Ashtrays…..

While primitive forms of ashtrays existed way before the 19th century, it was during the last century that the design, aesthetics and their popularity really took off. As more women began to smoke in the early 1900’s, the ashtray inched closer to an art form of sorts. Many women avoided …

Onion soup and leather gloves…..

Classic French onion soup is said to have been created by the dethroned King Stanislaw I of Poland, father-in-law of Louis XV, who had time on his hands during his necessarily prolonged sojourn at his daughter’s court. (Stanislaw is also noted for traveling across Europe disguised as a coachman and …

Asparagus and the Germans……

Even though most asparagus found in shops are green, it is also available in white. White asparagus is simply green asparagus, buried. Popular in some less interesting parts of Europe for its smooth buttery taste, white asparagus is created by mounding sandy soil over the beds to shield the growing …

To lurch……..

The other day, I was promising not to leave a friend in the lurch when I noticed that I had no idea what a lurch was or how, exactly, you could be in one. I do like to keep my promises nebulous. I had always thought that leaving in the …

Why are Tomatoes known as “love apples”?….

It seems that we should blame a priapistic French merchant for this. This naughty little Frenchman misinterpreted the Moorish word for tomato, Pomi di Moro as Pomme d`armour,the love apple. What with the tomatoes saucy reputation as an aphrodisiac, the name stuck. There is another theory that the “love apple” …

To gruel or not to gruel…….

Listening to the commentary of the Sri Lanka v England Test match this morning, (for those not in the know, it is  a cricket match played over 5 days). I was informed that the contest in Sri Lanka was gruelling. I confess that from my favourite chair  I couldn’t quite …

A Capella and the Flying Pickets…..

Some of you of an older vintage will remember a band of the 1980’s who rejoiced in the name The Flying Pickets. They had a couple of hits, but was unusual about them was that they sung “a capella”. This musical term, meaning “without accompaniment,” has a rather interesting history. It …

To peach or to scurryfunge…..

I have been reading a fascinating new book, Hitler’s British Traitors, by Tim Tate. It takes a look at the British Nazi sympathisers from the aristocracy downwards, or indeed upwards. One such was a self-described author called James Lonsdale-Bryans, who on two occasions tried to meet Hitler directly. MI5 considered …

The Apple of One’s Eye…..

The Apple Of One’s Eye is somebody (usually a child) who is regarded as precious and irreplaceable. The earliest appearance of the term is found in King Alfred’s writing in the ninth century.  Originally this term simply referred to the “aperture at the centre of the human eye” viz. the …