DECEMBER 23 - Today in Food History
• National Pfeffernuesse Day
(Pfeffernuesse Cookie Recipe)
• Oaxaca, Mexico: Feast of the Radishes (Noche de Los Rabanos). A tradition that dates back to colonial times, a great exhibition of figures made of radishes is put on display. Figures of animals, humans, saints, and other characters are made using this vegetable only, and the artists are rewarded for their ingenuity and skill.
• Festivus: a parody holiday festival, an alternative to the commercialism of the Christmas and holiday season (‘Seinfeld’ TV show). [Festivus website]
• Iceland: St. Thorlak's Day - A traditional pre-Christmas dish of 'skate hash' is served. A dish said to be so unappetizing that any subsequent food seems that much more delicious.
• Dec 17-23: Saturnalia - Ancient Roman festival honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest.
On this day in:
1620 The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on the 'Mayflower.' (They actually arrived on Dec 21, but bad weather delayed them until Dec 23).
1675 On December 23, 1675, Charles II of England, issued a proclamation suppressing Coffee Houses. The public response was so negative that he revoked it on January 8, 1676. (Text of the Proclamation)
1750 Benjamin Franklin shocked himself while trying to electrocute a holiday turkey. Franklin believed electrocuting the turkey would make it more tender.
"I have lately made an Experiment in Electricity that I desire never to repeat. Two nights ago being about to kill a Turkey by the Shock from two large Glass Jarrs containing as much electrical fire as forty common Phials, I inadvertently took the whole thro' my own Arms and Body."
1823 Clement Moore's classic poem, 'A Visit from St Nicholas' (The Night Before Christmas) was first published anonymously in the Troy, New York 'Sentinel' (see also Dec 24, 1822). (Full text of poem)
1834 Thomas Tovert Malthus died (born Feb 13, 1766). British economist best known for his theory that population tends to increase faster than the food supply, leading inevitably to disastrous results - famine, disease and/or war.
1888 In Arles, France, Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh suffering from severe depression, cuts off part of his left ear with a razor.
1901 Sir Joseph Henry Gilbert died. An English chemist, he is the co-inventor (with John Bennet Lawes) of superphosphate fertilizer.
1940 Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen was born.
1954 The Disney movie '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' premiered in the U.S.
1957 The song 'Tequila' by the Champs was recorded.
1972 Eight year-old Richard Knecht set a new world record for consecutive sit-ups. He did 25,222 sit-ups in 11 hours 14 minutes.
1990 The comedy, 'Lettice and Lovage' closed on Broadway.
1992 The Christmas speech of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was published in the Sun newspaper 2 days ahead of schedule, sparking a full scale investigation.
2003 The USDA announced the first suspected case of 'mad cow' disease (Bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE) in the U.S.