Froben’s presses, there are no pastimes such as the game of Loggats, in which a ball or some cheese-shaped object is thrown toward a group of quilles or skittles to knock them over.

figuresgamblingnatavern1670David Teniers

How ironic that the peasants, after their days of hard labor, have strength and time to play such games, but we men of supposed learning fall into the chairs before our suppers, almost too weary to eat.  And our minds, turned to stew by the exertions that have occupied them, have not capacity for chess or Karnöffel, such as the old men play in the corners of the inn.

16th century type--Moyen Canon RomainAlthough Froben’s hospitality knows no bounds, and he would feed us every meal, a few of us stroll each evening to the Flower Inn.  We seek to get away from the noise of the presses that, at any time, can be heard beyond and behind and beneath every wall, every thought.  We need to breathe something other than the scents of paper and ink and metal, though we bring those scents with us, seeped as they are into our clothes and hair.

We drop into our chairs, our eyes dry and weary, and I am so grateful to the stout alewife who sets the repast before us that I could kiss her workworn hand.

Pellicanus by Asper--Kunsthaus ZürichAn evening here reminds me of those pleasant evenings spent at the Hog’s Snout with Zell, Fabri, Hubmaier, and the young monk, Michael.  My friend, Conradus Pellicanus, reminds me of Michael, the coarse wool of his monk’s habit contrasting with our finer academic robes, just as Michael’s did. Conrad is a Franciscan, but not only does he labor beside us on the editing and annotating, but he frequently eats with us at the inn, saying that he has missed the evening meal at the monastery.  I think he is a monk in heart, more than in rules and rituals, and for that I respect him all the more.

Bruno Amerbach, the oldest brother, is always here, though retiring Basilius is content to return to zum Kaiserstuh and eat with the servants.  Bruno reminds me of Matthew Zell, ready always to laugh, to twinkle his eyes at the women, to talk to every man who passes the table, whether peasant or burgher.  And having grown up in Basel, the son of a prominent printer, Bruno knows everyone.

And so, as if to reflect those days at the Hog’s Snout, I am joined by a quiet studious monk and a gregarious fellow.  And then, just as he was wont to do at the Hog’s Snout, Fabri arrives, always late, in a swirl of robes.

tongue2But there, the similarity ends.  For at the Hog’s Snout, we poor scholars dined on tripe or tongue, if we were lucky.  And there, to stretch her poor rations out to feed more starving students, the cook adulterated her flour with sawdust.

But here!  The Flower Inn offers accommodations for the traveler and even some local boarders. Bruno often says he may move here to get away from the presses at zum Kaiserstuh.  To this, Conrad raises his eyebrows, as if to say the innkeeper’s daughters should steer clear.  Bruno’s reputation from his Paris university days has followed him home.

Cheesemarket, BaselSo, since they serve travelers of note and local respectable citizens, the victuals at the Flower Inn are several grades higher than what held my body and soul together at the Hog’s Snout.  Tonight, we had a cheese tart filled with cheese that was not too rotten, eggs, and butter.  We had morels baked in wine and saffron.  And we had goose, stuffed with onions, quinces, pears and bacon, and roasted on a spit.  And wine!  A thing not even allowed to us as university students.

By the Muses!  And the best thing, Gentle Reader, is that we all had money to pay without having to pool our Pfennigs, or borrow, or fail to eat our fill because we had not been able to afford all the food we needed.  I thought of how Fabri had been so poor as a young urchin that he had swept the ale house just for the crumbs.  You should see him now.  Filling out around the middle just like a bishop!

Ah Basel.

goose

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Published in: on October 7, 2012 at 6:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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