A Curio for Maude’s
This week Maude’s welcomed a hulking addition to the main level: a salvaged cabinet in various degrees of dilapidation inside, but sturdy and well-built on the outside. The large, sandy wooden cabinet adds another dimension of perennial coziness and charm. The cabinet has become the new resting place for the resident pig skull, who now sits, teeth bared, next to a strange sculptural owl. (No reference to the menu.) The cabinet will likely house a variety of curiosities as the opening continues to quickly approach.
The reference of a curio or a curiosity cabinet is not only the moniker of the late-night basement spot below Gilt Bar, but the name also appears in one of Charles Dickens’ novels. The Old Curiosity Shop is classic Dickens: a 19th century tale of juxtapositions, wealth and poverty; human strength and fallibility. The novel’s heroine commences the story living with her grandfather in a quaint and comfortable shop of odds and curiosities, which her grandfather tragically loses in games of cards. This calamity sends the duo off into a cruel world, penniless and bereft. But we won’t give away the entire story here (see below for that.)
Back to the present day. The original curiosity shop still stands in London, near the London School of Economics, on a winding side-street. This store front allegedly inspired Dickens’ curio descriptions, and now is emblazoned with the author’s name. Remarkably, the stout and squat building, constructed from the wood of salvaged ships, survived the Blitz during the World War II, while many of the surrounding buildings, taller in statue, were not so lucky. Although the history of Maude’s curio is unknown, it’s bound to have a good story in it.
You can read The Old Curiosity Shop on Google books