Interesting Facts About Vegetables...
July 4, 2001
"Man is an onion made up of a hundred integuments."
-Herman Hesse, Steppenwolf
June 26, 2001
Have you ever noticed that the Bible is full of references to corn? Doesnt this seem a bit unusual, considering that corn is a new world grain developed in the region now known as Guatemala and was completely unknown to Europe and the Middle East until at least 500 years ago?
June 19, 2001
"In the onion is the hope of universal brotherhood. If all men will eat onions at all times, they will come into a universal sympathy."
-Charles Dudley Warner
June 14, 2001
Turnips generally take two years to flower. Beware of those that come of age prematurely. John Gerard, in 1633 wrote, "the Turneps that floure the same year that they are sowen, are a degenerat kind, called Madneps, of their evill qualitie in causing frensie and giddinesse of the brayne for a season."
June 18, 2000
The zombie's cucumber.
In Haiti the greatest punishment that can be given to a human being is to kill his body and resurrect him as a zombie destined to toil indefinitely with no soul. For serious crimes dark sorcerers (bokors) concoct a complicated poison containing the ground bones of dead children, various plants and animal parts. But the key ingredient is a fish closely related to the Fugu fish.
If you are familiar with the Japanese cuisine, you know that the Fugu fish contains one of the most powerful neurotoxins known to man. Only a small portion of the fish is edible is incredibly difficult to prepare. As a show of machismo men will order this very expensive and potentially deadly dish, often falling over dead in the restaurant. But the unique thing about Fugu fish poisoning is the tendency for victims to suddenly regain consciousness. If the poison doesn't kill you, it slows down the metabolism to a point where a pulse and respiration aren't detectable. For this reason, it is customary in Japan to leave a body killed by Fugu fish beside the grave for three days, just in case it snaps out of it.
So if you've been really bad in Haiti, the bokors will come after you and cover you with an itchy powder containing a very similar fish. You scratch, you bleed, the poison enters your blood and you 'die.' They take you to a hospital, pronounce you dead, take you to the graveyard and bury you. By the way, with both Fugu fish and Haitian zombification rituals, although physically paralyzed, you are conscious to both auditory and visual stimulus this entire time. A little while later, they dig you up.
Here's where the zombie's cucumber (Datura stramonium- known in Haiti as the concombre zombie) enters the picture. Like many members of the Datura family, our cucumber is a hallucinogen. After the victim has been severely beaten and regains consciousness, he begins receiving regular doses of the zombie's cucumber. These doses continue regularly to keep him in a disoriented state and convince him that he is a zombie and that he has no soul. The zombie is then put to work as a plantation slave for the rest of his life.
Now, if I can get enough of this concombre zombie, I'm going to make an ensemble of soulless backup dancers to accompany me on my stage shows. I'll teach them all sorts of choreographed zombie dance moves like that old Michael Jackson video.
May 24, 2000
It is best to avoid carrying celery in public: beware!
Feb 4, 2000
"If a woman wants to be a poet,
She must dwell in the house of the tomato."
-Erica Jong, Fruits and Vegetables
The tomato does have a funny history. It, like many of the vegetables we eat is a New World plant. Somehow the Itallians made do without tomato paste until realtively recently (likewise with the Irish and their potatos.)
When the plant was first discovered by Europeans in South America is was believed to be deadly (a member of the Nightshade family) but pretty. Rumor has it, the tomato was believed to be the apple of forbidden knowledge from the Garden of Eden. It was brought back to Europe purely as a decorative plant and actually made it all the way around the Mediteranean and back across the Atlantic to North America before people got up the courage to eat the thing in Colonial Times.
Native Americans knew better all along.
December 13, 1999
As all Greek Scholars among you must know, the great philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras left us with a strange plea to abstain from beans. This being the first rule he listed in his moral treatises has caused much speculation about why exactly Pythagoras harbored such a grudge against the magical fruit.
Throughout history in many cultures beans have been looked upon unkindly. In addition to gastric problems, they have been accused of causing nightmares and insanity as well as conjuring up lust. Perhaps a fear of lust or insanity was Pythagoras' problem?
Or perhaps he suffered from a disease called 'favism' once common around the Mediterranean. Favists were subject to extreme, perhaps lethal, allergic reactions to fava beans.
The explanation you hear most often is that Pythagoras believed that beans were half-human souls. And what self-respecting moralist would sink his teeth into a half human soul? Rumor is that Pythagoras was killed when the Romans sacked Greece because he was caught along side a field of beans and he would rather his life be extinguished then run across the field and crush so many souls beneath his feet
.November 23, 1999
"The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
with a radish"
A few clarifying definitions:
Lahnaphobia: Fear of vegetables.
The difference between a fruit and a vegetable: In accordance with a US Supreme Court ruling in 1893, the difference between a fruit and a vegetable is as follows: 'Any plant or part thereof eaten during the main dish is a vegetable. If it is eaten at any other part of the meal, it is a fruit.'
November 19, 1999
The tomato (while not really a vegetable (or fruit for that matter- it is actually a berry (not that it really matters since the term 'vegetable' is non-specific and could refer to any plant (so I guess I lied, a tomato IS a vegetable. Disregard all of this)))) has a very interesting story. Perhaps I will tell it to you sometime.
Ancient Greeks and Romans used to put parsley on the graves of their dead. In addition to giving their loved ones better breath in the after-life, the parsley was supposed to ward off the devil. Actually, until very recently parsley has always signified mortality. When someone was on their death bed they would be said to be 'in need of parsley.'
Hindus regard Basil as the most sacred plant. It is Vishnu's wife.
Anyone know why the family of plants of which broccoli is a member are called crucifers?
A dream of a cucumber is supposed to foretell romance.
I much prefer the european 'aubergine' to 'eggplant,' although the poor thing has endured much worse names, for example 'the apple of sodom.' Perhaps this is because the plant is a member of the nightshade family and was long considered poisonous.