Samui Wining & Dining
Tasty Dates

June has many culinary-related curiosities – here are just a few of them!


8Food is never far out of mind, particularly here, on Samui. In this regular series of articles, we check back through the years to some of the people, places and events that have been even vaguely significant in the world of wining and dining. And this month features some truly strange headlines!


1st – Cheers! Today was the day back in 1845 that whisky first appeared in written records. Its creation was noted in the ‘Exchequer Roll of Scotland’ and attributed to Friar John Cor.


2nd – Another howler, as the American authorities, on this day in 2003, declare that frozen, battered French fries are, in truth, ‘fresh vegetables’!


3rd – On this day, in 1964, TS Elliott wrote to Groucho Marx, “The picture of you in the paper, saying that one reason for your London trip was to meet me, has greatly enhanced my standing in the community; particularly with the greengrocer across the street.


4th – Just one year ago today, staff at Cardiff Airport were taken-aback to find a 10 lb turkey hidden in a passenger’s hand luggage. The disgruntled smuggler complained that Spanish turkeys were ‘garbage’ and added, “It’s not like it’s going to suddenly thaw at 30,000 feet!


5th – ‘Big Jobs Bares Fruit’. This headline may well have appeared on this day in 1977, when the first home computer, the Apple 11, appeared in the shops.


6th – This was the day, in 1988, that an urban legend was born, as four snapping turtles, weighing over 50 pounds each, were found in a New York sewerage plant. The assumption was that they began life as unwanted pets, were flushed away – and that there were lots more of them still about!


7th – Deadly rain; well hail, anyway, the size of grapefruits. This was the day, in 1939, that they suddenly came hissing down upon Minnesota, impacting themselves deep into the ground, slamming through roofs and killing cattle.


8th – SOS … coffee! On this unfortunate day, in 2009, an American pilot en route to Frankfurt unwittingly broadcast an international terrorist distress signal. The butterfingered fly-boy had accidentally spilled his coffee all over the radio console. The effect was that numerous signals were inadvertently triggered, including ‘7500’, signifying a hijack underway!


9th – Put money in slot, open glass door, get food out. This was the situation in ‘The Automat’, Frank Handart and Joe Horn’s first fast-food enterprise (and also the world’s first) which opened in Philadelphia, on this day in 1902.


10th – Keep an eye out today – it’s ‘International Black Cow Day’!


11th – ‘Nation’s Boss Serves Rulers’ Dogs’. So may well have the headlines shouted on this day back in 1939. It was the occasion on which President Roosevelt proudly served-up America’s ‘national dish’ of hot dogs to the visiting British monarch, King George VI, and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, at a state luncheon.


12th –This was the day, just a year ago, that an aquarium in Finland found a uniquely environmentally-friendly way of powering the table lights in its restaurant. Electric eels can produce 650 volts of electricity each and several plugged-in eels are sufficient for a small room.


13th – The year was 1970, and on this day pop group Bread had a #1 hit with ‘Make It With You’. Like all one-hit wonders, they were short-lived and, by 1979, had emphatically become toast.


14th – This was the day, in 1988, that a class of students in a New Jersey high school kept a black bear at bay by lobbing peanut butter sandwiches at it. It had strayed from a nearby game reserve sometime in the morning, well before lunchtime!


15th – On this day, in 1999, Nicholas Vitalich was arrested in San Diego and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, to whit, one three-pound tuna. It was what he grabbed during a domestic argument with his girlfriend, and fate decreed that it was the girlfriend who became battered, not the fish.


16th – The unimaginative title of ‘Brad’s Drink’ was changed, on this day in 1903. It wasn’t selling, so Caleb Bradman, the North Carolinian pharmacist who had invented it, decided to call it something different. Quite a silly name, really – he re-named it Pepsi Cola.


17th – This was the day, in 1239, that England’s first King Edward was born. Gastronomically, he remained insignificant until the day of his coronation, at which point he became associated with a feast that contained 278 hogs of bacon, 450 pigs, 460 oxen, 340 sheep and 22,600 chickens. I wonder who was counting …


18th – One of the … cheesiest… songs has to be that which was first blurted out on this day in 1952. The immemorable ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’, as served up by Jimmy Buffet, actually managed to slither into the US charts, eventually hitting a high at #84.


19th – Another urban legend originated on this day, in 1993, when so-called ‘killer bees’ swarmed across Tucson, Arizona. Originating in an experimental breeding program, they yielded more honey than usual, but were far more aggressive, as the 14 people they hospitalised would later confirm!


20thGarfield The Cat was born on this day in 1979. His creator, Jim Davis, modelled the cuddly and obliquely-intelligent creature on his own personal likes and dislikes. Which is why Garfield’s just mad about lasagne.


21st – “Bigwigs Nail Down Cheeses’. This undoubtedly should have been the headline following the ‘International Convention on the Use and Designations of Origins and Names for Cheeses’, informally known as ‘The International Cheese Treaty’, held in The Hague on this day in 1957.


22nd – This was the day, back in 1626, that a large codfish, sliced open at a market in Cambridge, England, was found to contain a small book of religious treatises by theologian, John Frith. His contemporaries observed that his work had always been hard to digest.


23rd – Remember the name Bobbitt? This was the day, in 1993, that he joined an exclusive members’ club – or a club of exclusive members, I’m not entirely certain which. What is sure is that a piece of kitchenware figured incisively in the story, wielded decisively by his wife!


24th – Shudder and sigh – today is ‘National Creamy Pralines Day’ in the USA.


25th“Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed to see such fun,” this jolly ditty first appeared on this day in 1766. Although seemingly a children’s nursery rhyme, it is saturated with political reference and scandal and refers to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and the reputed lover of Queen Elizabeth I.


26th – ‘US Head Is Giant Donut!’ Thus almost screamed the headlines on this day, in 1963, when the visiting American President, John F Kennedy, informed all of Germany that he was a ‘jelly donut’. He had intended to declare that he was a Berliner at heart. But ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ actually means something quite different!


27th – It was just a year ago today that Wigan baker, Vince Brown, not only reported the theft of his pies but also that they contained Viagra, used to keep the mashed potato firm (soggy mashed potato is frowned upon in pie-eating competitions as it makes everything easier to swallow). The pies were hijacked en route to the ‘World Pie Eating Championships’ in Wigan. Police later reported they were on the lookout for a group of hardened criminals.


28th – ‘Whistle Blown On Champ’s Chomp’. A headline that implausibly punched its way around the world on this day, in 1997, when Mike Tyson made history by becoming the only boxer to be disqualified for attempting to chew off his opponent’s ear in a title fight.


29th – Standing in the same place for years drives you crazy. So must have been the thoughts of the first cow in America to be diagnosed with Mad Cow Disease, on this day in 2005. Up to this point she had occupied the same stall on a Texas ranch for a continuous 12 years.


30th – This was the day, in 1930, that High Court Judge, Joseph Force Crater, suddenly disappeared without trace. He dined at a restaurant and went on to see a show. Afterwards he took a taxi home, never arrived and was never seen again. To this day he remains America’s longest-missing person!


Rob De Wet

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