September 1, 2009

Balzac, Verne or Coffee, Crackers

It is well known that Balzac was crucial in the romantic relationship between literature and coffee. He was not only a brave coffee drinker, but was also praising this beverage brought from the New World a couple of centuries before. He was drinking up to 50 cups per day, some say.

One day, short after his wedding, Victor Hugo visited him. That night Balzac died. Some say, that disease had somehow caused by the coffee. Who knows.

I haven't read Balzac, and I haven't drink coffee in my life, except in both cases for little exceptions. I don't like hot beverages like coffee or tea, I prefer a hot soup.

But I have read almost all novels by Jules Verne. I don't know if he liked coffee, or not, but he loved writing about crackers. In most of his adventure novels, in the first chapters, when he is describing the supplements needed for the expedition or adventure about to start, people never ever forget to pack many pounds of crackers.

Crackers were invented in Massachusetts by a certain Theodore Pearson of Newburyport in 1792, and comercialized 9 years later. By 1810 they were a big success among sailors and soldiers. Another product from the New World with which a French novelist falled in love with.

And me as well. I devour them. Saladitas Santos (now owned by Gamesa and comercialized only as "Saladitas") seemed to me the biggest invention, and for decades I was unable to find something similar -- even though I have tried tons of crackers of all styles and brands.

Till last week, when I realized that Saladitas Santos might be a copy of Italian crackers. They have almost the same shape and size, the same salty, dried flavor, and almost the same package. Now I start to suspect that Saladitas Santos is a copy of some Italian crackers.

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