Strawberry Moon: June’s full moon

As we already know, in ancient times, it was common to track the changing seasons by following the lunar month rather than the solar year, which the 12 months in our modern calendar are based on. For millennia, people across Europe, as well as Native American tribes, named the months after features they associated with seasons. However, some years have 13 Full Moons, which makes one of them a so-called Blue Moon, as it doesn’t quite fit in with the traditional Full Moon naming system, even if this is not…

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Kissel: the dessert that’s also a meal

Depending on the person you ask and what part of Eastern Europe he hails from, kissel is either a thick juice, a dessert soup, or a gelatinous porridge. Just one thing is certain: it is a veritable medley of forest-born ingredients and a constant presence at the dessert table. Traditionally, Kissel is a soft, fruit-based dessert, generally made from berries, sugar and either cornstarch or potato starch. Its name comes from the Russian word “kisliy” meaning ‘sour,’ because sour fruits are traditionally favored. Its recipe varies from country to country,…

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Twelve Grapes: a New Year’s Eve tradition of scarfing down 12 grapes for good luck

When clocks strike midnight on New Year’s Eve many revelers are engaged to pop champagne, set off fireworks, or kiss their partner. Others, instead, in Spain and parts of Latin America, as midnight nears on Nochevieja, or “old night,” the last day of the year, are stuffing 12 green grapes in their mouths, as an unusual attempt to ward off bad luck in the new year. Traditionally, the camera of the main national TV channel focuses on the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid’s Puerta…

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Do not eat, touch, or inhale the air around the manchineel tree! You could die.

Throughout the coasts of the Caribbean, Central America, the northern edges of South America, but also in south Florida, there can be found a pleasant-looking beachy sort of tree, often laden with small greenish-yellow pretty fruits. You might be tempted to eat the inviting fruit. But no, do not eat the fruit! Or maybe you might want to rest your hand on the trunk, or touch a branch? Absolutely no, do not touch the tree trunk or any branches! But also…do not stand under or even near the tree for…

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22# Black Cake: a Caribbean tradition

If you’re among people who can’t wait to plan (well in advance) Christmas every year, it’s never too early to start preparing the Caribbean holiday treat! Known as black cake or Christmas cake, to prepare this dessert the islanders soak dried fruit in rum and cherry brandy for up to a year before baking. Before baking, the fruit soaks in rum and cherry brandy until it’s so plump and intoxicated, that only good things can come from it! After British colonists introduced plum pudding, which is more like cake than…

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4# Christmas Cake and Cheese: a big deal in Yorkshire – England!

Yorkshire, a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom, has its a curious variety of weird and wonderful traditions often unknown on the rest of the world. There is also one festive custom which probably is set to take dinner tables by storm, in future. The poor fruitcake has gotten a bad rap over the past few decades, and it is not just a cellophane package. Probably people misunderstand its booze-infused density and fruitiness, chalking up the decision to give such a gift as nothing…

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Durian: the fruit banned from trains, hotels, and public places~

Here we are: That’s not a joke! This watermelon-size fruit is so pungent that it’s banned from trains, hotels, and public places. It smells like rotting flesh, looks like a prehistoric creature, feels like a Medieval torture device, and tastes, in one writer’s words, like “half-solidified whipped cream crossed with a marshmallow”. Known as “The King of Fruits,” durians are as adored as they are despised… In fact, no other fruit creates such conflicting opinions. Throughout Southeast Asia it is appreciated as haute cuisine to be savored like wine or…

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