Culture Buzz: Shadows of their former selves…

These aren’t your mamma’s shadow puppets! Unless your mamma is a Javanese puppet master. The incredibly detailed puppets of Wayang Kulit, the ancient Indonesian brand of shadow theater, continue to enchant audiences to this day, bringing to life the magical stories of Hindu-Javanese folklore on a simple backlit cotton screen. Kulit means skin, and refers to the buffalo leather construction of the puppets that are painstakingly chiseled with very fine tools and supported with carefully shaped buffalo horn handles and control rods.
Got a sheet, a bright light and a buffalo? Then, by all means, TRY THIS AT HOME!
-Maybe use construction paper though :)

Culture Buzz: The baguettes come out at midnight…

If you have ever been to France you know that the French love their baguettes. You see them everywhere. If you spent a day counting all the baguettes you see in France you would be left with some unfathomable number. The French will eat just about everything on a baguette, but many believe the best thing to have on a baguette is, more baguette. They also tend to be very serious about their baguettes, by law you can only make them a certain way. That’s soooo French! The rural French have been known to travel for miles into town for a fresh baguette, while on the busy streets baguettes are more abundant than Starbucks coffee. Sit at a corner cafe, hopefully not a Starbucks, and you’re likely to see more baguettes passing by than people! The baguettes just might be plotting some sort of hostile takeover. (They do happen to make a surprisingly reliable weapon when backed into a corner…)

Anyhoo, since bakers are only human, they can’t stay up all hours to fulfill every fresh baguette emergency. So, it’s about time somebody came up with a way to get your baguette fix at any hour of the night. Enter Jean-Louis Hecht, baker extraordinaire, who built a special vending machine/oven that warms up and serves you a baguette on the spot. Brilliant!


Now the hungry masses can be served at Jean-Louis’ bakery through the night while, presumably, he relaxes at home with a baguette :)

Culture Buzz: Savage Easter

In the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary it is an Easter tradition to torment women for the day. This typically includes dousing them with water and/or lightly spanking them. Seriously. Somehow, symbolically the ritual is meant to keep them young and fertile, derived from an old medieval tradition that probably should’ve stayed just that. Though most observe the tradition playfully, there are always a few who ruin it for everyone. So, to be safe, many ladies of Central Europe will justifiably choose to stay in this Sunday.

Culture Buzz: “Lotus pray…”

To say the lotus flower is an important symbol in India would really be an understatement. The potent and resilient plant, which has no trouble thriving in the muddiest of swamps without breaking a sweat, or even getting dirty, has become the supreme icon of beauty, strength, longevity and fertility in Indian culture. In Hinduism, the lotus is also a symbol of divinity that seems to turn up everywhere, even growing from Vishnu’s belly-button! In fact, they believe the spirit of the Lotus itself exists within every human being. That’s a lot of lotuses… Loti?

Anyhoo, it is only fitting that there is a temple in New Delhi bearing semblance to a giant lotus flower preparing to bloom. Pretty sweet.

Also looks a bit like a citrus juicer.