In the Mexican mountain town of Real De Monte, over 4500 miles away from Cornwall and the home of the Cornish pasty, exists the worlds only museum dedicated to the savoury snack.
The Cornish pasty came to Mexico in in 1824 when miners and their families from Cornwall came across to assist with the local silver mining industry. When they moved across they not only brought their mining expertise and equipment but also brought their keen taste for pasties and the knowledge of how to make them, which caught on quickly with the local community. Cornish wives would teach their maids how to create the pasties who in turn made their own for their own family.
Most houses today have a tub of margarine in the fridge, but what is margarine, where does it come from and how is it different to butter?
Butter is created from cream which rises to the top of milk when it sits for a period of time, this is usually gathered from cows. Through the process of churning the cream, a chemical reaction takes place which makes the cream begin to solidify and turn into butter. This process has been around for over 4000 years.
Margarine came along around 150 years ago, Napoleon III wanted a cheap butter substitute to supply to his troops and to provide to the poorer population in France. Hippolyte Mége Mouriès patented a lower priced form of butter in 1869, it was made primarily from from beef tallow (fat from cows). He named the new substance margarine from the Greek margarite meaning “pearl like” after its white, pearlescent look.
The idea of storing food in airtight containers came from a French chef named Nicolas Appert, when in 1795 the French military offered a cash prize of 12,000 Francs to anyone who could help them preserve food to be transported to their soldiers on the front line. Appert, however, didn’t use metal cans, he used air tight glass bottles which he then boiled which killed any bacteria inside the container.
Appert’s method was simple and worked well, the technique spread across France and into Britain where an inventor named Peter Durand patented his own method, this time not using glass bottles but using metal cans which was granted by King George III of England in 1810. He followed the same techniques except he enclosed the food in tin cans, he arranged his cans to sail with the royal navy for 4-6 months and when opened and examined they were completely preserved.
Sodium Bicarbonate or Baking Soda was used in the past (and still is today) as an antacid, used to settle stomach problems such as indigestion and heartburn. When the Digestive Biscuit was first invented in 1892 by a gentleman named Alexander Grant who worked for a company called McVitie and Price, they contained a large quantity of baking soda, as such they were believed to also aid in digestion and were dubbed Digestive Biscuits.
However, in order for baking soda to work as a digestive aid it was consumed after being dissolved in water. When the biscuits are baked it alters their chemical structure, they lose the carbon dioxide that provides the qualities that neutralise stomach acid and removes any antacid or digestive aiding properties that the baking soda added to the biscuit.
In the 16th Century the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire in South America, with this they returned to Europe with a new vegetable; the potato. However, this new produce was not so easily adopted by the rest of Europe, farmers in France in particular were very distrustful.
The farmers considered the vegetable strange and poisonous, even as going as far as claiming the potato caused leprosy and other terrible diseases. The potato was only given to their farm animals and even the poorest, starving peasants were afraid to eat them. The French government was so concerned about the potatoes ill effects that the production and consumption of potatoes was eventually outlawed by the French Parliament in 1748.
One of the most peculiar animals I have come across is the rare Greenland Shark, these massive creatures can grow up to 24 feet long and live in the cold Arctic waters around Greenland, Iceland and Canada where temperatures can be as low as -1°C. To preserve their energy in these cold waters they swim very slowly at less than 1 mile an hour, exerting their energy they can achieve a burst of speed that reaches 1.7 miles per hour but as their main prey, the Seal, can swim at speeds of around 6 mph, this doesn’t do the shark much good!
Due to the slow swimming speed of the shark, trying to grab a meal is quite an issue, researchers have learned that they are most likely ambush predators, waiting until their prey is asleep (usually Seals in the water) and then slowly approaching. They have also been found to be scavengers and eat carrion (dead and decaying flesh of animals) and they are not picky eaters either. Researchers have found many different and unusual animals in the stomachs of Greenland Sharks including polar bears, horses, moose and even an entire reindeer!
The majority of Sikh temples in the world provide community kitchens where people can come and receive free food, however the Golden Temple in India, the holiest site in all of the Sikh religion provides free food for up to 100,000 visitors every day regardless of their religion, race, gender or social standing.
Using an average of 12,000kg of flour, 1,200kg of rice, 1,300kg of lentils and 500kg of ghee (clarified butter) the Golden Temple has the capacity to seat over 5000 guests at any time, serving them a traditional meal of rice, vegetables, lentils and bread. The temple is open to guests 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.