Tall tales for small talk

It looks like it will be a while before most of us are around a water cooler again, but small talk is something that needs to carry on.

Picture this: your sleepy roommate is staring blankly at you while the morning coffee brews. Only random comments on a trivial subject are worth uttering on such an occasion.

Trivial tidbits are part of the de-greaser that keeps society running smoothly. We need the compassionate gestures that get us through difficult situations, like duct tape fixes – well, anything that is unstuck.

But we also need bits of idle chatter to help maintain an in-person connection in society, just like WD-40 helps keep our doors opening and closing without a squeak.

So, here I am at your service, with a list of food-related tidbits ready for sharing. I will dispel a few old myths for you, offer a few intriguing facts, and, I hope, even a giggle or two.

If you would like to share any food trivia you have, please connect with me through email or Facebook; I always love to hear from readers.

Food myths

My Gramps used to tell me that if I ate watermelon seeds, I would end up with one growing in my tummy. I was a terrible spitter, you see, so I ate more than a few as a youngster.

Since I also ate a bit of dirt, mucking about in the yard as we did back then, it didn’t seem impossible.

Another item that kids sometimes swallow is gum. Just about every parent has a story as to why this is a bad idea; check out some memories recounted by people in a survey Atlas Obscura did recently:

“Gum stays in your body for seven years. When my grandfather once asked me, ‘Where’s your gum?’ and I told him I’d swallowed it, he put his finger on my abdomen and said, ‘Well, we are going to have to go right in there and get it.’ Wouldn’t be concerning to most, but my grandfather happened to be a surgeon!” — Bart, Minneapolis

“If you swallow your chewing gum it will tangle itself around your ribs and you will be a hunchback for the rest of your life. My mother [told me]. It sticks with me because for years if I accidentally swallowed my gum, I would worry for days.” — Baxter, South Africa

A myth more grown ups have fallen for is about balancing eggs. Many believe this is a feat only possible one day of the year. Not true. As Wikipedia and other sources will tell you, this custom originated in China as part of the festivities at Lichun, the start of spring, but there is no celestial or gravitational influence that affects the egg.

The only thing reported to influence egg-balancing is a few grains of salt people sometimes use to help steady the naturally dimpled surface of the shell as they balance it.

Little-known food facts

Celery and parsley are flavours that have existed for ages; they were written about often in ancient Greece. Did you know that at funerals, the most common way to honour the dead (especially a fallen warrior) was with a wreath of celery?

The celery of ancient Greece was wild, darker and more bitter than what is cultivated today; the less desirable taste made it easy to associate with death, apparently.

There was even a Greek expression — if someone “needed celery” they didn’t need more veggies, they were already near death. Note: this information is not meant to offer an excuse for not eating your celery sticks. Eat your veggies.

Let’s finish on a sweeter note, with a bit of Canadian food trivia - something I learned while researching this piece.

One of my favourite summer ice cream flavours is uniquely Canadian, rarely found anywhere else… Tiger Tail (sometimes known as Tiger Tiger, same recipe). Those orange and licorice stripes were created by Morgan Carr, and first gained popularity in ice cream parlours from the 1950s through the 1970s.

I hope those lovely morsels of random information help get you over some awkward moments in conversations.

I will leave you with one more myth to dispel with that sleepy roommate in the morning. White chickens do lay white eggs. Red, not brown, chickens lay brown eggs.Brown cows, while they look darling, do not make chocolate milk for your coffee.

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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