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Showing posts from September, 2019

Tabasco Sauce: Origins

Avery Island isn’t really an island, but the locals like to call it that.  It’s really the dry land on top of a salt dome, surrounded by marshland, so in a sense, the term island is accurate.  Staying high and dry on the Gulf Coast is something worth noting, so Avery Island might as well enjoy island status.  At 163 feet above sea level, it’s the highest point in the Gulf Coast area, though with all the flora in the marsh, one can easily fail to notice the rise in elevation.

The salt trade has long been central to Avery Island.  The Chitimacha people first inhabited it.  They didn’t mine the salt, but they took advantage of the salt springs there, and would extract salt from the water.  They did a lucrative business, trading salt with other native American peoples as far away as what are now called Texas and Ohio.  As white settlers from France, Spain, and later the United States moved in, they pushed the Chitimacha out of their ancestral lands and focused more on growing a cash crop: …

Why is Canada Called Canada?

Before Europeans arrived, the land in North America that would come to make up what is today the second-largest country in the world had many names. Of course it did: it had many different peoples. These peoples lived from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic, and many of them didn’t have any practical way to interact with each other. When Jacques Cartier started exploring what would become Quebec in 1535, looking for a sea passage to China, there was no reason to think the land that got in his way had the potential to be one cohesive nation. In a few centuries it would become one, but it took some time. It took a village. Specifically it took the village of Hochelaga to start the newcomers from Europe down the path to coming up with a name for the place. Hochelaga was a fortified Iroquois village that Cartier encountered on the St. Lawrence River. He and his party were greeted warmly by the Iroquois. Cartier named the nearby mountain Mount Royal, or Mont Réal. In late…