Dietribes: Cool as a Cucumber

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"¢ Just how cool are cucumbers? Their inner temperature can be up to 20 degrees cooler than the outside air, hence the title phrase. They also have a higher percentage of water than watermelons, so they make for a very refreshing summer snack!

"¢Â On that note, take a recommendation from the Tolstoy family, who would hollow out cucumbers and fill them with milk to drink on picnics. You may not, however, be as tempted by cucumber-flavored Pepsi, found in Japan.

"¢Â Cucumber love has spanned much of human existence. Roman Emperor Tiberius developed an insatiable appetite for cucumbers, and had servants wheel the planted cucumbers around so they would never be without sun. "During the cold months, they covered the cucumber beds with sheets of mica, a transparent stone (sheet glass had not yet been invented). The name given to this kind of neo-greenhouse is specularium."

"¢Â Some cucumber lovers can go overboard. In 10th century Burma, King Theinhko ate a farmer's cucumbers without permission. The farmer killed the king and took the throne, becoming known as the "Cucumber King."

"¢Â Cucumbers have not escaped discrimination for their misshapen appearance. However, last year the EU overturned a ban on misshapen (read: ugly) vegetables. In fact, some cucumbers can be quite lovely.

"¢Â Do not think you can trifle with this strange fruit, especially a sea-fairing variety (Sea Cucumber is not a fruit, but rather, an echinoderm like starfish and sea urchins). When threatened, some sea cucumbers discharge sticky threads to ensnare their enemies. Others can mutilate their own bodies as a defense mechanism. They violently contract their muscles and jettison some of their internal organs out of their anus. The missing body parts are quickly regenerated.

"¢ In fact, sea cucumbers have inspired treatment for Parkinson's, stroke and spinal cord injuries.

"¢Â Beware the squirting cucumber as well as (Science ... gone mad!) the skinless cucumber.

"¢Â Can't get enough? Check out the Russia's cucumber festival.

"¢Â How do you Flossers consume your cucumbers? I love them because they allow the existence of Wickles. They have also been known to assist rock bands ...

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"˜Dietribes' appears every other Wednesday. Food photos taken by Johanna Beyenbach You might remember that name from our post about her colorful diet.

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July 29, 2009 - 8:01am
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