The Food Almanac: September 2, 2012

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 saying.

Today's Flavor
This is National Frittata Day. A frittata is an unfolded omelette. The ingredients added to the eggs are usually incorporated into them rather than being enclosed by the finished omelette. They're served flat on a plate when made for one person. Sometimes they're made rather large, with as many as a dozen eggs, then sliced before serving. When made with cheese and the likes of bell peppers, tomatoes, and sausage, it becomes something like a breakfast pizza, with egg instead of the bread crust. The style began in Italy, but has spread into other cuisines.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
The best frittatas start on top of the stove and end in the oven. This is how restaurant chefs cook a lot of things, and it may be the biggest difference between restaurant food and home cooking.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Egg Hill is in the northeast corner of Maryland, twenty-five miles west of Wilmington, Delaware. It rises 401 feet — one of the highest points in the area — and is completely covered with woods. An enormous auto junkyard is just west. On a more appetizing note, the nearest eatery is a mile and a half away in Pleasant Hill: Uncle Bob's Western Corral.

Edible Dictionary
Dutch baby, n. — An unusual kind of pancake, made by baking a rather light, runny, eggy batter in a preheated cast-iron skillet in a very hot oven. As it bakes, it spreads, forcing the sides to rise above the rim of the skillet. The texture is like that of a soufflée, but a little heavier. The classic way to serve it is with a squeeze of lemon juice and powdered sugar. A Dutch baby is a smaller and more popular version of the German pancake, which is a bit harder to handle at home. Both were made popular by the Original Pancake House, an old, loose chain of breakfast specialists around the country.

Deft Dining Rule #130
Grits are delicious, but hash browns go better with an omelette.

Dining on the High Seas
Today in 1985, after decades of fruitless searching, the wreck of the Titanic was found on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery fired off a swell of interest in the luxurious ship. The dining rooms for the first-class passengers were alleged to have been magnificent. The cruise ships of today are much larger than the Titanic and incomparably more luxurious — to say nothing of being more egalitarian. The only ships on which the classes are kept apart now are the Cunard ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The Queen's Grill and Princess Grill passengers have their own dining rooms and even their own section of the deck. But even the hoi polloi live very well on those ships.

Food in Show Biz
Meinhardt Raabe was born today in 1915, but he never got a lot bigger. He played the Munchkin coroner who declared the Wicked Witch of the East dead in The Wizard of Oz. He went on to work for the Oscar Meyer wiener outfit, portraying Little Oscar, the World's Smallest Chef. He traveled around the country in the original Wienermobile in the 1930s. He wrote an autobiography, and he still turned up on television now and then. He also has a food name: raab is one of the words for the vegetable also known as broccoli di rape.

Great Food Disasters
Today in 1666, a baker who lived on Pudding Lane in London started a fire that spread to the entire city. It ultimately burned down more than 10,000 houses, and became known as The Great Fire. Ironically, a pudding maker named Tommy Tucker who lived on Baker Street was one of its victims.

Food Namesakes
William Frye, who represented Maine in Congress from 1870 to 1911, was elected to life today in 1830... Jim DeMint, the current U.S. Senator from South Carolina, was born today in 1951... Grady Nutt, a comedian and Baptist preacher, made his mother smile today in 1934 by being born. This is the second day in a row we've had someone named Nutt in this department.

Words to Eat By
"He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart." — C.S. Lewis.

Words to Drink By
"Whoever takes just plain ginger ale soon gets drowned out of the conversation." — Kin Hubbard, cartoonist and humorist, 1868-1930.