Fun Foodstuffs For Today

Tom Fitzmorris January 24, 2020 11:18 Almanac


Friday, January 24, 2020


Cherry (2). Cracklin' Rose. Peanut Butter. Lobster Thermidor. Lobsterville. Eskimo Pie. Boy Scouts.


Music To Dine By  

Neil Diamond was born today in 1941. He had two hits with food titles: Cherry Cherry and Cracklin' Rosie. The latter is a reference to a bubbly, fruity wine called "crackling rose," which was already fading from the scene by the time the song (and I) got around to it. The best-known version of crackling rose in these parts was Pink Ripple. Diamond was born on the same day and year as a more important musician, at least by New Orleans standards: Aaron Neville.


Annals Of Beer  

Today was the birthday, in 1935, of canned beer. The makers of cans--notably the American Can Company--had been working on the idea when Prohibition came in, and got back to work when it went out. The first brewery to get its beer into cans was the Gottfried Kreuger Brewing Company of Newark. The early cans were made of steel, and were taller and much heavier than the paper-thin aluminum balloons they use now. You needed the old "churchkey" can opener to make its distinctive triangular holes in the top, rom which you drank or poured, depending on your preference for formality.


Food Calendar   

The Web says it's National Peanut Butter Day, but none of the peanut butter makers agree. (One says it's March 3.) Peanut butter is something you either love or are totally indifferent to; I'm in the latter category. I was especially leery of the use of peanut butter in desserts, until the first time I had the peanut butter pie at Feelings years ago.


It's also rumored to be Lobster Thermidor Day. We're not going along with that, for two reasons. First, this is a notably bad time of year for Maine lobster. (The Maine producers say their lobsters are always in season, but the big bugs are better in the summer and early fall.) Second, the word "Thermidor" comes from the ancient Gallic name for the month we now call July. We will note that lobster Thermidor is a dish that has faded into the past, and is almost never seen on menus anymore. The last place it turned up regularly was at Antoine's, which has not brought it back since the storm. It hasn’t completely died locally, though. Galatoire’s 33 has it on the menu. The sauce is a basic white sauce blended into fish stock with a bit of cheese, cream, and cayenne.


The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you slice a lemon with a serrated knife that was previously used to cut open a lobster, the juice will create black spots on the cutting board that won't appear for five months. (Unless the knife is non-metallic.)


Delicious-Sounding Places  

Lobsterville, Massachusetts is an area along the beach near the westernmost tip of Martha's Vineyard. We'll bet they have more beachside lobster and clam bakes there than they do lobstering operations, the Vineyard being the kind of real estate that it is. The last active commercial fishing port on the Vineyard is a couple of miles away.


Edible Dictionary  

fumet [foo-MET], n., French--A highly concentrated stock, almost always of fish. It's more of a cook's word than an eater's word, but it does turn up on menus now and then. A fumet is not often used as is, but is a major ingredient in making sauces for seafood dishes. As in Lobster Thermidor..


Annals Of Popular Cuisine  

The Eskimo Pie was introduced on this date in 1922 by an Iowan named Christian Nelson. If you've ever had one, you know it's a simple enough concept: a slab of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate that hardens into a shell upon contact with the cold ice cream. I don't remember seeing Eskimo Pie until the 1960s. Before then, we got something similar, but on a stick, from the ice cream truck. We called it a "polar bar," although I can't remember ever having seen those words on the wrapper. And you could also get something a lot like an Eskimo Pie at the Dairy Queen, where they would dispense one of their cones from the machine, then dip it in hot fudge. If all went well (sometimes the act of holding an ice cream cone upside down had predictable results), you got the same kind of chocolate shell.


Alluring Dinner Dates  

Actress Nastassja Kinski was born today in 1959.


Around The Campfire  

Today is the anniversary of the Boy Scouts, formed in England by Lord Baden-Powell in 1908. The Scouts were a big part of my life twenty years ago as my son grew through its ranks. We cooked and ate many a fine meal (and many a terrible one, too) on our 60 or 70 nights of camping out. Our all-time best was a twenty-pound fillet of lemonfish and an equally large whole sirloin, both grilled over an open wood fire, seasoned with Tony's. If Boy Scouts (or, more likely, Cub Scouts) come to your door selling their popcorn, buy it. The butter-flavor microwave popcorn is the best I ever ate.


Food Namesakes   

Today in 1995, the O.J. Simpson murder trial began. My radio station, then WSMB, carried the entire thing live. It interrupted my radio show maddeningly, sometimes several times in one show. But it brought lots of new listeners. People still tell me they started listening to the show during the trial. . . It is the birthday of Oral Roberts, 1918. . . The Apple Macintosh computer was introduced today in 1984. Macintosh is, of course, a variety of apple. . . Tennis pro C. Gene Mako served up the first day of his life today in 1916. (Mako is one of the species of shark which often turns up on menus.)


Words To Eat By   

"Do you know why kids like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Because they're good!"--Dick Brennan, Sr.


"I owe it all to little chocolate donuts."--John Belushi, Saturday Night Live original cast member and one of the Blues Brothers, born today in 1949.