Samui Wining & Dining
Tasty Dates

April 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 contains such nostalgia as Mr. Potato Head, ‘Mashed Potato Time’ and the entirely potato-free first-ever UK Spice Girls concert. Now read on …

 

1st – Ah the English sense of humour. This was the day in 1957 that thousands of viewers were taken in by the serious and stuffy current affairs program, ‘Panorama’. The bow-tied and straight-faced presenter, Richard Dimbleby, hosted a short feature on the spaghetti-growing industry in Switzerland, even containing clips of the mature spaghetti being harvested from the trees. The BBC switchboard was later swamped by viewers asking how they could grow this themselves.

2ndKing Charles I of France (Charlemagne) was born on this day in 1742. He’s significant in culinary history as: cutlery began to replace fingers; peacocks were first-served, and flowers began to appear on dining tables during his reign.

3rd – This was the day, in 2010, that a group of students in Sky View High School, Utah, revealed their own unique interpretation of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’. But in this case it covered an area of 6,400 square feet and was made entirely out of two tons of tinted breakfast cereal.

4th – Today is ‘National Lunchbreak Day’ in the UK. Sponsored by Ginsters of Cornwall, commuters nationwide will be enthusiastically encouraged to dine upon Ginsters’ Cornish pasties, Ginsters’ sausages, Ginsters’ pork pies and Ginsters’ sandwiches. Heaven help them on the way back at supper time.

5th – Although the Spice Girls had their first #1 in 1996, their first UK concert didn’t happen until this day in 1998, at the SECC in Glasgow, arranged via a mutually symbiotic financial entanglement through their manager, the (then) not-particularly-rich Simon Fuller (producer of American Idol).

6th – The first TV dinners appeared on American shop and oven shelves on this day in 1954, created by CA Swanson and Sons and inspired by one of their directors having sampled an in-flight meal. Yum.

7thWilliam Keith Kellogg was born in this day in 1860. In those days his company was known as The Battle Creek Toasted Cornflake Company and it produced … toasted cornflakes.

8th – The milk bottle was first patented on this day in 1880 by America’s Echo Farms – although the Express Dairy Company in England was using them first!

9th – This was the day, in 1950, that English Chemist, William Prout, passed away. It was he that identified the three main food components of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This discovery gradually came to displace the long-held belief in the four essential elements of nourishment as being sugar, starch, grease and burnt crunchy bits.

10th – The fourth ‘Annual Pig Wrestling Festival’ in Great Falls, Montana, had to be cancelled on this day in 2010 due to a dire shortage of pigs. Up until then the wild pigs had been captured from along the fringes of a local river. But this time there was only one to be found.

11th – This was the day, in 1988, that the official logo of Princess Diana’s Memorial Charity was ordered to be removed from tubs of Flora margarine on sale in the UK. It was deemed to be “… not in the public taste.

12th – And it was this on day in 1985 that America’s Barnum & Bailey’s circus came up against the long arm of the (trades descriptions) law. Their four ‘unicorns’ could no longer bleat under the delusion that they were anything other than goats with surgically-implanted horns.

13th – Pumping iron? Well a ‘Pumping Iron’, actually, designed to transfer beer from one cask to another and patented on this day in 1748 by the Yorkshire engineer, Joseph Bramah.

14th – Midnight, and ‘a long slow shuddering screw on the rocks’. No, not another cocktail but the unexpected and sudden descent of the ‘Titanic’, on this evening in 1912.

15th – And a few minutes afterwards, the associated and untimely demise of passenger, John Jacob Astor. It was he who built the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1897, which was later to be reconstructed vertically and renamed the Empire State Building.

16th – Fish, mutton and coffee – a fair combination. Particularly as today celebrates the Feast Days of St. Drogo, patron-saint of coffee houses; St. Magnus of Orkney, in charge of fish, and St. Bernadette, ex-shepherdess and now celestial supervisor of shepherds everywhere.

17th – The traditional Hawaiian dish of ‘Pineapple Cheese’ was invented on this day in 1934 by an American, Louis M. Norton. Curiously, the gentleman in question had never left his native Pennsylvania.

18th – This day in 1904 saw the birth of America’s Pigmeat Markham. Not exactly a household name, other than he released a record which went into the charts everywhere in 1968 – ‘Here Come da Judge’.

19thJayne Mansfield was born on this day in 1933. Film star and beauty queen, the only title she turned down was ‘Miss Roquefort Cheese’ – on the grounds that, “… I just thought it sounded icky.

20th – This was the day, in 1654, that England’s Oliver Cromwell dissolved the alternative parliament he had established in order to get to the bottom of things. He’d named it the ‘Rump Parliament’.

21stAlf Dean made headlines on this day in 1959 when he landed Australia’s biggest-ever fish to be caught with a rod and line. The 16-foot white shark took seven hours to haul in and weighed 2,664 lbs.

22nd – This was the curious occasion, on this evening in 2008, when the irascible Jeremy Clarkson of UK’s motoring programme, ‘Top Gear’, announced the ‘V8-powered food blender’. Working on the premise that these big engines were now redundant he proceeded to link one to a 10-litre industrial blender and successfully mess up a whole leg of pork together with a small bottle of Tabasco sauce and two house bricks.

23rd – This was the day, in 1992, that (at that time) the world’s biggest McDonald’s outlet opened its doors in Beijing. It covered 28,000 square feet, catered for 800 diners and had 1,000 staff.

24th – At last! Post-War chocolate rationing ended in England on this day in 1949. The only comestibles not to be rationed were fish ‘n’ chips and … whale meat!

25th – This was the day, in 1865, that Charles Luttwidge Dodgson was first introduced to the young Alice Liddell, whom he was later to immortalise via her fictional adventures in rabbit holes and her penchant for imbibing psychoactive food and drink.

26th – On this day, in 1962, broadcast in glorious black and white and warbled by Dee Dee Sharp, ‘Mashed Potato Time’ lurched momentarily to #1 in the USA hit parade – only to be ‘twisted’ out of place soon after by Chubby Checker.

27th – This was the day, in 1700, that England passed the ‘Tea Act’, effectively restricting all sales to its own East India Company. This was frowned upon and later that year Boston held quite a ‘Tea Party’ as a result!

28th – The influential and ground-breaking American chef and social philosopher, Alice Waters, was born on this day in 1944. Her credo that food should be “seasonal, organic, local and fresh daily,” still guides the best chefs today.

29th – This was the day, in 1933, that the US Army took possession of 33 camels shipped specially from North Africa – “Warfare, desert, Mojave, for the training of, in.

30th – It was on this particular day, in 1952, that an old friend of mine made his first appearance. The chummy Mr. Potato Head not only gave boys everywhere hours of utterly mindless pleasure but also went on to become the first-ever toy to be advertised on television. Now where did I put my Xbox …?

 

Rob De Wet

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