Ten curious things about food

 Do you know all about food?  These ten things too?  Try to read!

 1. The largest banquet we have heard of is the one organized by the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II, in 860 BC.  For his 69,574 guests he cooked 1,000 oxen, 14,000 sheep, 20,000 pigeons, 10,000 fish and as many jerboa, small desert rodents.

 2. What is more American than a hamburger?  But no: the custom of eating minced meat was brought to the US at the end of the 19th century by the first European emigrants who came from the port of Hamburg (hence the name).  Ketchup is not American either: it comes from a Malaysian sauce called kecap.

 3. Who invented packaged snacks?  The first to appear in Italy in the 1950s was Mottino, a miniature version of the Motta panettone.  The most famous came a few years later: Kinder chocolate, invented by Michele Ferrero in 1967.

 4. The first “restaurant” in history was born in Paris in 1765: a shop near the Louvre, where a hot and thick soup was served, excellent for “refreshing” the weakened body.  The oldest inn still in operation (where in addition to eating you could also sleep), however, is the Sobrino de Botin in Madrid: it has been open since 1725!

 5. The tomato has not always been red: the first specimens arrived from America had a golden hue (that’s why it is called that).  Only after many years, by dint of selections and grafts, did he acquire the color we all know.

 6. One of the most successful gastronomic inventions of the Middle Ages is … the cake!  However, it was almost always a salty dish: a mixture of water and flour cooked in the oven, filled with meat, vegetables or cheeses.  Easy to carry and … eat.

 7. In Rome, in the Monti district, there is via Panisperna.  The origin of the name is unknown but, according to some, it depends on what we ate there: panis ac perna, which in Latin means bread and ham.

 8. A traditional dish from Greenland is kiviaq.  It is an Inuit recipe and is prepared as follows: skin a seal and fill the carcass of sea birds, complete with beak and feathers, then stitched up.  After 6 or 7 months the filling is fermented and ready to eat.  Are you curious to taste it?

 9. At the time of the Sun King, that of new peas, which were rare and expensive at the time, was a real craze: the nobles did everything to get them and it seems that the ladies of the court always kept aside some to munch on before  going to bed.

 10. According to sources not fully verified in the 1700s, Frederick the Great King of Prussia had them sow in a field and put soldiers on guard there to convince German peasants to grow potatoes.  Immediately the tuber acquired new charm and many thieves stole the “new royal variety” to transplant it into their own garden.


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