As we in the northern hemisphere round the corner into spring, let’s start this round-up in Australia.
There are those who say that Twitter is an infinite mirror of human depravity and mean spiritedness. And they are right. There are also those who say it offers a window onto human kindness, ingenuity and companionship. They, too, are right, and I am perfectly happy to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
Unfortunately, Twitter does not make it easy to share stuff, and especially not longer threads (which is why, incidentally, I often rant about people publishing on their own websites). There is one marvellous app that does allow you to capture threads, but even that warns that a thread may vanish at any time, on the whim of Twitter or the original writer. To avoid that, I turn to the Internet Archive, which allows me to point you to this brief thread from an Australian Aboriginal woman.
My Mum opened her cafe, Thulii Ngemba last month in Brewarrina. I always knew Mum was a legend but its been so heartening watching her ethics shine through her business. Deep fried foods & soft drinks are major problems in town & we all know the damage its done to our health 1/5
And another one, for which I am almost certainly breaking Twitter’s terms of service, but hey.
That struck me as immensely funny, even at the same time that it reminded me that my own grandmother’s recipe books vanished without trace after she died. The thread that the image refers to rounds up all the usual suspects. Recipe madness is culturally agnostic, that’s for sure.
The Tory MP Sir John Hayes described it as “preposterous posturing by people who are so out of touch with the sentiment of patriotic Britain”.
What could possibly arouse such ire? Only the news that Kew Gardens, aka the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, has decided to acknowledge “Britain’s colonial exploitative history and modern day race issues”. That’s according to The Guardian. Mostly, the realignment will involve changing plant labels and display boards to better reflect historical context. Sugar, rubber, cacao, cinnamon, tea, jute, coffee, groundnut, sisal, cotton, just off the top of my head; the list goes on and on. (Which reminds me, a visit to the Museum of Economic Botany at Kew is long overdue.)
Nothing that I’ve seen or read suggests that the proposed revisions will in any way diminish Kew’s history of science and conservation. So, what’s not to like?
I know who is posturing preposterously, and it isn’t Kew.
All of which gives me a perfect reason to point you to a website new to me, and in particular an essay on cinnamon by Wouter Klein It is a deep dive into cinnamon, that most prosaic of spices, and what’s neat is how the text is linked to images old and new. Definitely worth spending some time on.
The cinnamon essay is just one of the narratives at Plant Humanities Lab, all of which, I suspect, will repay investigation. My one complaint: there doesn’t appear to be any way to subscribe to a feed that will tell me when something new gets published.
There’s a story on turmeric at Plant Humanities Lab, which offers an easy segue into a fun piece about turmeric from Food Crumbles. It complements the humanities angle with a discussion of the pigments that give turmeric its glorious golden colour. What I didn’t know is that the colour is affected by acidity. In an alkali solution, the gold of curcumin is transmuted into a deep, rich red. Food Crumbles has recipes for a couple of experiments (and the photo is from that article).
Fuggles and Goldings, two names praised and villified wherever beer enthusiasts wax lyrical: “their contrasting characters complement each other like salt and vinegar on a bag of still-warm chips”.
Mark Dredge has written a fascinating history of hops for Good Beer Hunting. It includes the origin of Mr Golding’s Hop in the 1760s, and the astonishingly lucky story almost a century later of the birth of Mr Richard Fuggle’s eponymous variety, originally known as Fuggle’s Golding. It isn’t, in fact, a Golding, but a descendant of a Golding, and that’s really the point.
Fuggles and Goldings can be found in the ancestry of almost all modern hops. Truly, it’ll make your head spin. There are a couple of hop family tree diagrams around, but even those don’t make it obvious how much the world of hops owes to Fuggles and Goldings and, after those happy accidents, dedicated hop breeders.
I had made a note to link to an article about this history of pressure cookers, but it didn’t actually contain anything much worth sharing. A comment, however, pointed to a rather interesting article about why, exactly, pressure cookers work so quickly. If, like me and just about everybody else, you think it is because the boiling point of water is higher at high pressure, you might be mistaken. It is more to do with the density of the steam under pressure.
At two atmospheres … steam contains twice as many water molecules as the air over a pot of steaming water. Depositing twice as much latent heat every second to the food. And, roughly speaking, cooking up to twice as fast.
Sounds about right. And as the author is Professor of Design and Product Engineering at Boston University, I’m going to bow before authority, at least until a more attractive explanation comes along.
Take care, and stay safe.