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Happy Belated B-Day Beatrix


Published July 29, 2008 at 3:58 p.m.

Like most American children (I think), I read lots of Beatrix Potter books when I was young. The most famous, of course, is The Tale of Peter Rabbit, but I was also familiar with Squirrel Nutkin, Jeremy Fisher, Mrs. TIggy-Winkle and the "two bad mice."   

As I was a foodie, even then, I was drawn to Potter's books because the characters were alway gathering scrumptious foods or noshing on something or other. Peter Rabbit, for example, got in trouble for stealing lettuce, French beans and radishes from Mr. McGregor, following in the footsteps of his late father, who was caught and made into a pie by Mrs. McGregor.

Clearly, Potter loved to eat. But yesterday, on her birthday, I learned that she was also a sheep breeder and farmer, as well as a highly skilled amateur mycologist. Not up on your Greek? It's the study of fungi.

In fact, Potter was an early proponent of the theory that lichen is made up of of a symbiotic combo of fungi and algae, but her work on the subject was dismissed, perhaps because of her femaleness.

Anyway, this is all only tangentially food related, but I found it kind of interesting, and thought I'd share!