The Food Almanac, July 11, 2011
Today is National Blueberry Muffin Day. Beware: the "blueberries" in many commercial muffins are actually little bits of dried apple colored blue. However, a good blueberry muffin is wonderful. Make some: blueberry season is ending down here, but it spreads north trough the next couple of months. The most famous blueberry muffins in New Orleans were (and are) those baked at the Pontchartrain Hotel. Although the restaurant offerings of the Pontchartrain are much diminished from their glory days when the Aschaffenburg family owned the place, the blueberry muffins still go on. Actually, they're a little on the dry side, but they do make a breakfast something special.
The Muffin Islands are in the Alaska panhandle, just off the tip of the much larger Etolin Island. It's about fifty miles northwest of Ketchikan, a regular stop for all the cruise ships that sail these waters this time of year. The Muffin Islands are on the Inside Passage, where all the ships travel. A very beautiful part of the world, all this is in the Tongass National Forest, a temperate rain forest as lush as any jungle right now. It's all covered with snow and even glaciers in the winter.
Annals Of Dueling
Today in 1804, the most famous duel in American history came to a bad end when Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton--the man most responsible for assembling the U.S. government as we know it--fell in Weehawken, New Jersey, across the Hudson from Manhattan. Burr, who came out of the deal with a badly damaged reputation, came to New Orleans, where he began starting other trouble. Now, of course, men challenge one another with knives in the kitchen (i.e., the Iron Chef).
Dressing Up For Dinner
Today is the birthday, in 1934, of Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. I wish I could wear one of his suits, but you need a certain kind of physique for those beautiful duds. Avid eaters rarely have such a shape.
caciocavallo, n., Italian--A cheese popular in the southern half of of Italy, and made there since Roman times. It's a pale, straw-colored cheese that has different flavors and textures, depending on how much aging it receives. It can be anything from a soft, sliceable cheese to a hard, sharp one suitable for grating. Its name--which translates as "cheese on horseback"--is a reference to the bags once used in the initial stages of its making. They resembled saddle bags. An unusual use of caciocavallo in Sicily is a dish called caciu in the local dialect. It's a seared slab of cheese served with a vinegar and oil sauce. Its texture and color makes it resemble meat. It's served during Lent, mostly.
Annals Of Overeating
Former U.S. President William Howard Taft was sworn in today in 1921 as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. First and only man to head two branches of the Federal government. But he was the size of two men, at well over 300 pounds.
Treat Of The Day
Many locations of the 7-11 chain of convenience stores around the world will give you a free 7.11-ounce Slurpee today if you ask. Note the date.
Food In The Wild
Today in 2001, a patrolman in Vancouver was accosted by a duck who walked up and grabbed him by the pants leg. The duck kept pulling the cop, who kept breaking loose, down the street to a catch basin. There, in the drainage, were eight baby ducklings. The policeman fished them out with a vegetable strainer, and the reunited duck family resumed its walk to a nearby pond. I'm thinking of some tale of how delicious they all were in the police kitchen that night, but I can't bring myself to write it.
Bobby Rice, pop singer in the 1960s and 1970s, was born today in 1944. He was heard on the Fireballs' song Sugar Shack. . . Mel Appleby, of the rock duo Mel 'n' Kim, was born today in 1966. . . Blind Lemon Jefferson, one of the most influential early blues singers and guitarists, wailed for the first time today in 1897. . . Brazilian physicist Cesare Lattes discovered himself today in 1924. He discovered the pi meson, so small its filling could not be tasted.
Words To Eat By
"Mother: "It's broccoli, dear."
Child: "I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it."--E. B. White, long-time New Yorker writer, born today in 1899.
Words To Drink By
"They never taste who always drink."--Matthew Prior, On a Passage in the Scaligerana.
Copyright ©2011, Tom Fitzmorris.