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This Isn't Just Trivia, Pally--This Is Food Trivia

January 02, 2002|CHARLES PERRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Kyrgyz, who live in the mountains between Uzbekistan and westernmost China, have a drink called ak kuiruk chai, or "white tail tea"--tea flavored with milk and melted sheep tail fat.

* Saucy Sauces for $200: This sauce first appeared in English literature in William Makepeace Thackeray's "Memoirs of a Gourmand" (1841). (Answer: What is mayonnaise?)

* Here and there, cooks have developed a taste for coloring foods green with herbs, red or yellow with spices such as saffron and chiles and blue or purple with fruits or flowers. At one time, European cooks used the fabric dye cochineal to create a red. But in the medieval Middle East, cooks regularly used fabric dyes such as madder, ochre, vermilion and indigo. They considered indigo to be good for you, but a modern doctor might have some doubt about vermilion (mercuric sulfide).

* In the 19th century, there was a fashion for "motto lozenges": hard candies with messages buried in them that would eventually become visible--if you took care not to crunch the candy as it melted away in your mouth. The anti-alcohol movement took advantage of this to make lozenges that would leave you with a sobering message like "Drink is the ruin of man." The problem, of course, was finding alcoholics who were careful how they sucked on motto lozenges.

* Recipe names you couldn't get away with these days: In "The Virginia Housewife" (1824), there's a recipe called Nice Buns.

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