Dietribes: Have a Grape Day!

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"¢Â The initial domestication of grapes took place in antiquity in what is now southern Turkey. The grape was used for a snack, sure - but it's main draw was the naturally occurring yeast in its skin, which helped it ferment to alcohol (a fact known by baboons, who continue to enjoy pirating wine grapes, particularly pinot noir!)

"¢Â Columbus brought grape vines to Haiti, and by the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims were already serving wine! After that, the Virginia Assembly decreed each household should plant 10 vines. Still, the best wine ended up coming from the West Coast, where Spanish missions had planted copious vines of their own.

"¢Â Grapes are big in Japan - literally. In 2008, a "premium" grape debuted on the Japanese market that resembled a tomato, and could grow to be up to 1.2 inches in diameter. The cost for such a prize? One bunch went for 100,000 yen ($910).

"¢Â Though grapes offer plenty of health benefits for humans, they can be toxic for dogs. Grapes also appear to have an adversarial relationship with microwaves ... (Don't try this at home!)

"¢Â Grape flavor has always been popular (so much so as to inspire a lickable ad as well as an apple that is cultivated to taste like a grape!), as is the grape aroma, which has been added to plenty of odd things in its time, including tissues.

"¢Â This one goes out to my friend Brooke, who graciously stuffed her mouth with grapes in the middle school cafeteria on a regular basis for our amusement: meet Steve, the World's fastest grape catcher, who broke several speed records (videos at the source) to make it into the Guinness Book of World Records in 2008.

"¢Â The phrase "sour grapes" comes from Aesop's fable "The Fox and the Grapes."

"¢Â One oft-overlooked fact about grapes is that if a glass of wine really does improve heart health ... so does grape juice!
 
"¢Â Steinback's first attempt at "Grapes of Wrath" was a story called "The Oklahomans." But Steinbeck's wife at the time, Carol, came up with the eventual title from the lyrics of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" ("Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored... ")

"¢Â The popularity of the grape has continued to grow, and in the United States (one of the top three grape-producing countries in the world, where grapes are the most valuable fruit crop), Americans eat an average of 7 to 8 pounds per person of grapes each year.

"¢Â Is "grape" your favorite flavoring? White grapes or red grapes? When I buy a bunch of grapes I eat them all almost immediately. Share your fondness for grapes and your favorite way to eat them below!

Hungry for more? Venture into the Dietribes archive.

"˜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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June 16, 2010 - 6:23am
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