Would You Brush Your Teeth with Cuttlefish?


Dr. Lucy Worsley is the chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, the charity that ovesees the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments, the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. The British historian is also the author of If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home , which — if it’s anywhere near as interesting as this interview that Worsley did with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross — is definitely worth taking the time to read.

Take her description of using 17th-century methods to brush her teeth: “Most of them were quite unsuccessful. Burnt toast crumbs — completely rubbish. I was using a twig. What worked quite well was a mixture of rosemary and salt mixed together, rubbed on with a cloth, actually, followed by a gargle of vinegar. Best of all was a 17th-century … recipe of cuttlefish. You know those white carcasses of fish? That ground up makes really excellent tooth powder.” Ew. She also discusses a fascinating courting practice from the same period that was known as “bundling.” It involved tying up a young couple with heavy rope so they could spend the night together in bed just talking.

Listen to Worsley’s full conversation with Gross here, be sure to pick up a copy of If Walls Could Talk, and click through to watch some delightful clips on the history of the bedroom from the four-part BBC television series that the book accompanied.

[via The Hairpin]