A 19th Century Internet Chat Room

I started this morning trying to reduce the number of references with a ‘need to review’ notation.

Richard Hakluyt

I started with two books by Richard Hakluyt (1553-1616), an English proponent of North American exploration and colonization, who also published a book in 1589 called ‘Principall Navigations, Voiages, and Discoveries of the English Nation’ collecting multiple first-hand accounts of travels. My notes indicated information on mead in Moscow based on 1557 and 1583 accounts.

I found both accounts and transcribed them into my files. Both use specific terms – 8 different terms for fruits and types of mead with which I am not familiar. Based on the identification of these names and ingredients, I may have documentation of a new recipe or two (not detailed, but based on ingredients).

I decided to search on ‘Mallynovo’, a type of mead from the 1583 account. The Google results gave one page, pretty unusual on a single word search. All but two links looked unpromising. Those two links led to Google Books scans of an 1899 magazine called ‘Notes and Queries’ (in the end 2 copies of the same text).

Clicking brings up the familiar (to me) Google book preview page showing not one, but two uses of the word ‘mallynovo’ in the text. P.413 and p.471. And ‘mead’ is in there too.

For those who want to play along at home. https://books.google.com/books?id=NuQ1AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA471&lpg=PA471&dq=mallynovo&source=bl&ots=rzI9gLx6h3&sig=ADttuqwZw5iYy84tSQaV9MKizyA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjyzrfP2qfYAhXCUd8KHcS3BKkQ6AEIOTAC#v=onepage&q=mallynovo&f=false

The title page tells us this is.

The first reference starts “”Mead and Obarni” (9th S. iii. 306), and goes on for a few short paragraphs. Obarni was also one of those 8 terms of interest. The second reference refers to 9th S. iii. 306, 413. By the way this was the Ninth series Volume III, January-June 1899 of ‘Notes and Queries’. I went back to p.306 to find the initial query for information titled “Mead and Obarni” and citing a bit of verse about drinks in Moscow.

Using Wikipedia (which I consider a very good first pass source, although I often try to confirm the information independently). I discover that ‘Notes and Queries’ started publication in 1849 as a weekly journal subtitled “a medium of inter-communication for literary men, artists, antiquaries, genealogists, etc.” By 1899 issue it is “a medium of intercommunication for literary men, general readers, etc.” The modern subtitle is reportedly “for readers and writers, collectors and librarians”. It contains notes of things people found of interest, as well as queries and the replies to queries.

Sound familiar? I just found a 169 year old chat room. I find this immensely entertaining.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about mallynovo. Here is a giveaway for the endgame.

The original query (p.306) by James Platt is about ‘Mead Obarne’ in the works of Ben Jonson (1572-1637), an English poet and playwright. The questioner notes obarni is a Russian word meaning ‘boiling’ or ‘scalding’ and asks for more information on this and other ‘brewings’ detailed in a provided quote which turns out to be from a very odd (and long) 1609 verse text rambling about types of drinks (went on my list to review and research).

The first response by C.C.B. (p.413), leads back to the quote that started me googling mallynovo. It also mentions another source with some details on making mead (not mallynovo); I have this reference, but the quote from the 1899 text differs from mine in several ways that might be significant from a recipe standpoint. The secret to this discrepancy is hopefully a French version of the text which predates both of the English translations.

The second reply (p.471) is back to C.C.B. from Platt, and he concludes Mallynovo is raspberry mead. Raspberry in Russian transliterates malina, and I’ve seen that raspberry mead is of particular note in other Russian sources, all of which agrees with his conclusion. The 1557 Russian travelogue discusses a mead ”made of the juice or liccour taken from a berrie called in Russia, Malieno, … of a marveilous sweete taste, and of a carmosant colour, which berry I have seene in Paris.” Again this fits raspberry.

Five hours later, I have:

  • Removed ‘need to review’ from two references.
  • Added and reviewed 3 new sources.
  • Added 3 new sources that I need to review further.
  • Added new information on Russian meads.
  • Added 8-12 words for further research.
  • Identified one term as raspberry mead.
  • Added a ‘need to review’ notation to another source I thought I was done with.


Picture of Richard Hakluyt, By Charles Eamer Kempe. (Bristol Cathedral.) via Wikimedia Commons

Picture of raspberries By Chudy, via Wikimedia Commons

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