What do red lipstick, saffron and hot air balloons have in common…? They’re all exquisite! Well, at least according to author Jessica Jenkins. Initially a private collection of things that simply made her happy, the Encyclopedia of the Exquisite she explains is “an ode to life’s many luxuries that don’t require much spending.”
I came across this book while browsing the new non-fiction and it was a great find! As a cat lover, I already knew “Felines” were rather exquisite, but reading about how Josephine Baker and Pola Negri (two of the early 20th century’s most glamorous women) used to parade around their pet leopards and cheetahs is really something to be impressed by. Another entry is on the “Topper” or top hat. Did you know that when the top hat was debuted on the streets of London it started a riot? I didn’t know this either, but firsthand accounts from 1797 report that the unusual sight caused women to faint, and children and dogs to scream. A boy who was thrown down in the frazzled crowd even suffered a broken arm. (This makes me wonder how these women and children would have reacted to all the “chic” hats worn in London at the recent royal wedding….) Yet, Jenkins tells us that by the middle on the 19th century, only 50 years later, this style of hat was ubiquitous among aristocratic men and boys.
Upon reading this book, I began thinking, what would I include in my own version of this book? I might like to include mangos because, in my opinion, a perfectly ripe mango is absolutely heavenly! I could also find good reason to include ballroom dancing, vineyards and mosaics to the list. What would you include in your own Encyclopedia of the Exquisite?
Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: an anecdotal history of elegant delights