May 3, 2013 3:29 pm
This weekend, fans will gather for the 138th annual Kentucky Derby, North America’s favorite horse racing event. Fans will place bets for the likes of Black Onyx, Oxbow and Frac Daddy and cheer on the horses and their jockeys as they gallop around the track. But watching the races and enjoying the spring weather aren’t the Derby’s only draws. Traditional also calls for bountiful cups of icy mint juleps sipped alongside a hearty bowl of burgoo, a Kentucky favorite often served at the event.
In the mid-19th century, Kentucky’s Henry Clay was no stranger to the delights of the mint julep. The University of Kentucky provides a favorite recipe, straight out of Clay’s diary—the words of a true disciple of the drink:
The mint leaves, fresh and tender, should be pressed against a coin-silver goblet with the back of a silver spoon. Only bruise the leaves gently and then remove them from the goblet. Half fill with cracked ice. Mellow bourbon, aged in oaken barrels, is poured from the jigger and allowed to slide slowly through the cracked ice.
In another receptacle, granulated sugar is slowly mixed into chilled limestone water to make a silvery mixture as smooth as some rare Egyptian oil, then poured on top of the ice. While beads of moisture gather on the burnished exterior of the silver goblet, garnish the brim of the goblet with the choicest sprigs of mint.
As for burgoo, it’s a spicy stew made of beef, chicken, pork and veggies. Back in Clay’s days, however, burgoo could include a bit of whatever animal happened to be around, including venison, raccoon, squirrel, opossum or wild birds. That’s probably how it earned the appetizing nickname of “roadkill soup.”
While wild animals are probably lacking in most pots of burgoo today, each restaurant’s offerings do provide a unique culinary experience since no two places use the exact same blend of spices and ingredients. If you’d like to try and concoct your very own spin on burgoo, Epicurious has a recipe for Kentucky bourbon burgoo, or take your pick from the many other versions on offer.
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March 22, 2013 2:54 pm
They’re healthy; they’re plentiful; they’re kosher. Just in time for Passover, some Israelis are taking advantage of a swarm of locusts flying in from Egypt to whip up a unique holiday snack. The versatile insects, which are a couple inches long, are apparently equally tasty breaded and fried or covered in molten chocolate.
Israel has been dealing with the swarm for the past couple weeks, the BBC reports. Locusts can eat their body weight in a farmer’s crops per day, so innovative humans have decided to turn the tide on the hungry pests by eating them.
Eucalyptus, a fancy restaurant in Jerusalem, for example, has a particular interest in ancient Biblical food, according to the BBC. The chef there, Moshe Basson, recommends cooks “drop them into a boiling broth, clean them off, and roll in a mixture of flour, coriander seeds, garlic and chilli powder. Then deep-fry them.” He adds that they can also be mixed with caramel and pan-fried as a crunchy, sweet snack. The BBC continues:
Locusts are usually hard to source in Israel and Basson has to get them from a specialist lab. But nothing, he says, beats freshly gathered, locally sourced, wild ones.
Locusts that have feasted on sesame plants acquire an oily, shiny tinge, and are said to be particularly delicious.
Locust is the only kosher insect, and the Torah states that red, yellow, spotted grey and white locusts are fine for eating. Rabbi Ari Zivotofsky told the BBC, however, that he regularly fields calls from concerned Jews about whether or not everyone can eat locusts, or only those Yemenite and North African Jews who had a tradition of eating them. For Jews in Europe, the tradition likely died out since locusts rarely make their way that far north. But that doesn’t mean Ashkenazi Jews can’t enjoy locusts, he says.
While there are simply too many locusts to eat the swarm out of existence, Israelis who do tuck in will enjoy a healthy—and reportedly delicious—source of zinc, iron and protein.
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February 21, 2013 11:29 am
In the United States, “Happy Birthday to You”—one of the most popular songs in the world—is still under copyright. And it will be until 2030. While you’re free to sing the song in private, you need to pay to perform it in public.
But now WFMU and the Free Music Archive are hoping to rescue the world from this intellectual property trap. They put out a challenge: make a new, copyright-free birthday song. Here’s the winner:
The Free Music Archive explains the project a little more here:
The Free Music Archive wants to wish Creative Commons a Happy Birthday with a song. But there’s a problem. Although “Happy Birthday To You” is the most recognized song in the English language and its origins can be traced back to 1893, it remains under copyright protection in the United States until 2030. It can cost independent filmmakers $10,000 to clear the song for their films, and this is a major stumbling block hindering the creation of new works of art.
