Most Expensive Meat

Jamón Ibérico de bellota refers to the cured leg of a pata negra pig that has been raised free-range in the old-growth oak forests of western Spain. The pigs eat a diet rich in acorns, wild mushrooms, herbs, and grasses, yielding meat that’s richly flavored and low in saturated fat. Each ham is cured for a minimum of two years before reaching the market.

A 15-pound bone-in leg of jamón Ibérico de bellota retails for around $1,300, or $87 per pound.

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The acorn-rich forests of western Spain make up an ecosystem that exists nowhere else in the world, and each pig requires at least 2 acres of land for ample foraging. That, in turn, strictly limits the amount of jamón Ibérico de Bellota available each year.

George Edward Pickett, a Confederate Army General, Was In Fact a Woman

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Newly disclosed information found in the last will of George Pickett’s father, Colonel Robert Pickett, proves without a doubt the confederate war general was a woman.

The discovery was made at an auction in Austin, Texas, this week as american historian Graham Brown got his hands on the precious document. The will proves without a doubt the famous general who participated in the Battle of Gettysburg was in fact Mary Sue Pickett, his older sister. It also appears clearly evident that George Edward Pickett was never part of any military enterprise, but instead, that his sister was in fact the real ‘man’ behind the legend.

Official documents of the Pickett family released at the auction included documents confirming the death by tuberculosis of George Pickett at the tender age of 16. The death of the only boy of the family of eight possibly devastated his father, Colonel Robert Pickett, who dreamed of leaving a family military legacy behind him. “It was not uncommon at the time to fake documents or steal someone’s identity. What is truly interesting in this case, is that the former Colonel decided to send his daughter at the United States Military Academy in the place of his son and that she eventually showed to possess extraordinary military leadership” claims the Austin based historian.

Mary Sue Pickett, who was George Pickett’s senior by one year, was also known to suffer from a rare genetic disorder known as hypertrichosis, a condition where an excess of androgen creates an hormonal unbalance that results in female beard growth. “This particular condition played a great part in hiding her true identity to others throughout her adult life” admits John Adams White, an american Civil War historian and expert, who was the first to point out discrepancies in George Pickett’s biography. “The discovery of the will of Colonel Robert Pickett finally explains important anachronistic elements of the man’s life” he concedes.

A Fargo Death

Have you ever seen the movie Fargo? If the answer isn’t “Yah, you betcha,” then you should probably check it out. Widely hailed as one of the best films of the ’90s, Fargo won multiple awards and was inducted into the US National Film Registry. It also inspired one of the weirdest legends in cinema history . . . a story that’s almost completely untrue.

In November 2001, citizens of Bismarck, North Dakota noticed a stranger in their city. After all, she was hard to miss. She was Japanese, couldn’t really speak English, and was wearing a miniskirt, boots, and a black leather backpack. As one police officer later pointed out, “Girls in North Dakota don’t dress like that. Probably ’cause of the weather.” In other words, she stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb.

A worried truck driver dropped the young woman off at the local police station, hoping the officers could help her out. Instead, they were completely baffled. They learned that the girl’s name was Takako Konishi and that she was from Tokyo. Other than that, they were at a loss, especially when she pulled out her homemade map. She obviously wanted to go someplace but where and why? That’s when Takako started saying the word “Fargo.”

Suddenly, one of the more film-savvy officers remembered the plot to the Coen Brother’s classic crime drama. In the film, a bumbling car salesman desperately needs some cash, so he concocts a crazy scheme to kidnap his wife for ransom. Unfortunately, he hires two idiotic crooks to carry out the plot, and as you might guess, it doesn’t go according to plan. After a whole lot of bloodshed, one of the kidnappers ends up with a suitcase full of money. Wanting to hide the dough from his partner, he buries it in a snow bank and marks the spot with a red ice scraper.

Of course, he never makes it back to pick up the cash, and the suitcase is lost in a Midwestern blizzard. So what did this have to do with Takako’s map? Well, at the beginning of Fargo, there’s a title card that reads, “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987.” Naturally, the officers assumed Takako was looking for the lost treasure . . . only it didn’t exist. The “true story” bit was just a joke on the part of directors Joel and Ethan Coen. The movie Fargo was completely fictional.

But the cops couldn’t explain this to Takako. They couldn’t speak Japanese, and her English dictionary wasn’t helping any. They even tried phoning several Chinese restaurants in search of a translator, but by the end of the day, they still hadn’t gotten through to her. She eventually wandered away, and the next morning, they received a phone call from a Minnesota detective. Takako had been found dead in the woods near the town of Detroit Lakes. She’d died looking for the ransom money.

At least that’s what the media said. Newspapers across the nation ran the story of a confused Japanese girl looking for a suitcase that wasn’t even real. Eventually, the tale became part of movie lore, but just like Fargo, the legend of Takako Konishi is a work of fiction. True, she really died in the woods, but she wasn’t looking for any money. Three weeks after her death, Takako’s parents received a suicide note in the mail. As it turns out, Takako had fallen in love with a married American businessman. The couple had even visited Minnesota on several occasions, but now the guy wanted to end the relationship.

