A Catechism of Familiar Things; eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about A Catechism of Familiar Things;.

     Essential, pure; extracted so as to contain all the
     virtues of the spice in a very small compass.

Why is it called Allspice?

Because it has been supposed to combine the flavor of cloves, nutmegs, and cinnamon; the French call it round clove, from its round shape, and the taste being somewhat like that spice.

What is Pepper?

The product of a creeping shrub, growing in several parts of the East
Indies, Asia, and America.

In what manner does Pepper grow, and what part of the shrub is used?

Pepper is the fruit of this shrub, and grows in bunches or clusters, at first green; as it ripens it becomes reddish, until having been exposed for some time to the heat of the sun, (or probably gathered before perfectly ripe,) it becomes black, as in the condition we have it.  There are two sorts, the black and the white.

What is the White Pepper?

The white pepper is merely the black deprived of its outside skin.  For this purpose the finest red berries are selected, and put in baskets to steep, either in running water, or in pits dug for the purpose, near the banks of rivers.  Sometimes they are only buried in the ground.  In any of these situations, they swell and burst their skins, from which, when dry, they are carefully separated by rubbing between the hands, or fanning.

What is Cayenne Pepper?

The dried fruit of a plant called bird pepper, a native of both
Indies.  It is more pungent than the other sorts.

CHAPTER VII.

GLASS, MIRRORS, EARTHENWARE, PORCELAIN, NEEDLES, PINS, PAPER,
PRINTING, PARCHMENT, AND VELLUM.

What is Glass?

A transparent, solid, brittle, factitious body, produced by fusing sand with an alkali.  The essential ingredients of glass are silex and potash, or soda; a few other substances are sometimes added.  Silex is found nearly pure in rock crystal, flint, and other varieties of quartz; for the manufacture of the better kinds of glass in this country, it is generally obtained from sand, especially the white sand of New Jersey.

     Factitious, made by art, not found in a state of nature.

What is Potash?

The saline matter obtained from the ashes of wood, by causing water to pass through them; the water imbibes the salt, which is then obtained from it by evaporation.  When purified by calcination, it is termed pearlash.  In countries where there are vast forests, as in America and Russia, it is manufactured on a very large scale.

What can you say of the origin of Glass?

The period of its invention is quite unknown.  Pliny relates that some merchants, driven by a storm to the coast of Phenicia, near the river Belus, made a large fire on the sand to dress some food, using as fuel some of the plant Kali, which grew there in great abundance; an imperfect glass was thus formed by the melting of the sand and ashes together.  This production was picked up by a Syrian merchant, who, attracted by its great beauty, examined the cause of its origin, and, after many attempts, succeeded in its manufacture.

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A Catechism of Familiar Things; from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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