Fun Foodstuff For Today

Tom Fitzmorris January 31, 2020 11:07 Almanac

Friday, January 31, 2020

War And Fries. Nolan Ryan. High Tide. Drambuie. Brandy Alexander. Evaporated Milk. Pavlova.

Annals Of Fast Food


Today in 1990, the first McDonald's opened in Moscow. What everybody loved about it there was the friendly attitude of the workers, which Russians were not accustomed to getting from its merchants. We're no fan of McDonald's. But it's pretty clear that it's that sort of thing that extends American influence around the globe much more effectively than that other, much more expensive way that our leaders seem to favor.

Food And Sports


Today is the birthday (1947) of Nolan Ryan, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. He was a cattleman before he got into baseball, and he went back to it after his arm blew out. Nolan Ryan Beef is available in New Orleans at a few stores, and its claim to fame is that he uses no bovine growth hormones or antibiotics in the last 100 days before what the cattle guys call "the harvest." It's quite good, and because it's "harvested" at a very young age, it's very tender and low in fat.

Annals Of Bad Crop Weather


In 1953 on this date, a freakishly high tide combined with a storm pushed North Sea waters through the dikes in the Netherlands and Belgium, killing 1800 people, destroying thousands of homes, killing untold numbers of cattle, and so damaging farmland with saltwater that some of it has not come back yet. Sound familiar? Think of this next time you believe our own disaster was unique and reason to give up.

Drink Inspirations 


Today in 1788, Charles Edward Stuart--also known as Bonnie Prince Charlie--died at 67. He was a pretender to the British throne and made a valiant pitch to restore it to his family. He is most famous today for a liqueur he created from Scotch whiskey, honey, and other flavorings. It became known as Drambuie, a contraction of a Gaelic expression that means "the drink that satisfies." I haven't had a Drambuie in a long time, but I think I might have one today in Bonnie Prince Charlie's honor.

Food Calendar


Speaking of a stiff drink, today is purportedly National Brandy Alexander Day. This is another of the rich, sweet drinks that were in vogue in the 1950s, but not many people drink today. It's not bad, actually: brandy, cream, and creme de cacao, shaken with ice and strained with a grating of nutmeg.

Delicious-Sounding Places


Brandy Station, Virginia is about 65 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. It really is a railroad station for the adjacent rural, hilly area called just plain Brandy. The railroad is the Norfolk Southern, and a passenger train--The Crescent--passes the station (but doesn't stop) every day. You can catch it a few miles up the track in Culpeper, and it will take you all the way to New Orleans.

Food Through History


Today in 1851, Gail Borden introduced evaporated milk--his invention--to a waiting world. Not only was that the seed of the Borden dairy empire, but an entirely new dairy industry developed around that one product.

Food In Literature


Today in 1948, The New Yorker Magazine published J.D. Salinger's short story, "A Perfect Day For Bananafish." Not much in there about bananas or fish; it's more about swimming. 

The Saints


Today is the feast day of St. Geminian, the patron saint of Modena, Italy, where the best balsamic vinegar comes from. He lived in the fourth century.

Edible Dictionary


bean thread, n.--Also called bean thread noodles, glass noodles, cellophane noodles, and Harusame. When cooked, these Asian noodles--which otherwise behave like standard pasta--become transparent. They're made with the starch from mung bean sprouts, hence the name. They have a great mouthfeel and look interesting in a dish. They're widely used in East Asian cooking, particularly in Thai cuisine.

Food Namesakes  

This is the birthday, in 1921, of singer Mario Lanza. That's not a food name, but his real name was (almost): Alfred Cocozza. His best-known movie was The Great Caruso, but I like The Toast Of New Orleans, for obvious reasons. . . Ham, a chimpanzee, became the first American to fly into space in a capsule-like the ones the Mercury astronauts would later use, today in 1961. He made it, clearing the way for Alan Shepard to take the same ride three months later. . . British painter Tilly Kettle was born today in 1734. . . Charlie Musselwhite, a blues harmonica player, was born today in 1944. . . American racecar driver Buddy Rice was born today in 1976.

Anna Pavlova, the spectacular Russian ballerina, was born today in 1882. She was so famous that she has a dessert named for her, one that sounds pretty good: a baked meringue with whipped cream, strawberries, kiwis, and other juicy fruits. 

Words To Drink By


"Someone is putting brandy in your bonbons, Grand Marnier in your breakfast jam, Kahlua in your ice cream, Scotch in your mustard and Wild Turkey in your cake."--Marian Burros, New York Times food writer.