Sunday, July 15, 2012


Mom bought a book the other day at an estate sale, and it is called The Dictionary of Misinformation.  The man who wrote this informative book is named Tom Burnam.  Mom said maybe I could put some of the information from this book in my blog, and that way we could all be less misinformed about some things.  So that's what I'm going to do.

Misinformation #1:  HEADCHEESE

A slice of headcheese
Some people think that headcheese must be a type of cheese, or at least that it must taste like cheese.  But if you think either of these things, you are wrong.  Headcheese is made out of the meat off the head of a pig or maybe some other animal such as a sheep or cow.  Sometimes the tongue, feet, and heart are also used, but not the brains, eyes, or ears.  The meat is simmered and seasoned, and there might be some gelatin added to make it all stick together.  When the stock cools, it is put in a cheese mold or loaf pan, and then you can slice it and eat it as a cold cut.  In the UK, headcheese is called brawn.  And if you pickle it with vinegar, it's called souse.

More headcheese.  Personally,
I think it looks quite yummy!
Meat jelly like this has been made by peasants ever since the Middle Ages.  Mom says that when she was a kid, her parents sometimes took her to the City Market in the fall, and Grandma Helen (Mom's mom) always liked to buy headcheese.  You could not get headcheese at the grocery store.  You had to go to the City Market to get it from a farmer who made it himself.  Mom thought headcheese looked gross and disgusting, so she never ate any.  Grandpa Claude didn't like it either, so Grandma Helen got to eat it all herself!

Misinformation #2:  COFFEE BEANS

Coffee berries
Coffee beans are not really beans.  They are actually seeds from the fruit of the coffee plant.  The fruit looks sort of like cherries.  The pits of the fruit are what we call "beans," probably because they look kind of like beans.  But they are not beans, they are really coffee seeds.

Misinformation #3:  THE ORIGIN OF GOLF

Some old-time golfers
A lot of people think golf started out in Scotland, but this is not true.  Well, what is true is that the modern game of golf started in Scotland in the 15th century.  But there are several theories about where the ancient game first came from.  One idea is that it started in Holland with a game called kolven that was played on ice, beginning about 1297.  The Dutch word kolven sounds sort of like the English word golf, so maybe this theory is right.  Or at least partly right.

Another idea is that golf came from a game the ancient Romans played that was called paganica.  In this game, a leather ball stuffed with feathers was hit with a bent stick.  When the Romans conquered most of Europe, they might have brought this game with them.

Meanwhile, in China, there was a game called chuiwan, which means "striking the little ball."  This game was played from the 8th to the 14th centuries, and it was probably introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages.  There was also a game that was called cambuca in England and chambot in France.  Plus a game in Persia called chaugán.  Any one of these games might have been the real ancestor of golf.  Or maybe a bunch of people in a bunch of countries all came up with the idea of hitting a ball into a hole with a stick.  That's what I think might have happened, but I'm just a dog, so what do I know?

Anyway, getting back to Scotland, the first written record of golf there was in 1457, which is when King James II banned the game because he wanted everybody to spend their time learning archery instead.

Misinformation #4:  THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES

Maybe you have heard of this gigantic statue, and maybe you haven't.  It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and it was about 107 feet tall.  A man named Chares of Lindos made it between 292 and 280 BCE for the Greek city of Rhodes, which is on the island of Rhodes.  The statue was of the Titan Helios, who represented the sun, and who was the patron of the city.

For many centuries, people thought the Colossus of Rhodes stood at the mouth of the harbor, with one foot on each side of the harbor, and ships sailed in and out between his legs.  But since there weren't any cameras in those days, no one could take a picture to prove that this was the way the statue was situated.  Then, after only 56 years, there was an earthquake, and the Colossus of Rhodes fell down.  Eventually, people carted off the remains of the statue so they could use them for other projects, and this made it even harder to know where the statue had been.

Nowadays, archeologists and engineers and other researchers all agree that there was no way such a huge statue could have straddled the harbor entrance.  They think the Colossus was maybe located at one side of the harbor or on top of a nearby hill.  This way it could be easily seen by anybody coming to Rhodes in a ship.  Which was basically the only way to get there, since it was an island.

Well, okay, that's all the misinformation I'm going to talk about today.  I hope you feel better informed now.  I know I do!

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