The Food Almanac: May 31, 2011
It's National Macaroon Day. A macaroon is a cookie made originally with almonds and enough egg to make it very light in texture. Over the years, shredded coconut has become part of the recipe. The name comes from the same Italian root that gives macaroni, and is a reference to the stringy quality of the ingredients. The best thing ever done with the macaroon concept was the macaroon and coconut bread pudding they used to serve at LeRuth's. The pan of the light, wonderful stuff sat on a sideboard at the restaurant all evening long. It was served without either a sauce or warming, and it was still one of the two or three best in town.
Coconut Point is 21 miles south of Fort Myers, in the southern end of the Florida Peninsula, on the Gulf Coast. It's on Estero Bay, and is part of a resort area. It's full of fishing boats and everything that goes with them. Five major golf courses are within a couple of miles. A few homes are on the small grid of streets, but more people can be found on any given day at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point. The best restaurant in the area is Tanglewood, right there on Coconut Point. The population of bars is higher than average.
coconut water, n. — The clear liquid inside a recently-picked, young coconut. As the coconut ages, the water is absorbed into the meat and disappears. In places where coconuts are grown, one can often find vendors of coconut water on the sides of roads. They cut off the tops of green coconuts, stick straws into them, and sell them to passing tourists for a very refreshing and delicious beverage. It's low in calories and contains more electrolytes than most sports drinks do. Coconut water is very popular among the locals as a drink, and in some places it's even canned. It is not the same thing as coconut milk, which is processed from the meat.
Annals Of Wild Game
On this date in 1929, the first reindeer born in the United States descended to the ground in Massachusetts. I ate reindeer once — in a teepee in a snow-covered vastness a bit north of the Arctic Circle in Finland. It was cooked by a Lappi, who made sandwiches out of the meat on bread that looked like a flat bagel. It was pretty good. Tasted a lot like caribou.
Annals Of Chocolate
Today in 1057, Lady Godiva took the horseback ride that made her famous. As the tale goes, she did so to pay off a challenge with her husband. Lord Leofric. He said he'd lower taxes if she'd ride in her birthday suit in the middle of Coventry town. Some husband. I wonder why she was chosen as the name for Godiva Chocolates. Despite the name on the famous American chocolate sampler, Walt Whitman — who was born today in 1819 — had no connection with chocolates.
Deft Dining Rule #178
When choosing a dessert or candy for a lady, the highest percentage comes from chocolate.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
The best way to melt one-ounce chocolate squares in the microwave is to leave them in the wrappers, and let them get zapped for thirty seconds at a time until they're soft. The wrappers will hold them intact even after they're melted.
Great Moments In Processed Food
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patented flaked cereal today in 1884. His aim was to expand the vegetarian diet he fed his patients. Cereal doesn't command much respect from gourmets, but it has its place. Despite the reputation cereal has as junk, it's a harmless appetite-killer that really helps if you're trying to lose weight.
Annals Of Food Writing
Christopher Kimball founded Cook's Magazine today in 1980. It was very different in style and tone from previous food publications, and caught a lot of attention while never quite becoming successful. It was bought by a larger publisher, and in 1989 was folded into Gourmet and disappeared. In 1993, Kimball tried the idea (and the title) again, but with new twists: no advertising, and no articles not directly related to cooking. No travel or lifestyle articles, no restaurant reviews. That made for smaller magazines and a much smaller circulation than is typical for a national food magazine. But Cook's unique, intensive style gathered an enthusiastic readership. These days, it seems that Cook's Illustrated publishes cookbooks more often than it does magazines; the magazine itself comes out only every two months. I've subscribed since day one.
Today in 1892, Lea & Perrins registered its trademark for Worcestershire sauce. John Lea and William Perrins were druggists who concocted the first version of that essential elixir. It was created at the behest of a British colonial officer after a tour of duty in India. He asked Lea and Perrins to make something like the fish sauces he'd enjoyed in Southeast Asia.
Sir Francis Bacon spent the night imprisoned in the Tower of London this day in 1621. Today in 1961, the seminal rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry opened an amusement park outside St. Louis. It was called Berryland. Actress Barbara Pepper was born in 1912 today. She was in Green Acres, among other productions.
Words to Eat By
"Condensed milk is wonderful. I don't see how they can get a cow to sit down on those little cans." — Fred Allen, one of the great comedians in the golden age of radio, born today in 1894. Here are two more of his food lines: "Three million frog's legs are served in Paris — daily. Nobody knows what became of the rest of the frogs." And, "California is a great place to live, if you're an orange."
Words to Drink By
"Serenely full, the epicure would say,
Fate cannot harm me, I have dined today." — Unknown.