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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Growing up, I never wondered why in China, we say qie zi (eggplant in mandarin) when we take a picture. Well, saying qie zi makes you smile, right? Then when I came to college in America, I learned to say cheese, because the long eeeeee has the same effect to draw back your lips. But it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Spain and discovered that people say patata (potato in Spanish), had I started to ponder: hhmmm…all food names huh?

So I messaged friends from different countries to ask “what do you say in your language when you are taking a picture?” and here’s the fascinating result I received:

Paola: “In Mexico, we say ‘whisky’ when we want to take a picture. I’ve heard this story, and I’m not sure if it’s true, but when pictures first became popular, they were a privilege only the rich could afford and these were only take during celebrations where it was customary to make a toast with whiskey. Some photographer saw that everyone had cups of whiskey in their hands and told them to say whiskey. Since he saw that the effect drew left the impression that they were all smiling, he started using it for all his photo shoots, and soon enough the custom picked up.”

Mohammad: “In Iran, the most common one is ‘sib‘! It means apple. The way ‘i’ is pronounced here is like ‘ea’ in ‘beach’ or ‘ee’ in ‘cheese’!” Read More

Here’s a handy anecdote for you to impress your friends at a house party. Ever wonder how sandwich got its name?

So the story goes: once upon a time, in the middle of the 18th Century to be precise, there was a British statesman named John Montague, who was the Fourth Earl of Sandwich. He later became First Lord of the Admiralty and patron to Capt. James Cook, who explored many Pacific islands such as New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, and Polynesia and named the Sandwich Island after him.

Historians note that Montague was a notorious gambler who would play cards for hours at a time in restaurants. In order to keep playing with one hand, he instructed chefs to place cheese and meat in between two pieces of bread so he could hold them in the other hand. Voila, sandwiches were born.

Montague’s biographer, N.A.M Rodger, however, argued in his 1994 book The Insatiable Earl – A Life of John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich that the Earl was more likely to have ordered sandwiches to eat at his desk since he was known to be quite busy. Others argue that Montague stole the concept of a sandwich during an excursion in the Eastern Mediterranean, where he saw grilled pita breads and canapes served by the Greeks and Turks.

Unfortunately, Montague and the Greeks he saw were hardly the real inventors of the concept. Hillel the Elder, a rabbi who lived during the 1st century B.C. was often credited for first assembling a mixture of nuts, apples, spices and wine between two matzohs.

Some fun facts about sandwiches: Read More