Darwinian comestibles

February 13, 2012 • 5:37 am

I don’t think I’ve yet concatenated two of my favorite interests: Darwin and food. But alert reader Christian did it for me, writing about (and sending photos of) a Darwin Day Dinner:

I thought you might appreciates some Darwin/food related photos, inspired by the many meals you’ve posted on WEIT. We decided to have a Darwin day dinner to celebrate the occasion, and the first photo is my attempt at recreating the fish leaving the sea. The second photo was the highlight – a cake made by my flatmate. There was somedisagreement over which picture to model it on, but I think the beardgives it away pretty well.

And the pièce de résistance:


21 thoughts on “Darwinian comestibles

    1. Veronica,

      when I first learned programming on a ZX-81 way back in the very early eighties, I learned about concatenation too.

      It just means “joining”.

      Mind you, for years I called it con-ca-tention because I completely misread the word in the ZX-81 manual. oops! 😉


    2. Well, since catena means a chain, they really have to be joined end-to-end; joining only two things barely counts, let alone in the highly figurative sense Jerry is using.

      (So a catenary is the curve a chain makes when it’s hung from two points, and hence the curve of the cables of a suspension bridge.)

      Shuggy aka Mistress Pedanté

      1. I have a horrible feeling that the curve of a suspension bridge cable is not a catenary. The presence of the uniform mass-per-unit-length of the bridge’s roadway, with it’s own curve, suspended from and below the support cables … changes things. That’s in the theoretical world, not the real world, of course.
        A catenary is the curve of a chain supporting only it’s own weight.

        A bit of research reveals that Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catenary) says that a “chain” of negligible weight supporting a “roadway” of non-negligible weight will adopt a parabolic form, while a chain of non-negligible weight supporting of (nothing), of negligible weight will adopt a catenary form.

    1. Yeah, they’re great. Already own two (a small and a large one for the beefier stuff) and I wouldn’t go back to the wooden ones.

  1. Darwin writes quite a lot about meals and food in his diaries from the beagle voyage. The description of how two gauchos prepared the meat on the Falkland islands in miserable weather was mouth-watering. He liked himself a good steak, he did.

    The cake? is beautiful! (How did you cut into it? from the beard upwards?)

    1. First slice was a frontal lobotomy I’m afraid, the beard was more icing than cake so got shared out along with the rest of the face. I wish I was responsible for the amazing work, but it was all my flatmate. Need to pick a good scientist/philosopher with a birthday in a few months to celebrate.

    2. There is a story that, on the return leg of the Beagle voyage, they did a stop-over on St Helena or Ascension or somewhere like that. Darwin went exploring, and found a cantena/ chip shop or something similar. while waiting for his meal, he heard a couple of Frenchmen talking away elsewhere in the canteen. After a while (Tanzanian service, obviously) he realised that they were running through a list of species, covering many phyla. Many many phyla ; many, many species.
      After a further while (I wasn’t joking about the service!), Darwin realied that the Frenchmen must, like him, be naturalists, running through their lists of discoveries on their voyage of discovery. So he went to introduce himself.
      The Frenchmen were not naturalists, and the list of species they were compiling were not their discoveries, but rather the species which they had eaten during their journey.

      (Of course, this could just be a joke. I can’t actually remember where I heard the story originally, so I’m doubting it’s authenticity now that I think about it.)

  2. Mmh… looks delicious. Wish I could say it was me but I guess that was an other “Christian”.

    Seems there are quite a few atheist “Christians” out there. Maybe we should start a club 😉

    1. I’m “the” Christian in this case… The cake was awesome, it felt weird eating Darwin’s ear, but it tasted great!

      Missed out on a few evolution ideas though, the concept of a primordial soup to start didn’t occur to me until too late. Next year!

  3. If you want to combine Darwin and food, you need to watch (or read the book of) Richard Fortey’s “Survivors: Nature’s Indestructible Creatures“. 3 parts, concentrating on the Permian mass extinction, the Cretaceous, and Ice Age extinctions. But Prof Fortey makes every effort to sample the survivors under discussion as a meal!

    He had sea cucumbers, clams, oysters, crocodile, musk ox and bison (and, I seem to remember, emu, though that’s not mentioned in the blog).

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