Asparagus Pee and Onion Martinis
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Have you ever meal prepped healthy lunches for the work week? Maybe you made some sweet potatoes, brown rice, and asparagus? Next thing you know, you eat your premade lunch, and your next trip to the bathroom has a familiar smell, the asparagus pee smell. Some people find the asparagus pee smell embarrassing and some find it funny, but most people find it not-entirely-unpleasant.
For centuries people have been fascinated with the effect of asparagus on urine. As early as 1731, scholars have been studying the affects of eating asparagus and even Benjamin Franklin mentioned the phenomenon in a 1781 letter to the Royal academy of scientists. But what causes the distinct smell?
When you eat asparagus, your body breaks down a chemical called asparagusic acid (named because it is only found in asparagus). When your body digests asparagusic acid, it breaks it down into a variety of chemicals that contain sulfur, a notoriously smelly element. These sulfuric compounds are quickly absorbed into your urine and, since they have very low boiling points, they turn gaseous when you pee. The gaseous sulfuric compounds rise and are easily recognized as the distinct asparagus smell.
Interestingly, not everyone has the same reaction to asparagus. Approximately 20 to 40 percent of people have a genetic trait that doesn’t allow them to breakdown asparagusic acid into the smell causing sulfuric compounds. These people don’t experience any effects when they eat asparagus and are apparently missing out on one of the funniest and weirdest phenomenons around.
In the US, we think of elves as little creatures who make toys, bake cookies inside of trees, and maybe help guide the one ring to Mordor. In Iceland, they have a much different relationship with the tiny mythical creatures. A majority (about 75%) of the population of the small island nation believes that elves could or do exist.
Known as huldufólk, or “hidden people”, Icelandic elves are tiny, fairy like creatures that live under rocks and inside of cliff faces. They are known for causing mischief by breaking into people’s homes and throwing wild parties while families are away. The hidden people also have magical powers that give them the ability to turn seals into humans and give cows the power to speak. Icelandic people also believe that if they meet an elf at a four-way intersection, they will be offered food and drinks but, if they take the elf’s offerings, terrible things will happen to them.
The belief in huldufólk permeates through much of Icelandic culture. For instance, Icelandic families leave food and drinks outside of their homes on Christmas as an offering to the huldufólk since the elves are known to party late into the night.
The belief in elves is so strong that elves frequently impact construction in cities all around Iceland. The Icelandic people believe that the presence of elves is marked by certain natural occurrences like circles of mushrooms. Sites that contain “elf tracks” often have large numbers of elf enthusiasts and environmentalists protesting any new construction on that land. Recently, a major roadway was delayed for over 20 years because the proposed road would run over a site where “elf tracks” were found.
Lastly, not just anyone can go out and find elf tracks, it takes special training at Iceland’s prestigious Elf School. At the Icelandic Elf School located in Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik, students study the 13 different types of elves and go on a 5-hour elf excursion to learn how to track elves. After about a day, students are given a certificate and made certified elf spotters.
Technically, no one has ever disproved the existence of elves, so we can’t say these people are crazy but maybe... Just maybe… they are on to something.
“I’d like a martini, shaken, not stirred” the famous words of secret agent James Bond but, is that the most badass way to order a martini? We don’t think so.
The story of the most badass martini in history starts in August 1914 during World War I. War raged in Europe, leaving millions of people without enough food to feed their families. At the time, the US had not joined the war neutral but, wanted to help support the innocent people affected by the war. President Woodrow Wilson sent a team of diplomats to negotiate with the Germans (the enemy) to establish a deal that would allow the US to provide food to families in war torn areas.
Among the diplomats attending the negotiations was future president Herbert Hoover. Hoover arranged to meet the German officials in a bar in London to discuss a treaty that would save millions of innocent lives. Like diplomats do, they decided to negotiate over multiple rounds of martinis. At the bar that day, the Americans had a unique twist to their martini order. Rather than garnishing their drinks with olives (as is custom), the Americans garnished their drinks small bite sized onions. The onion garnish repulsed the Germans who preferred to take their martinis with an olive garnish like normal people.
As the negotiations went on late into the night, the German officials became visibly drunk after having multiple rounds of strong martinis, while the Americans remained poised and under control. In the end, the Americans managed to negotiate a brilliant deal that would allow the US access behind enemy lines to provide relief to those in need.
Little did the Germans know that they had been duped in one of the most daring cons in history. Prior to the meeting at the bar, Herbert Hoover gave strict instructions to the bartender to only pour water in the American’s martinis to allow them to stay sober and have an advantage during the negotiations. To prevent the German’s from accidentally drinking one of the water martinis and exposing the entire plan, Hoover had the bartender garnish the American’s drinks with an onion to make it clear which drink was the Americans. Throughout the negotiations, the Americans stayed sober and manipulated the drunk and disoriented Germans into giving them everything they wanted. Pretty sneaky Herbie!
Interestingly, that drink, known as the Gibson Martini (named for a diplomat who attended the negotiations), caught on in America and became one of the most popular gin drinks to this day.
We at HumpDay are fans of having a drink or two at work but, if your work involves saving millions of lives from starvation, its probably good to stick to water.
HumpDay Healthy Helpings
Tired of always having chicken or turkey in your healthy recipes? Try this delicious and nutritious beef dish!
Calories Per Serving: 430 I Servings: 8 I Cook Time: 30 Minutes
This Week in History
On this week in 1847, the ill fated Doner party was rescued after being trapped in the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains for nearly four months. The Donner party was a group of pioneers trying to create a new trail to California. Their journey moved very slowly (1 mile per day) and eventually the group of 87 people hit the steep inclines of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Due to heavy snowfall, the group was trapped in the mountains without food or supplies. For four months, the group slowly went crazy eventually decided to eat the bodies of their fellow pioneers to stay alive. After resorting to cannibalism, the Doner party was finally rescued with only 48 of the original 87 surviving.
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