The Food Almanac: August 21, 2012

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

pressure cooker

Annals Of Food Under Pressure
Today is the birthday — in 1647 in France — of Denis Papin. He invented the pressure cooker. He noted that water boils at a higher temperature when under pressure, thereby cooking food faster. But he missed on the big chance. He saw that the lid of a pressure cooker had tremendous force pushing it up (in fact, he created a pressure valve to keep the thing from blowing up), and figured that this could be made into some kind of engine. But he didn't quite finish that invention, leaving it to James Watt.

High Life
Today is the birthday in 1893 of Dorothy Parker, one of the great writers on the party scene in New York in the 1920s through the 1950s. She wrote mostly for The New Yorker, and was a prominent member of the Round Table of authors at the Algonquin Hotel. She was most famous for her humorous, light verses, along the lines of this famous one: "Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses." She was the first to observe that "Eternity is two people and a ham." And she wrote the definitive poem about martinis, a subject she knew much about:

I like to have a martini
One, or two at the most
After three I'm under the table
After four I'm under the host.

Annals Of Eating Healthy
The inventor of granola was born today in 1867. Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner postulated what dietary experts are telling us now: that we should eat less meat and refined carbohydrates, we should eat more vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. He created a mix he called muesli, of oats, nuts, and dried fruit. This evolved into granola in this country. I don't know whether to thank him or curse him.

Music To Drink Cheap Wine By
Today in 1970, Eric Burdon and War's record "Spill The Wine" peaked on the pop charts at Number Three. "Spill the wine... dig that girl." That's almost the entire lyric of the song.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Butterville, New York is an upstate crossroads, sixteen miles from Watertown, two miles from the shore of Lake Ontario. It's an area of big farms and dairying, so the name is appropriate. You can fly a small airplane into Butterville Airport, but don't expect to refuel. To refuel yourself, drive to the lake and Verrilli's Lake View restaurant. It and most of the other restaurants in the vicinity are Italian, so you might even be able to get some spumone.

Edible Dictionary
calzone, [kal-ZONE, kal-ZONE-ay], n., Italian — A variation on pizza in which the dough, after being rolled out, is folded over the ingredients, then baked. The most common calzone is filled with a combination of ricotta and mozzarella cheese, but any other traditional (or non-traditional, come to think of it) pizza topping could go in there, too. If the contents include a lot of red sauce and meats (i.e., sausage), the crosses over into what many Italians would call a stromboli.

Deft Dining Rule #470
If a pizzeria doesn't offer calzones, there's a strong likelihood that the place is using pre-made, partly-baked dough for its pizza crusts. Which puts it in the lower end of the quality scale.

Food Namesakes
Captain James Cook claimed Australia for Great Britain on this date in 1770. His ships were the first European ones to land there with empire in mind...The last of some eleven million VW Rabbits was completed on this date in 1984. The design is still around, but they call it the Golf now, which has always been its name in Europe... Basketball pro Michael Curry was born today in 1968, and by strange coincidence Denise Curry, also a basketball player who won gold in the 1984 Olympics, was born on this date in 1959... The soft-rock group Bread hit Number One with "Make It With You" on this date in 1970... On a more classical note Candido Lima, a pioneer in creating serious music with computers, was born in Portugal today in 1939... Peppermint Patty, a flirtatious tomboy who called Charlie Brown "Chuck," appeared for the first time today in 1966 in the comic strip Peanuts.

Words To Eat By
"Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone." — Jim Fiebig, relationship author.

"I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream." — Heywood Broun, American writer of the mid-1900s.

Words To Drink By
"When your companions get drunk and fight, take up your hat and wish them good night." — Unknown.