February 9

National Lox And Bagels Day

Hershey. Lox And Bagels. Chapon. Eatonton. Carmen Miranda. Ladies Invited. Fire Extinguisher. Thinking And Drinking.

Days Until. . .

Mardi Gras--7Valentine's Day--5

Annals Of Chocolate

Today in 1894 the Hershey Chocolate Company was founded. Milton Hershey, who had been in the candy business for some time, started the company after a few less successful ventures. Chocolate makers in Europe are puzzled by the American taste for Hershey's chocolate, which they find has a slight tang from sour milk. But we certainly love it. The history of Hershey (and his fierce competitor Forrest Mars) is the subject of the excellent book Emperors of Chocolate, by Joel Glenn Brenner.

Today's Flavor

Today is National Lox and Bagel Day, says the web rumor. The combination of silky smoked salmon with cream cheese on a well-made bagel is easy to get hooked on. It's a filling repast. I can no longer eat even a whole bagel for breakfast and then have lunch--let alone one with salmon and cream cheese. But that doesn't make it less of a pleasure."Lox" comes from the old German word for salmon. Similar words are found in all other Northern European languages. Strictly speaking, lox is not smoked but cured salmon. That's certainly true of "belly lox." However, that has given way in delis to Nova lox, for Nova Scotia, which once dominated the smoked salmon supply in Northeast America. Nova lox usually is less salty than belly lox, from being cured a shorter time in a milder brine solution.

Edible Dictionary

chapon salad, n.--A green salad with an up-front flavor and aroma of fresh garlic. The classic way this is imparted is by rubbing dry, crusty pieces of bread with garlic cloves, then adding the bread crusts to the salad when tossed. Sometimes the garlic cloves involved are used to wipe the inside of the salad bowl, releasing the garlic oil and further adding an assertive garlic character.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Eatonton is a town of 6500 people in central Georgia, seventy-seven miles southeast of Atlanta. It's the seat of Putnam County. W. Truett Cathy, the founder of the Chick Fil-A fast food chain, was born here in 1921. Etonton was also the home town of two famous writers: Joel Chandler Harris (creator of Uncle Remus and Br'er Rabbit) and Alice Walker (The Color Purple). It's named for William Eaton, the hero of the late-1700s war against the Barbary pirates. The place to eat (since there is no Chick Fil-A in Eatonton) is Hannah's, right in the center of town.

Deft Dining Rule #691:

Hot lox--as in cut up and cooked into scrambled eggs, or with pasta--sounds better than it actually is. Heating salty foods makes them seem even saltier, and perhaps unpleasantly so.

Food In The Movies

It's the birthday of Brazilian movie musical star Carmen Miranda, who is almost always depicted as wearing a hat made of bananas, mangoes, and other fresh tropical fruit. She was a hat designer before she became a star, and she made hats--always tall and showy--out of non-food items, too.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you wear clothing decorated with food designs, you will never splash sauce on it. (You may, however, stain it with wine or coffee (unless the article has a wine or coffee design). This does not apply to aprons, unfortunately.

Feminism In The Dining Room

Today in 1987, the Exchange Luncheon Club--the eatery for traders at the New York Stock Exchange--added a ladies' rest room to its facilities. The funny thing is that the NYSE began allowing women on the floor about twenty years earlier. In the interim, it's was sort of like it was in the old days at Galatoire's: the women had to climb a flight of stairs if they went to the loo.

Chronicles Of Food Safety

The first fire extinguisher was patented today in 1863. Called the fire grenade, and it was very simple: you threw a bottle made of very thin glass and filled with salt water, into the fire, and out it went. You hoped. It made kitchens safer for frying soufflee potatoes. When's the last time you checked the fire extinguisher in your kitchen? At the risk of sounding like the Reader's Digest, you ought to check it once a month.

Food Namesakes

Dean Rusk, Secretary of State in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, was born today in 1909. (A rusk is that hard, dry piece of bread you find under eggs Benedict, among other places). . . Former Congressman Gary Franks was born today in 1953. . . Actor Joe Pesci was born today in 1943. ("Pesci" means "fish" in Italian.) . . . Chicago journalist, playwright, and humorist George Ade was born today in 1866.

Words To Eat By

"Protect your bagels, put lox on them."--Sign at a bagel shop in New Haven, CT."A bagel creation that would have my parents turning over in their graves is the oat-bran bagel with blueberries and strawberries. It's a bagel nightmare, an ill-conceived bagel form if there ever was one."--Ed Levine, New York food writer and bagel commentator.

Words To Drink By

"When I drink, I think; and when I think, I drink."--François Rabelais, French Renaissance writer and philosopher.