The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 19 December 2015

Meal deal

The Hispano-German design agency Elespacio, as you might guess from the name and heritage, loves a good mouthful (stop sniggering at the back). It has teamed up with Imogen Wells, a “culinary advocate” who wants to make sure your seasonal table is full of global dishes. Around the World in 12 Dishes scurries through 12 days of Christmas recipes but without a turkey or a gammon in sight. Instead it presents cooks with dishes from Shio-katsuo preserved tuna from Nishiizu to Kapasoudia chicken soup from Thrace. There’s a little history, a little geography and a lot of love among this international roster of rustlers-up.

Image: Alamy

A new hope

Though Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a pounding reminder of the power of the big screen amid an era of technological convenience, there is one element of the box-office smash that arises from a smaller screen. Two years ago Finnish singer Sara Forsberg, then 19, uploaded What Languages Sound Like to Foreigners on YouTube: a clip of her impersonating different languages that she had little understanding of but of which she could recreate the sound perfectly. Forsberg’s creativity was noticed and has led to her overseeing the creation of an all-new alien language for Star Wars. Of course, she’s been sworn to secrecy until this week. And though it’s not certain what kind of film future beckons for a young Finn with a talent for twisting words, one thing is clear: Hollywood is combining talent and technology like never before.

Cocoa conundrum

The Iowa-born, Brooklyn-based brothers Rick and Michael Mast have become the darlings of the bean-to-bar chocolate revolution since opening Mast Brothers Chocolate in 2007. The epitome of start-up success, the hirsute pair now own shops in New York and London, and have another opening in Los Angeles. But recently they copped flak from the craft chocolate community and there are rumours about the provenance of some of their very first bars (some allege that a portion of them were made using re-melted, mass-produced chocolate). The whole furore seems a little sticky. The interesting thing about the brothers is their unprecedented success: their thoughtful branding, industry-bucking retail spaces, perfect packaging and ability to get people excited about (and part with good money for) their product. Small food producers should support and help one another, not confect bitter attacks that bemoan the success of others.

Painting by numbers

A bit of technology is being used to recover a long-lost masterpiece. A 17th-century painting by Caravaggio went missing in Palermo in 1969 in a suspected heist by the Sicilian mafia. The public will now be able to view its recreation in situ: Madrid-based Factum Arte has created a facsimile of “Nativity With St Francis and St Lawrence”. The layered digital print is based on a slide of the painting by photographer Enzo Brai and some black-and-white photographs of the Caravaggio work from the 1950s by a group of artists, technicians and conservators. But is a digital solution really a solution? While the team may have been able to study and mimic the brushstrokes, the hand of the artist still hasn’t touched the reproduction. Sadly, we may never see the original again; it’s thought to have been destroyed years ago.

From Monocle 24

Image: Lit Ma

Drinks for the festive season

British drinks gurus Joel Harrison and Neil Ridley talk us through their recommendations for Christmas and New Year.

From Monocle Films

The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes

From warmly lit interiors to polished wooden furniture, The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes is a survey of everything you need to build the residence you want. From architects to apprentices, design-shop owners to gardeners, you’ll meet inspiring people and snatch an idea or two that is built to last. It’s available to buy online now at The Monocle Shop.

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