July 5

Apple Turnover

Days Until. . .

Annals Of Manufactured Foods

Today is the birthday, in 1937, of Spam. It a new name for an existing product called "Spiced Ham." The change increased sales tremendously. Spiced ham more or less describes what it is, if you stretch the definition of ham to include pork shoulder. Spam is reviled by most serious eaters, but it's not all that terrible, if compared with real horrors like potted meat. Cookbooks have been written about Spam, and dishes made with it can actually taste pretty good. (It's not far different from that ham sausage you see on Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches.) Try a Spam and cheese omelette sometime. Spam paradise is Hawaii, where Spam experienced a cult popularity in the 1970s after Monty Python performed a funny song about the stuff. It later expanded into the hit Broadway musical Spamalot. How the word spam came to mean junk e-mail is not known.

Food Calendar

I suppose the above ought to make today National Spam Day, but it doesn't. It's National Apple Turnover Day. The great advance in the popularization of apple turnovers came when somebody made them using a very light batter-like coating instead of pie crust, and fried them. The best-known such item is the apple pie at McDonald's, but such oblong pies were around before Mickey D's made them. Hot out of the fryer, they're hard to resist. The most famous apple turnover in New Orleans is the dreadful, heavy-crusted, overly sweet Hubig's Apple Delight. It is nevertheless honored as an icon, which goes to show our taste isn't perfect.

Annals Of Eating Healthy

Sylvester Graham was born in Connecticut today in 1795. He was an early believer that unrefined food is the best food. He created a brown flour with more wheat hulls and than flour typically contained back then. It became known as Graham flour, but he's better known for the molasses-sweetened crackers made from his flour, still called Graham crackers.

Deft Dining Rule #706

When you're offered a choice, go for the toast with the biggest seeds in it. And get a slice of white toast too, and study the widely disparate pleasures.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Bacon, Missouri is a cluster of farmhouses in the fields just west of the state capital, Jefferson City, twenty-five miles away. It gets a bit of traffic because the highway crosses a small tributary of the Missouri River, which runs just a few miles from Bacon. The newarest restaurant is the Jamestown Cafe in the town of the same name, about five miles away. They serve breakfast, so bacon will certainly be found.

Annals Of Food Research

John Howard Northrop was born today in 1891. His main research subjects were enzymes, whose action in digesting food was not well known. One of his discoveries was that pepsin--an enzyme in your stomach that digests much of what you eat--could be crystallized. For a time (but not now), pepsin was an ingredient in Beemans Chewing Gum. ("Aids Digestion," said the package.)

Food On The Air

Today in 1948, Jell-O sponsored the first episode of "a gay new comedy series" called My Favorite Husband. Lucille Ball was the star, in a show about "two married people who live together, and like it." It was such a hit that it evolved into I Love Lucy on television. Lucy began each show by saying, "Jell-O, everyone!"

Food Namesakes

Actor Warren Oates had the Big Slate snap today in 1928. . . Goose Gossage, long-time big-league all-star pitcher, was born today in 1951. . . Thomas Cook, who invented the travel agency, organized his first tour today in 1841. . . Today in 1991, Lillian Cucuzza won the contest to name the new Florida Marlins baseball team. . . Robert Bacon, Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt, was born today in 1860.

Edible Dictionary

mirepoix, [meer-ih-PWAH], French, n.--A mixture of finely diced onions, carrots, celery, and the like. It's added to stocks and roasting meat juices in the making of certain sauces, especially brown sauces for meats. After cooking with the other ingredients for awhile, the vegetables almost melt into the liquid part of the sauce ingredients, lending flavor, texture and (from the carrots) color. In meat sauces, sometimes cured ham or bacon are added.

Words To Eat By

"The real fact is that I could no longer stand their eternal cold mutton."--Cecil Rhodes, for whom Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was named, explaining why he left England for Africa. He was born today in 1853.

Words To Drink By

Who'd care to be a bee and sip
Sweet honey from the flower's lip
When he might be a fly and steer
Head first into a can of beer?--