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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thankful for Civilization

"Thanks"

While you are giving thanks this week, no doubt you will be the hit of the dinner party when you bring these topics to the table! 

The word "thank" is actually derived from the word "think".  Think. Thank. Thunk.  All of which have Germanic origin.  

Long ago, the word “thank”, devived from a form of the word “think”.  Consider someone long ago thinking that they were grateful for about what they were to receive, perhaps at meal time or for a successful bounty after hunting. 

Eventually, the word think evolved to refer to favorable thoughts and, eventually, gratitude. 

"So if you think the turkey was delicious, be sure to express your thanks—otherwise, your hostess may think her meal went thunk."  



The Turkey

The turkey is one of the most famous birds in North America.  In fact, Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the wild turkey, not the Bald Eagle, the national bird of the United States!

The turkey's popularity comes from the American people's love of eating the bird for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas.


Domestic or tame turkeys weigh twice what a wild turkey does and are raised on farms for profit.

Most domestic turkeys are so heavy they are unable to fly.

Wild Turkeys:  Scientific name is Meleagris gallopavo.  They live in the woods in parts of North America and are the largest game birds found in this part of the world.  They spend their days foraging for food like acorns, seeds, small insects and wild berries.  They spend their nights in low branches of trees (yes, wild turkeys can fly!).


Peacocks aren't the only birds who use their fancy tails to attract a mate.  Each spring male turkeys try to befriend as many females as possible.  Male turkeys, also called "Tom Turkeys" or "Gobblers" puff up their bodies and spread their tail feathers (just like a peacock).

They grunt, make a "gobble gobble sound" and strut about shaking their feathers.  This fancy turkey trot helps the male attract females (also called "hens") for mating.

After the female turkey mates, she prepares a nest under a bush in the woods and lays her tan and speckled brown eggs.  She incubates as many as 18 eggs at a time.  It takes about a month for the chicks to hatch.




When the babies (known as poults) hatch they flock with their mother all year (even through the winter).  For the first two weeks the poults are unable to fly.  The mother roosts on the ground with them during this time.

Wild turkeys are covered with dark feathers that help them blend in with their woodland homes.  The bare skin on the throat and head of a turkey can change color from flat gray to striking shades of red, white, and blue when the bird becomes distressed or excited.

Where did the turkey get its name?

Have you ever wondered what Turkey (the country in the Middle East) and the American bird have in common?  A case of mistaken identity resulted in the American Turkey being named after the country.  When the Spanish first found the bird in the Americas more than 400 years ago they brought it back to Europe.  The English mistakenly thought it was a bird they called a "turkey" so they gave it the same name.  This other bird was actually from Africa, but came to England by way of the Turkey (lots of shipping went through Turkey at the time).  The name stuck even when they realized the birds weren't the same.




Turkey Terms

Caruncle - brightly colored growths on the throat region.  Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

Gizzard - a part of a bird's stomach that contains tiny stones.  It helps them grind up food for digestion.

Hen - a female turkey.

Poult - a baby turkey.  A chick.

Snood - the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak.  Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

Tom - a male turkey.  Also known as a gobbler.

Wattle - the flap of skin under the turkey's chin.  Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

Scientific genus and species:  Meleagris gallopavo





The Potato

In the Altiplano, potatoes provided the principal energy source for the Inca Empire, its predecessors, and its Spanish successor. In Bolivia and Peru above 10,000 feet altitude, tubers exposed to the cold night air turned into chuño; when kept in permanently frozen underground storehouses, chuño can be stored for years with no loss of nutritional value. The Spanish fed chuño to the silver miners who produced vast wealth in the 16th century for the Spanish government.

Potato was the staple food of most Pre–Columbian Mapuches, "specially in the southern and coastal [Mapuche] territories where maize did not reach maturity".

The potato was first domesticated in the region of modern-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia between 8000 and 5000 BC.  It has since spread around the world and become a staple crop in many countries.

