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In Which I Eat & Learn at the Same Time

Last week, I blogged about my visit to Colonial Williamsburg in celebration of Grandfather T's 80th birthday, and I mentioned, in passing, that we ate at a place called The King's Arms Tavern. Well, it was more than just a place to eat. We learned, too!

Our server, Dave (I think that was his name...), first entertained us by showing us that the majority of his ring finger on his right hand was missing. No, I don't know how this happened, but it began an extremely fruitful although brief relationship between us.

For example, do you know the origin of the phrase "put your best foot forward?" Dave did.

You see, back when Kings, Queens, and their court regally marched the face of the Earth, a man's wealth and intelligence was based on the size of a man's calf muscle. Therefore, whenever he greeted a lady or someone of high social status, he would bow and extend the leg with the biggest and most defined calf muscle. He would also take his handkerchief out of his jacket pocket and lower it with a flourish, attracting the eye to said calf muscle, essentially saying, "Hey, look how jacked my calf is. Aren't you impressed?"

In those days, commoners were out all day, working 12-hr shifts, and they didn't have time to go out and pallaver with ladies or enjoy themselves at parties. As a result, they didn't spend much of their time dancing, and as a result their calf muscles were rather neglected. Additionally, during that time, dancing was much different from the normal bump-and-grind "dancing" that you see in clubs today. Instead, it was a great deal of walking and raising up on one's toes which actually works the calves quite well. So, the more dancing you did, the more wealthy you were, because you had that time to spare.

Neat, huh?

Additionally, do you know the difference between catsup and ketchup? There is one, I promise!

At one point in history, tomatoes were banned from Williamsburg, VA (I don't know how widespread this ban was, but I do know it happened at least in Williamsburg) because they were thought to be poisonous when many people fell ill after eating them. As a result, people were pressed to find a replacement for the tomato paste they had grown to love so dearly, and they came up with catsup, a mushroom paste.

In truth, it wasn't the tomatoes that were poisoning them. It was their dishes. Most of the wealthy families had pewter dishes which have an extremely high lead content, and, because tomatoes are so acidic, the lead leeched onto any food they ate that had tomatoes in it, thereby giving them lead poisoning.

Thankfully, this was discovered, and tomatoes were unbanned, but they were then faced with the fact that they had to come up with a new name for tomato paste. Enter "katsup." What Dave informed us of was that "c" stands for mushroom, and "k" stands for tomato. I'm not sure why, but that's how it is...

Over the next century or so, the word "ketchup" came around, and there we have it!

And that was the little history lesson for today. I thought it was neat and that I'd share it with my lovely readers.



Unknown said…
Your profile picture is super cute!!!

I know it's been awhile since I've visited your blog! Things get so busy!! Happy over 100 followers!!! You're doing great and your new background is adorable!
Diandra said…
I loved the bit about men's legs. But then I do like nice legs. Have I mentioned that the BF is training for a Marathon?

(Same as to why white skin was considered a sign of noblesse and beauty back then - if you had to work all day, you'd work outside, soon being as crisp as a fry (which they didn't say back then because they didn't have fries). And the ladies inside their castles remained white as milk. Now all I have to do is wait until white becomes fashionable again, since I don't tan...

... oh, and did you know that, since a high forehead was considered beautiful during the middle ages, Belgian women would smear their scalp with bat blood and scrape the hairline back? Ouch. And I thought modern women are stupid torturing themselves.)
Margaret said…
When I was a kid, my parents got us yearlong passes to Colonial Wiliamsburg. We went there once or twice a month and my brain is STILL full of random facts!
Stef Howerton said…
Thanks, Jen! You're too sweet.

Diandra, I can't imagine doing that! Ouch! Those poor women's scalps! Ah, the price of "beauty."

Margaret, I can't imagine having a year-long pass. I mean, sure, it's cool and all. But a year of Colonial Williamsburg? I think I'd go nuts. haha

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