The Food Almanac: Friday, April 19, 2013

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

Eating Around The World
Today in 1770, British Captain James Cook sighted Australia for the first time. Outback notwithstanding, the influence of Australia on our eating habits is slight. The most popular Australian food in this country is the lamb from down under, found in many restaurants and supermarkets. We also get a lot of cold-water Australian lobster tails. (You never see more than the tail because there isn't much of a head.) These are not bad, but too expensive. Also common are green-lipped mussels, larger than the black mussels from Canada and not nearly as good. Worst Australian eating passion: Vegemite. On the other hand, Australian wines are very good, with the best of them rivaling the best of any other place.

Today's Flavor
It's National Garlic Day. A long book could be written about garlic, and probably has been. We all know garlic and its many marvelous uses, so I will limit myself to a few facts about garlic that I think are not well enough recognized:

1. The more you cook garlic, the less sharp and assertive its taste. This can be used to whatever advantage you want to take from it.

2. If you need garlic puree, you can make it by chopping it first, sprinkling it with salt, and squashing it with the side of your knife blade while chopping it some more. Or you can chop it in a food processor, add the salt, chop some more, than add a little water at a time while processing until you have the texture you want.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
To get the scent of garlic off your fingers after you chop it, scrub an aluminum skillet with a scouring pad until all the black stuff is gone.

Deft Dining Rule #386:
Garlic mashed potatoes are not as good as not-so-garlic mashed potatoes.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Lettuce Lake, California is twenty-nine miles south of San Luis Obispo. It's a shallow, tidal body of water separating the enormous sand dunes along the Pacific shore and actual lettuce fields. In case you want more to eat than an entree salad, you're three miles away from Tanner Jack's Restaurant, in Arroyo Grande.

Edible Dictionary
kalua pig, Hawaiian, n.–A pork roast–usually a pork shoulder–slowly cooked in a pit dug into the ground called an imu. The ultimate imu is a natural depression in lava rock, which holds and concentrates the heat, but slowly. Kalua pig is the Hawaiian equivalent of barbecue, and is much like the kind you find in the Carolinas and in Cajun country. It's not particularly spicy itself, but often spicy sauces are served with it.

Drinking On Television
Today is the birthday, in 1920, of Frank Fontaine. He played Crazy Guggenheim, a cross-eyed, boozy goofball, in the Joe The Bartender skits on the Jackie Gleason Show in the 1960s. At the end of every sketch, Fontane would change character completely and sing a standard in a deep baritone.

Annals Of Beer
On this day in 1995, the Supreme Court, in one of its less important rulings, allowed the alcoholic content of beer to be shown on labels. For some reason, that had been prohibited from the end of Prohibition till then.

Food Namesakes
What a great name for a chef! Michel Roux, the proprietor of three-star Michelin restaurant Waterside Inn on the Thames just outside London, was born today in 1941. . . Rocky Horror Picture Show star Tim Curry showed his lips for the first time in 1946. . . Novelist Richard Hughes was born on this date in 1900. His play Danger is credited with being the first drama ever written for radio. His unrelated namesake, Chef Richard Hughes, runs one of the best restaurants in New Orleans, the Pelican Club. . . Courtland Mead, child actor in television and film, was born today in 1987. . . American legal analyst and writer Stanley Fish was born today in 1938. . . Amanda Sage, an American artist living in Vienna, made her first statement today in 1978. . . British soccer start Steve Cook kicked off his life today in 1991.

Words To Eat By
Garlic has inspired more writers to become quotable than almost any other single ingredient. Here are a few good quotations on the subject: 

"A little garlic, judiciously used, won't seriously affect your social life and will tone up more dull dishes than any commodity discovered to date."–Alexander Wright.

"A nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat."–New York wisdom.

"Garlick maketh a man wynke, drynke, and stynke." –Thomas Nash.

"I have read in one of the Marseille newspapers that if certain people find aioli indigestible, it is simply because too little garlic has been included in its confection, a minimum of four cloves per person being necessary."–Richard Olney. 

"No cook who has attained mastery over her craft ever apologizes for the presence of garlic in her productions."–Ruth Gottfried.

Words To Drink By
"Us Virginia girls, we have fire and ice in our blood. We can ride horses, be a debutante, throw left hooks, and drink with the boys, all the while making sweet tea, darlin'."–Ashley Judd, born today in 1968.