Samurai! The Art Of The Japanese Warrior Comes To Boston

Samurai
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is showcasing a large collection of samurai armor and art from one of the world’s leading private collections.

Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” opens this Sunday, April 14, and features more than 140 objects, such as this horse and rider. Visitors will learn about the complex typology of these elegant suits and how they developed over time. For example, this horse armor (bagai), horse mask (bamen) and horse tack (bagu) date from the early to mid-Edo period, 17th–18th century. They’re made of leather, gold, fabric, wood, horsehair and lacing. The armor is of the tatehagidō type and dates to the 17th century. It’s made of iron, leather, gold and fur.

Beside numerous suits of armor for men and horses, there are also weapons, military equipment and brilliant silk screens showing samurai in battle. The helmets are especially diverse and were used to show off the wearer’s status and individual identity, and as a way to put fear into the hearts of the enemy.

What’s remarkable about some of these suits of armor is that they were made long after the heyday of the samurai had finished, but Japan’s wealthy elite still hearkened back to the age when their ancestors fought in armor such as this. Europe, of course, went through a similar process of glorifying the medieval knights.

“Samurai! Armor from the Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Collection” runs through August 4.

Photograph by Brad Flowers. © The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum, Dallas. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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Photo Of The Day: Sunset After Nemo

Last week, Winter Storm Nemo battered the Eastern seaboard of the United States with torrential snow and sleet, not to mention a bitter cold freeze that lasts to this day.

In the calm after the storm, Flickr user Peter Rood captured this image of a stunning sunset over Boston, one of the cities hit worst by the storm. Where Mother Nature wreaks havoc, she can also bring extraordinary beauty.

Do you have any winter photos from your neck of the woods? Upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool or tag your Instagram photo @GadlingTravel and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day.[Photo Credit: Flickr user Peter Rood]

Cochon 555 Pork Competition Turns Five, Kicks Off February 17 In Atlanta

baconMuch ado about pork products is made on Gadling, with good reason. Even if you’re sick to death of pork-centric eateries, and lardo this and sausage that, it’s hard to deny the allure of the other white meat (I can’t tell you how many vegetarians and vegans I know who still have a jones for bacon).

For those of you wanting to attend the ultimate porkapalooza, get your tickets for Cochon 555, a traveling, “National Culinary Competition & Tasting Event Dedicated to Heritage Pigs, Family Wineries & Sustainable Farming.”

The 10-city tour kicks off February 17 in Atlanta, and will include stops in New York; Boston; Chicago; Washington, DC; Miami; Vail; Seattle; San Francisco; and Los Angeles, before culminating in the dramatic Grand Cochon at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen on June 16. Notice that Colorado gets two Cochon visits? The South isn’t the only place that appreciates pork.

Cochon was created by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe to raise awareness about, and encourage the sustainable farming of heritage-breed pigs. At each destination, five celebrated local chefs must prepare a nose-to-tail menu using one, 200-pound, family-raised heritage breed of pig. Twenty judges and 400 guests help decide the winning chef. The 10 finalists will then compete at the Grand Cochon for the ultimate title of “King or Queen of Porc.”

Depending upon venue, attendees can also expect tasty treats like Heritage BBQ; butchery demonstrations; mezcal, bourbon, whiskey and rye tastings; specialty cheese sampling, cocktail competitions; a Perfect Manhattan Bar, raffles, and killer after-parties.

For additional details and tickets, click here. Partial proceeds benefit charities and family farms nationwide.

[Photo credit: Flickr user out of ideas]

City Nicknames We’d Rather Not Hear

laundromatAs a native Californian, few things get on my nerves more than hearing the abbreviation, “Cali.” I don’t know why it irritates me so much, but I suspect it’s the knowing, insider-y tone that usually accompanies it. “Yeah, man, I just got back from a trip to Cali. It was hella cool.”

Aaargh. Also right up there is “Frisco.” Let me just tell you that Californians do not, ever, under any circumstances, refer to their state as “Cali,” nor “The City” as “Frisco.” San Francisco even famously had a laundromat called, “Don’t Call it Frisco.” I also dislike “Berzerkley,” “San Berdoo (San Bernadino)” and “The States (anyone in Hawaii referring to the Mainland).”

With these grating abbreviations in mind, I asked my Gadling colleagues what city nicknames bug them. The response was fast, furious and lengthy. Below, some highlights:

Anna Brones: Portlandia. Don’t even get me started.

