Much like the Language of Flowers and other courtship rituals of the past, there was an entire conversation hidden in your love spoon. For example, an anchor might symbolize settled love, while interlocking chains were pretty self-explanatory. A wheel could signify a willingness to work for your partner; a shield would offer protection. Balls in a cage could refer to love held safe or show a number of children. Arwyn, you dog!
One neat and tidy idea is that instead of banning Lupercalia — which Romans celebrated for a remarkably long time — Christians adopted and renamed it. This stems from a strongly-worded letter by Pope Gelasius circa 494 B.C.E., where he criticized fellow Christians for participating in something that used to showcase naked people whipping each other.
Pigs get a bad rap. Americans often equate them with being grubby, gluttonous, and greedy, despite their highly intelligent and social nature. Calling someone a pig is an insult, and people seem to be more fond of bacon than the creatures themselves. Of all the negative qualities we’ve given pigs, being thrifty is not one of them. So why do we teach children to save money by telling them to stash coins in a hollow receptacle called a piggy bank? To understand this seemingly odd connection, you have to take it back a few hundred years.
Pancakes stuck around, spreading through cultures across the world. People in the burgeoning United States ate thin, European-style pancakes at any time of day, but that changed around the 1780s. Cooks began to thicken them up with pearl ash, resulting in hearty rounds. Unlike bread, they were quick and easy to make first thing in the morning before a hard day of manual labor.
Salt was treasured in myriad ancient cultures. It was precious to the Egyptians, Greeks, Tamils, Chinese, and many others. People used it to preserve food, nourish their bodies, cure ailments, carry out superstitious rites, and of course, make meals taste more delicious.
It was, in turn, a dish for the rich and the poor. Its long shelf life and simple ingredients made it popular fare for travelers, and as technology progressed, so did production. But the biggest thing to happen to pasta was undoubtedly the day some genius figured out that it paired well with tomatoes.
“Nor did she deign to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth. . . . this woman’s vanity was hateful to Almighty God; and so, unmistakably, did He take his revenge. For He raised over her the sword of His divine justice, so that her whole body did putrefy and all her limbs began to wither.”