Samui Wining & Dining
Tasty Dates

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

 

Tasty DatesFood is never far out of mind, particularly here, on Samui. And, 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 is renowned for its falling objects, as more strange things drop out of the sky in July than any other month.

 

1st – It was just one year ago today that Han Besaw saved her husband from a tiger by whacking the beast repeatedly with a soup ladle. He was hunting squirrels near his village in northern Malaysia when his wife heard his screams and went to the rescue.

2nd – It quite often rains fishes but this was the day, in 1926, that several foot-long alligators fell from the sky onto J. L. Smith’s farm in Charleston, South Carolina.

3rdEdgar Murphy, a scientist working for Dunlop, demonstrated his new invention on this day, in 1929. His new ‘foam rubber’ was made in the lab using an ordinary kitchen blender.

4th –This was the day, in 1954, that wartime food rationing finally ended in England, with restrictions on meat and bacon being lifted. Interestingly, the only food that hadn’t been rationed was fish ’n’ chips!

5th – You could always put them in the fridge. Especially when they measure almost a foot in diameter, as did the giant hailstones that fell onto the Detroit Lakes region, on this day in 1966.

6th – It was on this day, in 1886, that Horlicks of Wisconsin first announced their new food ‘for babies and invalids’ – Horlicks Malted Milk.

7th – This day in 1307 saw the death of England’s King Edward I. Historically, he was no great shakes, but his coronation menu certainly was: 460 oxen, 450 pigs, 278 hogs of bacon, 340 sheep and 22,600 chickens!

8th – This was the day, in 1886, that thousands of tiny snails fell during a thunderstorm in Redruth, England. They were unlike anything previously seen in the region and brought the town out in force with collecting bowls and buckets.

9thPercy Le Baron Spencer was born on this day in 1894. Not exactly a household name; unlike the microwave oven that he went on to invent in 1945.

10th – It’s amazing what a piece of tea-soaked toast can do! Such as trigger-off the childhood memories that caused Marcel Proust, born on this day in 1871, to write his 7-volume novel, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’.

11th – This was the day, in 2009, that Rimma Golovko was proved right. She had insisted that a crocodile at her local zoo had snatched the phone out of her hand whilst she was using it to take a photo. Zookeepers in the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk were sceptical – until they heard the very faint sounds of a phone ringing nearby!

12th – It was on this day, in 1873, that Kansas City, Missouri, was blanketed with a fall of frogs during a storm. The journal, Scientific American, later concluded that a tornado was to blame, even though there were no reports of any within a thousand miles!

13th – This was the day, back in 1865, that John Jacob Astor IV was born. He went on to build the Waldorf Astoria Hotel before his untimely demise aboard the Titanic in 1912.

14th – Another unknown name: American industrial designer, Raymond Lowry, who died on this day in 1986. It was he who created the distinctive shape of the Coca-Cola bottle, which has hardly changed in half a century.

15th – This was the day, in 1869, that Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès announced the patent for ‘margarine-mouries’, an artificial butter, that was later to become known as simply ‘margarine’.

16th – Kissing was made illegal in England on this day, in 1439, by royal decree of King Henry VI. It was thought that the Great Plague was spreading due to such widespread acts of ‘wanton and lewd affection’. Fortunately eating and drinking escaped the ban!

17th – Remember the song ‘Buttered Popcorn’? No, not many people do. But the name of the group lingers on. It was the first record made by The Supremes, and was released on this day in 1961.

18th – Heavy indeed! This was the day that a 13 year-old Norwegian boy scared away a pack of wolves that was intent on consuming him. He was attacked, walking home from his school in the rural area of Rakkestad. But the petrified youngster turned up the sound on his phone and cranked out the heavy metal band, Megadeath, confusing and halting the wolves as he beat a hasty retreat!

19th – Today is ‘Flitch Day’, as it has been ever since 1104 in the village of Dunmow, Essex. A side of bacon (a ‘flitch’) is offered to any couple who have been married for a year, if they can prove that they’ve never wished to be single again during that time.

20th – This was the day, in 1801, that a giant cheese-ball weighing 1,235 pounds was presented to American President Thomas Jefferson at The White House. Sadly there is nothing on record to reveal what on earth he subsequently did with the monstrosity.

21st – This was the day, in 1873, that it was reported to have rained ants, in Nancy, France. There are few details about this, but it really sounds nice, doesn’t it!

22nd – This was the day, exactly one year ago, that Thailand’s national airline, Thai Airways, introduced a range of its ready-packed in-flight meals to ‘take away’. Seven polystyrene-packed ‘meals’ are now being sold at shops in Bangkok, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Pie in the sky? More like ground beef.

23rd – On this day, in 1904, the world’s first-ever ice-cream cone appeared, at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Vendor, Charles E Menches, ran out of paper wrappers and on the spur of the moment made-do with a pile of borrowed waffles instead, giving rise to a tradition that was to spread around the globe.

24th – ‘Taking the world’s most awful food and making it awfuller’. This was the scathing opinion of one general upon the opening of the US Army’s Subsistence Research Lab, on this day in 1936. In fact, their ‘K-Ration’ and ‘D-Ration’ cereal bars became so popular that they were manufactured commercially and sold publicly after WWII.

25th – This was the day, just one year ago, that the ‘greatest-ever bloke’s toy’ was patented. Created by American, Ryan Rusnak, it’s the Beer Bot, a compact fridge, controlled remotely by means of an iPhone program, which shoots cans of beer across the room and into the waiting arms of any suitably-equipped football-watching couch potato!

26th – Treat turnips with respect. This was undoubtedly the opinion of the friends and family of Englishman, Leslie Merry, who was struck by a turnip flung mischievously from a passing car. He subsequently died in hospital, of a ruptured spleen, on this day in 1989.

27th – Well they didn’t exactly fall from the sky, but thousands of American farmers couldn’t have given a hoot. This was the first day of a plague of grasshoppers that destroyed tens of thousands of acres of farmland in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota in 1931.

28th – No spuds in England? Certainly not until this day in 1586. This was the occasion of England’s first-ever potato crop, planted and harvested by gentleman-adventurer, Sir Thomas Harriot, who had brought the original tubers back from his travels in The New World.

29th – The first case of mad cow disease (BSE) in the USA appeared on this day in 2005. The sufferer was Edith, a 12 year-old Longhorn, who had lived all her life on the same ranch in Texas.

30th – Frogs again, and tadpoles, this time raining from clear skies over London, on this day in 1838.

31st – And a gruesome end-note – this was the day, in 1869, that something fell from the sky over a large area of coastal California. Thousands of small chunks of what appeared to be flesh, bone and hide covered a huge area and it was assumed to have been the remains of at least two cows. But nobody knows quite what or how, even to this day!

 

Rob De Wet

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