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Bagels, Tea, Thermostats – Culinary Notes from 1610

According to author Leo Rosten in his The Joys of Yiddish, the first printed mention of the word bagel is in the 1610 Community Regulations for the city of Krakow, Poland. The regulations state that “bagels would be given as a gift to any woman in childbirth.” The ring shape may have been seen as a symbol of life.

It was also in 1610 that Europe got its first taste of tea, a beverage that had been popular for centuries in China and Japan, as Amsterdam received its first shipment of the intoxicating leaves. The Dutch East India Company initially marketed tea as an exotic medicinal drink, but it was so expensive that only the very wealthy could afford it and it only became available to the general public later in the century.

In 1610, Cornelius Drebbel, best known perhaps for his invention of the submarine,  applied the principles he had used in his “perpetual mobile” to thermostatic regulators that controlled ovens, furnaces, and incubators – the first thermostat. As the temperature rose, air expanded, forcing quicksilver to close a damper. When it cooled, the damper opened. The incubator he made hatched both duck and chicken eggs.

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