The Food Almanac: March 31, 2011

Staff Writer
Get your day off to an appetizing start with food facts and trivia from Tom Fitzmorris.
The Food Almanac: March 31, 2011
The New Orleans Menu

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

Eating Calendar
Today is Oranges and Lemons Day. I've already had three big Louisiana navel oranges this morning for their matchless juice. Citrus fruits offer much more than just a drink. Lemon juice is one of the most useful ingredients in the kitchen. Not only does it have a marvelous fresh flavor, but its high acidity — it's one of the most acidic foods we eat — performs all sorts of magic in sauces, as meat marinades, and in keeping things fresh. Orange juice is less versatile, but much underrated as an ingredient. I'm always trying to include it in baking (as in orange cheesecake) and in sauce-making (orange hollandaise). Orange zest and skin adds the unique flavor of orange oil.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
If you jab a wedge of lemon and wipe its juice all over whatever poultry or fish you're cooking, your chances of improving the dish are nearly a hundred percent.

Gourmet Geography
Orange, population 4,123, is 74 miles northwest of Richmond, Va. It's the county seat of Orange County, and has been since 1749. It's full of historic homes, surrounded by orchards and vineyards, and is near a number of Civil War battlefields. The Norfolk Southern Railroad runs through town, carrying on its iron the Amtrak Crescent, the passenger train from New York to New Orleans. The classiest place to dine in the area is the Inn At Meander Plantation, seven miles north of town.

Edible Dictionary
kumquat, n. — A small, orange citrus fruit, usually eaten whole, including the peel. The typical kumquat is oval in shape, about an inch wide and an inch and a half long. Some varieties are round, however. They all seem to come from Southeast Asia. Records of their cultivation go back to the 1100s, and they've been popular throughout the Far East for at least 700 years. They grow on bushes that resemble other citrus trees in the shape of their leaves and flowers. They are less sensitive to freezing than almost any other citrus, surviving temperatures of 15 degrees. The skin is sweeter and the pulp more bitter than most citrus. The oils are particularly fragrant, so they're good in cocktails. Other than eating them whole, kumquats can also be preserved. It's a friendly little fruit that lacks a large fan club.

Dining Around the World
In 1889 on this date, the Eiffel Tower was dedicated. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel let the French flag fly from the tower's summit in the ceremony. It opened to the public about a month later as the entrance to a world's fair. The tower had a restaurant at the lower platform level until the 1980s, when it was disassembled, packed into containers, and shipped to New Orleans.