Food Misc Musings

Potatoes were Illegal in France between 1748 and 1772

potato_png2391In 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.

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Misc Musings

When the Queen Goes to Parliament she Holds an MP Hostage

The official opening of Parliament in the UK is a ceremony held to mark the formal start of the parliamentary year, it is steeped in ancient traditions with one of the strangest being that the Queen holds an MP hostage in Buckingham Palace to ensure her safe return. This still goes on today with the hostage for 2014 being Vice Chamberlain Desmond Swayne.

This tradition dates back to the 17th century and the English Civil War where the monarch, King Charles I, and Parliament were on less friendly terms. Due to the hostility between the parties, King Charles was very distrustful of parliament and was so concerned for his life when entering that he decided to take a hostage to ensure his survival. He was right to be concerned, as he was eventually executed by parliament in 1649. However, nowadays the procedure is purely ceremonial though the hostage of the crown does remain under armed guard.

Another interesting tradition that takes place when the Queen opens parliament is that the cellars of the Palace of Westminster are searched by her Yeomen of the Guard in order to prevent a modern-day gunpowder plot such as was orchestrated by Guy Fawkes in 1605 where English Catholics attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the Protestant King James I and aristocracy. Th

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Food Misc Musings

Peanuts Don’t Actually Contain Nuts

mixed-nuts-600x450A nut is classed as  a simple dry fruit with one seed (very occasionally two) and a hard shell which grow on trees. Examples of true nuts are chestnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns. However, peanuts, are not classed as nuts, they are actually a type of pea that grows underground.

Along with beans, peas and lentils, peanuts are classed as a legume. Legumes are a type of edible seed that grow inside small pods. The peanut plant flowers above ground but the peanut seeds (the bits we eat) mature underground and grow in  small pods.

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