December 4

National Cookie Day

Gingerbread. Cookie. Muffin Butte. Pork Tenderloin. Bûche de Noël. Burger King. Falcon Crest. Lillian Russell.

Days Until

Christmas--21
New Year's Eve--27

Today's Flavor

Today is National Cookie Day. The Christmas lights are up, the music is playing everywhere you go, and the oven are being lit. No surprise we honor the cookie in early December. We get the name cookie from the Dutch "kookie" meaning "little cake", but the origins of the mighty cookie go back to 7th century Persia and the spread of sugar. They didn't become popular in North America for another 10 centuries . The first most popular cookie in 17th century America? Gingerbread.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Muffin Butte rises over a thousand feet above the canyon of the Green River, in Canyonlands National Park. The park is undeveloped even by the standards of Utah's other five national parks, and the fact that you can drive to within a quarter mile of Muffin Butte without needing a four-wheel-drive vehicle makes it one of the more accessible sights in that vast, rough park. The reason for its name is obvious when you see it. The nearest restaurants for recharging after this hot hike are all in Moab, forty miles away. I like the sound of The Broken Oar. Ask if they have muffins.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

Note that the two pork tenderloins in a package are usually of different sizes, and cook accordingly. On a more superstitious note: If you grill or roast a pork tenderloin whole, and then cut it into fewer than ten slices, you will overdraw your bank account at some time before the next gibbous moon.

Deft Dining Rule #352:

Never order a pork tenderloin in a restaurant before getting the answer to this question: "Is it really a tenderloin, or just plain loin?" If the answer is yes, say, "Okay, but I'll send it back if it's as big around as my arm!"

Edible Dictionary

bûche de Noël, French, n.--Called Yule log in English, it's a cake made to resemble a log ready for the fireplace. It's made with sponge cake spread with buttercream frosting, them rolled up. It's covered with a light chocolate frosting spread to resemble tree bark, then sprinkled with powdered sugar to represent fallen snow. A really well-made buche de Noel will have a small, cut-off branch (made the same way) sticking out of it, and marzipan decorations that resemble mushrooms or lichen. It's more impressive to see than to eat, but it's an essential dessert for the Christmas holidays.

Annals Of Fast Food

The first Burger King opened today in Miami, Florida in 1954. James McLamore and David Edgerton--both graduates of Cornell University's well-known school of restaurant and hotel management--were inspired by the original McDonald's in California, and worked up their own version of it. It grew quickly through franchising to become the second-biggest hamburger chain in the world, which it remains today. The first Burger King in the New Orleans area opened in 1965 on Airline Highway near Turnbull. It's still there.

Gourmets Through History

Actress and singer Lillian Russell was born today in 1861. In the late 1800s, she was considered the ideal beauty, and was the desire of all red-blooded American men. The funny thing about that is that she ate like a horse, and tucked her 185-pound body into corsets to create her very ample hourglass figure. She was the girlfriend of Diamond Jim Brady, a serious gourmet and voluminous eater. Lillian never had any trouble keeping right up with him at the table. The photo shows her before she started really gaining weight.

Wine On Television

Today in 1981, the prime-time soap opera Falcon Crest aired for the first time, on CBS. Described as Dallas with wine, it was set in a California winery (the one in the show is really Spring Mountain Winery in Napa). It was much less about wine than about the romantic intrigues among the characters. It was on the air for nine years.

Food Namesakes

Rock musician John Cale was born today in 1940. . . Frances Crabbe, an early British feminist, was born today in 1822. . . Lloyd Bacon a supporting actor on many Charlie Chaplin movies, heard "Action!" today in 1889

Words To Eat By

“A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.”--Samuel Butler, English writer, born today in 1835.

Words To Drink By

"A cup of coffee--real coffee, home-browned, home ground, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream that never cheated, but was real cream from its birth, thick, tenderly yellow, perfectly sweet, neither lumpy nor frothing on the Java: such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all."--Henry Ward Beecher.