A bit of Oliwa Cathedral

Oliwa Cathedral is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

It is the longest post-cistercian church in the world (about 107 meters long)  with exquisite accoustics. And besides the marvelous pieces of art which can be seen HERE – the cathedral has a hit of the region – an exceptional organ. It has 7876 pipes, and 110 real voices (87 of which are in the main instrument,  and 14 in the cross-nave).

Whoever comes to Gdansk, even having vague information about the city – knows one – the Oliwa Cathedral is definitely MUST SEE, when in north Poland.

So HERE are some pictures as an appetizer, for those, who have never been here yet 🙂

The Bishops’ of Warmia cuisine – the season for off-topics

I am translating a very interesting book at present. But as I am a champion in search of alternative topics, here is what I found browsing through my notes…

The cuisine of Warmia bishops’

Warmia was Poland’s unique bishopric, one of three richest in the Polish kingdom. As such it also had it’s own court. Bishops’ court. Between the 14th and 18th century the Bishops of Warmia also bore the title of the  prince. It was not a hereditary title, but still it gave the splendor to the family of the bishop.  The bishop was usually elected from among the capitular canons. And throughout the history (until the partitions) this little Bishops’ State could and was able to keep relative independence.

Today Warmia region is rich in quite a  number of reminders of the glorious past.  Among them are the  historical buildings that survived the 1945 (mostly monumental churches). But among the most of all are: the wonderful castle in Lidzbark WarmińskiSmolajny palace, and the Cathedral Hill in Frombork.

As mentioned above, the bishops held courts. Sometimes they were quite numerous, like the court of Bishop Martin Kromer, which had 123 members, others hald  smaller courts, but still demanding. By stating “demanding” I mean – there seldom were days without a guest… So the court had to provide visitors with proper welcome and board. The cooks held at the court were among the best of their times. And we have documents saying how the bishops recruited their cooks.

As for the cuisine – it was a very rich one, and often compared to the cuisine of the richest.

Meals were served twice a day, and the court was seated at eleven tables. At the first one – placed on the dais – sat the bishop. Then were the tables at which ate the courtiers, guests, officials, all according to the certain order which was specified in the Ordinatia Castri (Castle Regulations).

What was eaten then?

According to Stanisław Achremczyk (Polish historian, professor at the Warmia-Mazury University) – there was a variety of fish dishes: salmon, cod, herring, eel, pike, tench, Dutch herrings. They were grilled, boiled, fried, marinated, smoked. We can read about grilled salmon, carp cooked in wine with nutmeg.

Also oysters from the North Sea were often eaten.

Foreign guests were served venison, pheasant, geese, caviar…

A variety of sauces were used to accompany meat and fish dishes. There was a yellow sauce (whatever it was), white sauce with cream, gray with garlic and onions, black with jam, or the so called red sauce – made on the basis of cherry juice, and also the horseradish sauce…

As for the vegetables – pickled cucumbers were eaten, fresh ones too. Cabbage, cauliflowers, asparagus and lettuce were eaten very gladly. Potatoes became very much welcome. Of course bread was served also. It was baked mostly in Lidzbark, and Olsztyn.

Oil for cooking was supplied by one of Gdansk merchants. It was imported from Provence. Mustard was imported from England, and cheese – from France. Fruits such as pears, plums, apples, and wild strawberries, raspberries, etc were also wery fondly eaten.

Best wines and beer were served, also different kinds of confectionery.

In the 17th century Warmia adopted the habit of drinking coffee, hot chocolate and tea. Coffee was drunk black, or with milk, cream and alcohol. Therefore new tableware needed be purchased.

Indeed, amazing how many off-topics can be found during work 😉

Why Tutivillus 1.

I just realized, that I did not explain why I use the name Tutivillus in the blog title.

Well… it started some time ago – when I went around the Warmia Region. I stopped in Orneta, a small town in the heart of the Warmia Region. In the setting sun the town looked like a fairy tale place in the Holy Ermland… Just near the main town square – here called the market – there is a church of St. Johns’. A building from the 14th century, with splendid gables.

Wherever I go – I first visit local churches.

It is the best way of learning about the history and culture of the visited region. Especially, that many pieces of art from this part of today’s Poland just vanished – during II WW. Deliberately I wrote “vanished” because not all can be traced in eastern or western museums. Many still spring out at numerous auctions. Meaning – they were simply stolen…

But to go back to what I am about…

When I entered St. Johns’ church – I saw typical for this region – some medieval “murals”, some baroque altars. Also typical for that region – silence and something in the atmosphere of the church, found nowhere else in Poland…

And then I looked up at the vaulted ceilings.

Oh, My! What a beautiful view! Vaulted ceilings with the so-called main rib.

And … Tutivillus. But in so many displays, that till today I can’t decide which is my favorite.

This is how I started to notice Tutivillus, and this is how I became interested in medieval legends. Tutivillus became one of my favorite marks of reference. And I still am tracing this Demon Patron of Scribes or as he is sometimes called – the Noting and Listening Demon, God’s Spy.

About Warmia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warmia
About Orneta http://www.mojalbum.com.pl/Album=7PCEYYEC

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It is often said: go to Hell, or Devil knows… Well he knows … He, or  rather – Tutivillus.

Devil eavesdropper – said to be God’s Spy. In fact he is the spy of the Lord of Hell. The only one who has the right – or even in a sense the obligation – to sit in the parish and monastic churches (just above the stalls), as well as in the cloisters of the monastery. Sitting, squatting in the corner and noting, or overhears our sins and omissions …

Eavesdropper – storing information, only to give an account of them later..

Another version says that he spies and overhears, records and collects the sins, so as to “pull them out and against” at the Last Judgement.


And the beginning was pretty mundane – well – our hero was invented in a monastery, probably in the twelfth century.

Well – the monastic regulations require that the monks meet at the common prayers of approximately every three hours. Not necessarily all  did (nor do)  that very willingly, and not necessarily all very consciously. At night, it had to be particularly burdensome. And when we think of the chill in the church, and the monks’ dresses… And when the last psalm was sung – in fact most of the monastic minds already circled around their cells, and more or less comfortable – but still … beds. Superiors so invented Tutivillus – as the lash for those not too diligent.

The devil, who was originally to be a kind of doorman – because he sat at church entrances and noted who did and who did not bow to the Lord.

No, we will not notice him because he is a clever creature, and hides from our eyes. So as not  to be inscribed on the list – be sure to pray honestly, so that the spy will have nothing to do.

There is a saying – “we don’t fight against legends – we tell them” ….

And so it was in this case – the legend, was quickly adapted, and the devil has been “tamed” … He even somehow became a part of our everyday life.  It functions in the vocabulary  and literature (read more on Timothy DeVinney’s site)

We are not even aware of how much of Tutivillus we have around us in our everyday life. And it is not this big scary devil from hell – what’s his name … Beelzebub, Lucifer or another. This is our tiny Tutivillus. I somehow always think of him – in the context of the Gummi Bears (Toadie)…

As I was told by one of the history tracers – Tutivillus was seen in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark as well as in distant Finland, also in England and Estonia. Mainly he hides in the polychromy.

In the sixteenth-century England, slow-witted  people were called tutivill –  so it was rather an insult to be called like this… Wonder why – as Tutivillus was rather (or still is) a smart one 😉

One can be as nosy as… Tutivillus, or meticulous as Tutivillus.

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