Fascinating Fact: In Tibet, a common drink is butter tea – it is made from yak butter, salt, and tea.
The average Tibetan can drink 50 – 60 cups of this tea in any one day! It is made by drying Chinese tea in the road for several days (to let it acquire a strong flavor). The tea is then boiled for up to half a day and churned in bamboo churns to which salt, a pinch of soda, and rancid butter have been added. When drinking the tea, you can blow the scum (from the butter) away from the edge of the cup and sip. Some Tibetans add "tsu" and flour to their tea (in much the same way as we add milk and sugar). Tsu is a mixture of hardened cheese, butter, and sugar. When you sip the tea, your host will refill your cup as it should always remain full. We now move on from one drink to another:
Fascinating Fact: The ancient Mayans made truly hot chocolate – they added chilies and corn to it!
The first records of chocolate being used for drinking come from residue found in ancient Mayan pots – it dates back to the 5th century AD. The drink was made by pounding chocolate beans in to a paste which was then mixed with water, chili peppers, cornmeal, and assorted spices. The drink was then poured back and forth between a cup and a pot, which gave it a foamy head. This was drunk cold, and people of all classes drank it regularly. The drink tasted spicy and bitter, unlike today's hot chocolate. When Chocolate finally reached the west, it was very expensive, costing between $50 – $70 per pound in equivalent modern US dollars. If you ever get to Paris, be sure to visit Angelina for the best hot chocolate in the world – try the Chocolat l'Africain (pictured above – recipe below).
Combine 3/4 cup whole milk, 1/4 cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon confectioners' sugar and heat over med-high till bubbles appear around edges. Remove from heat and add 4 oz of the best bittersweet chocolate (72%) you can find (chopped). Stir till melted (you may need to return it to low heat). Serve with whipped cream.
Potato or apple or Onions
Fascinating Fact: Apples, potatoes, and onions all taste the same when eaten with your nose plugged.
As a child we had a science class in which we were blindfolded, had our noses plugged, and given an apple or onion to eat – we were not told which of the two we would be given. Not one person was able to state which was which. This shows the incredibly important part that the nose plays in the sense of taste. The fact that the three items have a similar consistency makes it virtually impossible to tell them apart without the sense of smell. If you try this, I should warn you: once you unblock your nose, you can tell what you have just eaten.
Fascinating Fact: The consumption of natural vanilla causes the body to release catecholamines (including adrenalin) – for this reason it is considered to be mildly addictive.
When vanilla plants were first exported from Mexico to other tropical climes, they flowered but wouldn't produce vanilla pods. It was discovered that a bee native to Mexico was the only creature that could pollinate vanilla flowers (vanilla comes from a special species of orchid). Attempts to move the bee to other countries failed and it was not until a slave boy discovered a method of artificial pollination that Mexico lost its monopoly on vanilla. As well as being mildly addictive, vanilla has also been found to block bacterial infections.
Fascinating Fact: 7-Up – invented in 1920 contained Lithium – the drug commonly prescribed now to sufferers of bi-polar disorder.
The drink was originally marketed as a hangover cure – due to the inclusion of lithium citrate. It was released just a few years before the Wall Street crash of the 1920s and it was marketed under the name "Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda" – quite a mouthful! The name was changed to 7-Up shortly after its release but lithium remained one of the ingredients until 1950. Some popular myths surround the name of the drink – but the name is most likely due to the original recipe containing 7 ingredients (with the "up" portion relating to the lithium) or the fact that lithium has an atomic mass of 7.
During the Alaskan Klondike gold rush, (1897-1898) potatoes were practically worth their weight in gold. Potatoes were so valued for their vitamin C content that miners traded gold for potatoes.
In 1995, KFC sold 11 pieces of chicken for every man, woman and child in the US.
Astronaut John Glenn ate the first meal in space when he ate pureed applesauce squeezed from a tube aboard Friendship 7 in 1962.
Fortune cookies were invented in 1916 by George Jung, a Los Angeles noodle maker.
In a true Chinese meal, the last course is soup because it allows the roast duck entree to "swim" toward digestion.
In the United States, a pound of potato chips costs two hundred times more than a pound of potatoes.
The difference between apple juice and apple cider is that the juice is pasteurized and the cider is not.
The dye used to stamp the grade on meat is edible. It's made from grape skins.
The largest living organism ever found is a honey mushroom, Armillaria ostoyae. It covers 3.4 square miles of land in the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon, and it's still growing
The world's deadliest mushroom is the Amanita phalloides, the death cap. The five different poisons contained by the mushroom cause diarrhea and vomiting within 6 to 12 hours of ingestion. This is followed by damage to the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system - and, in the majority of cases, coma and death.
When honey is swallowed, it enters the blood stream within a period of 20 minutes.
When Swiss cheese ferments, a bacterial action generates gas. As the gas is liberated, it bubbles through the cheese leaving holes. Cheese-makers call them "eyes."