The Island Whose History was Changed by a Nose

Ahh, the nose, the center of olfactory pleasure and pain. Raise it in defiance or wrinkle it in disgust. There’s the Roman nose and the hawk nose; the Nubian nose and the snub nose. Only once, however, did a nose change the course of history. Put your P.J.’s on and snuggle up, while I tell you the true tale (more or less) of Greeks, Arabs, and the island of Sicily…

The crazy connection between Spam and . . . Hobbits?

Surprise! SPAM is celebrating its birthday today! On May 11th, 1937, Hormel officially registered the trademark. And Guess what, JRR Tolkien published the Hobbit in September of that same year.  That means both are celebrating their 80th birthday! If only Tolkien had the foresight, he could have come up with something like this: “They distributed the packages as fairly as they could, though Bilbo thought his lot was wearisomely heavy, and did not at…

Turkish Delight: How Tulips Came to Holland

Sometimes, the things that shape history come in small packages. Take the tulip for example. The Dutch went crazy over them  causing a  tulip mania in the 1600’s. People bought and sold bulbs at prices beyond  all reason. It was a national obsession–until the market suddenly crashed faster than a blind tightrope walker during an earthquake. Forever after, however, the tulip has been synonymous with Holland. But…  Tulips Aren&#8217…

An Open Letter From Your Refrigerator

Hello. It’s me, your refrigerator. We need to talk. Every day I’m working hard to keep things cold, while simultaneously trying to look attractive in your kitchen. (Which if I might add, is not always neat and often smells like bacon grease.)  Well, I’m here to tell you I’m really not feeling the love. I have needs too you know. I mean, would it be so hard…

Corsets Smorsets: Take Your Tradition And Shove It!

Are you the guardian of any traditions? Perhaps you have a recipe or two handed down from a grandmother or great-grandmother. Things like that make us feel connected to our past, don’t they? We can imagine grandma’s weathered hands as she stood by the counter in her apron, happily mixing away. Then there was the fun of sharing the meal that came out of her labor. I think we&#8217…