Food and Drink Facts
"For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind"
- Hosea 8:7 (NRSV)
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To celebrate his victory over Pompey, Julius Caesar gave a banquet at which 150,000 guests were seated at 22,000 tables. It lasted for 2 days. He also proclaimed a rent-free year for every poor family in the Empire.
While oranges appear frequently in major Renaissance paintings, they were not eaten at the Last Supper because they were not available. Returning Crusaders reported seeing oranges in the Holy Land, which may have influenced Titian, Botticelli, and other artists. However, these reports were from a time over 1,000 years after the Crucifixion. During the intervening time, citrous fruits had been introduced to the Mediterranean countries from China.
The first volume of recipes was published in 62 A.D. by the Roman Apicius. Titled De Re Coquinaria, it described the feasts enjoyed by the Emperor Claudius. (source)
It is said that Vitellus, Emperor of Rome briefly in 69 A.D., spent over £1,200 a day on food alone. He was capable of downing 1,000 oysters a day as well as vast quantities of other delicacies. After a short reign he was deposed by the Roman citizens, driven to revolt by the excesses of their emperor, and his body was dumped in the River Tiber.
The Romans used poisonous lead as a sweetening agent.
When King John ascended the English throne in 1199, he gave one of the most fantastic Christmas parties recorded. 200 gallons of various wines, 400 oxen, 1,000 capons, 1,000 eels and 200 lampreys were devoured by his hungry guests.
Honey was used as a synonym for anything pleasant ("land of milk and honey") in ancient and mediaeval times because it was about the only sweetener then available to the West. Sugar didn't reach Europe in quantity until the twelfth century, when returning Crusaders brought it with them from the East.
Archaeological digs at ancient tombs have unearthed edible honey. (source)
Honey has been used both as a centre for golf balls and in antifreeze mixtures.
When a dead body needed to be preserved from putrefaction, the ancients put the body into honey to preserve it. For example, the body of Agesipolis, King of Sparta, who died in Macedonia, was sent home in this way. (source)
Legend has it that Clement VII, pope from 1523 to 1534, was so fond of mushrooms that he made it illegal for anyone else to eat those growing in the Papal States, so that there would never be a shortage for his own table. He died in 1534 from eating a poisonous death cap mushroom. (source)
The Jerusalem artichoke is neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke; it belongs to the sunflower family. The Italians called it girasole articciocco, "sunflower artichoke". Over the years girasole became "Jerusalem". (source)
When ketchup was originally developed by the Chinese in 1690, it contained no tomatoes. It was made out of pickled fish, shellfish, and spices. (source)
The name of the beef extract Bovril comes from the 1870 novel The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. The novel features a subterranean race whose superhuman powers come from a substance called "vril". (source)
Dynamite is made, in part, from peanuts. (source)
Chemists have found that more than 300 chemicals contribute to the flavour of Scotch whisky.
Grape juice contains acetaldehyde (a close chemical relative of the poisonous embalming fluid formaldehyde), ethyl acetate (used as a varnish solvent), acetone (used in nail-polish remover), acetic acid (vinegar), and a few chemicals called hexenals, which give freshly cut grass its characteristic odour.
A nutrition book published around 1900 contained a typographical error. A decimal point was misplaced in the value of iron for spinach, so that spinach appeared to have ten times as much iron than it actually had. As iron is associated with strength, this may have been the basis for Popeye's eating spinach. (source)
It is untrue that carrots are good for your eyes. This belief started in World War II, when the British began using airborne radar, allowing them to find German bombers at night. In order to mislead the Germans, a rumour was spread indicating that John Cunningham, the Royal Air Force's most successful night fighter pilot, had developed phenomenal night sight by eating carrots in large quantities.
The average American spends 18% of his or her income on transportation, and only 13% on food.
The term "humble pie" comes from the food "umble pie", a pie consisting of deer innards that was eaten by very poor people in Mediaeval England. To be forced to "eat umble pie" was to be considered one of the lowest in the social order.
Sauerkraut was invented by the Chinese. Shi Huang-Ti, China's first emperor, had cabbage pickled in wine and fed it to slaves working on the Great Wall of China. (source)
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Saffron is made from the anthers (parts of the stamen) of crocus. (source)
During Apollo 11, the astronauts ate two meals. Meal A was bacon squares, peaches, sugar cookie cubes, coffee, and pineapple-grapefruit drink. Meal B included beef stew, cream of chicken soup, date fruitcake, grape punch, and orange drink. (source)
Each Space Shuttle astronaut is allotted 3.8 pounds of food per day (including the one pound of packaging). Foods are individually packaged and stowed for easy handling in the zero gravity of space. All food is precooked or processed so it requires no refrigeration and is either ready to eat or can be prepared simply by adding water or by heating. The only exceptions are the fresh fruit and vegetables stowed in the fresh food locker. Without refrigeration, carrots and celery must be eaten within the first two days of the flight or they will spoil. (source)
Condiments available on the Space Shuttle include salt, pepper, taco sauce, hot pepper sauce, catsup, mayonnaise and mustard. (source)
Spaghetti means "little strings" in Italian.
One pound of spaghetti, if each piece is placed end to end, measures 320 feet in length.
On April Fools' Day, 1957, the BBC television documentary show Panorama broadcast a documentary about the "spaghetti orchards" of Switzerland. Over pictures of Swiss spaghetti trees, the spaghetti plantations of Switzerland and Italy, the spaghetti weevil, and the reason for spaghetti being of such uniform lengths were discussed. Many viewers, oblivious to the date, believed that what they were watching was genuine. (source)
The food with the highest calorific value is pure animal fat, which provides 930 calories per 100 grammes. (source)
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