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9 Ways To Start a Fire Without Matches

There is a primal link between man and fire. Every man should know how to start one. A manly man knows how to start one without matches. It’s an essential survival skill. You never know when you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll need a fire, but you don’t have matches. Maybe your single engine plane goes down while you’re flying over the Alaskan wilderness, like the kid in Hatchet. Or perhaps you’re out camping and you lose your backpack in a tussle with a bear. It need not be something as dramatic at these situations-even extremely windy or wet conditions can render matches virtually uselessly. And whether or not you ever need to call upon these skills, it’s just damn cool to know you can start a fire, whenever and wherever you are.

hanks2  9 Ways To Start a Fire Without Matches

Friction Based Fire Making

Friction based fire making is not for the faint of heart. It’s probably the most difficult of all the non-match based methods. There are different techniques you can use to make a fire with friction, but the most important aspect is the type of wood you use for the fire board and spindle.

The spindle is the stick you’ll use to spin in order to create the friction between it and the fireboard. If you create enough friction between the spindle and the fireboard, you can create an ember that can be used to create a fire. Cottonwood, juniper, aspen, willow, cedar, cypress, and walnut make the best fire board and spindle sets.

Before you can use wood to start a friction based fire, the wood must be bone dry. If the wood isn’t dry, you’ll have to dry it out first.

The Hand Drill

The hand drill method is the most primitive, the most primal, and the most difficult to do All you need is wood, tireless hands, and some gritty determination. Therefore, it’ll put more hair on your chest than any other method. Here’s how it’s done:

Build a tinder nest. Your tinder nest will be used to create the flame you get from the spark you’re about to create. Make a tinder nest out of anything that catches fire easily, like dry grass, leaves, and bark.

Make your notch. Cut a v-shaped notch into your fire board and make a small depression adjacent to it.

Place bark underneath the notch. The bark will be used to catch an ember from the friction between the spindle and fireboard.

Start spinning. Place the spindle into the depression on your fire board. Your spindle should be about 2 feet long for this to work properly. Maintain pressure on the board and start rolling the spindle between your hands, running them quickly down the spindle. Keep doing this until an ember is formed on the fireboard.

Start a fire! Once you see a glowing ember, tap the fire board to drop you ember onto the piece of bark. Transfer the bark to your nest of tinder. Gently blow on it to start your flame.
Fire Plough

Prepare your fireboard. Cut a groove in the fireboard. This will be your track for the spindle.

Rub! Take the tip of your spindle and place it in the groove of your fireboard. Start rubbing the tip of the spindle up and down the groove.

Start a fire. Have your tinder nest at the end of the fireboard, so that you’ll plow embers into as you’re rubbing. Once you catch one, blow the nest gently and get that fire going.

Bow Drill

The bow drill is probably the most effective friction based method to use because it’s easier to maintain the speed and pressure you need to create enough friction to start a fire. In addition to the spindle and fireboard, you’ll also need a socket and a bow.

Get a socket The socket is used to put pressure on the other end of the spindle as you’re rotating it with the bow. The socket can be a stone or another piece of wood. If you use another piece of wood, try to find a harder piece than what you’re using for the spindle. Wood with sap and oil are good as it creates a lubricant between the spindle and the socket.

Make your bow. The bow should be about as long as your arm. Use a flexible piece of wood that has a slight curve. The string of the bow can be anything. A shoelace, rope, or strip of rawhide works great. Just find something that won’t break. String up your bow and you’re ready to go.

Prepare the fireboard. Cut a v-shaped notch and create a depression adjacent to it in the fireboard. Underneath the notch, place your tinder.

String up the spindle. Catch the spindle in a loop of the bow string. Place one end of the spindle in the fireboard and apply pressure on the other end with your socket.

Start sawing. Using your bow, start sawing back and forth. You’ve basically created a rudimentary mechanical drill. The spindle should be rotating quickly. Keep sawing until you create an ember.

Make you fire. Drop the ember into the tinder nest and blow on it gently. You got yourself a fire.

Flint and Steel

This is an old standby. It’s always a good idea to carry around a good flint and steel set with you on a camping trip. Matches can get wet and be become pretty much useless, but you can still get a spark from putting steel to a good piece of flint. Sweedish Firesteel-Army model is a good set to use.

If you’re caught without a flint and steel set, you can always improvise by using quartzite and the steel blade of your pocket knife (You are carrying your pocket knife, aren’t you?). You’ll also need char. Char is cloth that has been turned into charcoal. Char catches a spark and keeps it smoldering without bursting into flames. If you don’t’ have char, a piece of fungus or birch will do.

Grip the rock and char cloth. Take hold of the piece of rock between your thumb and forefinger. Make sure an edge is hanging out about 2 or 3 inches. Grasp the char between your thumb and the flint.

Strike! Grasp the back of the steel striker or use the back of your knife blade. Strike the steel against the flint several times. Sparks from the steel will fly off and land on the char cloth, causing a glow.

Start a fire. Fold up your char cloth into the tinder nest and gently blow on it to start a flame.

Lens Based Methods
Using a lens to start a fire is an easy matchless method. Any boy who has melted green plastic army men with a magnifying glass will know how to do this. If you have by chance never melted green plastic army men, here’s how to do it.

Traditional Lenses

To create a fire, all you need is some sort of lens in order to focus sunlight on a specific spot. A magnifying glass, eyeglasses, or binocular lenses all work. If you add some water to the lens, you can intensify the beam. Angle the lens towards the sun in order to focus the beam into as small an area as possible. Put your tinder nest under this spot and you’ll soon have yourself a fire.

The only drawback to the lens based method is that it only works when you have sun. So if it’s night time or overcast, you won’t have any luck.

In addition to the typical lens method, there are three odd but effective lens based methods to start a fire as well.
Balloons and Condoms

By filling a balloon or condom with water, you can transform these ordinary objects into fire creating lenses.

Fill the condom or balloon with water and tie off the end. You’ll want to make it as spherical as possible. Don’t make the inflated balloon or condom too big or it will distort the sunlight’s focal point. Squeeze the balloon to find a shape that gives you a sharp circle of light. Try squeezing the condom in the middle to form two smaller lenses.

Condoms and balloons both have a shorter focal length than an ordinary lens. Hold them 1 to 2 inches from your tinder.
Fire from ice

Fire from ice isn’t just some dumb cliché used for high school prom themes. You can actually make fire from a piece of ice. All you need to do is form the ice into a lens shape and then use it as you would when starting a fire with any other lens. This method can be particularly handy for wintertime camping.

Get clear water. For this to work, the ice must be clear. If it’s cloudy or has other impurities, it’s not going to work. The best way to get a clear ice block is to fill up a bowl, cup, or a container made out of foil with clear lake or pond water or melted snow. Let it freeze until it forms ice. Your block should be about 2 inches thick for this to work.

Form your lens. Use your knife to shape the ice into a lens. Remember a lens shape is thicker in the middle and narrower near the edges.

Polish your lens. After you get the rough shape of a lens, finish the shaping of it by polishing it with your hands. The heat from your hands will melt the ice enough so you get a nice smooth surface.

Start a fire. Angle your ice lens towards the sun just as you would any other lens. Focus the light on your tinder nest and watch as you make a once stupid cliché come to life.
The Coke Can and Chocolate Bar

I saw this method in a YouTube video a while back ago and thought it was pretty damn cool. All you need is a soda can, a bar of chocolate, and a sunny day.

Polish the bottom of the soda can with the chocolate. Open up your bar of chocolate and start rubbing it on the bottom of the soda can. The chocolate acts as a polish and will make the bottom of the can shine like a mirror. If you don’t have chocolate with you, toothpaste also works.

Make your fire. After polishing the bottom of your can, what you have is essentially a parabolic mirror. Sunlight will reflect off the bottom of the can, forming a single focal point. It’s kind of like how a mirror telescope works.

Point the bottom of the can towards the sun. You’ll have created a highly focused ray of light aimed directly at your tinder. Place the tinder about an inch from the reflecting light’s focal point. In a few seconds you should have a flame.

While I can’t think of any time that I would be in the middle of nowhere with a can of Coke and chocolate bar, this method is still pretty cool.

Batteries and Steel Wool

Like the chocolate and soda can method, it’s hard to imagine a situation where you won’t have matches, but you will have some batteries and some steel wool. But hey, you never know. And it’s quite easy and fun to try at home.

Stretch out the Steel Wool. You want it to be about 6 inches long and a ½ inch wide.

