David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

Polar bears like to eat ringed seals. Often, a polar bear will find a breathing hole in the ice — a place where the ice is broken and where underwater ringed seals swim to breathe. If the polar bear is lucky and the ringed seal is unlucky, when the ringed seal comes to the breathing hole, the polar bear will pounce and enjoy a meal of ringed seal. Polar bears also sometimes sneak up on a ringed seal sleeping on the ice. If the ringed seal wakes up, the polar bear will hide its black nose with a white paw, then keep still and try to blend into the snowy environment until the ringed seal goes back to sleep. When the polar bear gets close enough to the ringed seal, it pounces on it and eats it. In addition, polar bears sometimes find a ringed seal’s den in the snow. When that happens, the polar bear will jump up and down on the roof of the den until it collapses, then feast on the ringed seal.

In 1769, the first mission in Alta California (now the state of California) was founded; it was called San Diego de Alcalá and was protected by soldiers. Unfortunately, times were rough, food grew scarce, and the soldiers even ate their mules for food. Captain Gaspar de Portolá had requested that a supply ship bring them food, but the supply ship was slow in coming. Finally, Captain Portolá ordered the missionaries to abandon the mission if the supply ship had not arrived by March 19, 1770. On that date, the ship was seen, but it continued to sail northward. Captain Portolá again wanted the missionaries to abandon the mission, but Father Serra argued that the ship was a sign that they ought to stay. In a few days, the ship, loaded with food and supplies, sailed into the San Diego harbor, saving the mission.

In 1903, while Mother Jones was leading a march to New York City of children employed in mills in Philadelphia, she and the children relied on donations of food to live on while they marched. Basically, they ate whatever they were given. One morning, they ate ice cream for breakfast. One evening, a hotel owner invited all of them to come to his hotel restaurant and order whatever they wanted — at no charge. Farmers used to meet the marchers, taking along a wagon full of produce to give to them. Once, some police officers were ordered to keep the marchers out of a certain town — the officers ended up giving the children lunches made by their wives.

In 1983, author Gary Paulsen first competed in the 1,049-mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Alaska. At one point, he had to feed most of his own food to a sled dog that had stopped eating the food he carried for his dogs. This meant that Mr. Paulsen had to survive on only butter until he reached the next checkpoint — where he ate 19 bowls of chili made with moose meat. (By the way, no one is really sure how many miles they travel in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The Iditarod Trail is definitely more than 1,000 miles long, but when people say the Iditarod Trail is 1,049 miles long, the “49” is in honor of Alaska’s being the 49th state.)

One morning, President Theodore Roosevelt sat down to a breakfast of sausages with a book in his hands. The book was The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, and President Roosevelt read, “There was never the least attention paid to what was cut up for sausage … meat on the floor, in the dirt and sawdust, where workers had tramped and spit uncounted billions of germs … meat stored in great piles … and thousands of rats would race about on it.” President Roosevelt screamed, “I’m poisoned!” — then he threw his breakfast sausages out a White House window.

In 1947, the All American Girls Professional Baseball League went to Cuba for spring training. There they played several exhibition games against the Cuban women’s team, Las Cubanas. However, on May Day, the players were not allowed to leave their hotel rooms because different Cuban political factions sometimes fought on that day and so the streets might not be safe. The only way the players could get food was by lowering baskets to Cuban boys playing in the street and paying them to load the baskets with food.

As pioneers traveled from east to west across North America in covered wagons, often they had very little change in their diets. One pioneer woman with a sense of humor wrote that about the only change in the diet of her and her family consisted of eating bacon and bread instead of bread and bacon.

Poet Nikki Giovanni, author of “Ego-Tripping,” believes in family, and she also believes in being prepared. She feels that grandmothers ought to know how to bake cookies and other goodies for children, and when she realized that she would soon be a grandmother, she learned how to bake.

When members of the Native American tribe of the Ojibway (also known as Chippewa) gather wild rice, their sacred food, they take only as much as they need. They know that the rest of the rice will be used. Birds will eat it, and it will provide the seed for next year’s crop of wild rice.

At the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, located at the South Pole, food is kept in a walk-in refrigerator. Unlike ordinary refrigerators, however, the South Pole refrigerator is kept heated so that the food doesn’t freeze.

Allison, an eight-year-old girl being homeschooled in Minnesota, likes to eat “ants on a log.” To make this treat is easy: Put some peanut butter on a stick of celery, then put some raisins on the peanut butter. (Yummy.)

Eight-year-old Nicole liked to eat spaghetti, but she liked to slurp her spaghetti — eating spaghetti in a polite way is no fun. That’s why she stopped ordering spaghetti in restaurants.

Some of the work that Debbi Fields of Mrs. Fields’ gourmet cookies does sound interesting. In a single day, she once tasted 800 brownies in an attempt to find the perfect brownie recipe.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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