Today’s Blog is a history lesson in the by-product of food, and was inspired by an email from my good friend and Documentarian Daria Price. Her award winning ‘Out On A Limb’ is an uplifting look at the astonishing changes in prosthetics since the advent of robotics. Check for local listings:
MANURE: In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything had to be transported by ship and it was also before the invention of commercial fertilizers, so large shipments of manure were quite common.
It was shipped dry, because in dry form it weighed a lot less and probably smelled a lot less, but once water (at sea) hit it, not only did it become heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by product is methane gas. As this storage was held below decks in bundles, Methane began to build up below decks and the first time someone came below at night with a lantern, BOOOOM!
Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined just what was happening. Once realized the bundles of manure were always stamped with the instruction ‘ Stow high in transit ‘ on them, which meant for the sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this volatile cargo and start the production of methane.
Thus evolved the term ‘ S.H.I.T ‘ (Stow High In Transit) which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day.
Some things are just imbedded into our culture, like food, we might eat things that are taboo in other cultures. I had this discussion with my grandson Donut yesterday, the fussiest eater I have ever met and the inspiration of my cookbook series for children.
Like cow milk, I told him, I can’t imagine who was the first person to think: “I’ll have some of what that calf is having.” He asked me what the weirdest thing I ever ate was.
I told him about being in a very authentic Japanese restaurant with my friend Joshua in NYC where they serve raw fish, (“Raw Fish? EUWWWEEEEHHH!!! ) the people sitting at the next table were talking in Japanese and eating a bowl of crunchy food that looked very delicious, so Joshua asked the waitress what it was: ‘Grasshopper.’
Joshua asked the waitress to bring us a bowl. There are combination sushi dishes and I’ve had Grasshopper before, and Scorpion and California Roll and some are fried so we were looking forward to this small, bowlful version of something new.
She put a bowl in front of us, and it was very interesting fried in a tempura batter and crispy, very, very crunchy. “I’ve never had anything quite this crunchy and it really doesn’t remind me of anything I’ve had before, it’s a little nutty, a little grassy, what do you think this is?” “No idea, let’s ask the waitress.” He said.
He waved her over:”So what is this?” “Grasshopper” she answered and walked away, He waved her back: “Yes, but what is it?” ‘Grasshopper” “No, but what’s IN it?” “Grasshopper”
He looked at me frustrated and said: “She doesn’t understand what I’m asking her” he should have known by the look on my face so I had to tell him. “No, I think that we’re not getting it, I think we’re eating grasshoppers, actual grasshoppers!!!” Yes, believe it or not we took another bite. “Well, where do you think they get grasshoppers?” he said. “Right next to the fresh cut lawn?” I answered. Remember this was in Manhattan, miles over bridges and tunnels to get to lawns. “So, I’m going to guess they’re not local.”
I told Donut that we were ready to eat raw fish, (another squeal of “NASTY!!” from the boy that won’t eat fish at all) but that we did not expect to be served bugs.
Donut told me that he would eat a worm before he would eat a bug. That’s where he draws the line: Bugs. Oh Yeah, and fish. And lamb. And tomatoes, green beans, potatoes OH I’ll just stop there….
And speaking of bugs, when is the last time U’ve seen evidence of bugs or worms in the produce that U buy? When we ate out of the garden when I was a kid there were dimples in apples, (remember when cutting an apple, well, all fruit actually, was to check for worms?) there were always munch lines on leaves of every plant, bugs in broccoli, worms in corn. Nope, none of any of that anymore. GMO? Spray? Plants grown in greenhouses in water vats? Well, something is eating the strawberries I’m growing on my balcony on the 5th floor! And as happy as I am to share, put a screen over them.
Just because Donut has agreed to eating worms I’m suddenly aware of a shortage of worms. That kid is such an inspiration! I’ve got to come up with something that looks like worms for him to eat. Because that’s how I have gotten him to eat all sorts of things, I make art plates of food.
Lady don’t Bug me..page 15 Let’s Play With Food-Celebrate the Seasons
So what is the food line that you won’t cross? Add a comment below.