Libby Zay: I personally hate “Hotlanta.” It’s also pretty annoying when people add “tucky” or “neck” as suffixes. As in, Fredneck, Maryland, or Brunstucky, instead of Brunswick, Ohio … I suppose Pennslytucky would be more of a geographic region.”

Author admission: Guilty as charged, Libby.

Kyle Ellison:Lost Wages,” for Las Vegas, and “N’awlins” for New Orleans.

Elizabeth Seward: It depends on the day whether or not these bug me. I wish I didn’t know so many. “Beantown”; “Chi-town”; “Sin City”; “Nasty Nati (Cinncinati)”, “C-town (Columbus)”; “SoBro (South Bronx, oy)”; “Marighetto (what locals call my hometown of Marietta)”; “City of Angeles”/”LaLaLand”/”Tinseltown”; “The Big Easy.”

Elizabeth, I promise to never refer to my hometown of Thousand Oaks as “Thousand Jokes” again.

McLean Robbins: “Naptown” for Annapolis and “The District” from anyone not a local to Washington, DC.

Meg Nesterov: Calling cities the Paris/Venice/X/ of the North/East, et al.

Sean McLachlan, resident history buff: Missouri is often called “Misery,” generally by outsiders from northern states and occasionally by frustrated Missourians. The term actually has old roots. The 18th century French settlers in Ste. Genevieve found the place so boggy and full of mosquitoes that they nicknamed it misère.

[Photo credit: Flickr user knitgrrldotcom]

Celebrating Italian Style In Boston’s North End

boston's north endIn Italy, feast days tied to saints are the glue that binds communities together. Bands practice all year long so they sound just right when they lead processions through city streets. People get dressed up and buy cannoli and other treats for their neighbors. Young people use the social occasions to hook up, and, everyone, everyone eats and drinks well.

Boston’s North End still clings to the same tradition, albeit with a more commercialized flavor. I stumbled upon the neighborhood St. Anthony Festival, an annual celebrtion started by Italian immigrants from the Italian town of Montefalcione in 1919, a couple weeks ago and was reminded of how important feast days are in the old country. We were driving by the neighborhood, which is directly adjacent to downtown Boston, and when my sons spotted two blowup jumpy houses we were compelled to stop.

My family hopped out and I was tasked with finding a parking spot – no easy chore in the North End, where a good spot is more valuable than a lifetime pass to the Playboy Mansion. I’m generally a very impatient person, but when it comes to parking, I’m frugal enough to hunt for meter spots because I hate paying a lot to park.boston's north endAfter about 20 minutes of fruitless searching, I gave up and pulled into a lot, but pulled right back out when a small grumpy man in a folding chair asked me for 40 bucks. Three other cheaper lots were full, and another placed wanted $35. After another 15 minutes, I found a meter spot and felt like I was ready to pop open a bottle of Champagne. Alas, there was also a sign indicating that the spot was only for North End residents from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. But I decided to park there anyway and take my chances.

The streets were filled with vendors selling pastas, pizza, fried calamari, and more traditional American street fair food, like frozen bananas covered in chocolate, and New England staples like lobster rolls. The crowd was a mixture of tourists and locals but heavily accented by older people who knew each other and clearly still lived in the neighborhood.

slutty photoA classic rock cover band cranked out a Doobie Brothers tune but turned off their amps as a spirited procession with two bands wended its way through the neighborhood streets. Teens and tweens played carnival games in the hopes of winning cheesy framed photos of starlets and celebrities (see photo). I stood and studied the faces that were marching by and was again reminded of Italy – none of the participants would have looked out of places in the villages my grandparents came from in Sicily.

As we sat on someone’s stoop, chowing down on gnocchi, ravioli and calamari, a woman who lived in the apartment next to the one we were sitting in front of stopped to tell us that we had a “beautiful family.” For Italians, there is no better compliment. And before we were done eating, a guy that lived in the apartment we were sitting in front of needed to get out, but my kids were blocking his path, tomato sauce dripping off their chins.

But he was gracious, practically apologizing for wanting to leave his own apartment. Everyone’s in a good mood on a feast weekend in the North End. And so were we, even though we had a $40 ticket waiting for us on the windshield of our car.

[Photos and video by Dave Seminara]