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WE'RE fascinated by food and can't get enough of it - or enough TV shows about cooking. But did you know that most of us have seven or more jars of spices in our cupboards, but only use three of them regularly? Or that even food experts can't agree about whether or not we should wash fruit before eating it? There's a lot we don't know about the nation's favourite obsession. So CHARLIE DONOGHUE has been cooking up some fun food facts and has come up with a feast of tasty tit-bits...

IN ancient China, mice were EATEN and considered a great delicacy.

THERE is more alcohol in mouthwash than in wine.

THE world's deadliest mushroom is the Death Cap, which contains five different poisons that can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, closely followed by damage to the kidneys and liver.

IN the Middle Ages, chi cken soup was thought to be an aphrodisiac.

CHEESE is the oldest of all man-made foods.

FROTH on beer will vanish if you lick your finger and then stick it in the beer.

THE bat image on the Bacardi rum label is there because the soil where the sugar cane grows is fertile from the guano (bat droppings).

NATURAL peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it doesn't smoke unless heated to immense temperatures.

IF you chew gum while peeling onions you will not cry.

BANANA trees are not trees at all but rhizomes.

AUBERGINES belong to the thistle family.

TURKEY contains an amino acid called tryptophan which causes sleepiness.

A WILD but edible plant called hernandulcin is a thousand times sweeter than sugar.

THE Egyptians ate mustard by throwing the seeds into their mouths as they chewed fresh meat.

MOST of the vitamin C in fruit is found in the skins.

YOU can spin a hard-boiled egg, but not an uncooked or soft-boiled one.

POTATOES contain no fat at all, and the thicker the chip, the less fat it absorbs during cooking.

ICE cream was originally made without sugar or eggs.

THE wordwhisky comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha, meaning water of life.

IN ancient times, sprigs of parsley were thought to prevent drunkenness.

BARS of chocolate each contain an average of eight insects' legs.

WORCESTERSHIRE Sauce is basically an anchovy ketchup.

PAPER can be made out of asparagus.

TO make a pound of honey, bees have to visit two million flowers and fly the equivalent of twice around the world.

TEA-BAGS were first launched in the 1920s.

MILK chocolate was first made by a man called Daniel Peter, who later sold his idea to his neighbour Henri NestlA.

IN ancient Rome, it was considered a great sin to eat the skin of a woodpecker.

MORE than a third of all pineapples come from Hawaii.

THE first ever recorded pizza parlour, Port Alba in Naples, opened in 1830 and is still open today

ROUGHLY 27 per cent of all the food produced in developed countries each year is thrown away.

IN medieval England, breakfast was often served with beer.

CHOCOLATE was used as a medicine in the 18th Century.

THE turnip originated in Greece.

GRAPES explode if you cook them in a microwave.

IN beer commercials, liquid detergent is often added to the glasses to make the drink foam more than usual.

GRASSHOPPERS are the most popular insect snack in some parts of the world.

BUBBLES in Guinness sink to the bottom of the glass rather than float to the top like all other beers.

MOST alcoholic drinks contain the 13 key minerals that are needed to sustain human life.

APPLES, potatoes and onions all have the same TASTE and their apparently different flavours come from their SMELL.

THERE are more than 15,000 different types of rice.

SIXTY cows can produce a ton of milk a day.

CORN is the only cereal crop that has American origins.

IN its natural state, the cashew nut contains a poisonous oil. Roasting destroys the oil and makes the nut safe to eat.

POACHED eggs actually means "eggs in a bag" from the French word poche.

THE Romans, used poisonous lead as a food sweetener.

ONE in five chickens in our supermarkets is infected with campy - lobacter, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning.

IF you attach a battery to a pickle with wires, it will glow.

IN the Middle Ages, sugar was treasured as a luxury and cost nine times more than milk.

THERE are more than 200 types of chilli peppers, but not one belongs to the pepper family.

CHINA produces more apples than the rest of the world put together.

THE average French person eats about 500 snails a year.

IN early R o m a n times, flamingo tongues were pickled and served as a delicacy. Later, miners in the Andes of South America killed the birds for their fat, believing it to be a cure for tuberculosis.


THE food that is most craved by pregnant women is nachos.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 16, 2006
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