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From smiling to seaweed, tips for staying healthy Add to ...

Survival tips?

Some thoughts on how to stay healthy, from The Independent:

– “Jeanne Calment, the oldest person in history, who died in 1997 aged 122, attributed her longevity to a diet rich in olive oil, port and ‘regular smiling.’ ”

– “In 18th century France, noblemen were obsessed with the quest for longevity. Some believed that if you found a magic formula it should be stored inside a clock, literally to hold back time.”

– “Seaweed-eating nations often have higher-than-average life expectancies. In Iceland, dried seaweed known as sol is credited with helping nationals to live, on average, to 83, thanks to its fat-absorbing qualities.”

Recipes east and west

“Many differences divide traditional North American and Asian food cultures – cooking methods, dining habits, famous recipes,” The Huffington Post says. “They each have signature ingredients – think of soy sauce, ginger and sriracha in Southeast Asian food or butter and molasses in Southern food. But a new study from an international team led by Yong-Yeol Ahn and Sebastian Ahnert, published in Scientific Reports, shows that there are actually deeper patterns at play. It turns out North American and Western European cuisines tend to include ingredients with similar flavour molecules together in one recipe, while East Asian and Southern European cuisines tend not to. That means that the ingredients in most recipes traditionally associated with Western cuisine overlap and deepen each others’ constituent flavours, while those in Asian recipes tend to bristle against one another with distinctive flavours.”

How a dictator eats

In 1988, a Japanese sushi chef was asked to be the personal cook for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. The chef later wrote a memoir under the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto, says The Daily Beast. “Although Kim was at the time renowned for his heft (only 5-foot-2, he weighed more than 200 pounds), the North Korean was a gourmet, not a glutton. He took food seriously and owned a collection of several thousand cookbooks. His palate was so sensitive that he could detect if the kitchen added a few grams too much sugar to the sushi rice. Before cooking the rice, the kitchen staff would inspect each grain individually and discard any blemished by irregularities of shape or colour. … Money was no object when it came to food. Fujimoto made shopping trips around the world to pick up ingredients – to Iran and Uzbekistan for caviar, to Denmark for pork, to Thailand for mangoes, durians and papayas. On a whim, Kim once sent Fujimoto to pick up a box of his favourite rice cakes, which were scented with mugwort and available only at a department store in Tokyo.”

Here come the meerkats

When Meerkats Turn Bad; 101 Uses for a Dead Meerkat; Where’s the Meerkat? – drawn by the success of last year’s surprise Christmas hit, the fictional meerkat memoir The Simples Life, [British] publishers have been piling into the market for meerkats in an attempt to find this year’s quirky bestseller,” says The Guardian. “… Despite publishers’ efforts – When I Were a Meerkat is another of this year’s 16 meerkat titles, while Knitted Meerkats is lined up for 2012 – just one meerkat book is in the book charts in the week before Christmas: Where’s the Meerkat?, which racked up sales of more than 20,000 copies in a week.”

Self-cleaning clothes

“Efforts to create self-cleaning cotton fabrics are bearing fruit in China,” reports BBC News. “Engineers have created a chemical coating that causes cotton materials to clean themselves of stains and remove odours when exposed to sunlight. The researchers say the treatment is cheap, non-toxic and ecologically friendly. … The research was carried out by engineers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Hubei University for Nationalities, and is published in the latest issue of the Applied Materials and Interfaces journal.”

Thought du jour

“College is a refuge from hasty judgment.”

Robert Frost (1874-1963), American poet

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