Rub the battery on the steel wool. Hold the steel wool in one hand and the battery in the other. Any battery will do, but 9 volt batteries work best. Rub the side of the battery with the “contacts” on the wool. The wool will begin to glow and burn. Gently blow on it.

Transfer the burning wool to your tinder nest. The wool’s flame will extinguish quickly, so don’t waste any time.

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Kickboxing for All Ages – School In Thailand

Kickboxing is a sport that can be practiced by all age groups including children. One need to do a lot of pull ups and push ups to condition the arms. Regular practice will help train your muscles. Most practice with a punching bag and it helps if you have somebody to hold it steady for you. The equipment required includes gloves and punching bags. One will have to wear kickboxing shorts which are designed so as not to obstruct movement.

During a match, it takes a lot of focus to be ready for what is coming your way. Quick reflexes and staying on your toes ready for the opponent at all times is the only thing that will help you win. Some also practice in front of the mirror to get the moves right. Warming up before each practice is very important to prevent hurting oneself.

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Gangsters from London East End

The high levels of poverty in the East End have, throughout history, corresponded with a high incidence of crime. From earliest times, crime depended, as did labour, on the importing of goods to London, and their interception in transit. Theft occurred in the river, on the quayside and in transit to the City warehouses. This was why, in the 17th century, the East India Company built high-walled, guarded docks at Blackwall to minimise the vulnerability of their cargoes. Armed convoys would then take the goods to the company’s secure compound in the City. The practice led to the creation of ever larger docks throughout the area, and for large roads to be driven through the crowded 19th century slums to carry goods from the docks.

London East End 1 Gangsters from London East End

No police force operated in London before the 1750s. Crime and disorder were dealt with by a system of magistrates and volunteer parish constables, with strictly limited jurisdiction. Salaried constables were introduced by 1792, although they were few in number and their power and jurisdiction continued to derive from local magistrates, who in extremis could be backed by militias. In 1798, England’s first Marine Police Force was formed by magistrate Patrick Colquhoun and a Master Mariner, John Harriott to tackle theft and looting from ships anchored in the Pool of London and the lower reaches of the river. Its base was (and remains) in Wapping High Street. It is now known as the Marine Support Unit.

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In 1829, the Metropolitan Police Force were formed, with a remit to patrol within 7 miles (11 km) of Charing Cross, with a force of 1,000 men in 17 divisions, including ‘H’ division, based in Stepney. Each division was controlled by a superintendent, under whom were four inspectors and sixteen sergeants. The regulations demanded that recruits should be under thirty-five years of age, well built, at least 5-foot-7-inch (1.70 m) in height, literate and of good character. Unlike the former constables, the police were recruited widely and so were initially disliked.

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The force took until the mid-19th century to be established in the East End. Unusually, Joseph Sadler Thomas, a Metropolitan Police superintendent of ‘F’ (Covent Garden) Division appears to have mounted the first local investigation (in Bethnal Green), in November 1830 of the London Burkers. In 1841, a specific Dockyard division of the Metropolitan force was formed to assume responsibility for shore patrols within the docks, a detective department was formed in 1842, and in 1865, ‘J’ division was established in Bethnal Green.

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15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

These shocking and occasionally uplifting headlines summarise but a few of the major historic events that have occurred since newspapers became popular and accessible to people worldwide. Extraordinary headlines such as these are incredibly powerful, thanks in large part to their brevity: in just a few short words, each conveys a message of history-changing significance to a potentially huge audience. Reading these headlines today, we are emotionally transported back to how we felt when we first heard this news.

It’s a sad reality of the human condition that big news is usually bad news: only five of the headlines we explore here accompany positive stories. Headlines are there to sell papers, and it seems that death is more profitable to the press than hope or success. Nevertheless, alongside headlines of war, natural disasters and murders, below you’ll find headlines of hope and the overcoming of adversity.

New York Times: “Titanic Sinks Four Hours After Hitting Iceberg” [16th April 1912]

titanic 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

This was one of the few accurate headlines printed on the day following the sinking of the Titanic. Journalists at some other papers were still in denial that a ship thought to be unsinkable could have failed so catastrophically: The Daily Mirror reported, “Everyone safe”, and the Daily Mail, “No lives lost”.

Daily Mail: “Greatest Crash in Wall Street’s History” [25th October 1929]

wall street crash 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

The Wall Street Crash of 1929, fuelled by uncertainty following an artificial share price boom, was the worst in U.S. history. On 24th October, panicked investors traded an astonishing 12.9 million shares.

The News Chronicle: “Hitler Dead” [2nd May 1945]

hitler dead 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

On 2nd May 1945, The News Chronicle, which later became the Daily Mail, published this bold headline. At the time, nobody could be sure if this news was true. The accompanying article claimed that Hitler had been killed in action, although it later transpired he had committed suicide in a bunker under Chancery in Berlin.

Daily Mail: “VE Day- It’s All Over” [8th May 1945]

ve day 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

This headline appeared on the day the World War II Allies accepted Nazi Germany’s surrender. It marked the end of the War and Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.

Chicago Tribune: “Assassin Kills Kennedy: Lyndon Johnson Sworn In” [22nd November 1963]

jpk assassination1 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Five years later, his brother Robert Kennedy was shot dead in a Los Angeles Hotel. The headline in the Daily Mirror following that event was simply: “God! Not Again!”

Daily News: “Martin King Shot to Death: Gunned Down in Memphis” [5th April 1968]

martin king shot 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

This shocking headline was printed the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on the second floor lobby of the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee. He was 39-years-old.

Evening Standard: “The First Footstep” [21st July 1969]

moon landing 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

Neil Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the moon. As he touched the ground he famously declared: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The New York Times: “Nixon Resigns” [9th August 1974]

nixon resigns 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

President Richard Nixon, fearing impeachment following the Watergate scandal, became the only President to ever resign from office. Gerald Ford later pardoned him, but he was never truly forgiven.

The Sun: “King Elvis Dead” [17th August 1977]

elvis dead 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

On 16th August 1977, “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” was found dead on his bathroom floor. As the subheading in the accompanying article reads: “He was 42 and alone”. He had been using the toilet at the time of his death.

Los Angeles Times: “Beatle John Lennon Slain” [9th December 1980]

john lennon slain 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

At 10.49pm, on the day prior to this headline running, John Lennon was shot in the back four times by Mark David Chapman, a fan who had been stalking him for 3 months.

City Press: “Mandela Goes Free Today” [11th February 1990]

mandela 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

State President F.W. de Klerk reversed the ban on the ANC on 2nd February 1990. Shortly thereafter, Nelson Mandela was freed from prison, where he had languished for 20 years. On 27th April 1994, Mandela and the ANC won South Africa’s first multi-racial election.

The Daily News: “Diana Dead” [31st August 1997]

diana 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

Princess Diana died after her Mercedes Benz S280 crashed into a pillar in the Pont de l’Alma tunnel, Paris. She was just 36. Her friend Dodi Al-Fayed was also killed in the collision.

The Daily Telegraph: “War on America” [12th September 2001]

september 11th 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

On 12th September 2001, there was, of course, only one story dominating the headlines. On the previous day, terrorists had hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners, crashing two of them into the Twin Towers and a third into the Pentagon. “War on America” was voted the most memorable headline of the last 100 years.

The Times Of India: “We saw the sea coming, we all ran. But God saves little” [28th December 2004]

tsunami 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

Just after midnight on 26th December 2004, an earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, triggered a huge tsunami, which killed over 225,000 people in 11 countries.

New York Times: “Obama: Racial Barrier Falls in Decisive Victory” [5th November 2008]

obaba 15 of the Most Iconic Newspaper Headlines Ever Printed

Barack Obama, promising change for the USA, defeated John McCain in the 2008 presidential election to become the non-white President of the United States. He was later inaugurated on 20th January 2009.

The 20 Greatest Historical Myths

It is said that those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it – and as any history buff can tell you, much of history is something you would NOT want to repeat. However, many well-known historical “facts” are myths, with no basis in fact. Here (and in the next few segments) are 20 of the most common, which have misled and misinformed people for years, decades, or centuries.

