Fungus factoids

In the mid-17th century France became the first country to cultivate mushrooms.  Later the practice spread to England  and made its way to the United States in the 19th century.

William Falconer from New York published Mushrooms: How to Grow Them–A Practical Treatise on Mushroom Culture for Profit and Pleasure, the first book on the subject issued in 1891.

Mushrooms are a fungus (from the Greek word sphongos, meaning “sponge”). A fungus differs from a plant in that it has no chlorophyll, produces spores instead of seeds, and survives by feeding off other organic matter.

Mushrooms are cousins to yeast, mold, and mildew, which are also members of the fungus class. There are approximately 1.5 million species of fungi, compared with 250,000 species of flowering plants.

An expert in mushrooms and other fungi is called a mycologist–from the Greek word mykes, meaning fungus. A mycophile is someone whose hobby is to search for edible wild mushrooms.

Ancient Egyptians believed mushrooms were the plant of immortality. Pharaohs decreed them a royal food and forbade commoners to even touch them.

White agaricus (button) mushrooms are by far the most popular, accounting for more than 90 percent of mushrooms sold each year.

Pizza forever

The first known pizza dates from around 200 BC. For centuries both Greeks and Italians used round flat bread with toppings on it. But it was the Italians who added tomatoes and cheese to make the pizza as it is known today. The world’s first pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port’ Alba, opened in 1830 in Naples and is still there now.

The modern Pizza was created by Naples baker Raffael Esposito. In 1889, he baked a pizza for King Umberto and Queen Margherita when they were visiting Naples. He topped the pizza with red tomatoes, white cheese and green basil to represent the Italian flag. He named the pizza after Queen Margherita. The queen was keen to try this new food fad but was reluctant to visit the pizzeria. Thus she became the first person to order a take-out pizza.

Today, more than five billion pizzas are sold annually, more than one 2o% of them in frozen form. It is second in popularity to the hamburger, of which more than 5,5 billion are sold annually. Although US peolpe eat twice as much meat as Europeans, the Margherita without a meat topping remains the most popular pizza choice in the US. The leading pizza topping for Europeans is tuna fish.

The word “pizza” is from the Latin verb pìnsere, meaning to press, and was first recorded in a Latin text dated 997 AD from the town of Gaeta in Southern Italy.

The world’s most popular fruit

The tomato is the world’s most popular fruit.  More than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced each year, whereas the second most popular fruit, the banana production is about 44 million tons. Apples are the third most popular at  36 million tons, then oranges 34 million tons.

Cultivation of tomatoes was begun in 700 AD by Aztecs and Incas. Explorers returning from South America introduced the tomato into Europe, where it was first mentioned in 1556. The French called it “the apple of love,” the Germans “the apple of paradise.

New medical research suggests that the consumption of lycopene – the compound that makes tomatoes red may prevent cancer.  Lycopene us the most powerful antioxidant in the carotenoid family which help protect us from the free radicals that damage many parts of the body.

The tomato is a cousin of the eggplant, red pepper, ground cherry, potato, and the highly toxic belladonna, also known as nightshade. There are more than 10,000 varieties of tomatoes.


There are 49 million bubbles in a 750ml bottle of champagne.

The pressure in a bottle of champagne is 90 psi.

The champagne cork flight record is 177 feet, 9 inches

A champagne cork leaves the bottle at approximately 38-40 mph

Marilyn Monroe once took a bath in bubbly. It took 350 bottles to fill the tub.

The first wine to be made in the Champagne region was not intended to be a sparkling wine. The effervescence that is so familiar in the Champagnes of today was actually considered to be a fault.

Fork that.

The use of a fork as an eating utensil began in the Middle East before the year 1000.

First introduced to Europe in the 10th century, the table fork had by the 11th century been introduced to Italy. The fork’s arrival in northern Europe was problematic. For many years it was viewed as an unmanly Italian affectation.

The Roman Catholic Church strongly disapproved of its use: “God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks — his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating.” It was not until the 18th century that the fork became commonly used in Great Britain.

Food as BIG as it gets

Bangkok’s Royal Dragon Restaurant is recorded as the world’s largest restaurant by Guinness Book of World Records. They have unique styles of waiting including walking on water, flying on the sky, and skating for speedy service and to save time. There are also Thai cultural shows of music and dance, Thai boxing and fighting, and more.
Seating some 5,000 diners there are around 1,000 staff employed. The site covers around 8.35 acres including 4 acres for dining rooms, 2.5 acres of car parking, and 1.5 acres for kitchens, offices and staff facilities.
They serve up to 10,000 meals each day.


Mmmmm butter

Salted or unsalted?
Salt is added to butter for flavour and as a preserving agent for improved shelf life. The amount of salt added does vary between makers so it is hard to tell how much salt you are including in your dish. salt is added during processing either by using granular salt or a strong brine. Using unsalted butter allows the chef to control the amount of salt included.

Now try this tongue twister….

Betty Botter

Betty Botter bought some butter.
“But,” she said, “the butter’s bitter.
If I put it in my batter,
it will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter–
that would make my batter better.”

So she bought a bit of butter,
better than her bitter butter.
And she put it in her batter,
and the batter was not bitter.
So ’twas better Betty Botter
bought a bit of better butter!

–By Anonymous


Conversation is the enemy of good wine and food.
Alfred Hitchcock (English writer, essayist)

Eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.
Mark Twain (US novelist)

Food for thought is no substitute for the real thing.
Walt Kelly (US cartoonist)

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
Fran Lebowitz (US cartoonist)