June 16

National Fudge Day, International Chorizo Day

Pepsi. Cracker Jack. Bloom. Turtles. Grease. Chorizo. Fudge. Egg Bend. Mascarpone. Plate Beef. Mr. Dine.

Days Until. . .

Father's Day 5

Food Calendar

This is International Chorizo Day. Chorizo is a dense pork sausage made in Spain and Portugal, as well is most of the former colonies of those two countries. The pork is chopped and packed with a visible amount of fat, along with seasonings. Smoked paprika is one of the major spices, which give the sausage a little piquancy and a red color. Most Spanish chorizo is cured and smoked, and can be eaten as is. In this part of the world, however, there's another kind: chorizo fresca. This must be cooked before being eaten. Chefs are finding more uses for both kinds of chorizo in their cookery. It's good almost any way its used: with eggs, as a seasoning meat, in a salad, with mussels, or as tapas. A restaurant that takes chorizo seriously may have several varieties of the sausage.Today is also allegedly National Fudge Day. Oh, fudge. We had a wonderful dog once named Fudge. My mother made a super-sweet fudge which was one of the few things she cooked that I never liked. That's all I've got.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Egg Bend, Louisiana is on a large loop in the Red River, twenty-four miles southeast of Alexandria, in Avoyelles Parish. The community is right on the river's levee. It's a small farming village on the old, winding LA Highway 1, before that highway was straightened many years ago. The nearest place to eat is B's Diner, up LA 1 two miles. But the real action is in Marksville, seven miles downstream.

Edible Dictionary

plate, n.--A cut of beef adjacent to the lower end of the ribs. It's between the brisket and the flank. The word "plate" is used much more by butchers than by consumers. You will not often see the expression on the label of a package of beef. It has a lot of fat on both sides and a good deal of connective tissue too. It's a job to trim it down to remove all the chewy parts. What comes out of that effort is good indeed. Pastrami made in the traditional way uses meat from the front part of the plate. The skirt steak, which has become very popular because of the demand for fajitas, has really put the plate to work. The whole thing can be braised to good effect for stews.

Annals Of Junk Food

Today in 1903, the Patent Office granted a trademark for Pepsi-Cola. It's named for pepsin (an enzyme that was supposed to help digestion) and the kola nut, which supplied not only a distinctive flavor but also caffeine. The formula also included vanillin and fruit extracts. Pharmacist Caleb D. Bradham was its creator; like most druggists, he had a soda fountain in his establishment.Today is the birthday (1893!) of Cracker Jack. The achievement of its creator R.W. Rueckheim was to coat popcorn and peanuts with caramel in such a way that they wouldn't stick together. The name was slang of the time for something that would be called "awesome" today. Sailor Jack and his dog Bingo were on the box from the beginning.

Food In Literature

This is Bloomsday, so called by avid fans of James Joyce's landmark novel Ulysses. The peripatetic wanderings of Leopold Bloom and the other characters in the book begin on this day and end the next. Much food and wine is consumed along the way. I once made the mistake of trying to listen to an audiobook of Ulysses, and found it impossible. Fortunately, I have the actual book, which I should have read in college. Someday I will finally get around to reading it, and turning in my report to the professor in hopes of having that D reversed.

Food And The Environment

Archie Fairley Carr, a marine biologist, was born today in 1909. He spent much of his career studying sea turtles, and as a result discovered why their numbers were decreasing so rapidly. His work had two results: we no longer use green sea turtles for turtle soup (as we did as recently as the 1980s), and the turtle populations are beginning to rebound.

Food In The Movies

The movie Grease premiered today in 1978, with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Not the kind of grease we encounter in culinary work. But it gives me an opening to bring up a usage matter. "Grease" is an ugly word to use when talking about food. My skin crawls when I hear a cook saying something like, "Then you put the soft shell crabs into the hot grease. . ." To me, the only acceptable uses of the word are in a pejorative context, as in "The pot of chili had a half-inch-deep layer of orange grease floating on top." Let's eliminate "grease" from the language of fine cooking.

Deft Dining Rule #183

Restaurants that use the word "grease" in their descriptions of their food are very likely to serve greasy food.

Food Namesakes

Jim Dine, a major force in Pop Art, made his first strokes today in 1938. . . August Busch III, the boss of Anheuser-Busch, the country's biggest brewer of beer, showed his head today in 1940. . . Novelist Joyce Carol Oates made her first statement today in 1941. I've read many of her short stories, but never her big works, like The Time Traveler. Any good?. . . The Dan Quayle Vice-Presidential Center and Musuem opened today in 1993, in Huntington, Indiana.

Words To Eat By

"Always serve too much hot fudge sauce on hot fudge sundaes. It makes people overjoyed, and puts them in your debt."--Judith Olney, food writer."I know my corn plants intimately, and I find it a great pleasure to know them."--Barbara McClintock, American botanist, born today in 1902.

Words To Drink By

"I'm going to be around until the Atomic Energy Commission finds a safe place to bury my liver."--Phil Harris, comedian and musician, and early king of Bacchus. The AEC must have found the spot in 1995.

Cheese Of The Day

mascarpone, (Italian), n.--A very soft, fresh, double-cream cheese made from cow's milk in the Lombardy state in Italy. Mascarpone has a texture that's almost fluffy, so much so that it's been compared with clotted cream. It can be used as a stuffing for ravioli and the like. But its best known use is in the dessert tiramisu, for which sugar is dissolved into the mascarpone cheese. That gives it the reputation as sweet, which it isn't really. It's often misspelled "marscapone."