Showing posts with label Charles II. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charles II. Show all posts

Jul 13, 2012

Nitpicking, Bigwigs, and Perukes

By 1580, syphilis had become the worst epidemic to strike Europe since the Black Death. Without antibiotics, victims developed open sores, nasty rashes, blindness, dementia, and patchy hair loss.

Powdered wigs, called perukes saved the day. Victims hid their baldness, as well as the bloody sores that scored their faces, with wigs made of horse, goat, or human hair and coated with powder scented with lavender or orange, to hide the odor. Wigs were not necessarily stylish, just a shameful necessity.

When Louis XIV was only 17 his hair began thinning. He hired 48 wig makers to save his image. Five years later, the King of England, Louis’ cousin, Charles II, did the same thing when his hair started to gray. Other aristocrats immediately copied the two kings. They sported ostentatious wigs, and the style trickled down to the upper-middle class.

The cost of wigs increased, and perukes became a scheme for flaunting wealth. An everyday wig cost about 25 shillings, a week’s pay for a commoner. The bill for large, elaborate perukes could cost as much as 800 shillings. The word 'bigwig' was coined to describe snobs who could afford big, flowing wigs.

At the same time, head lice were everywhere and nitpicking was a painful and time-consuming chore. Wigs curbed the problem. Lice stopped infesting people’s hair, which had to be shaved for the wig to fit, and moved to the wigs. Delousing a wig was much easier than delousing a head of hair. A wig-maker would simply boil the wig to remove the nits.

Oct 15, 2010

Top Coffee Tidbits

Here are some interesting tidbits about coffee that you probably never thought about.

Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world behind oil.

Coffee was reportedly discovered by a goat herder, named Kaldi, in the 9th-century. He noticed his goats acting strange when they ate the cherries from the coffee tree so he tried it for himself.

Light roasted coffee beans have more caffeine than dark, because the longer coffee is roasted the more caffeine is cooked out of the bean.

Espresso is not a type of coffee bean, it is a type of coffee brewing method. There is also the espresso grind, which is very fine, close to Turkish grind. That is what I use and It makes highly flavorful coffee.

Coffee comes from a tree or bush that bears cherry fruit. The coffee bean is the seed that resides within the cherry. Coffee cherry taste is like a tart fruit that some describe as light, honey, and sweet.

Coffee was declared illegal 3 times by 3 different cultures. The first was in Mecca during the 16th century and the prohibition was lifted after 30 years of debate among scholars and jurists. The second was Charles the II in Europe banning coffee houses trying to quell the ongoing rebellion, but it was never enforced. The third was Fredrick the Great who banned the beverage in Germany in 1677 because he was concerned with the economic implications of money leaving the country. Some religions still prohibit coffee consumption .

There are over 50 species of coffee world wide. Only two, arabica and robusta, are commonly used in commercial coffee production.

Over 500 billion cups of coffee are drunk each year and over half of those are drunk at breakfast.

Coffee can actually be used to fuel a car. The test car, built by BBC1 Science Program 'Bang Goes the Theory', is powered only by roasted coffee granules. The car gets about 1 mile per pound of coffee. At that rate, it will not overtake the the gasoline engine anytime soon.

Starbucks gives away used coffee grounds for use in your garden. Next time you are in your favorite, ask for a bag. It is good for your garden.

How American coffee came to be called joe and other names is not well documented, but probably stems from the common terminology that called the 'ordinary guy' 'an ordinary Joe'. The name joe appears to have been primarily used in the military, and particularly the navy, during the first half of the twentieth century. Mocha Java is regarded as the first coffee blend. Mocha gets its name from the port of Mocha and is grown in the mountains of Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. Java is from the island of Java in Indonesia. Mud and murk are self explanatory. Having a hot cup in the morning is like starting your day with an old friend.