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Practically Useless Information on Food and Drink

Practically Useless Information on Food and Drink

by Norman Kolpas

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The ultimate gift book for the epicure who has everything. It features such facts as the names and sizes of champagne bottles, step-by-step instructions on how to slice a banana without peeling it (or even cutting the peel), the menu served the night the Titanic sank, ten edible figures of speech, intriguing quotes on eating and drinking from Kenneth Grahame,


The ultimate gift book for the epicure who has everything. It features such facts as the names and sizes of champagne bottles, step-by-step instructions on how to slice a banana without peeling it (or even cutting the peel), the menu served the night the Titanic sank, ten edible figures of speech, intriguing quotes on eating and drinking from Kenneth Grahame, William Shakespeare, and Charles Dickens.

Clever, engaging, and easy to browse for fun. For people seeking a resource on esoteric information, it is indexed for easy access to specific topics.

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A Kolpas Compendium
By Norman Kolpas

Rutledge Hill Press

Copyright © 2007 Norman Kolpas
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-40160-205-5

Chapter One


Selections from the Proverbs compiled and published around 1546 by the English playwright, poet, and epigrammatist:

A man may well bring a horse to water, but he cannot make him drink.

* * *

Butter would not melt in her mouth.

* * *

Drink away sorrow.

* * *

God never sendeth mouth but he sendeth meat.

* * *

Half a loaf is better than none.

* * *

Out of the frying pan into the fire.

* * *

She is neither fish, nor flesh, nor good red herring.

* * *

The fat is in the fire.

* * *

The moon is made of green cheese.

* * *

Would ye both eat your cake and have your cake?


"What's inside it?" asked the Mole, wriggling with curiosity.

"There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly; "coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscressandwidgespottedmeat- gingerbeerlemonadesodawater-"

"Oh stop, stop," cried the Mole in ecstasies: "This is too much!"

"Do you really think so?" inquired the Rat seriously. "It's only what I always take on these little excursions; and the other animals are always telling me that I'm a mean beast and cut it very fine!" -The Wind in the Willows (1908), Kenneth Grahame


An arbitrary selection of evocative names for common fruits' cultivars (specific varieties established and maintained through cultivation):

Apple: Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Fireside, Honeycrisp, Honeygold, Jonalicious, Liberty, Red Delicious, Redfree, Spartan, Suncrisp, Wealthy.

Apricot: Cluthearly, Goldcot, Goldrich, Goldstrike, Haroblush, Harogem, Rival, Velvaglo, Vivagold.

Banana: Giant Governor, Praying Hands, Thousand Fingers.

Blackberry: Apache, Arapaho, Black Satin, Cherokee, Illinois Hardy, Kiowa, Loganberry, Navaho, Shawnee, Smoothstem, Tayberry, Triple Crown.

Black Currant: August Reward, Beauty of Altay, Coronation, Crusader, Goliath, Mopsy, Onyx, Rain-in-the-Face, Raven, Tinker, Topsy, White Eagle.

Blueberry: Aurora, Berkeley, Bluecrop, Blueray, Bluetta, Bluejay, Chippewa, Darrow, Duke, Earliblue, Elliott, Liberty, Patriot, Spartan.

Cherry: Bing, Cashmere, Cavalier, Cristalina, Galaxy, Glacier, Index, Meteor, Northstar, Olympus, Rainier, Sonata, Sweetheart, Venus, Viscount.

Gooseberry: Abundance, Achilles, Captivator, Careless, Gem, Jubilee Careless, Pixwell, Poorman, Speedwell, Surprise, Telegraph, White Lion.

Kiwifruit: Ananasnaja, Blake, Dumbarton Oaks, Hayward, Issai, Matua, Red Princess, Saanichton 12, Tomuri.

Mango: Banana, Bullock's Heart, Parrot Mango, Sensation.

Papaya: Baixinho, Higgins, Honey Gold, Solo, Sunrise Solo, Wilder.

Peach: Allstar, Blazingstar, Coralstar, Earliglo, Flamin Fury, Garnet Beauty, Golden Monarch, Jerseyglo, Redhaven, Redkist, Sunhaven, Vanity, Vivid.

Pear: Anjou, Bartlett, Comice, Duchess, Flemish Beauty, Moon Glow.

Pineapple: Bull Head, Charlotte Rothschild, Congo Red, Egyptian Queen, Hilo, Pearl, Queen, Red Spanish, Smooth Cayenne, Sugarloaf.

Plum: Blue Imperial, Blueball, Climax, Compass, Crescent, Grand Duke, Monarch, Pride, Redglow, Silver Prune, White Egg, Yellow Egg.

Raspberry: Autumn Bliss, Brandywine, Centennial, Chilliwack, Emily, Encore, Fall Gold, Heritage, Jewel, Killarney, Meeker, Prelude, Royalty, Summit, Titan.

Red currant: Cherry, Earliest of Fourlands, Perfection, Red Lake, Redstart, White Imperial, Wilder.

Strawberry: Allstar, Avalon, Earlyglow, Evangeline, Everest, Honeoye, Jewel, L'Amour, Ovation, Sable, Sapphire, Seascape, Serenity, Tribute, Tristar.


Go to a Chinese restaurant specializing in dim sum, the morning or lunchtime tea snacks whose name translates roughly as "delight the heart," and you'll encounter a possibly bewildering array of steamed, baked, fried, or boiled treats. Fortunately, diners are encouraged to point and ask. This glossary of a few classics, however, will get you started and provide a satisfying first foray.

Bao: Fluffy steamed or baked dumpling, usually filled with cha siu.

Cha siu: Barbecued pork, used either as a filling for bao or cheung fun, or served on its own on a platter, sliced into bite-sized pieces.

Cheung fun: Sheets of translucent rice noodle, rolled up around a filling of shrimp, pork, or beef and then steamed.

Daan tat: Tartlets of flaky pastry encasing a rich, sweet egg custard filling.

Har kow: Plump, crescent-shaped steamed dumplings with a translucent wheat noodle wrapper enclosing a filling of shrimp and bamboo shoots.

Hua juan: Scallion "flower" rolls made by spreading a sheet of yeast-leavened dough with chopped scallions and sesame oil, rolling it up like a jellyroll, cutting it into slices, and steaming them.

Jiao zi: Steamed meatballs of beef or pork, often seasoned with ginger.

Nor mi gai: Plump bundles of sticky rice mixed with pork, sausage, chicken, shrimp, and mushrooms, steamed inside a lotus-leaf that perfumes the rice.

Siu mai: Steamed dumplings shaped like miniature teacups that usually contain a filling of minced pork and seasonings.

Wor tee: Also commonly called by their English name "potstickers," crescent-shaped wheat-noodle dumplings with a ground pork, chicken, or vegetable filling, cooked by a combination of pan-frying and steaming.


A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread-and Thou Beside me singing in the Wilderness- Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow! -Omar Khayyam (11th century AD), translated by Edward FitzGerald (5th edition, 1879)


Usually by congressional or presidential declaration, a variety of foods and drinks have been honored with their own days of celebration. Here are the first month's honorees (more to follow throughout the book).

Entire month: National Candy Month National Hot Tea Month National Oatmeal Month National Soup Month National Wheat Bread Month 1st: National Bloody Mary Day 2nd: National Cream Puff Day 3rd: National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day 4th: National Spaghetti Day 5th: National Bean Day National Whipped Cream Day 6th: National Shortbread Day 7th: National Tempura Day 8th: National English Toffee Day 9th: National Apricot Day 10th: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day 11th: National Milk Day 12th: National Marzipan Day 14th: National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day 15th: National Strawberry Ice Cream Day 16th: National Fig Newton Day 17th: National Hot Buttered Rum Day 19th: National Popcorn Day 20th: National Buttercrunch Day 22nd: National Blonde Brownie Day 23rd: National Rhubarb Pie Day 24th: National Peanut Butter Day 26th: National Peanut Brittle Day 27th: National Chocolate Cake Day 28th: National Blueberry Pancake Day 29th: National Corn Chip Day 30th: National Croissant Day 31st: National Brandy Alexander Day


Excerpted from De Civilitate Morum Puerilium (On Civility in Children), published in 1530, by Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus:

On Coming to Table: Come to the table clean and in a merry mood.

* * *

On Pausing Before Eating: Some people immediately descend on the dishes the moment they have been set down. Wolves do that.

* * *

On Banquet Settings: At banquets, two people share each soup bowl and use squares of bread (trenchers) to serve as plates.

* * *

On Letting Others Go First: Be careful not to be the first to put your hands in the dish.

* * *

On Avoiding Greediness: What you cannot hold in your hands you must put on your plate.

* * *

On Resting Your Hands: Do not rest your hands on your trencher.

Handkerchief: Do not offer your handkerchief to anyone unless it has been freshly washed.

* * *

On Losing Your Food: Do not be afraid of vomiting if you must; it is not vomiting but holding the vomit in your throat that is foul.


1275 BC: Led by Moses, Jews wandering in the Sinai survive on "manna," most likely a form of fungus or a sap exuded by tamarisk trees.

621 BC: Deuteronomy sets forth dietary restrictions for Jews (see pages 26-27).

350 BC: In Greece, Archestratus records recipes for steak and fish, among others, in his poetic parody Hydapathea (The Life of Luxury).

301 BC: The Greek philosopher Epicurus promotes the pleasures of food and drink.

170 BC: The profession of baker originates in Rome.

110 BC: Near the future site of Naples, Romans first cultivate oyster beds.

69 BC: Cherries first arrive in Rome from the vicinity of the Black Sea.

48 BC: Back from campaigns in France and Britain, Julius Caesar brings pork sausage-making to Rome.


Actual Japanese packaged food and drink brands:

Air in Chocolate: Chocolate-coated bonbons with fluffy fruit centers.

Angel Relief: Chocolate-coated biscuits let you "listen to the Angel's whisper."

Baked Chunk: Biscuits studded with whole cashew nuts.

Beer Choco: Beer-flavored chocolate, "the confectionery of the bitter taste."

BlackBlack: Chewing gum with "Hi-technical excellent taste and flavor."

Blendy: Bottled coffee.

Boss: Canned coffee drinks in flavors including "On Business," "Fine Roast," "Café au Lait," and "Intermission."

Crack Up: Soft tropical fruit-flavored candy.

Creap: Powdered coffee creamer.

Crunky: Crunchy chocolate bar.

Cubyrop: Fruit-flavored hard candies.

Deep Sea Water: From the Murato Deep Sea, "shielded from the sunlight and atmospheric air"; "Gentle to your system, it keeps you in good health."

Eat me! Strawberry-coconut pudding cups.

Ethnican Chips: Barbecue-flavored potato chips.

Eye Power: Sugarless blueberry candy.

Fireman: Chewing gum with a "burning orange" flavor.

Football Salami: Beef jerky shaped like a football.

Gettin' Cool: Fruit-flavored sodas.

Hacker: Mint and grapefruit candy.

Hello Panda: "Tasty biscuits with creamy chocolate filling."

Let's Quiq: Fast-cooking rice mixes.

Meltyblend: White-chocolate candy.

Pocari Sweat: Energy drink.

Qoo!: Orange juice drink.

Slash: "White mint" chewing gum that promises to "shock your mouth."

Slow Life Stew: Stew sauce mixes.

Super Brain Panic: A "blue cola" chewing gum.

Vermont Curry: New England-style curry "with a touch of apple and honey."

Vessel in the Fog: Foamy chocolate candy bar.

Watering KissMint: Chewing gum.

Wow: Cola brand bills itself as, "Not gorgeous, not snobbish, not expensive."


What aroma do I sense in this room? What amber and musk sweet perfume Enters my brain to delight And my heart to excite? Oh! Good God! I fall into an ecstatic haze: Would viewing beautiful flowers in this vase On top of this buffet Produce in me an effect so intense? Has someone burned sweet incense?

* * *

No, I do not think it can be any of those Things that you to me propose. What is it then? It is something I have seen In this basket overflowing with green: It is a melon on which nature, like a glove, Has engraved its surface with a thousand jottings of love As a clear sign for everyone to eat This soft and amiable treat.

* * *

Not the dear apricot of which I dream, Nor the strawberry lavished with cream, Nor the manna from heaven sent, Nor honey pure as testament, Nor the sacred pear of Tours, Nor the sweet green fig's allure, Nor the plum juicy and divine, Nor the Muscat grape on the vine, Are more to me than bitterness and mud When this ravishing melon courses through my blood.

* * *

Oh living source of light, creator of all that is right, Who sees and embraces all, on my knees to you I fall In humble gratitude For the gift of this heavenly food. -"Le Melon" (ca. 1580), Marc Antoine de Saint-Amant


Let your eye wander over an atlas when you're hungry or thirsty, and you might be amazed by the place names that emerge.

Apple, Ohio (also Oklahoma) Apple River, Nova Scotia, Canada Apple Tree Creek, Queensland, Australia Apple Tree Flat, New South Wales, Australia Banana, Queensland, Australia Banana Creek, Florida Banana Hill, Mississippi Cantaloupe, Indiana Celeryville, Ohio Chard, England Cherry, Arizona (also Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) Cherry Gardens, South Australia Cherry Gully, Queensland, Australia Cherry Orchard, England Cherry Tree, England Cherry Tree Hill, New South Wales, Australia Cherryville, South Australia Coconut, Florida Garlic Creek, Texas Garlic Island, Michigan Garlic Mountain, Michigan Grape, Arkansas (also California and Michigan) Lemon, Kentucky (also Mississippi, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) Lettuce Branch, North Carolina Lettuce Creek, Florida Lettuce Lake, California (also Florida) Lime, Alabama (also Colorado and Oregon) Mango, Florida Melon, Texas Mushroom Corner, Washington Mushroom Farms, Pennsylvania Nectarine, Pennsylvania Okra, Tennessee Onion Creek, Texas (also Washington) Onion Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada Onion Spring, Texas Oniontown, New York (also Pennsylvania) Orange, California (also Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and New South Wales, Australia) Papaya Hammock, Florida Peach, North Carolina (also Tennessee) Pear Tree, England Pearblossom, California Pearland, Texas Plum, Kentucky (also Pennsylvania and Texas) Potato Island, New Jersey Potato Mound, Indiana Potato Patch, Arizona (also New Mexico) Pumpkin Bend, Alabama Pumpkin Center, California (also Alabama, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Oklahoma) Rhubarb Pond, New Hampshire Squash Hollow Brook, Connecticut Squash Lake, Minnesota (also Wisconsin) Squash Pond, New York Tangerine, Florida Tomato, Arkansas Watermelon Bay, Louisiana Watermelon Branch, North Carolina (also Texas and South Carolina) Watermelon Creek, Alabama (also Georgia, New York, Oregon, and South Carolina)


Excerpted from PRACTICALLY USELESS INFORMATION FOOD & DRINK by Norman Kolpas Copyright © 2007 by Norman Kolpas. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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