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New Orleans Menu

The Food Almanac: April 8, 2011

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

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

Currency And Food
The dollar sign ($) was invented today in 1778 by Oliver Pollock, the most generous monetary contributor to the American Revolutionary War. At the time, neither he nor his hometown of New Orleans were part of the new nation. His dollar sign is a stylized version of a U over an S. You could buy a meal in a sit-down restaurant without having to use a whole $ until about 1974.

Eating Calendar
Today is Pan-American Empanada Day. An empanada is a half-moon-shaped turnover, usually stuffed with some kind of meat. It's found in both Spanish and Latin American cuisines. "Empanada" literally means "enclosed in bread." The bread in this case is a flour tortilla, or (sometimes) pie dough. Ground beef, pork, and sausage are typical empanada fillings.

Gourmet Geography
Baker is an unincorporated village in west central Minnesota. It' seventeen miles southeast of Fargo, ND. The town accreted when the Great Northern Railway came though in 1880. The main line still passes through Baker. The name was that of the most prominent farmer in the area, who wound up moving farther west. Guess he couldn't stand the notoriety. About fifty people live in the area, which raises wheat, and so has much to bake with. The nearest restaurant is the Eagle Cafe, seven miles southeast in Barnesville.

Food Inventions
Today in 1879 was the first day milk was sold in bottles. Echo Farms Dairy of New York was the marketer. Before then, you bought milk by the pail if you didn't have your own cows to milk. Bottled milk was the rule until about 1960, when a shift from home deliveries to supermarkets made the cardboard carton popular. Now, the bottle made of plastic is taking over again. When we started school in 1956, they served us milk in little bottles with a thick cardboard stopper. When you pulled open its tab, a hole was revealed for inserting your straw.

Edible Dictionary
jumble, n.A cookie made by mixing a variety of nuts in a butter cookie dough, usually flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves. The cookie (or maybe just the name, which John Mariani in his Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink says is sometimes spelled "jumbal") is one of the first of incontestable American origin. Recipes for it go back to 1827. They can be made with a cookie cutter, or as drop cookies.