Today Is November 8th, 2019

Tom Fitzmorris November 08, 2019 10:00 Almanac

Upcoming Deliciousness

Thanksgiving: November 28.

Christmas: Wednesday, December 25.

New Year's Eve: Tuesday, December 31.

Annals Of Spirits

Today in 1789 is supposed to be the day that a Baptist minister named Elijah Craig distilled the first whiskey made from corn mash. This was in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Craig was quite a businessman. It is not known, really, what year he started his distillery, let alone the day, but this date is traditional as the birthday of Bourbon. There's an expensive, eighteen-year-old, single-barrel Bourbon named for him that's pretty good.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Napoleon is a city of just under 10,000 people in the northeast corner of Ohio, an even 100 miles south-southwest of Detroit. It was founded in 1836, and has always been a manufacturing town, albeit one with a bit more natural beauty in its countryside than most. The Maumee River, where you can actually catch fish, flows through town and on into Lake Erie. Many restaurants are in Napoleon, but Spengler's--founded in 1879 and still going strong as a downtown cafe and saloon. Their menu is bereft of napoleon pastry, but some other restaurants must have it, wouldn't you think?

Edible Dictionary

Rainier cherry, n. A variety of cherry grown mostly in Washington State, the Rainier was developed in 1952 by one Harold Vogel. It's pale red and yellow, and is known for its sweetness. It's one of the sweetest cherries in the market, but it doesn't travel especially well. We will be seeing it in markets in June--if they get here. It's well enough liked that it has its own day of celebration: July 11. They are much loved in Japan, where it's said they can sell for a dollar each.

Today's Flavor

This is National Cappuccino Day. The combination of espresso coffee with foamed milk is often had after dinner, which is the wrong time. It's really a morning beverage, with the milk and all. It also works--if your system can stand the caffeine--as a late-night drink, in sort of the way we drink cafe au lait here in New Orleans. 

Most cappuccino is made with far too much foamed milk. It should form a layer, not a pile, as it does in the contemporary American coffeehouses. Here's my test for telling when the froth on a cappuccino is just right. Sprinkle two packets of sugar over a circular area an inch in diameter. It will sit there for a while, then slowly start sinking, while at the same time moving toward the center. The sugar ultimately falls through a small hole, rather suddenly. If the sugar just sits there interminably, the froth is too thick. If the granules fall right through, the froth is too thin.

The name "cappuccino" is a reference to the Capuchin monks, whose hooded habits were the same color as that of a well-made cappuccino. However, an alternative explanation is that "cappuccino" means "out of order" in Italian. (The early machines often were.) But that's just a joke.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

Just as is true with wine, a coffee blended from several kinds of beans will always have more interesting flavors than all one kind. 

The Saints

This is the feast day of the Four Crowned Martyrs: Castorius, Claudius, Nicostratus, and Simpronian. They were stone carvers, but they're also patron saints of cattle for some reason.

Food Namesakes

Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on this date in 1977. He was openly gay, which was a big deal back then. . . Today in 1990, Darryl Strawberry signed a five-year contract with the Dodgers. . . Alan Berger of the rock group Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, was born today in 1949. . . Frank Gouldsmith Speck was born today in 1881. He was an anthropologist who specialized in Eastern Native Americans. (Speck is smoked prosciutto.) 

Words To Eat By

"The truffle is not a positive aphrodisiac, but it can upon occasion make women tenderer and men more apt to love."Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, French culinary author and chef.

Words To Drink By

"A drink is shorter than a tale."--Unknown. ~~~