Part of the week-end was spent reading various books to do with history of cooking and cookery books (there is method in my madness, as it happens), one being Kate Colquhoun's fascinating though at times slightly tendentious Taste - The Story of Britain through its Cooking. It is full of fascinating tit-bits of information.
For example, we find this on page 111, as part of a chapter on the vast amount of sugar consumed by the Tudors and the presentation of the many and varied sweetmeats that became an enormous part of their dinners and banquets:
Silver or gilt bowls were used, and English green glass and valuable imported Venetian glass were prized - vessels beautifully etched with mottoes and devices or rolled over water while being blown to produce a fine tissue of lines.Nothing too unusual there: Venetian glass was highly prized and many attempts - some successful, some less so - were made to create local industries that would compete.
The interesting detail is found in the notes where Ms Colquhoun explains:
Venice protected its lucrative glass-blowing industry by forbidding its artisans to work abroad, on pain of death. Realising the profit to be made from an appreciative British market, and taking his life into his hands, the first Venetian did establish a glass studio in London in 1572.How interesting, I thought to myself, if somewhat badly edited, particularly the note (once an editor, always an editor). Of course, if we had had the European Arrest Warrant at the time, things would have been very different.