February 20

National Cherry Pie Day

Toothpick. Wine Auction. Cherry Pie. Paper Bag. Oldest Brewery. Arancini. Roosterville. Poitier.

Days Until. . .

St. Patrick's Day--26
St. Joseph's Day--28

Today's Flavor

Many websites claim that today is National Cherry Pie Day. The problem with this is that cherries are totally out of season right now, and we must make any cherry pie with canned cherries, resulting in a cloyingly oversweet dessert. Remember when you could get a cherry pie at McDonald's and places of that ilk? Just apple now, I think (although I'm behind on my research on fast-food fried pies.)

Great Moments In Grocery Shopping

The square-bottomed paper bag was invented by Luther Crowell of Cape Cod, who spent his spare time folding paper and attempting to make things out of it. He got a patent for his flat-bottomed bag in 1867. It would remain universal in grocery stores until the plastic sack took over.

Beer Through History

The Yuengling Brewery opened in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on this date in 1829. It's still in business, the oldest American brewery that can make that claim. I guess that makes them a bit older than Dixie. It continued operation during Prohibition by making a nasty drink called "near-beer."

Inventions For Better Eating

A toothpick manufacturing machine was invented on this day in 1872, by two guys, J.P. Cooley and Silas Noble. One of them did the round toothpicks and the other flat. The best toothpicks are made of alder wood. Ask the next very expensive restaurant you dine in whether they have alder toothpicks. Then tell them that they should. Let's see how long this takes to make it into the national food magazines. Most of the toothpicks made in America, by the way, are made in Maine.

Annals Of Wine Marketing

The first wine auction that we know about took place in London on this date in 1673. Amazingly, a bottle of Phelps Insignia went for almost $2,000. No, it didn't. The wine being auctioned was entirely in barrels, and was sold as a bulk commodity.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Roosterville, Georgia is five miles from the Alabama state line, sixty-six miles west southwest of Atlanta. It does appear to harbor roosters in a large chicken farm nearby. Roosterville is just a busy junction of country roads, so small that it was removed from the official Georgia map in 2006. But a few houses and a general store are there, as well as a bunch of beehives and sheds for milking cows. The nearest place to eat is Captain Billy's Fish House a mile and a half away. For chicken (although probably not coq au vin), it's the Big Chic, six miles away in Carrollton.

Edible Dictionary

arancini, Italian, n., pl.--A Sicilian appetizer made by rolling rice moistened with a meaty red sauce into balls an inch or two in diameter. They're coated with bread crumbs and fried. The word means "little oranges," an apt name. Arancini usually have a lump of cheese in the center. This gives rise to their alternate name, suppli al telefono--"telephone wires," which is what the festoons of cheese look like when you take a bite and they stretch out from the arancino to your teeth. Sometimes meat or peas or other fillings are in the center, along with the cheese. Arancini are found everywhere in Sicily, and are slowly becoming popular in this country.

Dining In The Movies

Today is the birthday of accomplished film star Sidney Poitier. Among his best-known movies was Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? in 1967.

Words To Eat By

"The majority of those who put together collections of verses or epigrams resemble those who eat cherries or oysters: they begin by choosing the best and end by eating everything."--Nicolas Chamfort, an eminently quotable author from the mid-1700s.

Words To Drink By

"What's drinking? A mere pause from thinking!"--Lord Byron.