Thursday, December 03, 2009

Maunderings on food and beads.

People have been enjoying the food posts, and leaving really interesting comments, so I thought I'd add on a bit. Tomorrow may be the spice rack; I've been feeling crappy (I knew northern winters would suck) and these sorts of posts are easy and fun for me to do. Since everyone seems to agree, I'll just keep on keeping on. Commenters have given me ideas for five or six more posts in this vein, at least.

-Alwen pointed out that I have forgotten Paw-paws. They are a large, cold-hardy fruit native to N America. They kind of remind me of papayas in size, shape, and color (though the trees they grown on look very different), but they aren't tropical plants, and the fruits (technically berries) have more protein in them than is average for fruits.

-Maple syrup is another food native to N America, and invented (so to speak) by the native Americans. I really should have thought of this one, because it's made where I grew up. Ohio's about the southernmost reach of sugar maple territory, though, and it goes north from there up into Quebec. It's the sap of maple trees, boiled down into syrup, or boiled further until it's grains of wonderfully flavored sugar. Maple sap is 1% sugar, meaning to make maple sugar you have to boil off the other 99% of water. That can take a while.

-Which brings me to honey. Honey bees are native to the Old World. The native people in central and south America got honey from a stingless bee native to that area. So I don't think north America had honey until someone imported the proper bees, either from Europe or further south. I'm not finding much about honey in the Americas on the internet, but NONE of the sources mention any honey-producing bees native to north America.

-Quinoa is native to the Andes mountains in south America. Technically it is not a grain, but a seed. (It is a chenopod, not a grass.)

-I didn't mean to imply that cranberries are inedible. They just can't be eaten in huge amounts, without some kind of sweetener, or your head will turn inside out. They were an important source of vitamin C, but no one ever lived on them exclusively.

-Rule of thumb: Yams are huge, hard, and kind of like potatoes in texture and color. Sweet potatoes are smaller, oranger, and squishier. Different cultivars vary, there will always be an exception, but that's the general gist of it.

-Avocados are native to S America. The Aztec called them "Testicle Trees". I fricking love botany.

I could probably save time and do a by-continent listing of foods, huh? This is my thing, the area of history/botany/agriculture I'm most interested in. I've done piles of research projects on this, to the point of cooking succotash and serving it in classrooms. What really needs discussed is the Polynesian civilization, because they were the only group in the history of the world to support major population densities without a grain/bean combination of some kind.


Yesterday I went into Pigsbird proper to visit with a friend of mine and go bead shopping. I took the Goober with me, and she really loved the bead store. All things considered, she was very good, but she had to touch EVERYTHING. There were some beads made to look like limes, and we had this conversation:

GOOB: I need this green lemon.
ME: No you don't.
GOOB: But I need it for my green lemon collection.
ME: You don't HAVE a green lemon collection.
GOOB: I do too! It's invisible!

Everyone in the store about hit the floor, laughing. She didn't get the green lemon, but I did get her a large butterfly bead to play with, since she was as good as a four year old in a bead store is going to get.

I got beads to spin with. Including some green lemons. Heh heh heh.


Anonymous said...

I moved from the NE to Texas to get away from the winter. Guess what it snowed here yesterday. ugh.

I am ready for summer.


LOL word verification mandust

Linda said...

Priceless memories - your daughter is so cute.

I am ready for snow but haven't seen any yet.

kate said...

I tried to go bead shopping in Pigsbird yesterday, but the shop was closed when I was there. :( I bought buttons across the street instead!

I will never look at avocados the same way!

Emily said...

Oh, that is just hilarious.

My 4-year-old granddaughter came up with something like that. I had told her not to jump or even stand in the bathtub because it was dangerous, whereupon she rose to her feet & looked defiantly at me, waiting.

"Now only your legs are in the hot water," I said. "Your top will be cold." (She'd been urging more & more hot water.)

"That's why I stood up," she said, "because I needed to cool off."

I lost it, laughing. What a blatant, reasonable lie! She was confused by my reaction & sat down. End of discussion. I think I learned something here.

amy said...

I adore maple syrup. I can't believe my mother used to serve us Vermont Maid--brown high fructose corn syrup--on pancakes. What an abomination!! In NEW ENGLAND!!

Anytime I take my kids to someplace like that, I let them pick something out, too. When my oldest was about two I started taking him to the yarn store, and he got to pick out a button before we left. He used to have a nice little button collection, until his younger brother came along and tried to eat them. Away went the buttons...

Barbara said...

I totally love the Goob. I want to go shopping with a kid who has an invisible green lemon collection.

verification word: gonabe = I'm "gonabe" done knitting presents before Christmas this year! (It's a fantasy word.)

Anita said...

Would love to hear your thoughts on the paleo diet!
The Goober is adorable, she'd get along well with my 5y/o.

TinkingBell said...

Thanks for the quinoa thing (I new they came from the Americas.....)

Polynesians - breadfruit, cassava, yams, taro, coconut, fish, and when they reached New Zealand Moas, and Rheas (and anything else large and meaty)

Amazing that there were no grains/cereals - but is Breadfruit a substitute? Discuss , with examples

Australian Aboriginals didn't have grains either - there are wattle seeds (toxic until treated) but I don't think there is much in the way of a native grain or cereal here.... (happy to be told I'm wrong though!)

Louiz said...

Love the invisible lemon collection.

Roxie said...

But, if she has an INVISIBLE green lemon collection, then she needs an INVISIBLE green lemon.

Amy Lane said...

BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... I'm sorry-- I was really interested in the other stuff--especially the part about the testicle tree-- but the 'invisible green lemon' collection bout floored me!