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


8Food is never far out of mind, particularly here, on Samui. But the world is a strange place. And so in this monthly feature we check back through the years to some of the people, places and events that have been particularly curious in the world of wining and dining. And the month of March can lay claim to have something of a ‘beef burger’ focus!

1st – This is a big day in Iceland – it’s when they annually celebrate the occasion that their 75 year-long ban on beer was finally lifted in 1989. Bars and pubs can remain open for 20 hours, in a colder version of the Oktoberfest.

2nd – And, fitting snugly into the above, today in Iceland it’s ‘National Hangover Day’!

3rd – This was the day in 2009 that Denver granny, Joann Brusco, came across the ‘fossilised’ remains of a year-old ‘Happy Meal’. There was no mould on the bread, the fries had gone rock hard and the beef patty had shrunk a little – otherwise it looked exactly the same except for “ …a kind of acrylic sheen.

4th – On this day, in 2007, police in Driffield, Yorkshire, seized a burger van selling pornography with relish. The deal was that if you spent five pounds, you got a free porno movie, too. The owner was arrested because he did not have a licence to sell food!

5th – Unfortunately, today is ‘National Cheese Doodle Stick Day’ in America. It’s a cheese snack. But it’s also biker slang for a very small male member!

6th – And, helping all those Icelanders on the 2nd, today was the day back in 1899 that aspirin was first patented by the German company, Bayer.

7th – This was the day, in 1897, that Dr. John Kellogg was first recorded as serving the patients in his hospital in Battle Creek, Illinois, nourishing servings of his brother’s new product – toasted flakes of corn.

8th – Animal rights activists reacted with fury on this day in 2006. The Il Vinaio restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona, was selling lion burgers along with spicy homemade chips and corn on the cob, for $21. But it seems that the protest had nothing to do with the price!

9th – The year was 1822, and on this day the American, Charles Graham, took out a patent on false teeth that used a base of hand-carved hippo ivory with real human teeth embedded into it.

10th – This was the day, in 2008, that a pig hit the headlines in China. Born with only its front two legs, Zhu had learned to balance and walk on ‘handstand’ even though she then weighed more than 50 kg. Her owner has since been offered ‘a substantial amount’ for her by a national circus, but he’s not selling!

11th – Almost a burger – this was the day in 2009 that event organisers in Iran failed to set the record for the world’s biggest ostrich sandwich, measuring 1,500 metres and filled with 700 kg of ostrich meat. Unfortunately, before it could be measured, hordes of ravenous Iranian onlookers descended upon it and it was gone in record time!

12thAsa Griggs Chandler died on this day back in 1929. In 1887, he bought the formula for Coca Cola for $2,300 and set up a manufacturing company. He sold the whole lot 32 years later for $25 million. Not a bad return, really!

13th – On this day, in 1764, Charles Grey, Earl and English Prime Minister, introduced ‘Earl Grey Tea’ to the English nation. Rumour has it that this was a secret recipe given to him from a Chinese nobleman whose life he had previously saved.

14th – This was the day, back in 1915, that the lethal absinthe was outlawed in France. Mixed with wormwood it came in at 82% volume, causing hallucinations and blindness in regular imbibers. Henry-Louis Pernod was quick to fill the gap with his very toned-down version simply called ‘Pernod’.

15th – A three-foot-long pet alligator was seized from Alpine Wine and Liquors in New York on this day in 2009. Police issued tickets for ‘possession of an illegal animal’ and told the owners to get rid of it – and make it snappy.

16th – It was on this day, in 1891, that Joseph Bazalgette, most probably flushed with the success of his achievements, passed away. He was the civil engineer who designed London’s main sewer system.

17th – Bejasus and begorrah! Today is St. Patrick’s Day – celebrated in the USA by adding yummy green vegetable dye to the beer. It’s also the day that more food and drink are sold together worldwide than on any other occasion!

18th – Fancy a cuppa? On this day, in 1925, that the stirring ditty, ‘Tea for Two’, was first recorded, by Binnie Hale and his Palace Theatre Orchestra.

19th – This was the day, in 1936, that canned beer was produced for the first time, in Wales, at the Felinfoel Brewery. It didn’t catch on at first, as drinkers couldn’t break the bottle habit!

20th – This day, in 1927, saw the demise of Sir Isaac Newton. Seemingly his ‘Theory of Universal Gravitation’ was inspired by an apple which fell upon his head – supposedly of the green ‘Flower of Kent’ variety.

21st – The year was 1984, and on this day the City of New York named a section of Central Park ‘Strawberry Fields’ in memory of John Lennon.

22nd – Another record. On this day, in 2009, Mallie’s Sports Grill and Bar in Michigan took the honours with a 190 lb beef burger that cost a mere $499 and needed an especially-made steel trolley to get it to the table.

23rd – The first-ever glass milk bottle appeared on this day in 1880, made by The Express Dairy Company of Finchley, England. It came complete with a glass stopper that fell out if you turned the bottle upside down!

24th – The mega-tanker, Exxon Valdez, ran aground on this day in 1989, releasing 11 million gallons of crude oil off the coast of Alaska. The marine life has still not fully recovered, even today (so how long will last year’s spill in the Gulf of Mexico continue affecting the planet?).

25th – Today is ‘Titchborne Dole Day’ in Alresford, Hampshire, England, when the descendants of Lady Mabella Titchborne still continue to dole out portions of flour to the local peasants, as they have done ever since the year 1150!

26th – The Silicone Valley death of David Packard occurred on this day in 1996. Co-founder of HP Computers, his earlier inventions included a weight-loss machine and an automated urinal flusher.

27th – New Yorker, John Leonard, took Pepsi to court on this day in 1995. Pepsi had run a competition that offered ‘prizes for points’ and, in an oblique fit of fun, they included a Harrier Jump Jet for the unimaginable total of ten million points. Mr. Leonard actually collected this many points and was not pleased when Pepsi told him to take a jump as they were just kidding!

28th – Sharpen your poles – today is ‘National Something on a Stick Day’ in America!

29th – On this day, in 2009, the world’s longest dinner table made it into the book of ‘Guinness World Records’, in Parma, Italy. The table was 1,800 metres in length and catered for 2,700 diners, although the “… service was a little slow,” as one guest later observed.

30thEric Clapton was born on this day in 1945. One of the great rock legends, he first came to the public’s attention in the late ’60s fronting the pop group, Cream.

31st – Finally, almost another burger, as on this day in 2009 the world meatball record was squashed by a 222.5 lb mega-ball made by Nonni’s Italian Eatery in New Hampshire. Must be some really big mouths out there!

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