Jewish World Review March 15, 2004 / 22 Adar, 5764

Jeff Elder

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Consumer Reports

Hunger from snow?; igloo secrets; why dinner was noon-time meal and supper at night; more | Q: Why do I get so hungry playing in the snow?

A: What you need is a grilled cheese sandwich and a nice bowl of tomato soup - one of the classic mom-made lunches. It's the perfect thing when your fingers are numb and your stomach's growling because you just spent two hours making an anatomically correct snow couple.

Several factors make playing in the snow one heckuva aerobic activity:

_Just moving around in all that clothing is good exercise. You're like the Michelin Man in all those layers.

_You burn more calories in the cold. Your furnace needs more fuel to keep you warm. And calories are units of heat.

_Snow's heavy. Shoveling it, throwing it and building stuff with it is basically lifting weights. As aerobic exercise, shoveling snow is comparable to running.

_You're doing low-impact aerobics just walking in snow. The most basic form of exercise is suddenly quite a bit harder as you have to struggle to step through it.

_You're excited. The snow's a big fun thing! So you run and jump and smash it in your buddy's face. All these shenanigans burn calories - and make you forget to eat.

So eat! But watch the sugars. Alcohol, caffeine and white sugar can be problems in very cold weather. They increase your heart rate and in the end make you colder. You're better off with slow-burning protein and healthy vittles.

When you do want a treat, why not make an old-fashioned "snow cream"? Pat McIntosh of Hickory makes hers by mixing fresh new snow with sweetened condensed milk. Then she adds berries and serves it like a little sundae.

That sounds so yummy.

Warning: You want the freshest, newest snow. (The yellow snow is not lemon sherbet.)

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Q: How do you make an igloo? Is it really warm inside? Why doesn't it melt?

A: Igloos used to be winter homes for Canadian and Greenland Inuits (the people sometimes called Eskimos). Inuits as a culture don't live in igloos anymore - there's no garage for the snowmobile.

Igloos are made with blocks of snow about 2 feet by 4 feet and 8 inches thick. The top edges of the blocks are rounded so the structure forms a dome at the top. An experienced builder can make an igloo in less than two hours. It took me that long to get the snow off my car Friday!

At the top of the igloo is a hole to allow ventilation. This is also a key reason why igloos don't melt. The hottest air and smoke rise up through the hole.

In the middle of an igloo, a shallow saucer burns seal blubber for heat and light. A high wood fire might melt the structure. But this wide, low blaze and the inhabitants' body heat keep the igloo relatively warm - between 45 and 60 degrees, experts say. That's not bad, considering it can be 40 degrees below zero outside.

The inside wall of the igloo blocks does melt, to some extent. But the outside air is so cold and the building blocks of snow so thick that the blocks continually refreeze.


Q: When I was a kid, dinner was a noon-time meal and we ate supper at night. When and why did dinner become the evening meal? _Bill York

A: Bill, I wish I was havin' one of those old noon-time dinners today: Fried chicken, green beans, corn, biscuits and a piece of cherry pie.

You know what I'm havin' instead? Cup O' Noodles at my desk. The package says "shrimp style," but these little things aren't jumbo shrimp like you get at the coast. They're more like brine shrimp, sold in comic books as Sea Monkeys.

Bill, Sea Monkeys in a Styrofoam cup is a long way from a fried chicken dinner.

But then, the dinner that was once served in the middle of the day wasn't the same meal we now know as lunch. It was the family's main meal of the day.

The middle of the day was the best time for farmers to escape the heat of the sun - and get some food into their hard-working bodies. Even folks who worked in town would head home for dinner and then go back to work for a few hours. Supper, the evening meal, was often leftovers from dinner.

But technology gradually changed American work life throughout the 20th century. Our jobs took us farther from our homes, and office and factory work days made long midday breaks inconvenient. Special midday meals were - and still are - referred to as dinner, as on Sundays and holidays. Some folks here in America and around the world can still enjoy a big, leisurely midday meal.

But most of the time we now have lunch, which, as a word and a meal, has been around since the Middle Ages. But it used to mean a snack, a poor substitute for noon-time dinner. Lunch comes from a word meaning "hunk of bread or cheese."

The first luggers of lunch pails were miners and other workers far down the pay scale. At least kids get to have fun lunch boxes. I remember my Bonanza lunch box from first grade. Somehow, it made a baloney sandwich, Space Food Sticks and Tang seem like, well, dinner.



On `80s music:

1. What did Sheena Easton's baby take?

2. What Kool and the Gang anthem of happiness began with "Yahoo!"?

3. What was Jenny's phone number?

4. What question did Boy George ask in Culture Club's breakthrough hit?

5. What was the first video ever played on MTV?



1. The "Morning Train"

2. "Celebration"

3. 867-5309

4. "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"

5. "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles.

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Jeff Elder is a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Comment or try to stump him by clicking here. If you send him a great question, he'll send you a Glad You Asked T-shirt.


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