Saturday, August 12, 2017

Boxes and Books

“We live for books.” – Umberto Eco

Happy National Book Lover’s Day, everyone.  Technically this event is celebrated on August 9th each year, but I’m a slow reader.  I’d be remiss to miss this lovely holiday, as reading and the love of books is so important to the Boxes and Booze household.  There are many great puzzle boxes which are book themed, and so many storied drinks throughout literature, that it’s easy to provide a pairing.  Check out some past offerings for Book Lover’s and Read a Book Days from Akio Kamei and Jesse Born if you need something else to read, too.

Secret Book Box by Hideaki Kawashima

This year I present the stunning “Secret Book Box” from the Karakuri Creation Group artist Hideaki Kawashima. Produced for their “Story” themed exhibition, the box does not reflect a particular individual story but rather encompasses the enchantment that great stories weave together for our enjoyment and discovery.  The box, crafted from magnolia, cherry, walnut, chanchin, and maple woods, forms the shape of three interlocked books of different colors.  The pages are made from black and white yosegi created by master Ninomiya, which adds such beauty and provenance to the work. 

Like the intricate plot twists woven into great stories ...

There are many, many stories to discover in these pages.  Master Kawashima has outdone himself with another masterpiece.  The puzzle is rewarding, requiring approximately thirty six moves to reveal all of its secret chambers, which a numerous.  Opening the box and its many compartments is an enjoyable process of discovery, like reading a good book.  Similar to book chapters, there are different phases to this puzzle as well, and the finale is wonderful.  If you aren’t paying careful attention, you might even miss the ending, but you’ll be left with a feeling that all the plot twists haven’t been fully resolved.  Keep reading, and the satisfying dénouement makes this box one to treasure and gives it a place of pride on the bookshelf. 

Beautiful page yosegi from Ninomiya

“Some like to believe it's the book that chooses the person.”  ― Carlos Ruiz Zafón  

This quote by the “The Shadow of the Wind” author rather reminds me of another well-known adage, if you happen to know a fellow named Olivander: “The wand chooses the wizard.”  One of the most beloved set of books in our family is the Harry Potter series.  Clearly we are not alone, as this series has broken all sorts of international publishing records over the last decade.  To toast the Secret Book Box and celebrate Book Lover’s Day I’ve made a few tasty tipples one might find at fine establishments like the Three Broomsticks and the Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade.  First of all we have Butterbeer, that delicious delight full of foamy goodness that all muggles deserve to taste.  There are numerous recipes floating about for this treat, and it can get quite elaborate.  My son (the ultimate Harry Potter fanatic) and I were quite satisfied with a simple version.  We went with the cold style (Butterbeer can also be served hot, for a warm winter treat) and turned butterscotch soda slushy by putting it in our ice cream maker.  Adding butterscotch syrup to vanilla cream soda also works well if you don’t have butterscotch soda.  The foam is the best part – we made butterscotch whipped cream by whisking heavy cream, sugar, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and butterscotch syrup together. This heavenly mix gets heaped upon the slushy drink and the result is hard to put down.  This is good enough, but of course I went even farther by adding a touch of rum to mine – Butterbeer is speculated to be mildly alcoholic in the books, after all.

A few potions from the wizarding world

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” – Cicero

And for the adult wizards among us who hanker for something a bit stronger than Butterbeer, I poured a bracing glass of Firewhisky, the potion of preference for merry magicians.  Pick your favorite whisky (or whiskey if you’re Stateside) and add a dose of spicy cinnamon syrup.  The drink (as I’ve created it, at least) is like a cinnamon Old fashioned, with a serious kick.  Not to be confused with a Sirius Black, which is not a drink at all.  Many thanks to J.K. Rowling for these delightful drinks.  Here’s to the magic in boxes and books, so enjoyable to open.  Cheers!

What magic awaits in your favorite book?

 “I cannot live without books;” – Thomas Jefferson

2 oz fine bourbon or whisky
½ oz serrano pepper infused cinnamon syrup
Stir ingredients over ice to chill and dilute, then strain into a favorite glass. Sip and let yourself fall under its spell.

For more about Hideaki Kawashima:

For prior book themed puzzle boxes see:

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