October 11


Days Until. . .

Halloween 20

Today's Flavor

It's appropriate that, right in the middle of Oktoberfest, this should be Schnitzel Day. A schnitzel is a piece of meat that has been pounded thin, and then cooked. Usually it's breaded and sizzled in a pan of hot oil, along the same lines as our familiar pannee meat, but with a lighter breading and less seasoning. It's not certain where schnitzels originated. The most credible history has it first in Alpine Italy, from which it spread to Austria, then to Germany. The original schnitzels were made not with veal, but pork--which makes sense. (I much prefer pork cooked this way to veal.) The most famous of the schnitzels is Wiener schnitzel--or, as some restaurants have it, Vienna schnitzel, in honor of the place from which it came. It's simple, with a scattering of capers and a spritz of lemon juice. One I always liked was Holsteiner schnitzel--the same idea, but with a fried egg on top.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

The best veal medallions (scaloppine, schnitzel, collops, etc.) are cut from the round across the grain. It's astonishing how many meatcutters don't seem to know that veal cut along the natural orientation of the muscle tissues is anything but tender.

Edible Dictionary

anisette, n.--A liqueur flavored with anise (fennel) seeds and other herbs, giving a flavor that most people says reminds them of licorice. Anisette is usually clear and colorless, although some of it is red--although much less commonly than in the 1960s and earlier than it is now. Anisette is sweeter and less alcoholic than absinthe, Pernod, Ricard, Herbsaint and other pastis-style liqueurs with an anise flavor. It's similar to Strega, Sambuca, and numerous other liqueurs. It could be said that anisette is just the generic version of these. It's popular as an after-dinner drink during the holidays, particularly among the generation who gave birth to the Baby Boomers.

Food Entrepreneurs

Today is the birthday, in 1844, of Henry John Heinz, he of the fifty-seven varieties of pickles and sauces. He found his path early, raising vegetables and selling them to grocers in Pittsburgh when he was twelve. By the time he was twenty-five, he was bottling prepared horseradish--in a clear jar, so you could see what you were getting. Then on to pickles, sauerkraut, mustard, pepper sauce, and soups. But the company's biggest hit was its ketchup (they've always spelled it that way). It's the leading brand in America. Heinz still uses the "57" as a trademark, although they have plenty more varieties of products than that.

Food Inventors

William A. Mitchell, a food chemist working for General Foods, created some of the most successful products in food marketing history. Tang, for example. A powder that you mixed with water to make a drink that tasted vaguely like orange juice, it actually replaced juice for a lot of people, who considered it (as we say around New Orleans) "modren." Who drinks it now? Mitchell patented Pop Rocks candy in the 1950s, but had to wait until the 1970s to see it explode--literally. Pop Rocks contain bubbles of pressurized carbon dioxide, and they pop when the candy dissolves in your mouth. His next hit was Cool Whip, the non-dairy whipped cream substitute, sold in a plastic bowl with a tight-fitting lid. Many containers of Cool Whip were no doubt bought for the container. I wonder whether Mitchell made anything that was real or tasted good. Well, you can't knock his success--seventy patents. Mitchell was born today in 1911.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Remick Corners is three miles northeast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. It's just over the Maine state line on US 1. Like most New England towns with the word "Corners" in their names, this one has a rotary (or roundabout) in the center of town. The main activity here is shopping in outlet stores. The most interesting restaurant in Remick Corners is Weathervane Seafood. It would be nice if they served crabmeat Remick , one of the best hot crabmeat appetizers in the repertory.

Food In History?

This sounds like a food-related event, but wasn't. Today in 1922, Turkey and Greece called a cease-fire.

Annals Of Chefs Gone Nuts

In 1999 in Paris on this day, chefs incensed about a twenty-percent tax on restaurant meals rioted. Things got nasty enough that it had to be quelled with tear gas. The chefs' weapons? Eggs. Imagine.

Food Namesakes

Pro football player Ron Mayo was born today in 1950. . . Texas Congressman J.J. Pickle was born today in 1913. . . If only we could find someone named Ketchup and another named Mustard whose birthdays are today!

Words To Eat By

"Every man will have to give an account of himself for every good thing which he would have liked to eat, but did not."--Hillel.

Words To Drink By

"One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts."--Samuel Johnson.