August 20

It's National Lemonade Day

Stainless. Lemonade. Lemonade Peak. Meyer Lemons. Thousand Islands. Hungary. St. Bernard. Hazel, The Maid. Vegetable Soup Gadget.

Days Until. . .

Coolinary Summer Specials End 24

Food Calendar

It is National Lemonade Day. That sounds timely enough. Freshly-squeezed lemonade is so little trouble to make that I wonder how instant lemonade-like beverages like Country Time ever caught on. (Maybe it's their commercials, which calmly described the joys of a lazy summer, and how little there is left of it.) You make lemonade with just three ingredients: fresh lemon juice (that's the hard part, which should tell how easy it is), water, and sugar. The proportions are also simple: a cup of each ingredient. While the sugar component may seem high, start with that much and add more lemon juice and water if it seems too sweet after you taste it in a glass of ice. It helps to dissolve the sugar into the water first, which can be most easily done if you heat the water first (don't use hot water from the faucet, of course). I have an old lemonade jug with a picture of a happily expectant boy standing behind his lemonade stand. The sign in front says that a glass of the stuff costs two cents. (I hope he took tips.)

Edible Dictionary

Meyer lemon, n.--Thought to be a Chinese hybrid of the lemon with some kind of orange, Meyer lemons are larger, have thicker skins, and are less acidic than the common lemon. It was brought to the United States from China in 1908 by Frank Meyer. They began to be planted soon after and were liked by growers because of their size and the rapidity with which their trees started bearing fruit. After a long setback involving a virus, the "improved" Meyer lemon began being grown in the 1970s, and their popularity has increased ever since. Their skin carries more flavorful oil than either a lemon or an orange, and it's this that makes it popular among chefs.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Lemonade Peak is in the Idaho Panhandle, a rugged 122-mile drove east of Spokane, Washington. It's in the rough Bitterroot Range, towering 5651 feet. That's high enough to have a lookout tower on top to monitor anything amiss in the St. Joe National Forest. It's accessible only by foot trail. You'd better pack in your own lemonade, and some food, too. It's seven miles of southward hiking to the nearest restaurant: Big Eddy Resort on the St. Joe River Road. Cook, Minnesota 55723 is a town of about six hundred people in the northwest corner of the state, about twenty miles from the Canadian border. Where the Little Fork River meets the Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railroad. Wooded farmlands surround it. Somebody is missing a bet by not opening a restaurant there called Cook's. Instead, diner at Montana Cafe or Harvest Moon Cooking Company, both right in town.

Annals Of Pots And Pans

Today in 1913, stainless steel was invented by Harry Brearly. He was working on new alloys for making rifles in Sheffield, England. A bit of chromium in the alloy forms a thin layer on the outside, with the property of healing itself if it oxidizes. It keeps the iron component from rusting. I'm a big fan of stainless steel cookware. Not only is it the preferred material for saucepans and skillets (as long as a heavy bottom layer is attached to transmit heat more uniformly and slowly than steel does), but my entire countertop is made of the stuff. We never worry about where we put hot pans when we take them off the stove.

Annals Of Knives And Cans

This is the birthday (1912) of Jerome Murray, whose most famous invention was a pump that made open-heart surgery possible. However, he also created a number of machines used to produce, package, and cook food. One was a pump to fill cans of soup without crushing the more delicate vegetables. He also invented an electric carving knife and a pressure cooker that gave audible indicators of what was going on inside.

The Saints

Today is the feast day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He lived in the eleventh century, born in the French nobility, and became a Doctor of the Church. He is a patron saint of beekeepers. More important to us here in New Orleans, he was the patron of Bernard Marigny de Mandeville, one of the most famous figures in the early history of our city. St. Bernard Avenue is named for him, in indirect honor of Bernard Marigny, on whose former land the lower part of the street lies.

Food Namesakes

Jack Teagarden, one of the all-time greats of jazz and Big Band trombone, let out his first note today in 1905. . . Dr. John Cooksey, Congressman from north Louisiana, was born today in 1941.

Words To Eat By

"We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons."--Alfred E. Neuman.

Words To Drink By

"Drink moderately, for drunkenness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise."--Miguel de Cervantes.

Eating Around The World

This is the anniversary of the founding of Hungary, in 1000. Stephen, prince of the Magyars--a people who came what is now Hungary from Asia centuries before--declared Hungary a Christian nation. The pope recognized his authority, and that put Hungary on the map. Hungarian food is distinctive and influential, its flavors having migrated into surrounding countries, notably Poland. Its most famous flavor is that of paprika, but that didn't come along until Columbus brought red peppers to Europe. Hungary's famous wine is Tokai, one of the world's best sweet wines. Not many Hungarian restaurants exist around America, which is too bad. The cuisine is distinctive and good.

Food In Show Biz

Shirley Booth, whose most famous role was as the eponymous maid on the 1960s television show Hazel, was born today in 1907. Talk about a show that would make no sense today! Hazel was a live-in maid who did all the cooking and serving for an upscale but not especially wealthy American family of three. The running comedy was created by Hazel's busybody attitude, in which she all but bossed her employers around. Shirley Booth played another food-and-drink-related role, as Miss Duffy in the long-running radio comedy series Duffy's Tavern. In real life, she was the wife (and ex-wife) of Ed Gardner, who created the series and played Archie, the manager of a sleazy dive in which inedible food and bad drinks were served to a bunch of lowlifes.