The Food Almanac: Friday, February 8, 2013

It's Fish Courtbouillon Day!
Wikimedia Commons/ Jeremy Noble



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

The Chemistry Of Food
Today is the birthday of Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleyev, who created the periodic table of elements, seen in every chemistry classroom. I've often thought that a periodic table of food would make in interesting kitchen poster. Let's see. . . Water would be Element 1. Chicken Stock is Element 3, Veal Stock Element 11, Beef Stock Element 19. Salt would be Element 17. Sauvignon Blanc is Element 2, Chardonnay is Element 10, Pinot Noir Element 18. . . Foie Gras is Element 79, Caviar Element 47, Oysters Element 29 (chemists will be chuckling at that one; see if you can guess why). Maybe somebody has done this already. Would somebody please set the periodic table for dinner? Thank you.

Today's Flavor
Today is Statewide Fish Courtbouillon Day. Courtbouillon (the word is pronounced "koo-boo-yon") is made by poaching fish in a small amount of water seasoned with the holy trinity of onions, bell peppers, and celery, along with fresh tomato, parsley, peppercorns, white wine, lemon, and a few other possible ingredients. The word "courtbouillon" translates from French as "short boiling," and that's exactly the process. The fish and the vegetables all give their flavor into what becomes a very sloshy sauce, which you get up with a spoon while you eat the fish with a fork. Made with good fresh fish (redfish is the classic species, but it's also good with other flaky white fish) and a deft hand, it's one of those wonderful rarities: a really delicious dish that's also very light in every sense of the word.

Annals Of Sweetness
Sugar beets are a greater source of sweetener than most people know. The process for making sugar from those roots was created by a German scientist named Friedlieb Ferdinand Runge, who was born today in 1795.

Edible Dictionary
stromboli,, n., Italian--Named for an active volcanic island off the coast of Sicily, a stromboli is a variation on calzone. Pizza dough is folded over a collection of standard pizza toppings, and includes (as a calzone probably wouldn't) a good deal of red sauce. After being baked, a hole is punched into the top of the stromboli, from which steam billows forth while red sauce and molten cheese ooze out. This is supposed to remind you of the cone-shaped volcano, which is almost always puffing smoke, and cruise ship captains love to display.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
When you're making simple syrup or even more concentrated sugar solutions, brush any grains of sugar that stick to the side of the pan into the water. If you don't, granulation may begin and you'll have to start over.

Deft Dining Rule #217:
Any restaurant brave enough to still serve loose sugar from bowls is worth your special attention.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Crawfish Branch, Tennessee is a small stream that backs up from a dam into a recreational reservoir in David Crockett State Park. It's about midway between Memphis and Chattanooga, in the south central part of the state. If you don't picnic in the park, you can find the Chaparral Steakhouse and Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant two miles away in Lawrenceburg.

Annals Of Campfire Cooking
Today is the one hundred second anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. Nothing in my life was more rewarding than my participation in Scouting with my son for ten years. He's out of it now, but our lives are much richer as a result of that experience. And now we know how to cook trout meuniere and blackened lemonfish in the middle of nowhere!

The Saints
This is the feast day of St. Meingold, who lived in the ninth century in Belgium. He was of noble blood from the Belgian city Liege. He is one of many patron saints of bakers.

Food Namesakes
Today is the birthday (1925) of the great comedic actor Jack Lemmon, who was in one of the great food scenes in the history of cinema. As Felix in The Odd Couple, he corrected Oscar (Walter Matthau) about the bowl of pasta on the kitchen table. "That's not spaghetti, it's linguine!" he said. Oscar picked it up and threw it against the wall, red sauce and all. "Now it's garbage!" Not only that, but two of his movies have food titles: The Days Of Wine And Roses and The Fortune Cookie. . . Another actor, Welshman Stanley Baker, was born today in 1927. . . Paul Wheatbread, who was a member of the Union Gap with Gary Puckett, was born today in 1946. . . John Evert Morel, a Dutch artist, was born today in 1777. . . Big-league pitcher Aaron Cook was born today in 1979.

Words To Eat By
"I saw a cavalry captain buy vegetable soup on horseback. He carried the whole mess home in his helmet."--Aristophanes, classic Greek dramatist.

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Words To Drink By
"Marriage isn't a word. . . it's a sentence."--Elbert "King" Vidor, Hollywood movie director.