It couldn’t be clearer to the entrepreneurs of Gold Rush era San Francisco that if you could find a way to get eggs to the masses, you could become insanely rich overnight. As aspiring gazillionaires began searching far and wide for solutions, others looked closer to home. Twenty-six miles offshore, to be exact.
Crude tent neighborhoods full of sweaty, tired miners multiplied, as did brothels and casinos, as the initial population boom included a staggering majority of men. Once an economy of hungry, tired, lonely men emerged, scores of people realized what — or who — the real goldmine was.
Case in point: One miner purportedly made a solid income when he came into possession of a women’s slipper, which he charged a lofty one dollar to his fellows for the simple privilege of touching it. That’s around $35 in today’s money.
“It was a sight never to be forgotten, and was considered at the time to be the greatest aurora recorded. The rationalist and pantheist saw nature in her most exquisite robes, recognising, the divine immanence, immutable law, cause, and effect. The superstitious and the fanatical had dire forebodings, and thought it a foreshadowing of Armageddon and final dissolution.”
Apache women also brewed up tulpi, another corn creation similar to Mexican pulque, used for girls’ puberty rites. Head further south and you might enjoy a cup of algoroba, a South American beer crafted from leguminous plants or asua, a crushed maize beer made by Quichua-speaking groups, or the Mayan balché. And to this day, women in Huacho Sin Pescado Peru make a mean chichi.
And if you love hops, you can thank St. Hildegard of Bingen, who documented their first use as an additive. Although Hildegard wasn’t a fan – declaring hops weigh down your innards and make you sad – they prevailed in the end.
No matter who you were in the ancient world, the seasons were of vital importance. You marked the ebb and flow of time by your harvests, which ensured your survival or demise. While the typical ancient person went through life believing gladiator blood cured epilepsy or that tiny demons lived in cabbage, they were at least on top of seasonal changes. And it didn’t escape their attention that after the longest night, daylight began to creep back into their lives.
The barren rocks of St. George Reef had been swallowing ships for decades. Lying about six miles northwest of Crescent City, California, this peak of a submerged volcanic mountain near Point St. George had been known and feared by sea captains for years.
In ancient Greece, some mystics used mirrors as a form of fortune telling and divination, a practice called catoptromancy. These “mirror seers” would dip a looking glass into water before having a sickly person look into it. If the image was distorted, they were done for. If clear, all would be well.
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.