The joy of useless information
One of the few times we managed to tear ourselves away from our lovely little cottage by the sea in Saaremaa, we went to Kuressare public library. José wanted to check his mail and work a little in a place of suitable scholastic silence. So I went along, and kicked my heels for a while, until I found a corner full of American books. All the classics were there.
Do you think I plumped for Wharton or Faulkner? Think again. I went home with The joy of cooking. Norman Mailer or John Updike didn´t have a chance.
And what do you think I found, on idly turning the pages? This text:
"About ground meat for hamburger.
Merchants of the German port of Hamburg, through centuries of trade with Estonians, Latvians and Finns, had cquired the Baltic taste for scraped raw beef; but it was not until the St. Louis World´s Far in 1904 that broiled, bunned beef was introduced to the rest of the world by the Germans of South St. Louis as hamburger."
Who knew? I never thought to find a mention of Estonia in The joy of cooking, which just goes to show that thumbing through the classics always pays out. Maybe I should try and see what I can find in Moby Dick, next time.