Samui Wining & Dining
Tasty Dates

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


8Food 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’s romantic 14th may come as a surprise!


1st – This was the day in 1953 that James Lewis Kraft passed cheesily away. He invented the first-ever indestructible cheese in 1916, with which the American government fuelled its troops in WW1. It didn’t catch on after the war, however, until the Depression made it popular almost overnight!

2nd – How much to ‘spend a penny’? The world’s first public toilet emerged on this day in 1852. It was situated in London’s Fleet Street, was for men only and cost two pence a go (2p to pee?).

3rd – Yes, the movie was true, today really is Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Well the actual groundhog, ‘Punxsutawney Phil’, is true anyway. As for the rest of it, better wait and see where you wake up tomorrow!

4th – ‘Gates creamed in Brussels!’ So the headlines probably read on this day in 1998 when computer billionaire, Bill Gates, was hit squarely in the face by a cream cake thrown by Noel Godin. Mr. Godin specialises in throwing things at celebrities and has even written a book about it.

5th – Not exactly renowned for innovation and progress, this was the day in 1985 that Perrier introduced its ‘Twist of Lemon’ bottled water. It was the first addition to the Perrier range for 124 years.

6th – Chew on this: a set of Winston Churchill’s gold-mounted dentures fetched $23,770 at auction, on this day in 2008. Designed to correct the great man’s lisp, the false teeth had been expected to fetch around $8,000 but were gobbled up by a fanatical American collector.

7th – Things are looking up – or down! On this day, back in 1989, Harold Degen’s front lawn in Ipswich, Australia, was covered by approximately 800 sardines that fell during a brief shower of rain.

8th – RIP Lionel the lobster. This large and aggressive crustacean was discovered lurking within an unexploded wartime mine at Swanage, England on this day in 2006. “We tried to get him out but got bitten,” said one bomb-disposal expert, “so we blew him to bits.

9th – Today in America it’s National Bagels and Lox Day. Further research reveals that ‘lox’ is Yiddish for smoked salmon. So now you know.

10th – Another tempting morsel, this time a rare national drink from India, named Gau Jal. Made from cow’s urine and flavoured with herbs, it first went on sale on this day in 2008. Even more investigation reveals that Mr. Om Prakash, the spokesman for makers, RSS, claims that it is, “Cheaper than Coke,” but declined to comment on the sales figures.

11th – Squirrel sandwiches provoke outcry! A spokesperson for the Green International Voices of Animals released the tree he was hugging to angrily object to the results of Britain’s grey squirrel cull appearing on sale in supermarkets in North London, on this day in 2009. “The next thing you know,” he indignantly exclaimed, “people will be eating birds and rats and dogs!”

12th – This day in 1791 saw the birth of Peter Cooper. Not exactly a household name, but he patented gelatine in 1845, which 50 years later was re-presented full of raspberry syrup and named Jell-O.

13th – Tuneful chews – on this day in 1967 The Beatles released ‘Strawberry Fields’ and on the same date but four years later those bouncy Osmonds topped the USA charts with ‘One Bad Apple’.

14th – Oh blessed day – the international day of romance and love when florists, confectioners and restaurateurs everywhere gloat over their enhanced takings. But did you realise that there are no fewer than five St. Valentines? And none of them are connected in any way with romance? The origins stem from the Roman fertility feast of Lupercalia, celebrated on the 13th, 14th and 15th of February. And then this date was somehow hijacked by the early Christian Church and more primly connected with St. Valentine of Terni in AD 197. He was ‘interrogated’ to a martyr’s death by an enthusiastic Roman prefect with the memorable name of Placid Furius!

15th – Let’s hear it for Margaret E. Knight and her flat bottomed bags! She was born on this day in 1838 and went on to achieve minor fame by inventing paper grocery bags with flat bottoms that couldn’t roll about.

16th – This was the day in 1937 that Wallace Caruthers patented nylon. And one of its first universal uses was to replace the hogs’ bristles that had previously been used in toothbrushes!

17th – Hug your pigs! This was the day in 2002 that the German authorities passed a curious new law. It was now compulsorily for every farmer to spend a minimum of 20 seconds a day talking, patting and generally being nice to each of his pigs.

18th – On this day in 2008, Daisy the dachshund stopped for a 2 million year-old snack on the beach in Dunwich, England. Her owner, Dennis Smith, went to investigate and removed a 13-inch fossilised bone from the jaws of the indignant hound. Later identification revealed that this was once a part of a woolly mammoth – not seen in those parts for quite a while.

19th – 1855, and this was the day that riots broke out in Liverpool over a shortage of bread. The previous autumn had been excessively frosty leading to a poor harvest and high unemployment. In the 18th and 19th centuries there were no fewer than 19 riots in Europe (mostly in France) over food shortages, 12 of them concerning bread!

20th – This was the day in 2001 that eventually something had to be done and the British Government finally declared a state of emergency over the continuing spread of foot-and-mouth disease. By March, this had spread to Europe leading to millions of domestic animals being destroyed.

21st – On this day in 2009, Boston resident, Ron Sveden, thankfully discovered he didn’t have cancer after all. Following an operation, a small sprouting pea was removed from his left lung. “A couple of days in a dark, moist environment and I’d sprout, too,” said his surgeon, Dr. Jeff Legumell. “It was definitely alive.

23rd – Keep your eye closely on your plate today and steer clear of any unidentifiable crunchy bits – today is International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.

24th – An apple a day … this was the day in 1955 that founder and CEO of Apple Inc, Steve Jobs, was born. He was one of the very few ‘computer people’ that were actually born in ‘Silicon Valley’, previously pastorally known as ‘Apricot Orchard Valley’.

25thDon McLean was born on this day in 1922. Neither the ‘American Pie’ man nor the famous British spy, also of the same name. This McLean was Scottish and grew and collected different species of potatoes – over 300 of them!

26th – This was the day in 1903 that Richard Gatling died. His prior experiments with machines for the rapid sowing of both rice and potatoes, some say, gave rise to his eventual patent for the rapid-fire machine gun that still bears his name.

27th – Anyone who has ever worked in a lending library will be accustomed to finding books with forgotten bookmarks still in place. But on this day, in 2002, in Worthing, England, a war story by Len Deighton was returned containing a rasher of bacon used as a bookmark. I expect it was probably the tail end of a hambush …

28th – Some like it hot? Amateur chef and fork-lift truck driver, Andrew Lee, of Doncaster, England, passed away on this day in 2009, seemingly struck down by a super-hot chili. Although in perfect health, 33 year-old Andrew suffered a fatal heart attack after rising to a friend’s challenge of making ‘the hottest-ever chili’. After extensive toxicology testing, the cause of death officially remained ‘heart failure’. Maybe there’s such a thing as ‘too hot’ after all!

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