According to conservative estimates, the introduction of the potato was responsible for a quarter of the growth in Old World population and urbanization between 1700 and 1900.  Following the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. The staple was subsequently conveyed by European mariners to territories and ports throughout the world. The potato was slow to be adopted by distrustful European farmers, but soon enough it became an important food staple and field crop that played a major role in the European 19th century population boom.  However, lack of genetic diversity, due to the very limited number of varieties initially introduced, left the crop vulnerable to disease. 

In 1845, a plant disease known as late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans, spread rapidly through the poorer communities of western Ireland, resulting in the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine. Thousands of varieties still persist in the Andes however, where over 100 cultivars might be found in a single valley, and a dozen or more might be maintained by a single agricultural household.

Fork It



The word fork comes from the Latin furca, meaning "pitchfork." Some of the earliest known uses of forks with food occurred in Ancient Egypt, where large forks were used as cooking utensils. Bone forks had been found in the burial site of the Bronze Age Qijia culture (2400–1900 BC) as well as later Chinese dynasties' tombs.The Ancient Greeks used the fork as a serving utensil, The Greek name for fork is still used in some European languages, for instance in the Venetian, Greek, and Albanian languages.




In the Roman Empire, bronze and silver forks were used, indeed many examples are displayed in museums around Europe. The use varied according to local customs, social class and the nature of food, but forks of the earlier periods were mostly used as cooking and serving utensils. The personal table fork was most likely invented in the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire where they were in common use by the 4th century (its origin may even go back to Ancient Greece, before the Roman period). Records show that by the 9th century a similar utensil known as a barjyn was in limited use in Persia within some elite circles. By the 10th century, the table fork was in common use throughout the Middle East.










Slice It


The knife plays a significant role in some cultures through ritual and superstition, as the knife was an essential tool for survival since early man. Knife symbols can be found in various cultures to symbolize all stages of life; for example, a knife placed under the bed while giving birth is said to ease the pain, or, stuck into the headboard of a cradle, to protect the baby; knives were included in some Anglo-Saxon burial rites, so the dead would not be defenseless in the next world. The knife plays an important role in some initiation rites, and many cultures perform rituals with a variety of knives, including the ceremonial sacrifices of animals. Samurai warriors, as part of bushido, could perform ritual suicide, or seppuku, with a tantō, a common Japanese knife. An athame, a ceremonial knife, is used in Wicca and derived forms of neopagan witchcraft.



In Greece, a black-handled knife placed under the pillow is used to keep away nightmares.  As early as 1646 reference is made to a superstition of laying a knife across another piece of cutlery being a sign of witchcraft. A common belief is that if a knife is given as a gift, the relationship of the giver and recipient will be severed. Something such as a small coin, dove or a valuable item is exchanged for the gift, rendering "payment."







Scoop It

During the Neolithic Ozieri civilization in Sardinia, ceramic ladles and spoons were already in use. In Shang Dynasty China, spoons were made of bone. Early bronze spoons in China were designed with a sharp point, and may have also been used as cutlery. Ancient 


Indian texts also refer to the use of spoons. For example, the Rigveda refers to spoons during a passage describing the reflection of light as it "touches the spoon's mouth" (RV 8.43.10).The spoons of the Greeks and Romans were chiefly made of bronze and silver and the handle usually takes the form of a spike or pointed stem. There are many examples in the British Museum from which the forms of the various types can be ascertained, the chief points of difference being found in the junction of the bowl with the handle.


In the early Muslim world, spoons were used for eating soup. Medieval spoons for domestic use were commonly made of cow horn or wood, but brass, pewter, and latten spoons appear to have been common in about the 15th century. The full descriptions and entries relating to silver spoons in the inventories of the royal and other households point to their special value and rarity. 



The earliest English reference appears to be in a will of 1259. In the wardrobe accounts of Edward I for the year 1300 some gold and silver spoons marked with the fleur-de-lis, the Paris mark, are mentioned. One of the most interesting medieval spoons is the coronation spoon used in the anointing of the English sovereign.




Sources:
listverse.com
wikipedia.com
candlewic.com
kidzone.com