John McCullagh May 3, 2004
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Pewter, a soft metal amalgam which reacts with some acids was often in times past used for making plates and drinking vessels.


High acid foods such as tomatoes would react, sometimes leading to lead-poisoning deaths.  For a long time tomatoes were erroneously considered to be poisonous.  Ironically it was the better-off who could afford such luxuries as pewter crockery.

Imbibers of ale or whiskey from such vessels would sometimes be knocked senseless.  At times they would be laid out as dead and left – in case they might revive – stretched out on a kitchen table.  This became known as holding a ‘wake’.

As still sometimes happens, bread baking in an oven does so at different rates dependent on whether the loaves are on the bottom, middle or upper shelves.  The ‘burnt’ from the bottom rung went to the workers, the family got the ‘middle’ and the ‘Upper Crust’ was for important guests.

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