The Food Almanac: April 4, 2011

Staff Writer
Get your day off to an appetizing start with food facts and trivia from Tom Fitzmorris.

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

In The Food Almanac, Tom Fitzmorris of the online newsletter, The New Orleans Menu notes food facts and sayings.

Food Inventions
Today in 1881, a centrifugal separator was patented by Edwin J. Houston and Elihu Thomson that could separate cream from milk. Or mud from water. A derivative of the concept is found in many homes: the juice extractor. Also on this date in 1828, in the Netherlands, Casparus Van Wooden patented a chocolate powder that could be stirred into milk. The forerunner of Quik?

Annals Of Food Research
On this date in 1932, after many years of research, W.A. Waugh and C.G. King at the University of Pittsburgh isolated Vitamin C for the first time. It's called ascorbic acid because it prevents the condition called scurvy. Sailors in the British Navy found they could prevent scurvy by eating limes. Coincidentally, in 1581 on this date, Queen Elizabeth had dinner on one of their ships: The Golden Hind, just back from an around-the-world trip with Sir Francis Drake at the helm. They made her eat a lime.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
You know what has more Vitamin C, ounce for ounce, than any common food? Cilantro. Keeps your breath fresh, too.

Food Calendar
Somebody (not Le Cordon Bleu, the famous French cooking school, that's for sure) started a rumor that today is National Cordon Bleu Day. "Cordon Bleu" ("blue ribbon") in the name of a dish name usually means that it's stuffed with ham and cheese, then baked or broiled. The idea really got out of hand in the 1960s and 1970s, and we became sick of it. Now you hardly ever see it although lots of common dishes, particularly in Italian cooking, are stuffed with ham and cheese (or, one would hope, prosciutto and Fontina). The real Cordon Bleu cooking school has advanced far beyond such practices, and has a website.

Gourmet Geography Cordon Bleu
Ham Lake, Minnesota 55304 is twenty-four miles north of Minneapolis, and is an exurb of that city. It's named for an actual lake, which is shaped like an actual ham. Click here and zoom in on the map to take a look. The place to eat in Ham Lake is the Red Ox Cafe. Cheeseville, California 96027 is just outside the Klamath National Forest, near the state line with Oregon. It's a service area for a vast ranchland to the east, so the name must actually mean something. Two places to eat sound good in Etna, a small town five miles away: Bob's Ranch House and the Trailhead.

Edible Dictionary
loquat, n. Also known as Japanese plum. The loquat actually grew originally in China. Like many things Chinese, it was brought to Japan and became popular enough there that Japan leads the world in its cultivation. It's a plum-shaped fruit about two or three inches long, turning an orange-yellow when ripe in early spring. The fruits grow on evergreen trees that are usually pruned to about ten feet tall, but can grow twice as large.

The Saints
Did you know that there is a patron saint of the Internet and of computer users? It's St. Isidore of Seville, a very learned bishop who is not just a saint, but a doctor of the church. He also had some involvement with beekeeping. Today is his feast day.