If more people knew the facts, a few of the great history-makers would be recognised (anyone heard of Ub Iwerks?), some famous people would stop taking so much credit, and we would stop blaming apples for everything! Let’s start with the following misconceptions…

20. Eve ate a bad apple

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but they have still had bad publicity as the “forbidden fruit” that Eve tasted in the Garden of Eden, thereby making life difficult for all of us. Yet nowhere in the biblical story of Adam and Eve is an apple mentioned. It is simply called “the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden” (Genesis 3:3). OK, it COULD have been an apple, but it might just as well have been an apricot, a mango, or any other sort of fruit.

19. Newton was hit by an apple

Apples continued to get bad press with the famous story that scientist Sir Isaac Newton was under a tree, minding his own business, when an apple fell on his head. Just as well it provided him the inspiration for the laws of gravity, or the poor apple would never be forgiven! But while the falling apple is a good story, it probably never happened. The story was first published in an essay by Voltaire, long after Newton’s death. Before that, Newton’s niece, Catherine Conduitt, was the only person who ever told the story. It was almost certainly an invention.

18. Walt Disney drew Mickey Mouse

One of the world’s most famous fictitious characters, Mickey Mouse, is credited to Walt Disney. However, Mickey was the vision of Disney’s number one animator, Ub Iwerks. Disney, never a great artist, would always have trouble drawing the character who made him famous. Fortunately for him, Iwerks was known as the fastest animator in the business. He single-handedly animated Mickey’s first short film, Plane Crazy (1928), in only two weeks. (That’s 700 drawings a day.) But give some credit to Disney – when sound films began later that year, he played Mickey’s voice.

17. Marie Antoinette said “Let them each cake”

In 1766, Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote of an incident he recalled from some 25 years earlier, in which “a great princess” (name unknown) was told that the country people had no bread. “Then let them eat cake,” she replied. When Rousseau wrote of this, Marie Antoinette was an 11-year-old child in Austria. The French Revolution would not begin for another 23 years. The myth that she spoke these infamous words was probably spread by revolutionary propagandists, to illustrate her cold indifference to the plight of the French people.

In the next chapter of this list, we uncover a tall tale about Napoleon, and find out how witches did NOT die, whatever you might have heard…

16. The Great Train Robbery was the first feature film

When it was released in 1903, “The Great Train Robbery” pioneered several techniques, includes jump cuts, medium close-ups and a complex storyline. But the first feature film? It was only ten minutes long! Even most short films are longer than that. The first feature-length film was a 100-minute Australian film, “The Story of the Kelly Gang”, released three years later. Even if you think of a feature film as the “feature” of a cinema program, the title would go to one of a number of French films made during the 1890s (but I won’t name one, as that could cause any number of arguments).

15. Van Gogh sliced off his ear

Van Gogh is known as the archetypal starving artist, only selling one painting in his lifetime, and – in a quarrel with Gauguin – slicing off his ear, not long before committing suicide. Though he did face a tragic end, and his own paintings sold poorly, it is worth noting that he spent most of his life teaching and dealing art. He only spent eight years of his life painting, which helps to explain why he didn’t starve to death. Also, he didn’t slice off his entire ear, just a portion of his left lobe. Painful, but not nearly as bad as you might have thought.

14. Witches were burned at stake in Salem

The Salem (Massachusetts) witch trials of 1692 led to the arrests of 150 people, of whom 31 were tried and 20 were executed. But just as these trials were based on ignorance, there are many misconceptions about them. For starters, the 31 condemned “witches” were not all women. Six of them were men. Also, they were not burned at stake. As any witch-hunter would know, a true witch could never be killed by this method. Hanging was the usual method – though one was crushed to death under heavy stones.

13. Napoleon was a little corporal

Some people believe that Napoleon’s domineering ambitions were to compensate for being so physically small. Not so. True, Napoleon was called Le Petit Corporal (“The Little Corporal”), but he was 5 feet, 7 inches tall – taller than the average eighteenth-century Frenchman. So why the nickname? Early in his military career, soldiers used it to mock his relatively low rank. The name stuck, even as he became ruler of France.

12. King John signed the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta (Great Charter) is known as a landmark in history, limiting the power of the King of England and sowing the seeds of democracy. Paintings show King John reluctantly signing the Magna Carta in a meadow at Runnymede in 1215. Fair enough, except for one thing. As well as being a rogue, John was probably illiterate. As anyone could see from looking at one of the four original Magna Cartas in existence, he simply provided the royal seal. No signature required.

11. Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes and tobacco to England

Sir Walter Raleigh – explorer, courtier, privateer – Is one of greatest myth figures ever to come from England. Virtually every reason for his fame is untrue. Was he handsome? According to written accounts, he was no oil painting – though somehow he charmed Queen Elizabeth I, and had a reputation as a ladies’ man. Did he lay his cloak across a puddle so that the Queen could step on it? No, that was pure fiction. Most importantly, he didn’t return from his visit to the New World (America) with England’s first potatoes and tobacco. Though Raleigh is said to have introduced potatoes in 1586, they were first grown in Italy in 1585, and quickly spread throughout Europe (even across the English Channel). Also, though people all over Europe blame Sir Walter for their cigarette addictions, Jean Nicot (for whom nicotine is named) introduced tobacco to France in 1560. Tobacco spread to England from France, not the New World.

10. Magellan circumnavigated the world

Everyone knows two things about Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan. One, he was the first man to circumnavigate the world; and two, during this historic trip, he was killed by natives in the Philippines. Of course, those two things tend to contradict each other. Magellan only made it half-way around the world, leaving it to his second-in-command, Juan Sebastian Elcano, to complete the circumnavigation.

9. Nero fiddled while Rome burned

We all know the story of mad Emperor Nero starting the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, then fiddling while the city burned. However, this would have been impossible. For one thing, the violin wouldn’t be invented for another 1,600 years. OK, some versions of the story suggest that he played a lute or a lyre – but then, scholars place the emperor in his villa at Antium, 30 miles away, when the fire began. Though he was innocent of this disaster, however, there is much evidence to show that he was ruthless and depraved.

8. Captain Cook discovered Australia

Many Australians will agree that this isn’t so – but for the wrong reasons. They will point out that, many years before Cook arrived in Sydney in 1770, Australia had already been visited by Dutchmen Abel Tasman and Dirk Hartog, and an English buccaneer, William Dampier. Of course, it had been previously been discovered some 50,000 years earlier by the indigenous Australians.

But in fairness to Cook, he did discover a new part of the country – and more importantly, this led to the first white settlers (an opportunity that Tasman, Hartog and Dampier didn’t take). So let’s say that Cook DID discover Australia! Fine, but Cook was actually a Lieutenant when he sailed to the Great South Land. The “captain” rank might be a minor point, but it’s certainly inaccurate – and as he is called “Captain Cook” so often that it might as well be his name, it’s one worth correcting.

7. Shakespeare wrote the story of Hamlet

William Shakespeare is generally known as the greatest playwright who ever lived, even though most of his plays were not original, but adaptations of earlier stories. “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” (1603), probably his most famous play, was based on an ancient Scandinavian story. But while it might not have been the original version of the story, we can safely assume it was the best.

6. America became independent on July 4, 1776

Hold the fireworks! As most American school children (and many non-American ones) are aware, America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. However, the war raged for another seven years before independence from England was finally granted on September 3, 1783. On that day, Britain’s George III and US leaders signed the Definitive Treaty of Peace.

5. Edison invented the electric light

Thomas Edison is known as the world’s greatest inventor. His record output – 1,093 patents – still amazes us, over a century later. Astonishing, except for one thing: he didn’t invent most of them. Most Edison inventions were the work of his unsung technicians – and his most famous invention, the electric light, didn’t even belong to his laboratory. Four decades before Edison was born, English scientist Sir Humphry Davy invented arc lighting (using a carbon filament). For many years, numerous innovators would improve on Davy’s model. The only problem: none could glow for more than twelve hours before the filament broke. The achievement of Edison’s lab was to find the right filament that would burn for days on end. A major achievement, but not the first.

4. Columbus proved that the Earth was round

It was American author Washington Irving, some 500 years after Columbus sailed to America, who first portrayed the Italian explorer as launching on his voyage to prove that the Earth was round, defying the common, flat-earther belief of the time. In fact, most educated Europeans in Columbus’s day knew that the world was round. Since the fourth century BC, almost nobody has believed that the Earth is flat. Even if that wasn’t the case, Columbus would never have set out to prove that the Earth was round… simply because he didn’t believe it himself! Columbus thought that the Earth was pear-shaped. He set sail to prove something else: that Asia was much closer than anyone thought. Even in this, he was wrong. To further besmirch his memory, it should also be noted that he never set foot on mainland America. The closest he came was the Bahamas. Pear-shaped, indeed!

3. Gandhi liberated India

To westerners, Mahatma Gandhi is easily the most famous leader of India’s independence movement. He deserves credit for promoting the ancient ideals of ahimsa (non-violence). However, most historians agree that Indian independence was inevitable. Gandhi was just one of several independence leaders. The Indian National Congress was founded as early as 1885, when he was only 16. Gandhi’s much-publicised civil disobedience was only a small part in the movement, and some historians even suggest that India would have achieved independence sooner if they had focused on the more forceful methods that they had used 50 years earlier, and which were still advocated by other independence leaders, such as Gandhi’s rival Netaji Chandra Bose (who is also revered in India).

2. Jesus was born on December 25

Christmas is meant to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but there is no evidence whatsoever, biblical or otherwise, that He was actually born on that day. Nor is there anything to suggest that He was born in a manger, or that there were three wise men (although, as any nativity play will remind you, three gifts were mentioned). There are differing views as to why December 25 was chosen as Christmas day, but one of the most interesting is that the day was already celebrated by followers of Mithras, the central god of a Hellenistic cult that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean around 100 BC. The followers of this faith believed that Mithras was born of a virgin on 25 December, and that his birth was attended by shepherds…

Which brings us to the number one historical myth – something that is drilled into the heads of nearly all American schoolchildren…

george washington 239x300 The 20 Greatest Historical Myths

1. George Washington was America’s first President

Everyone “knows” that Washington was the first of the (so far) 43 Presidents of the US. However, this isn’t strictly the case. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress (or the ‘United States in Congress Assembled’) chose Peyton Randolph as the first President. Under Randolph, one of their first moves was to create the Continental Army (in defence against Britain), appointing General Washington as its commander. Randolph was succeeded in 1781 by John Hancock, who presided over independence from Great Britain (see myth #6). After Washington defeated the British at the Battle of Yorktown, Hancock sent him a note of congratulations. Washington’s reply was addressed to “The President of the United States”. Eight years later, as a revered war hero, Washington himself became America’s first popularly elected President – but strictly speaking, the FIFTEENTH President!

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Death Drinks of Rock Stars

ANYBODY ELSE get the eerie sense, when watching a show like MTV’s Cribs, that every time the camera focuses on a rock star’s swimming pool we are seeing the site of a future drowning? It might be, oh, let’s say Tricky’s swimming pool instead of Brian Jones’s, but it doesn’t matter. Within a year or two, there will be a bloated corpse floating at the pool’s surface; a fact worth remembering as tomorrow’s rock stars demonstrate their chops at this week’s annual South by Southwest Festival in Austin, TX, where Bottle Gang cocreator Steve McPherson is spending his week, and from which he will be filing reports.

Rock and Roll just seems to have a natural affinity for self-destruction, and, often enough, a rock star’s decline will be spectacular. When they’re not dying in plane crashes, a la Buddy Holly and Lynyrd Skynyrd, they’re crashing cars (Marc Bolan), getting crushed under a bus (Metallica’s Cliff Burton — twice in one night!), or just offing themselves (Johnny Ace, Roy Buchanan, Kurt Cobain, et al). Sometimes they simply drink themselves to death.

We’re not talking about the rock stars who drank and died young, such as that of the hard-boozing Jim Morrison, whose bathtub heart attack at age 27 has longed fueled speculations that his appetite for alcohol and drugs eventually simply stopped his heart. As much as Janis Joplin loved her Southern Comfort, it was heroin that killed her, also at age 27. Certainly booze played a factor in Jimi Hendrix’s death in 1970 — but mostly because he had used it to wash down nine sleeping pills.

We won’t concern ourselves with these famous casualties of the rock and roll lifestyle. Not when there are rockers whose ends came exclusively as a result of hootch. These are the men — and they are all men on this list — for who alcohol was their poison, and had the steely resolve to keep pouring the stuff down their throats until it did them in. Rock and Roll is famous for those who live its hard-drinking lifestyle, and some of them went ahead and died from it.

We give you the men and their drinks, and those of you plucking a scratched up old guitar while sipping Jack and Cokes and dreaming of fame might pause to reflect on them.

john bonham Death Drinks of Rock StarsJohn Bonham

The man behind the ferocious drums on Led Zeppelin’s albums was a former construction worker from Worcestershire, England, with a taste for breaking drumheads. He had an intense dislike of the itinerant life of a rock star, though, and took to drinking shots of vodka.

On September 20 of 1980, Bonham, en route to rehearsal for an upcoming tour of America, began binge drinking, downing four quadruple vodkas. He continued drinking throughout the evening, consuming an estimated three-dozen shots of vodka before bedding down at Jimmy Page’s house.

By morning, he was dead. The coroner determined that Bonham had died in a manner that seems especially popular among rock stars: He had choked on his own vomit.

rory gallagher Death Drinks of Rock StarsRory Gallagher

“I wanna try some one hundred percent,” Irish rocker Rory Gallagher sang in a song presciently titled “Too Much Alcohol,” ending the song with the words “Then I won’t feel a thing at all.” Gallagher developed an exceptional reputation as a guitarist and bluesman in the Seventies: He was invited to become a permanent guitarist for the Rolling Stones and took the title of Melody Maker’s Musician of the Year from Eric Clapton in 1972. Gallaghar toured relentlessly, appearing in grueling, marathon performances, one of which was preserved in a film titled Irish Tour ’74. Unfortunately, Gallagher was also a drinker, although he seems to have been unusually discreet about the fact. His consumption was significant enough to destroy his liver: Rolling Stone lists the cause of his 1995 death as being cirrhosis, but most of his other biographers demur from being so explicit, simply stating that Gallagher died from complications brought about by liver transplant surgery. True though that might be, it’s an unsatisfactory explanation. After all, Gallagher’s original liver didn’t just go bad all on its own. But if Gallagher’s fans wish to be delicate about the subject of alcoholism, so be it. We do not lack for rockers whose drinking is a public spectacle.

ron pigpen mckernan Death Drinks of Rock StarsRon “Pigpen” McKernan

For some reason, it just doesn’t seem like a member of the Grateful Dead should have died from alcohol abuse. After all, this is a band who will forever be associated with the two great countercultural drugs of the Sixties: LSD and marijuana. These drugs were supposed to liberate the spirit; if someone were to die of either (a rare scenario, except for the occasional acid casualty who, convinced he can fly, leaps from a roof), the death should be suitably trippy. After all, wasn’t it at a Dead concert that a fan reportedly simply evaporated in an ecstatic trance? Ron McKernan, known since high school as “Pigpen,” wouldn’t enjoy such a metaphysical end. No, the singer, harmonica player, and organist for the Dead had fashioned an image for himself that drew equally from old timey bluesmen and contemporary bikers, and McKernan’s steered clear of hippie drugs in favor of Thunderbird wine and Southern Comfort. McKernan drank so much that it only took a few years for his liver to begin to fail; he quit alcohol in 1971, but two years later was dead of a hemorrhage in his booze-weakened gastrointestinal tract.

john panozzo Death Drinks of Rock StarsJohn Panozzo

If pressed, the casual fan of Styx might be able to name its singer and keyboardist, Dennis DeYoung. But this Chicago-based prog rock band from the Sixties and Seventies would not have enjoyed its four consecutive triple platinum albums were it not for the band’s distinctive rhythm section, made up of twin brothers, Chuck and John Panozzo.

The band named themselves after the river the dead pass across on their way to Hades, but, for John Panozzo, his passage into the afterworld would be across a river of booze. He died in 1996 of the same cause as Ron McKernan: a hemorrhaged gastrointestinal tract, in this case brought on by a decade of alcoholism that had made it impossible for Panozzo to participate in any of his band’s recordings or tours in the mid-90s.Bandmember Tommy Shaw penned a saccharine ode to Panozzo for the 1997 live album Return to Paradise titled “Dear John,” which included the following lyrics: “Dear John, how are you; God knows its heaven where you are.” Wherever he wound up, one thing is certain: Thanks to his taste for drink, John Panozzo managed to be the first member of his band to actually get to the river Styx.

bon scott Death Drinks of Rock StarsBon Scott

Prior to taken the reigns as lead singer of the Australian rock band AC/DC, the Scottish-born Ronald Belford Scott had quite a diverse career, including playing in a pipe band, spending several months in a coma after a motorcycle accident, and being rejected by the Australian Army, who claimed he was “socially maladjusted.” The singer, better known as Bon Scott, howled his way through most of AC/DC’s best known albums, singing lascivious ditties that barely qualified as single-entendres, fronting a band best known for noisy, stripped down power chords. As a performer, Scott seemed every inch the wild man, and so, on February 20, 1980, it came as a surprise to nobody when he was found dead in his car after a night of binge drinking. Scott, famously, once sang that “it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.” Unfortunately, he discovered that, with the help of too much alcohol, it can be a very fast plummet downward.

gene vincent Death Drinks of Rock StarsGene Vincent

Gene Vincent nearly died in 1955. The Virginia-born rockabilly singer responsible for “Be-Bop-a-Lu-La” was in the same car accident that killed Eddie Cochran, a fellow rockabilly now best remembered for the song “Summertime Blues.” The accident left Vincent with a leg brace and constant pain, which might explain why the singer started drinking. Then again, after The Beatles arrived in the United States in 1963, Vincent’s career bottomed out — like many other early rock stars, he languished during the British Invasion. Ironically, the only place Vincent could make a living was in England, and he spent most of the Sixties touring Europe while English pop acts stormed the American charts, which might drive anybody to drink. Vincent’s increased dependence on alcohol sent his health into a steep decline, and he returned to the United States in 1971, where he died in October of a heart attack. Perhaps it would have been best for Vincent had he died in the crash that took Eddie Cochran’s life. It would have spared him years of pain and decline. But Vincent recorded several sides of country music in his last few years of life that are gorgeous and haunted, suggesting that, had liquor not killed him when it did, he might have had a career ahead of him singing honky tonk. Country music would have been a good for Vincent, as it was for fellow disgraced rockabilly star Jerry Lee Lewis. After all, it’s a style of music that encourages singers to weep into their drink and complain of their troubles, and Gene Vincent had troubles to spare.

11 Most Mysterious People

This is for people about whom there is (or was for a long period) a mystery as to their identity,immediate origins, or life.

The Dancing Man

dancingman 11 Most Mysterious PeopleThe Dancing Man is the name given to the man who was filmed dancing on the street in Sydney, Australia, after the end of World War II. On August 15, 1945, a reporter took note of a man’s joyful expression and dance and asked him to do it again. The man consented and was caught on motion picture film. The film and stills from it have taken on iconic status in Australian history and culture, and symbolise victory in the war.There has been much debate as to the identity of the dancing man. The identity commonly accepted, though, is that he is Frank McAlary, a retired barrister who claims that he was the man photographed pirouetting in Elizabeth Street, Sydney, on August 15, 1945. A Queen’s Counsel, Chester Porter, and a former Compensation Court judge, Barry Egan, both claim to have seen Mr. McAlary being filmed dancing.

The television programme Where Are They Now, produced by Australia’s Seven Network, attempted to solve the mystery of the dancing man’s identity. The network hired a forensic scientist who examined the film reel and picture and came to the conclusion that it was indeed McAlary.

The Royal Australian Mint, however, chose to portray Ern Hill as the dancing man on a 2005 issue $1 coin commemorating 60 years since the World War II armistice. Mr. Hill has made a statement that, “The camera came along and I did a bit of a jump around.” The coin does not bear any name.

Rebecca Keenan of Film World Pty. Ltd., says the dancer may be one Patrick Blackall. Mr. Blackall has claimed, “I’m the genuine dancing man,” and has signed statutory declarations that he is the man in the film.

Man in the Iron Mask

manintheironmask 11 Most Mysterious PeopleThe Man in the Iron Mask (French: L’Homme au Masque de Fer) (died November 1703) was a prisoner who was held in a number of jails, including the Bastille and the Chateau d’If, during the reign of Louis XIV of France. The identity of this man has been thoroughly discussed, mainly because no one ever saw his face which was hidden by a mask of black velvet cloth. Later retellings of the story have claimed that it was an iron mask.

In popular myth he is believed to have been the twin brother of Louis XIV, but there is little actual evidence for this.

What facts are known about this prisoner are based mainly on correspondence between his jailer and his superiors in Paris.

Charles Johnson – Pirate biographer

lafitteking 11 Most Mysterious PeopleCaptain Charles Johnson is the author of the 1724 book A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates, though his identity remains a mystery. No record of a captain by this name exists. Some scholars have suggested that “Charles Johnson” was really Daniel Defoe writing under a pen name, but this is disputed. His work was influential in shaping popular conceptions of pirates, and is the prime source for the biographies of many well known pirates.

Jack the Ripper

jacktheripper1888 11 Most Mysterious PeopleJack the Ripper is an alias given to an unidentified serial killer (or killers) active in the largely impoverished Whitechapel area and adjacent districts of London, England in the late 19th century. The name is taken from a letter sent to the Central News Agency by someone claiming to be the murderer.

The victims were women allegedly earning income as prostitutes. The murders were perpetrated in public or semi-public places at night or towards the early morning. The victim’s throat was cut, after which (in some cases) the body was mutilated. Theories suggest the victims were first strangled in order to silence them and to explain the lack of reported blood at the crime scenes. The removal of internal organs from three of the victims led some officials at the time of the murders to propose that the killer possessed anatomical or surgical knowledge.


Unidentified body on Christmas Island

island 11 Most Mysterious PeopleAn unidentified human corpse was found on a life raft in the Indian Ocean, off Christmas Island, in 1942. The origins of the body are a subject of great interest in Australia, because it is widely believed that it came from HMAS Sydney, which sank off Western Australia in November 1941, after a battle with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran. Sydney was lost with no survivors and its wreck was not located until 2008. No remains of its crew have ever been identified.



Tank Man

tianasquare 11 Most Mysterious PeopleTank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who became internationally famous when he was videotaped and photographed during the Tiananmen Square protests on June 5, 1989. Several photographs were taken of the man, who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks, preventing their advance. The most widely reproduced version of the photograph was taken by Jeff Widener (Associated Press), from the sixth floor of the Beijing Hotel, about half a mile (800 m) away, through a 400 mm lens.


Zodiac Killer

zodiac 11 Most Mysterious PeopleThe Zodiac Killer is a serial killer who operated in Northern California in the late 1960s. His identity remains unknown. The Zodiac coined his name in a series of taunting letters he sent to the press. His letters included four cryptograms (or ciphers), three of which have yet to be solved.

The Zodiac murdered five known victims in Benicia, Vallejo, Lake Berryessa, and San Francisco between December 1968 and October 1969. Four men and three women between the ages of 16 and 29 were targeted. Others have also been suspected to be Zodiac victims, but there has been thus far no conclusive evidence to link them to the killer.

The Crucified Soldier

ebsps0211 11 Most Mysterious PeopleThe Crucified Soldier, refers to the widespread story of an Allied soldier serving in the Canadian Army who may have been crucified with bayonets on a barn door or a tree, while fighting on the Western Front during World War I. Three witnesses said they saw an unidentified crucified Canadian soldier near the battlefield of Ypres, Belgium on or around April 24, 1915, but there was no conclusive proof such a crucifixion actually occurred. The eyewitness accounts were somewhat contradictory, no crucified body was found, and no knowledge was uncovered at the time about the identity of the supposedly-crucified soldier.



Juba

juba0 11 Most Mysterious PeopleJuba  is the nom de guerre of an alleged sniper involved in the Iraqi insurgency featured in several videos of Iraqi insurgents. It was claimed Juba had shot 37 American soldiers in the second video, although this claim is unsupported by evidence

Whether Juba is a real individual is unknown, but the sheer number of attacks claimed and the arrest or capture of at least two people claimed to be Juba suggests he may be a fictional composite of several or more insurgents.

Deep Throat

watergate7a 11 Most Mysterious PeopleDeep Throat was for many years the tightly held stage name given to Deputy Director of the FBI William Mark Felt, Sr., the secret source who provided information to the Washington Post about the involvement of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s administration in what came to be known as the Watergate scandal.

Deep Throat (Mark Felt) was an important source for The Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who wrote a series of articles on the scandal, which played a decisive role in exposing the misdeeds of the Nixon administration. The scandal would eventually lead to the resignation of President Nixon as well as prison terms for White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman, G. Gordon Liddy, Egil Krogh, chief counsel Charles Colson, and presidential adviser John Ehrlichman.

