The Food Almanac: Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's National Hot Cocoa Day!
Wikimedia Commons/ Itisdacurlz

While cocoa is great in hot chocolate, my favorite use of powdered cocoa is to dust desserts, notably chocolate truffles and tiramisu.

Today’s Flavor
Today is National Hot Cocoa Day. I never was much on cocoa–cafe au lait fills the same need in my beverage selections. But my wife loves the stuff, and on cold days she makes a very rich version of it that reminds her of the cocoa they make at the El Tovar Hotel in the Grand Canyon, where she used to work. She said that many of the staff put on a lot of weight every winter just from drinking that cocoa.

My favorite use of powdered cocoa is to dust desserts, notably chocolate truffles and tiramisu. If you place a doily on top of the item to be cocoa-dusted, you can get interesting patterns.

Another source says that today is National Ambrosia Day. “Food of the gods” is what that word literally means. So why should a concoction of coconut and orange sections get such a name?

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cake Mountain, Arizona is about seventy-five air miles northeast of Tucson. It’s in a rugged, uninhabited, isolated area, so getting there by road adds another 100 miles to the trip. Cake Mountain stands 6522 feet high, the highest peak in the arid area. Biscuit Peak is about a mile and a half to the south, to keep the bakery theme going. But bring a lot of food and water. Or go to Tortillas Mi Pueblito, the nearest restaurant, thirteen miles west as the balloon flies, in Mammoth.

The Saints
Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron of Mexico and the entire New World, especially the Spanish-speaking part of it. There is hardly a family-owned Mexican restaurant that doesn’t have a reproduction of her famous image somewhere.

Edible Dictionary

caciocavallo, Italian, n., adj.–A cheese popular in the southern half of of Italy, and made there since Roman times. It’s a pale, straw-colored cheese that has different flavors and textures, depending on how much aging it receives. It can be anything from a soft, sliceable cheese to a hard, sharp one suitable for grating. Its name–which translates as “cheese on horseback”–is a reference to the bags once used in the initial stages of its making. They resembled saddle bags. An unusual use of caciocavallo in Sicily is a dish called caciu in the local dialect. It’s a seared slab of cheese served with a vinegar and oil sauce. Its texture and color makes it resemble meat. It’s served during Lent, mostly.

Music To Dine In Italian Restaurants By
Today is the birthday of Frank Sinatra, in 1915. Certainly no vocalist is more played in restaurants, or anywhere else. Indeed, I’m listening to his classic A Jolly Christmas album as I write this. “May you live long,” he used to say, “and may the last voice you hear be mine.” Even though he died in 1998, his voice is still the last one a lot of people hear. If I could have two selfish wishes, the first would be to be sixteen again, and the second would be to be Frank Sinatra.

Deft Dining Rule #872:
A restaurant that plays a great deal of Frank Sinatra on its sound system will have many regular customers.

Food In The Movies
On this date in 1967, the film Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner premiered. It was about the reaction that a proper white couple (Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, no less) had when their daughter brought an African-American fiancé (Sidney Poitier) home to meet the folks. I was disappointed that they didn’t focus more on the food being served.

Food In The Funnies 
The Katzenjammer Kids, the oldest comic strip still running, made its first appearance today in 1897. One of the running jokes in the German-flavored strip was the efforts of Fritz and Hans (the Kids) to steal Mama’s pies from the windowsill. Mama always seems to be baking pies, and Der Kaptain always seems to be thinking about eating.

Food Namesakes
Nilda Pinto, a writer from Curacao, was born today in 1918. . . Artist Edvard Munch,whose famous painting was “The Scream,” probably came out screaming today in 1863. . . Philip Drinker, who invented the iron lung, took his first sip today in 1894. . . Jim Bunn, Congressman from Oregon, was bunn today in 1956.

Words To Eat By
“Animal crackers, and cocoa to drink
That is the finest of suppers, I think
When I’m grown up and can have what I please,
I think I shall always insist upon these.”–Christopher Morley.

5 Most Fattening Fast-Food Chain Hot Chocolates6 Ways to Spice Up Your Hot Chocolate10 Alternatives to Boring Hot Chocolate

Words To Drink By
“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.”–Frank Sinatra, born today in 1915.