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30 Random Facts About . . .

Food

  1. Several ancient cultures viewed the apple as a feminine symbol and found a resemblance between the two halves of a vertically cut apple to the female genital system. Alternatively, an apple cut horizontally resembled a pentagram, which was considered key in revealing knowledge of good and evil.g
  2. The banana tree is not a true fruit at all but a giant herb and the banana is actually its berry. A banana plant produces only one bunch or “hand” in its life, but that bunch may have between 100 to 400 bananas. Despite its phallic shape, the banana is sterile and no fertilization takes place in the banana flowers. A banana plant grows when one of its shoots is planted.g
  3. Onion is Latin for “large pearl.” A basket of onions was considered a respectable funeral offering in ancient Egypt, second only to a basket of bread. Onions, with their circular layers, represented eternity and were found in the eyes of King Ramses IV who died in 1160 B.C.a
  4. Kissing may have originated when mothers orally passed chewed solid food to their infants during weaning.d
  5. The earliest form of eating processed food occurred in early hunting cultures when the men who made a kill would be rewarded with a meal of the partially digested contents of the stomach of their prey.b
  6. The largest item found on any menu is roasted camel which is still served at some Bedouin weddings and was offered by royalty in Morocco several hundred years ago. The camel is cleaned and then stuffed with one whole lamb, 20 chickens, 60 eggs, and 110 gallons of water, among other ingredients.h
  7. Oyster
    Oysters have often been considered aphrodisiacs
  8. Food and sex have been linked throughout history. Some foods are thought to have sexual powers because they resemble human genitals. Casanova was said to offer oysters to his potential partners to whet their sexual appetite.a
  9. At Delphi, the spiritual center of Greece, many cooks were needed to organize and direct sacrifices to the gods.a
  10. Drinking fresh milk in the classical world was considered a luxury because milk was so difficult to preserve.g
  11. The Arabs invented caramel, which served as a depilatory (hair removal) for women in a harem.g
  12. Worcestershire sauce is made from dissolved anchovies (including the bones) that have been soaked in vinegar.g
  13. The first soup was made from hippopotamus and dates back to 6000 B.C.g
  14. Perhaps as a relic of an ancient Roman custom of planting parsley on graves, a sprig of parsley was either associated with the devil or as an antidote for poison. Adding a sprig to a plate of food may have originated as a gesture of good faith and as way to safeguard the meal from evil.d
  15. At both Ephesus and Eleusis in Greece the priestess were known as “bees” because bees and the way honey was gathered and eaten had religious connotations. Honey, considered miraculously made by bees, often signified truth because honey needs no treatment after it has been collected and it does not deteriorate.g
  16. Beans have historically been a symbol of the embryo and of growth in most societies. The ancient Egyptians called the place in which the Ka, the souls of the dead awaited reincarnation “the bean field.”g
  17. The tomato is technically a fruit, not a vegetable. It was also the first genetically engineered whole product and went on the market in 1994. Since then, more than 50 other genetically engineered foods have been deemed safe by the FDA.e
  18. Fish with lemon slice
    Lemon juice was thought to dissolve ingested fish bones
  19. During the Middle Ages, a lemon slice was served with fish because it was thought the juice would dissolve any bones that were accidentally swallowed.a
  20. Chili peppers are hot because they contain a substance called alkaloid capsaicin and four other related chemicals. It is also the primary ingredient in pepper spray.g
  21. The warriors of Attila, king of the Huns, (A.D. 450) preserved their meat by placing fresh meat under their saddles. All the bouncing squeezed fluids from the meat, and the horse’s sweat salted the meat and removed more moisture. When the warrior stopped to eat, they had a dried and salted meal.c
  22. People were using garlic to repel vampires long before Bram Stoker’s Dracula was published. Folklorists suggest it is because vampires have a heightened sense of smell and the garlic’s strong smell was overpowering. Garlic is proven to be effective against two other bloodsuckers: mosquitoes and ticks.g
  23. Bread has become the prime symbol of nourishment and sharing bread is often a symbolic gesture. The word “companion” is derived from Latin com, ‘together,’ and panis, ‘bread.’g
  24. Odor is by far the most important contributor to the flavor of food. The contributions of taste, texture, and appearance are insignificant by comparison. Humans can distinguish an estimated 20,000 different odor qualities.f
  25. Cooking food is one of the great revolutionary innovations of history because it not only transformed the way we prepare food, but because it also became a center of cultural communion and organized society.b
  26. Ancient Egyptian priests would eat figs at the moment of their consecration ceremonies. The Indians consecrated the fig tree to Vishnu, and the fig free sheltered Romulus and Remus (the traditional founders of Rome) at their birth.g The fig is also a fertility symbol and the Arab association with male genitals is so strong that the original word “fig” is considered improper.i
  27. Corn
    Corn always has even number of rows
  28. A row of corn always has an even number.g
  29. An American will typically eat the equivalent of 28 pigs in his or her lifetime.a
  30. Nearly 27 million Americans eat at McDonald’s—per day.d
  31. Hippocrates notes that dogs were somewhat indigestible while boiled puppy was an appropriate food for invalids. Galen later notes that the meat of a young castrated dog is the best.a
  32. In the Philippines, it is considered good luck if a coconut is cleanly split open without jagged edges.d
  33. Eating eggs is taboo in some areas of Africa because eggs are thought to make childbirth more difficult and to excite children.d

-- Posted December 6, 2008

References

a Dalby, Andrew. 2003. Food in the Ancient World from A to Z. New York, NY: Routledge.

b Fernandez-Armesto, Felipe. 2002. Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food. New York, NY: The Free Press.

c Jango-Cohen, Judith. 2006. The History of Food. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.

d Kittler, Pamela Goyan and Kathryn P. Sucher. 1998. Food and Culture in America: A Nutrition Handbook. 2nd Ed. Albany, NY: West Publishing Company.

e Lacey, Richard W. 1994. Hard to Swallow: A Brief History of Food. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

f Lyman, Bernard. 1989. A Psychology of Food: More than a Matter of Taste. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

g Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne. 1993. A History of Food. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers.

h Weird, True, Freaky News.com AU. 2007. "French Chef Spit Roasts 550kg Camel for 15 Hours." November 19, 2007. Accessed: November 26, 2008.

i Wilson, Bee. "It Figgers." Newstatesman. October 9, 2000. Accessed: December 4, 2008.