Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I'm unable to sleep, which is going to wreak havoc on my day tomorrow (I'm supposed to meet people at 8:00 a.m. for breakfast). But I thought I'd use this time to look up some things that I was curious about earlier this week and share them so as to improve the breadth of knowledge of my readership.

1. There is no difference in makeup or size between a symphony orchestra and a philharmonic orchestra. Both are made up of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion sections, and have a large number of musicians (about one hundred; compare that to a chamber orchestra, who has about forty members). Philharmonic (from the Greek for "music-loving") and symphony (from the Greek for "sounding together") orchestras do differ in one sense, though. It's a matter of semantics. Symphonic is a general term, while philharmonic is a specific term that only occurs as part of a name. So you could say that the London Philharmonic Orchestra is a symphonic orchestra, but you couldn't say that the London Symphony Orchestra is a philharmonic orchestra.

2. Chicken Tikka Masala, an Indian-style dish that features roast chicken (chicken tikka) in a tomato and curry sauce, wasn't created in India at all. It was created in Great Britain. The most famous story was that it was invented in a Glasgow in the 1960s, when a customer in an Indian restaurant ordered roast chicken and when it arrived, asked where the gravy was.

3. Speaking of gravy: poutine, the famous French-Canadian dish of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy, caused an international incident last week. A poster celebrating the Canada Day party at the Canadian Embassy in the U.S. featured Samuel De Champlain, founder of Quebec City (whose 400th anniversary is this weekend), holding a plate of poutine. This is apparently insulting and in bad taste: Jean-Paul Perreault, spokesman for Impératif Français, was quoted as saying "If they wanted to make a joke it's a really bad joke and if it wasn't a joke, well, it's worse then." Then, he likened the poster to using a hot dog to pomote English Canada. I'm not Quebecois, but I think that's overreacting. First of all, although it's unclear where hot dogs were first created, it was probably either Vienna or Bavaria, and was likely refined in New York City to look like the hot dogs we know today. Second of all, poutine is a well-known French Canadian food, and it has instant recognition: putting it on the poster makes sense to me, and I don't see how it's insulting. Also: if they make the English Canadian poster, I think John Diefenbaker should be holding the hot dog. It would look really funny.

That's all folks. Good night; hope you can get to sleep.


Jago said...

True story*: At Lake Diefenbaker in central Saskatchewan, you can buy a Diefenbaker Dog, loaded to the gills with sauerkraut (a nod to his German heritage). It's deeelish!

*Totally shit I just made up.

morgoid said...

HAH! I posted a little rant about the poutine-thing too!


Brent said...

Adding to the trivial knowledge...the development of the hotdog as we know it (sausage on a bun) came about as a result of baseball games in New York. A vendor who sold sausages during the game was having trouble getting people to buy his hot, greasy wares, because they would have to be handled by so many people as they were passed down the row to whomever had bought them. So he started putting the sausages in buns, to protect people's hands from the grease and heat.

Or something. Maybe they just formed one day by fission.