April 20

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Days Until. . .

Jazz Festival--9 Mother's Day--25

Annals Of Food Research

Today in 1862, Louis Pasteur proved the effectiveness of the process that bears his name. In glass jars, he sealed several liquids notable for their ability to turn truly foul. He then heated them to a high temperature, but below the boiling point, and held them for over a month. The liquids were as nasty as when they went in, but no more so. No fermentation or decomposition occurred. The first major use of pasteurization involved beer. Next was milk. Pasteur's method doesn't stop deterioration entirely, but slows it so much that these products, and many more to come, had what came much later to be known as a longer shelf life.

Today's Flavor

Today is National Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Day. When I was a kid, my mother always made two birthday cakes: a regular birthday cake with regular icing, and a pineapple cake. I think it's because she liked the latter. I still do. Pineapple upside-down cake is out of vogue in these days, and served by few restaurants. Too bad. Today also is Respect Lima Beans Day. I never disdained limas. My parran (godfather to you) was fond of the small green ones, and perhaps because of that I am too. My most memorable plate of limas was at lunch in the famous old New Orleans soul food restaurant Buster Holmes, in 1971. They were the big limas--butterbeans, as we called them. I still remember how delicious they were, and the jet propulsion they provided the rest of the day.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Rib Lake is a town of 900 people in central Wisconsin, about midway from Minneapolis to Green Bay. It's on the western shore of Rib Lake, which from the air looks like a healthy slice of prime rib (boneless), with an island where the fat triangle would be. The town has been a timber milling community since the 1880s. The people of Rib Lake apparently like their restaurants unusually named. In the center of town you have your choice of Mann Made, Ultimate Illusion, the Pot Belly Grill, and Camp 28 Saloon and Bunkhouse.

The Saints

Completely by coincidence, this is the birthday of St. Rose of Lima, the patron saint of Peru. 1586.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

When the beans are too big to fit in your ear
You've found the best kind to eat with a beer.

Edible Dictionary

drawn butter, n.--Another name for clarified butter. It's the clear liquid fat left over after butter sits in a saucepan over a low heat. After a time, all the water in the butter boils off, and the milk solids that make butter opaque precipitate. The latter both rises to the top and sinks to the bottom of the pan. The floating milk solids are spooned out. Then the clear butter is poured--"drawn"--away from the solids at the bottom. Clarified/drawn butter has many uses, the most familiar of them being the accompaniment for boiled lobster or other big shellfish. The stuff is shelf-stable. In India, it's called "ghee," and is used in a host of dishes. Clarified butter can be made much hotter than unclarified melted butter, and is terrific for cooking.

Food Namesakes

Speaking of jet propulsion, Harold Graham made the first flight with a rocket belt today in 1961. I remember seeing that on TV. It didn't take off, did it?. . . The embarrassingly sappy song Honey, sung by Bobby Goldsboro, was Number One today in 1968.

Deft Dining Rule #745:

It's never a good idea to eat those fried noodles Chinese restaurants bring out with the soup.

Words To Eat By

"Hunger makes you restless. You dream about food. Not just any food, but perfect food, the best food, magical meals, famous and awe-inspiring, the one piece of meat, the exact taste of buttery corn, tomatoes so ripe they split and sweeten the air, beans so crisp they snap between the teeth, gravy like mother's milk singing to your bloodstream."--Dorothy Allison, best-selling American author and former waitress.

Words To Drink By

"The drink is slipping its little hand into yours."--J. Bryan III, pseudonymous American writer.