Posted by on Dec 25, 2009 in Interesting Facts | 2 comments

Many of you will be sitting down to christmas dinner tonight with family and relatives of all sorts. Some of which you may only see once a year. You can casually drop these interesting dinner table facts into the conversation to impress your uncle.

FACT: the fork was once banned for religious reasons

The fork was once banished by the Catholic church in Italy (around 1000 AD) as an assault to god’s intention for fingers. Everybody ate with thier fingers, so the Byzantine princess who brought the fork to Italy was viewed as an unwelcome upstart. The fork vanished for about 500 years, until it was finally accepted into polite society when in 1633 King Charles I of England made a royal decree that it was decent to use a fork. [the full story]

FACT: sweet potatoes and yams are completely different

In North America the word yam is often used interchangeably with sweet potato, but they are two plants of completely different species. Yams come from Africa and Asia. Sweet Potatoes from South America, and now grown locally in the US and Canada. The misnomer came when local sweet potato growers needed a name to differentiate between firm and soft varieties. The firm kind was called a yam, as it did look similar to the true African yam. [the full story]

FACT: red peppers, green beans, and cucumbers are all fruits

While often considered vegetables, and left out of the infamous tomato veggie/fruit debates, these three plants are technically in fruit territory. The rule is simple. If part of the plant contains or holds seeds then that part is labeled as a fruit. Conversely, there is no specific requirements to be a vegetable… it’s just a plant we like to eat. [the full story]

FACT: in the US, a tomato is legally declared to be a vegetable for tax reasons

One fellow was importing tomatoes into the US and he refused to pay a tariff based on the argument that the tomato is not a vegetable. While technically he was correct, the US Supreme Court passed a law in 1833 making the tomato a vegetable and thus firmly qualifying for the tax to be paid. [the full story]

FACT: carrots have only been orange for about 500 years

The historical evidence suggests that the orange carrot on our dinner plates is a pretty new thing, popping up in Europe about 1600. Throughout human agricultural history carrots have been white, yellow, red, and purple but never known to be orange. We’re not certain how it happened, but they do figure that the new orange carrots were proudly encouraged by the Dutch people, where the orange colour was a symbol of political independence. [the full story]

So best of luck with these. Hopefully you’ll get the reputation of being the family super-genius. That’s my gift to you.

Bonus fact: In case you missed it (from a couple days ago) here’s the facts about turkey: white meat vs. dark meat.