John T. Willis

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sources of Human Life

Like most people, I am intrigued by attempting to understand all the people, animals, plants, and "human creations" which have arisen and developed over many centuries. The January 2010 issue of the Reader's Digest offers several explanations of various sources. Here are a few of these which I hope will be interesting to YOU.

1. The United States originated poker, even though some argue that the German "pochen" and the French "poque" and the Iranian game "as nas" lies behind this. From the previous French city of New Orleans, it traveled north aboard the riverboats of the Mississippi in the earth 19th century and many people began playing poker. By the 1830s, the 20-card deck grew to 52 to include more players and caused more people to lose their shirts than did the Great Depression.

2. The ancient Greeks uses large, two-pronged tools to carve and serve meat, but the 7th century A. D. potentates were first to use forks. In the 11th century A. D., the first fork reached a Venetian table in the hand of a Byzantine princees, to the horror of local priests, who argued that God invented fingers for eating. It took more than 500 years for Italians to adopt the use of forks.

3. The Mayans of Honduras were the first who cultivated cacao beans to make chocolate. They ground the beans and mixed in water, maize, and chilies to create a better beverage they found pleasant. European settlers were not enthusiastic when they arrived in the New World. But when Spanish explorers brought the chocolate drink back to Europe and sugar as blended it, Europeans could not get enough. J. S. Fry and Company produced the first chocolate bars in the mid-19th century A. D.

4. The Panama hat is from Ecuador. It was woven from the straw of the toquilla plant. It is light weight and has a wide-brimmed pieced of head-gear, providing an ideal shield from the tropical sun. This hat made its way up from South America to be shipped to Europe and North America. In time, it adopted its name from the Panamanian ports from which it sailed. Panama hats received a fashion boost when President Teddy Roosevelt wore one on a visit to the Panama Canal.

5. The Afghans ate purple carrots approximately 5000 years ago. Over time, scientists have cultivated carrots in a wide variety of colors and sizes--small, medium, and large. One Asian variety is three feet long. Apparently, the Dutch developed the modern nuance of the carrot in the 17th century A. D. Now, people around the world use carrots in a wide variety of ways.

Tell YOUR friends YOUR stories about "sources" people and places and things around the world. Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis