As a follow-up to my prior immortal potato post, here's Dave McConkey who claims to have found a way to petrify potatoes, and he then makes works of art out of these perma-potatoes. I'd be curious to know what exactly his process involves, but I doubt it's actual petrification, since soft tissue doesn't petrify (as far as I know).
If you want to delve deeper into the mystery of petrified potatoes, check out the Potato Rock Museum, which describes itself as being "all about the search for the elusive 'Potato, Rock' or the 'Petrified Potato' or the Per Mineralized Potato."
I just relistened to Frank Zappa's 1971 album, Live at the Fillmore East, or, Freaks & Motherfu*#@%! for the first time in about 40 years, and marveled again at the visionary talents of this supreme musical weirdo. Of course, Zappa died too young at age 52, and we were deprived of many potential years of his music.
I thought this vegetable song might somewhat counterbalance all the bacon and meat talk on WU.
Katrina Dodson, who blogs at weirdvegetables.blogspot.com, reports that Brazil has a variety of broccoli named Ninja Broccoli -- or Brócolis Ninja. It seems to be similar to the broccoli found most frequently in American supermarkets. In fact, it may be the same as American broccoli. (I can't quite tell from what she writes.) She isn't sure how the Brazilian variant acquired the Ninja label, but offers this possibility:
ninja broccoli began to sprout as a genetic accident, a hybrid among fields of "normal," or sprouting broccoli (recall that the U.S. "normal" broccoli is this genetic aberration). At first, farmers considered it an undesirable variant but could not get rid of this broccoli that kept appearing and spreading mysteriously. A Japanese scientist, who preferred to remain anonymous, compared these cunning broccoli to ninjas, and the name stuck, immediately snatched up by marketing professionals as a stroke of genius: Ninja broccoli, your kid's favorite vegetable.
How in the world did I reach the age of 43 without knowing that it was possible to burble a pea? Instructions can be found at askapastor.org:
you take the roundest pea you can find. You purse your lips and tilt your head completely back. You place the pea on your lips and blow out a gentle but consistent stream of air until the pea begins to lift off your lips sustained by the air.
Scientists have a history of accomplishing what was once thought impossible, be it walking on the moon, splitting the atom or alleviating pain and disease. But now they may have discovered something that will eclipse all that has come before; scientists are on the verge of making chocolate better! A team lead by Dr. Siela Maximova from Pennsylvania State University has pieced together the genetic code of the cacao tree, and not just any cacao tree but the Criollo variety that is widely recognised to produce the very best chocolate. Because of its poor disease resistance, Criollo is almost entirely ignored in favour of hybrid varieties that yield more – if inferior – beans, but Maximova et al hope their work will enable the development of new, elite strains of cacao (News.com.AU).
Meanwhile, here is someone who is taking the chocolate maker’s art way too literally. Jean Zaun of Fredericksburg in Pennsylvania uses a mixture of dark and white chocolate, food colouring and confectioner’s glaze to recreate famous works of art, including the frames, in a deliciously edible form. Her subjects have included the works of Van Gogh, Munch and Da Vinci, as well as a portrait of Ozzy Osborne commissioned by his wife. While the chocolate artworks are edible, Zaun believes they should be souvenirs rather than snacks. “They are meant to be consumed by the eye, not the stomach.” Zaun Explained (Daily Mail).
And the misuse of materials won’t stop there, at least not if Dr. Peter Eisner of the Fraunhofer Institute gets his way. Concerned that meat consumption is both unhealthy and bad for the environment, Dr. Eisner has started looking for ways to supplement or replace animal products with vegetable equivalents. His first success is a milk substitute derived from lupins that can even be used to make cheese, meanwhile co-worker Daniela Sussmann has extracted a protein from the seeds gives low-fat sausages more of the sensation of their unadulterated competition. Eisner reckons that our ever growing appetite for meat could one day be disastrous, arguing that the resources needed to produce 1 kilo of meat could instead yield 80 to 100 kilos of fruit or vegetables (Softpedia).
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.