The Food Almanac: September 22, 2012

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

Today's Flavor
Today is White Chocolate Day. White chocolate enjoyed a vogue in the 1980s, largely by dint of the then-new idea of white chocolate mousse. I always thought that the strawberry inevitably served on top was the big payoff. White chocolate is not chocolate at all, lacking as it does the chocolate liquor that is the essence of the flavor. It's cocoa butter blended with the other ingredients used to make milk chocolate. Really, it would be better called white vanilla.

Food Inventions
In 1903 on this date, one Italo Marchiony applied for a patent (which he received a few months later) for a mold that would make ice cream cones. He had been making waffles and rolling them up to hold ice cream, but the combination was so popular that he wanted to make the cones faster. His invention made 10 at a time, using a two-piece mold. The same basic concept is used today.

Food Through History
Today in 1699, the citizens of Rotterdam — the largest port in the Netherlands at the time — went on strike because their cattle-raising countrymen inland raised the price of butter too much. Which proved once again that when you mess with people's food, you really make them angry.

Edible Dictionary
ladyfinger, n. — A long, oval-shaped sponge cake with a light, loose texture, a bit drier than other kinds of sponge cake. Ladyfingers are rarely eaten by themselves. They're made specifically to be used in more complicated desserts. These days, its most frequent appearances are in the Italian dessert tiramisu. It is also found in charlotte russe, a dessert we don't see often anymore. They have been around for at least three centuries, and may be one of the earliest examples of a pastry used as a building block for bigger pastries.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Lemon is a small dairy farming community in the hilly countryside of northeast Pennsylvania, 30 miles northwest of Scranton. It's a short walk from the central intersection across a field to Creamery Pond. Nomenclaturally speaking, therefore, we have the elements of a tart pie. Now the bad news. There's a big junkyard in Lemon. We'll escape two miles south to Lake Carey Inn, where we may have a lunch to go before the pie.

Deft Dining Rule #132
When the only fish on a menu is orange roughy, order steak or chicken.

World Food Record
Today in 2010, the world's record for the largest sweet bread ever baked was set when a king cake was built big enough to encircle the plaza level of the Superdome in New Orleans. Baked and strung together by Haydel's Baker — a major producer of the Carnival season confection — it weighed more than 4,000 pounds. Big pieces of it were sold to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. The whole cake was sold, as well as a second, slightly smaller one built at the same time.

Worst New Flavor
Today in 2000 there was stir when it was discovered that a batch of taco shells made by Kraft Foods had been made using a biologically engineered variety of corn that had not yet been approved for human consumption.

The Saints
Today is the feast day of St. Maurice, who lived in the third century in what is now Switzerland. He is the patron saint to call on if you have cramps. He is also the patron saint of knife sharpeners.

Food Namesakes
Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Lemon was born today in 1920... General Hospital actress Lynn Herring was born today in 1957... Virginia congressman Bob Goodlatte woke up and smelled the coffee today in 1952... Choreographer and director of music videos Toni Basil moved her feet for the first time today in 1943... Eric Baker, one of the founders of Amnesty International, was born today in 1920.

Words to Eat By
"Do not arouse disdainful mind when you prepare a broth of wild grasses; do not arouse joyful mind when you prepare a fine cream soup." — Dogen, a religious leader in Japan in the twelfth century, who died on this date in 1200.

Words to Drink By
"A house where neither wine nor welcome is served to friends, soon will have none." — Rob Hutchison, Canadian politician.