V–J day in Times Square

v day 11 Most Mysterious PeopleV–J day in Times Square, perhaps the most famous photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt, is of an American sailor kissing a young woman on V-J Day in Times Square in 1945, that was originally published in Life magazine. (The photograph is known under various names: V-J day in Times Square, V-Day, etc.)

Because Eisenstaedt was photographing rapidly changing events during the V-J celebrations he didn’t get a chance to get names and details. The photograph does not clearly show the faces of either kisser and several people have laid claim to being the subjects. The photo was shot just south of 45th Street looking north from a location where Broadway and Seventh Avenue converge.

In its August 1980 issue, the editors of LIFE Magazine asked that the kissing sailor come forward. In the October 1980 issue, the editors reported that eleven men and three women had come forward to claim to be the kissers.

25 Amazing Pre-Prohibition Absinthe Posters

After having been banned for over a century in most countries, Absinthe is re-establishing itself as a (legal) cult favorite, and the drink of choice for people looking to become inebriated as quickly as possible. Suffice to say, many of the older absinthes producing companies are no longer in business. These nineteenth century absinthe brands, did however, leave a wealth of history in the form of their print advertisements. Below is a compilation of our favorite absinthe posters from the drinks’ heyday. Most of these come from French brands of the time, and it is interesting to note that many prove a foreshadowing of sexual innuendo-laden modern beer advertisements. Enjoy!

click on images to enlarge…

Absinth on Wikipedia:

Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic (45%-74% ABV) beverage It is an anise-flavored spirit derived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as “grande wormwood”. Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color but can also be colorless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as “la fée verte” (the Green Fairy).

Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe was not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a spirit. Absinthe is unusual among spirits in that it is bottled at a very high proof but is normally diluted with water when drunk.

Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. It achieved great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France, particularly among Parisian artists and writers. Due in part to its association with bohemian culture, absinthe was opposed by social conservatives and prohibitionists. Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Vincent van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, and Aleister Crowley were all notorious ‘bad men’ of that day who were (or were thought to be) devotees of the Green Fairy.

Absinthe was portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug.The chemical thujone, present in small quantities, was singled out and blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in most European countries except the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although absinthe was vilified, no evidence has shown it to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirit. Its psychoactive properties, apart from those of alcohol, had been much exaggerated

A revival of absinthe began in the 1990s, when countries in the European Union began to reauthorize its manufacture and sale. As of February 2008, nearly 200 brands of absinthe were being produced in a dozen countries, most notably in France, Switzerland, Spain, and the Czech Republic. Commercial distillation of absinthe in the United States resumed in 2007.

The world’s priciest foods

Jamón ibérico de bellota, newly legal for import (at $180 per pound), barely cracks the top five on the pricey foods scale. We checked in with gourmet retailers for the rundown on the world’s most expensive culinary indulgences.

1.Edible gold leaf

1 edible gold leaf The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $15,000

Like calcium and iron, gold is a mineral that’s safe to eat, although it’s not an essential part of the human diet. It may be pricey by the pound, but a small shaker of 23K gold sprinkles (80 mg) costs only $30 at Fancy Flours in Bozeman, Mont. The store also carries flakes of gold leaf called “petals” – $45 for 150 milligrams – and packs of 25 small sheets of gold leaf for $75.

Store owner Nancy Quist says all three versions sell exceptionally well: Bakers and bartenders use the precious metal to make dazzling treats for holidays and other special occasions. An opera cake, for example, is a traditional layered sponge cake blanketed in chocolate ganache and adorned with crumbled pieces of gold. For elaborate parties, people add gold sprinkles to glasses of Champagne or signature martinis. One customer even used gold leaf to cover an entire Christmas turkey.

“Gold is a very over-the-top decoration,” Quist says. “It’s insanely popular around the Oscars – people use it for drinks and to make Oscar-shaped cookies.”

2.White truffles

2 white truffles The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $6,000 and up

Sensual and mysterious, truffles were thought to be an aphrodisiac by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Their high price is due to their unpredictable growth habits: No one has been able to domesticate them, relying instead on trained dogs and pigs to sniff them out. The mushrooms grow underground near the roots of oak trees. Truffle hunters, known as truffeculteurs, work alone; their proven locations are closely guarded secrets.

White winter truffles, also called Alba truffles after their region of origin, are the priciest, commanding $6,000 to $10,000 per pound (prices vary year-to-year based on availability and quality). Less expensive truffles include white summer truffles and black winter and summer truffles.

Marky’s, a gourmet market in Miami, sells fresh truffles in season; last winter between November and January, the store sold about a pound of white truffles per week.

Says purchasing coordinator Sarah Freedman-Izquierdo, “The people who buy truffles are people who know how to cook with them – people who know food well.” She advises showcasing fresh truffles in simple preparations: “Nothing too complicated, nothing that will mask their flavor.” Try them gently sautéed in oil or butter and served on bread, or eaten raw in a simple salad, she advises.

3. Caviar

3 caviar The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $1,550 and up

A favorite at New Year’s parties, weddings and other celebrations, caviar is synonymous with luxury. Caviar, or salted fish roe, comes primarily from sturgeon that live in the Caspian Sea; Russia, Kazakhstan, and Iran are all major exporters. Beluga caviar is thought to be the best, and at around $4,000 a pound, the most expensive. However, overfishing has led to the rapid depletion of the beluga sturgeon population. As a result, the U.S. has banned imports of beluga caviar. (Other countries do import beluga caviar, although production is limited by international quotas.)

Osetra caviar, consisting of small, yellow-brown eggs, is the next best option. At Marky’s in Miami, one ounce of golden osetra caviar costs $147. “The best caviar,” explains Mark Zaslavsky, co-owner of Marky’s, “has a very light, buttery taste, and is not too salty. It makes you long for more. And caviar on Russian blini, with a little Champagne – it takes you to heaven.”

Zaslavsky prides himself on selling “the best of everything” at his shop, which also carries high-end olive oils, cheese, escargot, caviar, and foie gras. To him, fine foods are a luxury along the lines of fur coats and diamonds. “Why do people buy expensive food? Why do they buy expensive cars, big houses, jewelry?” he asks. “Because we all want the best.”

Zaslavsky calls caviar “the taste of success” – an addictive pleasure that has seduced him and other devotees to cross legal and ethical bounds. Demand often exceeds supply for legally obtained caviar (roe harvested in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), and in 2005, Marky’s pled guilty and paid a $1 million fine for purchasing illegal caviar from smugglers. As part of the plea agreement, the company implemented a new system of verification to ensure that all of its caviar meets CITES standards.

4.Saffron

4 saffron The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $1,500 and up

Saffron, the most expensive spice, is usually sold by the gram – just a small cluster of slender red threads in a tiny glass bottle. At the Spice House in Chicago, owners Tom and Patty Erd sell a gram of superior grade saffron for $6.79, and an even finer version, known as coupé grade, for $8.29.

The threads are the stigmas of tiny crocuses, grown primarily in Spain, Iran, Greece and India. Since each flower only has three stigmas, many blossoms are needed to produce even a small amount of spice. It takes an acre of land and hundreds of thousands of flowers to produce one pound of saffron threads.

Saffron, which Patty Erd calls “a classic,” has been a key ingredient in cuisines since ancient times, and it is commonly used to make risotto, bouillabaisse and paella. Fortunately, a little saffron goes a long way and most recipes call for just a pinch.

“There are 200 to 300 threads per gram, and you only need a few threads at a time,” Erd says. “You use it so sparingly that in the long run it’s not much more expensive than any other spice.”

But be careful to invest in quality, advises Vanilla Saffron Imports president Juan San Mames. His San Francisco direct-import business currently offers saffron for $1,162.24 per pound, or $72.95 per ounce, and carefully vets its saffron for compliance with ISO standards. (Yes, the ISO has saffron specifications.) Cheap saffron producers often leave in the tasteless yellow stamens, adding weight and diluting the red stigmas that give the spice its famous taste.

5.Kobe beef

5kobe beef The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $150 and up

Kobe beef is renowned among carnivores for its rich flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. You’ll find it at pricey steakhouses and sushi restaurants, and also at some butchers and online retailers, where a four-ounce filet mignon might set you back $50. Kobe beef, also known as “Wagyu,” comes from Wagyu cattle raised in the Hyogo region of Japan. Increasingly, you’ll also find “American Kobe,” a more affordable alternative that is produced by American ranchers raising Wagyu cattle domestically.

