The Food Almanac: Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's National Dry Martini Day!


Restaurant Anniversaries
Valencia-born Angel Miranda opened Lola's on Esplanade Avenue today in 1994. Angel had attracted attention to his Spanish food in a restaurant called Altamira, in the vicinity of the 1984 World's Fair. The neighborhood--now called the Warehouse District--is booming with restaurants. But back then business was sparse, and Altamira closed not long after the Fair did. And Spanish food was slow to catch on. Lola's, however was a big hit. Angel passed away in 2011, but his restaurant still thrives.

Today's Flavor
The consensus on the Internet is that today is National Dry Martini Day. That sounds good to me, although I prefer my martinis not so dry. It's said that the original recipe for the martini was equal parts of gin and vermouth. This makes sense, since the drink is named for a major maker of vermouth. However, now we see recipes like. . . well, I saw this at Morton's. "Gin shaken with crushed ice in front of a vermouth bottle." In other words, many martinis don't have vermouth at all. Which seems wrong to me. I always ask for a little extra vermouth, in fact. But then I'm also a proponent of the idea that no real martini is made without gin.

Music To Eat Sugar Pie By
Today in 1965, the Four Tops had their biggest Number One hit with Can't Help Myself, which is better known to many people by its first line, "Sugar pie honey bunch." What is a sugar pie? Where can I buy a honey bunch?

Overeating In The Comics 
Garfield, the fat orange cat in the comic strip drawn by Jim Davis, first appeared today in 1978. Garfield is an extremely dedicated eater, even a gourmet. I have never seen him turn down any food, no matter how unusual. Cat after my own heart.

Annals Of Ice Cream
On this date in 1987, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream created a new flavor, Cherry Garcia, with the blessing of the leader of the Grateful Dead. It's cherries and chocolate in vanilla ice cream. Very good and rich, as Ben and Jerry's usually is.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Berryville is on the east side of the Shenandoah River Valley, just where the mountains begin, and almost inside Shenandoah National Park. All this is in extreme northern Virginia, 118 miles southwest of Washington, DC. Although it's small now--only about 3000 people--its history goes back to pre-Revolutionary times. George Washington surveyed the place in 1750; it had already been settled almost twenty years by then. It began to grow as a crossroads of two turnpikes. It's named for Benjamin Berry, who laid out the town in 1798.

Edible Dictionary
navarin, [naa-vah-RANH], French, n.--This is a word out of the French classic cooking dictionary, understood by all French chefs but not often seen in American menus these days. (Although I've had it twice in the month before I wrote this.) It's a light stew, usually made with lamb (although other meats can be employed), with vegetables cut into chunks and cooked until soft with herbs, wine, onions, and wine. It's identified in France as a springtime dish (it's sometimes called navarin de printaniere for that reason). Turnips (navet in French) are almost always part of the recipe.

Food Namesakes
Salman Rushdie was born today in 1947. . . The Apple satellite, launched by India today in 1981, was the first to be stabilized in all three axes. . . Edward "Wahoo" McDaniel was born today in 1938. He was a professional football player, then became a pro wrestler. (Wahoo is the name of a very good Gulf fish.). . .Pro footballer David Pollack stepped up to the Big Scrimmage today in 1982. (Pollock is a fish in the Pacific used to make fake crabmeat, among other things.)

Annals Of Cereal
Cheerios was created today in 1941. They're made predominantly of oats, and they taste pretty good, as cereals go. They work well as an evening appetite killer, which is what I use them for.

Sounds Like Food, But Isn't
On this date in 1835, New Orleans gave the square of ground at the foot of Esplanade Avenue to the federal government for the building of the U.S. Mint, which operated until the Civil War, then again in the 1880s. The rumor that the city fathers thought they were getting a plant making after-dinner mints is not true.

Words To Eat By
"There is such a thing as food and such a thing as poison. But the damage done by those who pass off poison as food is far less than that done by those who generation after generation convince people that food is poison."--Paul Goodman.

Words To Drink By
“How about slipping out of those wet things and into a dry Martini?”--Noel Coward.


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