Story 52

December 22, 2020

Simontaut admits that his tale for today is not “a very clean one”! He tells about the Seigneur de Tirelière in Alençon who, after boasting that he will eat lunch at someone else’s expense, is tricked by an apothecary’s lad into placing a frozen turd in the pocket of his fur-lined jacket, thinking it is a sugar loaf. Believing the loaf is worth enough to pay his bill, he has lunch at a local inn, but he realizes he has been fooled when he warms himself by the fire and the turd melts, stinks up the room, and ruins his jacket.

This story leads to a discussion of foul language, of words that, Oisille tells Simontaut, “have such an evil odour that the soul is far more disturbed than is the body smelling something like the sugar loaf in your story.” Our storytellers agree that women generally avoid using such words, although they may laugh when they hear them, either openly or behind their masks. Parlamente insists, though, that women merely laugh when these words result from a slip of the tongue, whereas men speak regularly “amongst one another in a disgusting fashion out of sheer wickedness and in full knowledge of what [they] are doing.”

Cane sugar, a rare and valuable commodity that first reached Europe during the Crusades, was used in cooking and medicine and also as currency. It was sold in loaves that have given their name to “Sugarloaf” mountains and other geological formations around the world, from Maine to Madagascar. Here is a ceramic mold used for shaping sugar loaves, made in Orléans in the eighteenth century. (Musée de la marine de Loire, M 1323) This mold is about a foot tall (31 centimeters).

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