Morgan Ranch, in Burwell, Neb., started raising Wagyu in 1992. Co-owner Dan Morgan explains: “Wagyu are genetically selected for eating quality – marbleizing, tenderness, juiciness, and flavor”- as opposed to other characteristics such as hardiness, fast growth, or milk production. He compares Wagyu meat to fine wine: it’s a specialty item for discriminating palates.

Joe Lazzara, owner of Joe’s Butcher Shop in Carmel, Ind., carries both the Japanese and American varities, and a Kobe steak costs about $110 per pound, while a similar cut of American Kobe goes for about half that.

For Lazzara, selling Kobe beef is a mark of prestige. “Carrying Kobe says we’re the kind of purveyor who knows about meat; it gives us credibility. If we’re knowledgeable about Kobe beef, just imagine everything else we must know.”

And once a customer’s purchased a prime cut, how should he cook it? “Carefully,” Lazzara advises. “Sear it at a high temperature, then finish it on low heat. The fat melts and coats the meat with flavor as you cook it.”

6.Civet coffee, aka kopi luwak

6civet coffee The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $110 and up

This rare coffee has the dubious distinction of being consumed before the customer has even taken a sip. The palm civet, a cat-like animal also called a luwak, ingests fresh coffee cherries but doesn’t digest the beans inside. After the beans pass through the civet’s digestive system, workers collect them and wash them in spring water. Supposedly, the civet’s digestive enzymes make the beans less acidic, improving the coffee’s flavor.

Peter Longo, owner of New York City’s Porto Rico Importing Co., is drawn to all things exotic and novel, so when he first heard about civet coffee, he knew it would be perfect for his store: “It was right up my alley – such an odd and unique thing.” Over the past six months, he’s sold about 12 pounds of civet coffee, mostly in small quantities. He charges $50 for one-eighth of a pound, $90 for a quarter-pound, and $175 for a half-pound; each order is custom-roasted.

Civet coffee may sound bizarre, but it’s not just for the adventurous. “It’s actually mild and smooth, with a piquant aftertaste,” Longo says. “It’s very good, as long as you don’t let your imagination get the better of you.”

7.Vanilla

7vanilla The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound of beans: $50 and up
Estimated price per gallon of extract: $260 and up

Because of its ubiquity, it’s easy to take vanilla for granted, but plain ol’ vanilla is second only to saffron when it comes to the priciest spices.

Vanilla beans come from a tropical orchid native to Mexico; today, Madagascar and Indonesia are the largest producers. Vanilla is expensive because growing and harvesting it is so labor-intensive, explains Patricia Rain, author of Vanilla: The Cultural History of the World’s Favorite Flower and owner of The Vanilla.Company, a wholesale vendor. “Each flower is hand-pollinated, and each bean handpicked,” she says. Then, the beans are dried and cured for several months to intensify the flavor. Six of Rain’s vanilla beans cost $14.95; a 4-ounce bottle of extract sells for $8.25.

Artificial vanilla – a synthetic compound derived from coal tar – is significantly cheaper than real vanilla, but it doesn’t have the same robust, nuanced flavor. Rain worries that if consumers become overexposed to the taste of fake vanilla, which is prevelent in processed sweets, they’ll lose sight of how good the real thing is.

“Just like coffee, or chocolate, it’s worth it to get the best,” she says. “If you love the taste of a product, you need to support it; you need to buy the real thing.”

8.Foie gras

8foie grascr The world’s priciest foods

Estimated price per pound: $50

Foie gras – duck or goose liver fattened by force-feeding – has been a delicacy since Roman times, when geese livers, fattened on figs, were doused in milk and honey. Today, geese and ducks are force-fed corn through feeding tubes, a practice that animal-rights activists decry for its cruelty. Ethical concerns haven’t deterred too many foie gras fans, though: In May 2008 the city of Chicago repealed its foie gras ban after only two years.

Guillermo and Junny Gonzalez, originally from El Salvador, apprenticed with French foie gras producers before moving to California in 1985 and establishing Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras. There, they raise ducks for foie gras and other meat (humanely, according to Guillermo Gonzalez) and sell their products wholesale and retail (their retail price for fresh foie gras is $50 a pound).

“There’s nothing else like foie gras,” Guillermo Gonzalez says. “I can’t find words to describe it. It has a unique flavor and silky texture that can’t be replicated.”

The French are the biggest foie gras devotees, but chefs at Asian, American and a variety of “fusion” restaurants have embraced foie gras as a way to make any entrée more indulgent. You’ll find it on top of burgers and steaks, stuffed inside game hens and even made into hot dogs. Traditionally, though, it’s served as an appetizer, with toast and sometimes a little fresh fruit or compote. Serve it with chilled Sauterne.

9.Rare golden tigerfish

9golden tiger fishla The world’s priciest foods

Price per pound: $714

In 2007, a restaurant in China bought a rare giant golden tigerfish for $75,000, believing the fish to be an omen of good luck, according to Reuters. The fish, caught off the southern coast of China, was almost six feet long and weighed 105 pounds. The original asking price for the fish was $103,500, but the restaurant was able to strike a bargain – at a price that makes even toro seem cheap.

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World’s Best Street Food

ideas streetfood 001p Worlds Best Street Food

Street cooks are magicians: With little more than a cart and a griddle, mortar, or deep-fryer, they conjure up not just a delicious snack or meal but the very essence of a place. Bite into a banh mi—the classic Vietnamese sandwich of grilled pork and pickled vegetables encased in a French baguette—and you taste Saigon: traditional Asia tinged with European colonialism. What better proves the culinary genius of Tuscany than the elevation of a humble ingredient like tripe into a swoon-worthy snack? To sample merguez sausage in Marrakesh’s central square is to join a daily ritual that has persisted for centuries.

Sadly, street food has acquired a reputation as a potential trip-wrecker, which means too many travelers leave, say, Singapore without having a steaming bowl of fish head curry or a few skewers of saté. No one wants to get sick, but avoiding street food means denying yourself an essential part of the travel experience. So peruse our list of some of the world’s best street food vendors, and don’t be afraid to try something new. But pack a little Pepto—just in case.

streetfood 010 banh mi Worlds Best Street FoodThe dish: Banh mi

Where to find the best: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Word on the street: It takes almost no time for the peddler who sets up her tiny cart and knee-high charcoal brazier every weekday at 5 pm at 37 Nguyen Trai Street (in District 1) to turn you into a banh mi lover. As soon as you order, she swiftly assembles a sandwich that, despite its colonial French exterior (a stubby baguettelike loaf), is Vietnamese through and through. Peel back the newspaper wrapper and bite: Your teeth crash through the bread (a touch of rice flour makes it exceptionally crispy) and into still-warm morsels of grilled pork, a crunchy spear of cucumber, sweet-tangy shreds of pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, and a smear of Vietnamese mayo. Add a squirt of hot sauce, and this might be the best sandwich you’ve ever had. Or at least the best one you’ve ever had for 30 cents.

streetfood 011 tacos Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Tacos

Where to find the best: San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Word on the street: The taco is made for snackers on the move, the invention, supposedly, of itinerant Mexican cowboys who relished the convenience of an edible plate. Given its modest origins, it’s no surprise that when connoisseurs nominate their favorite taco spots, they’re more likely to name street corners than proper restaurants. This is especially true in San Miguel de Allende, an artsy colonial city about four hours north of the capital. At night, when the expats and tourists are headed home from their fancy dinners, street vendors are just warming up their griddles. The best taco peddler sets up on the corner of Calle de Mesones and Pepe Llanos, just a short walk from the main square (look for the floodlights illuminating a mass of happy people gathered around a cart). Order up a few tacos al pastor, and watch as one of the cooks carves off some hunks from a block of red-tinged pork cooking on a vertical spit, presses them into a double layer of delicate corn tortillas—each no larger than a CD—and splashes it with an exhilaratingly tart and salty pineapple salsa. Just a few bites obliterate each taco, leaving behind a slick of sauce and grease on your hands and lips. Pity the sleeping gringos.

streetfood 006 tripe sandwiches Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Tripe sandwiches

Where to find the best: Florence, Italy

Word on the street: Florentines adore their traditional peasant dishes, shining examples of how Tuscan ingenuity can transform even the humblest ingredients into the sublime. Take tripe, for instance: Even if you’re not an avid consumer of cow stomach, when you’re in Florence we urge you to close your eyes, take a bite, and become a convert. Florentines stew their tripe with garlic and aromatics until meltingly tender, then tuck it into a crusty roll and enliven it with either chile-laced red sauce or a zippy salsa verde made with capers, parsley, and anchovies. Everyone has a favorite spot, such as Civiltà della Trippa, a stand in the northwest part of Florence, or the cart in the Piazzale di Porta Romana run by a seasonally inclined fellow who adds artichokes to his sandwiches during the spring. Before you know it, you’ll be ordering yours bagnato—dipped in the tripe’s cooking liquid—as many locals do.