Part of the reason the song will be under copyright for so long is that the two school-teaching sisters who wrote the melody and the words didn’t both copyrighting it. The New York Times provides a little bit more history, writing:
In 1893 the sisters wrote a book called ”Song Stories for the Sunday School.” Within that book was a composition called ”Good Morning to All,” which had the ”Happy Birthday” melody. The lyrics went: ”Good morning to you, good morning to you, good morning dear children, good morning to all.” Sung in Many Languages
Only later did the sisters add the birthday words. It is now one of the three most popular songs in the English language, the Guinness Book of World Records says, along with ”Auld Lang Syne” and ”For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”
It wasn’t until 1935 that the Clayton F. Summy Company copyrighted the song, crediting different authors. Later, the song was purchased as part of a deal cut by the Sengstack family when they bought Summy. These companies have been sticklers about the copyright, too. Here’s the Times again:
Enforcing the copyright of a song as popular as ”Happy Birthday” has led to some peculiar situations. By law, any public performance of the song for profit or mechanical reproduction triggers a copyright fee. Summy sued Postal Telegraph in the 1940′s when the song was used in singing telegrams. The suit was dropped when company lawyers were stymied by the argument that even though the song was used for profit, it was not sung in public.
The company also objected when Frederick’s of Hollywood advertised underwear that played ”Happy Birthday.”
Currently, the copyright’s in the hands of Warner Music Group, which, like its predecessors, continues to profit off it. So WFMU and The Free Music Archive are trying to help us all out by building a better, freer song. Try it out.
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February 14, 2013 10:10 am
No matter whether single or partnered up, people tend to think their way of romantic life is better for everyone, according to new research published in Psychological Science. With Valentine’s Day upon us, happy couples rejoice in the bliss of their commitment to one another. Amidst that self-satisfaction, however, may lurk another emotion: judgement and pity, directed towards their single friends. But single people may feel sorry for their friends in committed, long-term relationships, who’ve give up their romantic freedom.
Not only are we judgmental about people who make different choices than us, that attitude influences the way we treat others. Rather than just admitting that “being single works for me” or “I like to be in a relationship” and letting it go at that, we tend to become evangelists for our own lifestyles, the researchers explain in a statement.
People who assume their relationship status will not change are especially prone to this behavior, they found. The more stable people consider their relationship status to be, the more they idealize their own way of life. It doesn’t even matter if we’re happy with the choice we’ve made: this finding remained true regardless of how personally happy people were with their status.
The researchers asked participants on Valentine’s Day to imagine festivities for that evening for a hypothetical person of the same gender, either Nicole or Nick. Those participants in committed relationship imagined Nicole or Nick enjoying a happier and more fulfilling V-Day if they spent the evening with their long-term partner.
The researchers took this bias investigation a step further, first testing whether the participants in stable relationships tended to judge hypothetical job candidates in committed relationships more favorably than single ones. They repeated this experiment for hypothetical political candidates. The committed participants, it turned out, were more likely to vote on the committed political candidate. Although they did say more positive things about partnered candidates than single ones, they were not more likely to hire the committed job candidate. Good thing, too, as discriminating against a job candidate because of their marital status is against the law.
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February 8, 2013 3:47 pm
Thailand doesn’t conjure images of a winter wonderland (snow in Thailand made headlines in 1955, then again in 2005), but apparently the Thai have a talent for building snow sculptures. Thailand took the prize for best snow sculture at this year’s Sapporo Snow Festival in the capital of Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido. The winning sculture depicts a family of elephants, one of the Thailand’s symbols. In the sculture, the elephants are painting—a skill some captive elephants show off in Northern Thailand. The winning entry can be seen here.
Eleven teams from countries around the world took part in this year’s contest. Finland took the runner-up prize with a giant snow grasshopper, followed by Indonesia with a icy Balinese dancer, Sweden with a frozen wilderness and Singapore with a more philosophical, abstract sculpture called “Saving Gaia.” Portland and Hawaii represented Team U.S.A., but their entries failed to place.
The annual festival, billed as an international gathering point that “evokes a pristine snow fantasy,” attracts around 2 million people each year with its snow and ice sculptures. It also features life-sized snow sculture buildings, which require a nine step process—preparing the base, heaping snow, heaping still more snow, building scaffolding, outlining the sculpture, carving the sculture, adding details and putting on final fine touches— to “really come to life.” Until spring arrives, that is.
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