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A Forkful Question

October 05, 1995|CHARLES PERRY

Archeologists in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai have unearthed a 4,600-year-old bone fork, the Xinhua news agency reported last month. The fork, which is 10 inches long and has three tines, is said to have been part of a Late Stone Age family's tableware. Xinhua concluded that the find "has given the lie to the traditional notion that Chinese people are only chopsticks users and that forks are some item introduced by Westerners."

But don't jump to any conclusions. Apparently no such forks have been found elsewhere in China, and Qinghai--located between Mongolia and Tibet--wasn't even part of China as recently as 2,000 years ago. And hey, who eats with a 10-inch-long fork, anyway?

What Crust

The French government, ever worried lest la civilization Francaise disappear, has declared the baguette--that long, thin, crusty bread Americans have grown to love--is an endangered species in its homeland. There's now an official state campaign urging the French to eat more baguettes . . . to go along with the campaign urging them to watch French, rather than American, movies.

Evil by the Forkful

"Cooking With the Bad Guys: Recipes From the World's Most Notorious Kitchens," by Don Abel (Overlook Press: $13.95), gives menus the author figures would have been familiar to his selection of 10 bad guys, dating from Salome to Al Capone. It's mostly an amiable, slightly labored goof, of course. Since we don't even know who Jack the Ripper was, we can't really say he ate fish and chips.

And did Attila the Hun really eat bacon-leek soup, rabbit in yogurt, cabbage with dill and sour cream, white beans (1,000 years before Columbus--way to go, Attila!) and noodle pudding? Not likely. Attila wasn't a homeboy from wildest Germany; he grew up in Rome, eating sophisticated Roman cuisine.

Kissin' May Last After All

The current Shape Magazine quotes Alan Hirsch, neurological director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, on a biological study of what odors have the most arousing effect on men. Home cooking, he reported, turns out to have a much more aphrodisiac effect than the floral scents of perfume. "The most erotically stimulating aroma was a combination of pumpkin pie and lavender," he said. "That was followed by doughnuts and black licorice."

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