July 28

It's National Milk Chocolate Day

Our Anniversary. Potatoes. Milk Chocolate. Chocolate Bayou. Mocha. Delfeayo. The Original Tupperware Man. Big Mouth.

Days Until. . .

Food Calendar

It's National Milk Chocolate Day. Milk chocolate became popular in the United States when Milton Hershey rejected methods already perfected in Europe for blending milk into chocolate and devised his own. His technique--still a closely-guarded secret--caused the milk to sour a little, giving Hershey's chocolate a distinctive taste that Europeans find unappetizing. But it's so well established as the flavor for milk chocolate here that everybody imitates it, to one degree or another. Milk chocolate is in decline these days, however, as dark chocolate takes over more and more of the market because its alleged health benefits.

Deft Dining Rule #118

A restaurant with a bowl of mint-flavored chocolates at the entrance charges on average a dollar more for everything than a restaurant with Starlight mints.

Edible Dictionary

mocha, adj.--Having a flavor with characteristics of both coffee and chocolate. The name is that of a city that stands at the southern entrance of the Red Sea. Once a major port for coffee shipments, it gave its name to a variety of coffee whose flavor had a natural similarity to that of chocolate. It had such appeal that in European coffeehouses, the flavor was faked up with real chocolate. The mocha flavor is found not only in coffee but in a wide range of pastries, cakes, and candies.

Annals Of Vegetables

Potatoes are widely eaten throughout Europe, and each country has a special way of preparing them. But none of that existed before this date in 1586, when Thomas Harriot brought the first spuds to England. They came from Columbia, not far from where the plant originated. It's hard to imagine what European food was like before potatoes and all the other New World plants arrived. I guess when they wanted French fries they had to use parsnips.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Chocolate Bayou drains the plains just southwest of Houston, running about fifty miles before emptying in Chocolate Bay, an inland arm of the Gulf of Mexico. The bayou is a former route of the Brazos River, which has moved back and forth like a loose high-pressure hose over the millennia. A town called Chocolate Bayou is is about a quarter-mile from the namesake waterway, and forty-four miles south of the center of Houston. It's never been incorporated, but it did get a post office in 1911, when the railroad came through. It had an oil boom in the 1940s, spiking the population. Only about fifty people live there now. The nearest restaurant is Sunset at Nita's, four miles away in Liverpool.

Music To Eat Gumbo By

Delfeayo Marsalis, jazz trombonist and arranger, was born in New Orleans today in 1965. He is one of the several brilliant musicians who are the sons of jazz piano great Ellis Marsalis.

Kitchen Inventors

Earl Tupper was born today in 1907. As a chemist working for DuPont, he picked up scrap pieces of polyethylene and messed with it. From those experiments came the food containers that bear his name. Critical to the product's usefulness was the design of the lids, inspired by the airtight lids of paint cans. (If only he'd invented a way to keep the lids with their matching containers in the pantry when you're looking for them.) At first, Tupperware was sold at retail like any other product, but in the 1950s his marketing manager came up with the idea of selling them exclusively at parties in people's homes.

Big Mouths

The comedian Joe E. Brown was born today in 1892. He portrayed a fey wise guy--a popular character in the 1930s and 1940s. He was best known for his enormous mouth, which he opened wide to yelp, "Hey! Heaaaaeay!" He could fit an entire apple in his mouth.

Annals Of Popular Cuisine

Many sources say that on this date in 1900, Louis Lassing created the hamburger at his lunch wagon in Connecticut. But I don't believe that or any other citations of the hamburger's origin. Ground, grilled meat appears too often in too many cuisines in too many parts of the world for anyone to claim originality. And I couldn't find anything about this Lassing guy in my books.

Annals Of Food Writing

The first edition of the New Orleans Menu to be distributed electronically was published today in 1997. N. O. Menu was already in print for over twenty years when I pulled a few articles together and sent them to people by e-mail. It started with a few hundred addresses collected from radio listeners. I wasn't quite sure whether doing this were even legal. Nothing untoward happened, so I continued to send the newsletter out every week. It increased in frequency to three times a week six months later, then to every weekday six months after that.

Food Namesakes

Rachel Sweet, musician, was born today in 1962. . . Marilyn Quayle (Mrs. Dan) was borne todaye in 1949. . . Austrian philosopher Karl Popper was born in 1902 on this date. A "popper" can be either a food (peppers stuffed with something or other, usually meat) or a drink (beer with a liqueur stirred into it--yuck).

Words To Eat By

"Research tells us fourteen out of any ten individuals likes chocolate."--Sandra Boynton, American greeting-card author and artist.

Words To Drink By

"The worse you are at thinking, the better you are at drinking."--Terry Goodkind, sci-fi writer.