Double your pleasure, double your fun.....
Only, don't do it with the pictured plant. You really, really, REALLY, wouldn't like it.
Well, some people would. I mean, they do. But I think they're crazy.
And I'd like to think I know a thing or two about crazy. I mean....HELLO! Have you not been reading me for more than a year? Crazy is my schtick. I may pass it off as 'Odd'. but none of you fall for that, right?
It's just, a daily blog called 'Otters Oddities' sounds better than 'Some Crazy Dude's Ramblings'. (That was my second choice for titles, by the way. I decided against it because 'Some Crazy Dude's Ramblings' could describe about 73.4% of all blogs out there....)
But hey! Today is Tuesday! Tell The Truth Tuesday, even!
So here goes. Brace yourselves. It's truth telling time.
Cat gut as strings is.....a lie. But it's a clever lie.
Instrument strings, (and later tennis racquet strings), were made with sheep intestines. And, believe it or not, it was a very lucrative trade. If you could make high quality strings, you could basically write your own paychecks.
Making the strings required skill. The guts had to be harvested while they were fresh. And by fresh, I mean still warm. If they were allowed to cool down even to room temperature before preparation began would allow the bacteria in them to start breaking them down.
They had to be cleaned, the lining and casing had to be stripped, and they had to be processed in a very specific way. But, if you did it right, you made strings that sounded fantastic,
During the time of the classical masters, the exact procedure for making the strings was a closely guarded secret. Generally it was a skill passed from father to son. And one of the ways they protected their secret was to claim it was cat gut, not sheep, that was used.
Back then, it was considered bad luck to kill a cat. By claiming it was cat gut, it kept the superstitious away from the trade.
So, if you believed the cat-gut story, don't feel bad. You were supposed to.
Myself, I think my cat guts are in the proper place; inside my kittehs. (even though Scooter almost had his ripped out last night because he decided dark meant play and sleeping me meant 'hey! Wake up silly toes!')
As for the salad I pictured, as I said, some will eat it, but they're....stupid. That plant is Urtica dioica. In plain English, that would be the common Nettle. More commonly known as the Stinging Nettle.
Anyone who has encountered one knows how it got the name 'stinging'. It is most definitely not a misnomer. They sting. And hoo-dawgie does it itch! The reason for that is, it's stems and leaves are covered in little shafts that work like hypodermic needles. It injects a histamine to cause a stinging/burning sensation, swelling and redness.
Some are more sensitive to them, while others, the lucky ones, don't seem to be bothered as much.
There are actually a lot of people who use nettles for food. If you harvest it when it's young, it hasn't matured enough to develop it's stingers. People who eat it say it tastes like spinach. So....eat spinach. Less risk of...oh, I don't know....STINGING YOUR THROAT SHUT!
It's also made into a tea. Kooks, I tell ya! All kooks!
I parts of Europe, especially Germany, it has been used for centuries as an arthritis medicine. There are compounds in the histamine that counter the aches and swelling brought on by rheumatoid arthritis. (or 'The Rheumatiz', as my grand-pappy called it)
But there is one other major use for nettles. And that's the subject of todays oddity.
The Germans have a long history of using nettles. One of the uses modern Germans had was one they learned from their ancestors. That is the fact that, like many plants, nettles have long fibers in their stems. Fibers that could be woven into cloth.
And in the early part of the twentieth century, Germany found it's self in need of a lot of cloth.
In 1914 when war broke out, Germany was cut off by the rest of the world. They were seen as the aggressors, and as such, were blockaded. This means that, whatever supplies they could import had to be reserved for important war materiel and food.
Cloth was a low priority. And the civilians at home had to be kept happy. So any and all cloth that was imported or produced went to the civilian markets. The military? Well, they had to make do with the cloth made from nettles.
Starting in 1915, virtually every piece of German military clothing was made using nettles. (no wonder the Kaisers troops looked unhappy...)
It should be noted that nettle makes for suitable cloth. None of the useable fibers contain any stingers. The cloth is much like cotton.
And the best part for Germany was, nettles grow in Germany. Cotton, not so much. Nettles seem to prefer the cooler, wetter climates of Northern Europe and America. (and virtually the rest of the world)
So there you have it. In the early twentieth century, when the world went to war, Germany wore nettles.