streetfood 002 green papaya salad Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Green papaya salad

Where to find the best: Bangkok, Thailand

Word on the street: It’s a siren song for most Thais, the pop-pop-pop of shredded green papaya being bruised by a stone pestle. The sound signals the presence of som tam, a salad that showcases the quartet of flavors—salty, sweet, sour, and spicy—that epitomize Thai cuisine. Som tam is a tangle of crisp, unripe papaya, peanuts, and dried shrimp, tossed in a lip-tingling dressing of fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice, then crammed, to-go style, into a plastic bag. You’ll find it all over Bangkok, but the quintessential version is found just off Phaholyothin Soi 7, a busy street in the Soi Ari neighborhood packed with vendors—seek out the cart whose window flaunts stacks of shredded papaya and tomatoes, plus a coiling bunch of long beans. More daring chowhounds should seek out the style of som tam popular in Isaan, Thailand’s Northeastern region, where many think the dish originated. Stop by the open-air haunt called Foon Talop, in the Chatuchak Weekend Market, where the salad is made with pla ra, a supremely funky, murky fish sauce whose flavor you won’t soon forget.

streetfood 003 currywurst Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Currywurst

Where to find the best: Berlin, Germany

Word on the street: Germany has perhaps as many sausages as France has cheeses, so naturally, Berlin’s favorite street treat involves Wurst. But currywurst is no New York–style hot dog: A dense, juicy 13″ sausage cut into chunks, it lounges in a puddle of ketchup spiked with curry powder and paprika. The lovably odd, decidedly local snack was the creation, legend has it, of a clumsy Wurst peddler who dropped the containers of ketchup and curry powder that she was carrying and licked the fortuitously tasty spillage from her fingers. In any case, the snack mirrors modern Berlin: traditional yet cosmopolitan, and perfect for a long night of carousing. The best of the Wurst spots make their own sauce, including the exalted Krasselt’s in the Steglitz area and Konnopke’s in Prenzlauer Berg. But wherever you end up ordering it, wash it down with a cold pint of Warsteiner.

streetfood 012 asian food 300x236 Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Just about any Asian food you can imagine

Where to find the best: Singapore

Word on the street: Singapore is Asia’s melting pot, populated by Chinese, Indonesians, Indians, and Malays—a culinary dream team that makes Singaporean street food the most diverse and celebrated on earth. And the safest: All sidewalk chefs here work in “hawker centers,” little open-air venues where the government enforces its strict health codes. At the Old Airport Road Food Centre, you’ll find Indian-style fish head curry bubbling away at one stand and Hainanese chicken rice—stuffed with scallions and ginger, poached, and served with sticky rice—at the next. The Matter Road Seafood Barbecue stall specializes in Singapore’s celebrated chile crabs, which come slathered in a garlicky, fiery, prepare-to-get-messy paste. Toa Payoh Rojak deals only in rojak, an inspired salad of pineapple, cucumber, and other fruits and vegetables dressed in a bracing syrup made with tamarind and shrimp paste. Naturally, the plethora of options has inspired some serious connoisseurs, most famously K.F. Seetoh, whose Makansutra site is a well-respected guide to Singapore’s best vendors.

streetfood 009 bhel puri Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Bhel puri

Where to find the best: Mumbai, India

Word on the street: It only makes sense that India, a continent-size country with five major religions and 16 official languages, would have countless beloved snacks. But the chaat (as they’re known) of choice in the food-crazy city of Mumbai is bhel puri, a deceptively simple jumble of puffed rice, sev (tiny fried noodles), potato, red onion, and cilantro. Just before serving, the puri is ignited by a spicy tamarind chutney that not only rouses the palate but moistens the rice and sev to a texture that teeters between crunchy and soft. Chowpatty Beach, in Back Bay, is Mumbai’s street food mecca and where you’ll spoon up the city’s best bhel puri to the soundtrack of wallahs loudly advertising their edible wares. They may tempt you to also try pav bhaji (Portuguese-style bread served with a butter-bombed mash of vegetables cooked in tomato paste) or kulfi, India’s famous dense ice cream. Go for it—but be aware that Chowpatty is also known for being one of the less pristine spots in Mumbai. So for a taste of chaat with less risk of gastrointestinal distress, head about a mile north to the well-loved restaurant Swati Snacks, opposite Bhatia Hospital, which uses filtered water.

streetfood 004 frites Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Frites

Where to find the best: Brussels, Belgium

Word on the street: Don’t blame us when Brussels destroys your tolerance for soggy, limp, or otherwise lacking French fries. Fried potatoes here are no sidekick to a burger—they’re the main event, sold in paper cones with a dollop of mayonnaise at little kiosks all over the city. Belgium claims—much to the frustration of the French—to have invented what we know as the French fry. The best frites stands, such as Frit’ Flagey (in Place Flagey) or Maison Friterie Antoine (in Place Jourdan), use only Bintje potatoes—a local variety that seems born for the deep-fryer—and cook them twice in clean peanut oil or beef fat (horse fat, thankfully, is no longer used). The result is a batch of impossibly airy, crisp, surprisingly greaseless fries that—whether crowned with mayo, tartar sauce, pineapple-spiked ketchup, or any of the other ten or so sauces offered—will ruin you for the inadequate kind waiting for you back home.

streetfood 005 arepas Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Arepas

Where to find the best: Cartagena, Colombia

Word on the street: Colombia might be the only Latin American country where rice is more important than corn. But Colombians have a special place in their heart for the cornmeal cakes they call arepas. If you’ve never had the pleasure, imagine corn bread with a more delicate crumb that’s been flattened into a pancake, filled with cheese or egg, and griddled or fried to form a brown, crispy crust. Each bite sends butter streaking down your chin and, for Colombians, inspires memories of abuela at the stove. For the best, fly down to Cartegena and seek out the Restaurante Club De Pesca in the Manga neighborhood. But you won’t find them on the menu there—it’s one of the fanciest places in town. Instead, head to the nearby soccer field, where a gaggle of ladies sell carimañolas (yuca fritters filled with ground beef), empanadas, and most importantly, those fabulous arepas.

streetfood 007 jerk pork jerk chicken Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Jerk pork and jerk chicken

Where to find the best: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Word on the street: Jerk has changed quite a bit since its invention in the 17th century by the escaped slaves known as Maroons. These freedom fighters (and early gourmets) subsisted on wild boar while they were fighting the British, and to preserve the meat they rubbed it with a mixture of spices. Today, the aromatic blend has developed to include allspice, nutmeg, thyme, and Scotch bonnet chiles. But you see chicken more often than pork, and grills made from oil drums instead of traditional wood fires. That’s why anyone visiting the North Coast resort town of Ocho Rios should take the quick 12-mile trip to the valley of Faith’s Pen (about 12 miles south on Highway A3, just past the little town of St. Faith). Dozens of roadside stalls here serve perfect renditions of jerk pork loin (and chicken, if you insist). Smoke from the pimento wood intensifies the already-energetic spices and creates a tasty crust surrounding the juicy flesh. And you thought you’d find heaven on Jamaica’s beaches!

streetfood 008 sheeps head Worlds Best Street Food

The dish: Sheep’s head

Where to find the best: Marrakesh, Morocco

Word on the street: During the day, Jemaa el-Fna, the main square of Marrakesh’s medina, is flanked by juice carts and filled with covered stalls selling lamps, bags, and other crafts. But as the sun begins to set and the oppressive Saharan heat abates, these wares give way to edibles. Almost 100 open kitchens take over, their proprietors setting up lights and tables, and a haze of smoke hangs above the vast square. What’s on the menu? Grilled merguez sausage, meat and vegetable brochettes of every variety, and pots of harira, the hearty lentil, chickpea, and vegetable soup that breaks the daily fast during Ramadan. But the street-food-lover’s holy grail is the luscious meat scraped from a whole sheep’s head and served with crusty Moroccan bread and sprinkled with a mixture of cumin and salt. It’s a dish almost as thrilling as the surrounding scene, a stage crowded with busy cooks and happy diners as well as acrobats, snake charmers, and mystical musicians.

from: concierge.com

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