Lonely and depressed, Takako flew to North Dakota, searching for her lover. Sadly, no one understood what she was talking about or who she was looking for and couldn’t give her directions. They thought she was just a big Coen brother fan hunting for buried loot. And when she couldn’t find her old admirer, she decided to kill herself. On her last night alive, Takako managed to ask a hotel clerk for a good place to look at the stars, and that’s how a heartbroken girl from Tokyo ended up dead in the Minnesota woods.

Six Things You Didn’t Know About Bonnie and Clyde

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1. Although Barrow and Parker claimed to be married, Parker remained legally married to her first husband, Roy Thornton. On the day she died, she still wore his wedding ring and bore a tattoo on her knee with intertwined hearts and their names, Bonnie and Roy.

2. Bonnie and Clyde were both short. Parker was only 4’11″ and Barrow 5’4″ at a time when average heights for women and men were about 5’3″ and 5’8″. (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, who played Bonnie and Clyde in the famous 1967 film stood 5’7″ and 6’2″ respectively.)

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3. Parker was an honor student and a poet, and life as one of America’s most wanted didn’t stifle those interests. Shortly before her death, Parker wrote a poem called “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde,” which was published in several newspapers and immortalized their tale.

4. Parker and Barrow remained close to their families, even on the run. In fact, it was their predictable pattern of stopping to visit family that aided the team of Texas Rangers and deputies who ambushed and killed them.

5. The pair attained such notoriety that hordes of people flocked to the scene of their death and later to the coroner’s to retrieve “souvenirs.” Some attempted to cut off Barrow’s ear or finger; others took snippets of Parker’s blood-soaked dress or shattered window glass. One man offered Barrow’s father over $30,000 for Barrow’s body—the equivalent of over $600,000 today.

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6. Eight decades later, the morbidly curious can see Bonnie and Clyde’s bullet-ridden death car on display at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm, Nevada, outside of Las Vegas.

Woman Drives Coast to Coast

In 1909, driving was a man’s task. As one doctor wrote, “A speed of 15 or 20 miles an hour in a motor causes [women] acute mental suffering, nervous excitement, and circulatory disturbances.” Some worried that riding in open-air cars would lead to “automobile face,” an unfortunate—and hypothetical—condition in which the wind would blow women’s mouths into permanent gapes.

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These notions were terrible for women. They were also terrible for the auto business. Sexism was cutting the potential market in half! The car company, Maxwell, realized that getting women in the driver’s seat would boost sales, so it put PR man Carl Kelsey on the case. But Kelsey knew he needed more than a few newspaper ads to change public opinion; he needed a spectacle. He began looking for a woman he could challenge to drive from coast to coast.

Kelsey found the perfect adventurer in 22-year-old Alice Huyler Ramsey. The Vassar grad had been out for a horseback ride the previous year when a car’s horn had spooked her mount. After the incident, her husband reasoned that cars were probably safer than horses and persuaded his wife to buck social norms by driving a Maxwell. She even competed in motoring competitions, where she jockeyed around hay bales and other obstacles.

When Kelsey pitched his idea to Ramsey over dinner, she jumped at the opportunity. Ramsey would later say, “I did it because it was a challenge and because I knew it would be fun.” She roped two sisters-in-law and a friend into joining her, strictly for company, of course, since only Ramsey knew how to drive. Maxwell would provide them with a set of wheels, any supplies they needed, and a PR man to travel ahead of them to drum up coverage. On June 9, 1909, the quartet set out from a Maxwell showroom in Manhattan.

The trip may have been a publicity stunt, but Ramsey and her crew were self-sufficient. They changed 11 tires over the course of their journey and did their own mechanical repairs to the Maxwell. And there was plenty of tinkering to be done. Although it was brand-new, their green 1909 Maxwell Model DA was hardly an ideal vehicle for a long drive. Its four-cylinder engine kicked out just 30 horsepower. The car was also open-air, and, although it could be covered with a canvas top, it lacked a windshield. Making matters worse, the Maxwell’s tires had no tread, rendering the drive on sandy and muddy paths tricky. To traverse the makeshift roads, Ramsey and her pals packed a large canvas tarp that they unrolled on particularly slippery stretches to help the car putter along. When things got really rough, the group paid horsemen to tow them from the mud.

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Tougher still, Ramsey didn’t have the benefit of a network of interstate highways or even an atlas outlining the full route! She and her navigators relied on a series of local maps, which meant a lot of getting lost and backtracking. All told, Ramsey drove 3,800 miles, of which just 152 were paved.

The trip took 59 days, and when the Maxwell finally pulled into San Francisco, the Chronicle trumpeted: PRETTY WOMEN MOTORISTS ARRIVE AFTER TRIP ACROSS THE CONTINENT. The headline wasn’t exactly a feminist masterpiece, but Ramsey and her pals had proved that women could drive as well as any man. Or, as Ramsey told an interviewer, “Good driving has nothing to do with sex. It’s all above the collar.”