May 2

Truffles

Days Until. . .

Jazz Festival--3 (Resumes Thursday) Mother's Day--12

Today's Flavor

It is Truffle Day. Let's quickly note that chocolate truffles--the rich confections of chocolate and cream--only look like a real truffles. A true truffle is the fruiting body of one of a large family of mushrooms. Most of the fungus the hairlike underground mycelia that collect nourishment from decomposing plant matter. Instead of sending up a toadstool to spread its spores, the kind of fungus that makes truffles grows a dense nodule, usually on or near the roots of a tree. These nodules emit an attractive aroma that causes animals to dig them up and eat them, distributing the spores in the process. [caption id="attachment_54677" align="alignleft" width="141"] French truffle-seeing pig.[/caption] The aroma is what makes certain truffles so valuable. It's similar to that of the sexual pheromone of the animals who like them. Including people. This is most true of white truffles from northern Italy. In season (the fall), pigs and dogs can easily smell them out, even though they're several inches underground. The human olfactory sense isn't as acute, but up close we pick up the smell frequency of these things. The reason seems to be that it fires off brain cells involved in our finding a mate. Which is why they have such allure. Black truffles also are European. The best come from the Perigord region of France, where the cuisine includes many dishes involving truffles. They're more subtle than the white truffles, and while they don't elicit as strong basic animal response, they're very good if they're fresh. When they're not, they taste like nothing at all. Attempts to cultivate truffles have not born much fruit. They taste more like dirt to us than anything else. In France and Italy, the location of the truffle-producing mushrooms is a secret that a father will not even impart to his son, save on his deathbed.

Deft Dining Rule #466

If a dish said to contain truffles is not significantly more expensive than similar truffle-free dishes on the menu, you will not be able to detect the truffle flavor or aroma in it.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cape Cod, Massachusetts was "discovered" today in 1602 by British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold. Commanding the Concord, he sailed into what is now Provincetown Harbor. He continued along the coast and, figuring the lay of the land, named the narrow hook-shaped peninsula Cape Cod. There were certainly plenty of codfish there, making the place of great importance. Cod was of the great importance items in trade. Cape Cod is now full of resorts and summer homes, and has an architecture and style of living all its own. It's loaded with restaurants, with a particularly good cluster of them in Provincetown, at its farthest extreme. But you may not find cod in them; the population has been decimated, and is only now struggling back. The great things to eat on Cape Cod are lobster, scallops, and mussels.

Edible Dictionary

gigot, [zhee-GO], French, n.--A boneless leg of lamb, cooked for many hours in moist surroundings. Seven hours is so traditional a timing that "gigot agneau de sept heures" is often given as the full name of the dish. It's also often called "spoon lamb," because after that amount of time the meat is so tender it can be eaten with a spoon. It's a signature dish of Provence. The word "gigot" is not often used these days, but it ought to be. Jackie Gleason starred in a movie called Gigot set in Paris in the 1960s, but no recipe for gigot d'agneau was in the plot.

High Living On The High Seas

Today in 1969, the Queen Elizabeth II departed London on her maiden voyage to New York. The age of transatlantic travel by ship was over, but the QE2 managed to attract passengers with its gilded service and food. By the standards of today's cruise ships, the QE2 of those days would be considered small and ordinary now--with one exception. It was the fastest large passenger ship on the seas, capable of doing over thirty-two knots. It could sail backward faster than other cruise ships can go forward. It was retired in 2009.

Annals Of Food Writing

Good Housekeeping has always carried many articles about cooking, food buying, and kitchen techniques. It published its first edition today in 1885. Clearly aimed at women, its focus has broadened to include many matters well outside what its title might suggest. Is sex, for example, really considered part of housekeeping?

Music To Eat Hot Dogs By

"Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack. . . " That line is from Take Me Out To The Ballgame, by Albert von Tilzer. He registered a trademark on the song on this date in 1908.

Legends Of Wine

Julio Gallo, who began what became the world's largest winery with his brother Ernest, accidentally drove off the side of a mountain in the wine country and died today in 1995. He was 82.

Food Namesakes

Mickey Bass III, jazz composer and performer, was born today in 1943. . . Peggy Bacon, artist and printmaker, was born today in 1895. . . Actor William Bakewell hit The Big Stage today in 1908. . . Teenage actress Kay Panabaker came out of the oven in Orange, Texas today in 1990.

Words To Eat By

"If I can't have too many truffles, I'll do without truffles." --Colette.

Words To Drink By

"Wine gives a man nothing. . . it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost."Samuel Johnson.

Deft Dining Rule #466

If a dish said to contain truffles is not significantly more expensive than similar truffle-free dishes on the menu, you will not be able to detect the truffle flavor or aroma in it.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cape Cod, Massachusetts was "discovered" today in 1602 by British explorer Bartholomew Gosnold. Commanding the Concord, he sailed into what is now Provincetown Harbor. He continued along the coast and, figuring the lay of the land, named the narrow hook-shaped peninsula Cape Cod. There were certainly plenty of codfish there, making the place of great importance. Cod was of the great importance items in trade. Cape Cod is now full of resorts and summer homes, and has an architecture and style of living all its own. It's loaded with restaurants, with a particularly good cluster of them in Provincetown, at its farthest extreme. But you may not find cod in them; the population has been decimated, and is only now struggling back. The great things to eat on Cape Cod are lobster, scallops, and mussels.

Edible Dictionary

gigot, [zhee-GO], French, n.--A boneless leg of lamb, cooked for many hours in moist surroundings. Seven hours is so traditional a timing that "gigot agneau de sept heures" is often given as the full name of the dish. It's also often called "spoon lamb," because after that amount of time the meat is so tender it can be eaten with a spoon. It's a signature dish of Provence. The word "gigot" is not often used these days, but it ought to be. Jackie Gleason starred in a movie called Gigot set in Paris in the 1960s, but no recipe for gigot d'agneau was in the plot.

High Living On The High Seas

Today in 1969, the Queen Elizabeth II departed London on her maiden voyage to New York. The age of transatlantic travel by ship was over, but the QE2 managed to attract passengers with its gilded service and food. By the standards of today's cruise ships, the QE2 of those days would be considered small and ordinary now--with one exception. It was the fastest large passenger ship on the seas, capable of doing over thirty-two knots. It could sail backward faster than other cruise ships can go forward. It was retired in 2009.

Annals Of Food Writing

Good Housekeeping has always carried many articles about cooking, food buying, and kitchen techniques. It published its first edition today in 1885. Clearly aimed at women, its focus has broadened to include many matters well outside what its title might suggest. Is sex, for example, really considered part of housekeeping?

Music To Eat Hot Dogs By

"Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack. . . " That line is from Take Me Out To The Ballgame, by Albert von Tilzer. He registered a trademark on the song on this date in 1908.

Legends Of Wine

Julio Gallo, who began what became the world's largest winery with his brother Ernest, accidentally drove off the side of a mountain in the wine country and died today in 1995. He was 82.

Food Namesakes

Mickey Bass III, jazz composer and performer, was born today in 1943. . . Peggy Bacon, artist and printmaker, was born today in 1895. . . Actor William Bakewell hit The Big Stage today in 1908. . . Teenage actress Kay Panabaker came out of the oven in Orange, Texas today in 1990.

Words To Eat By

"If I can't have too many truffles, I'll do without truffles." --Colette.

Words To Drink By

"Wine gives a man nothing. . . it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost."Samuel Johnson.