The Food Almanac: Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's National Tortellini Day!
Wikimedia Commons/ cyclonebill

Tortellini come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Tom Fitzmorris publishes The New Orleans Menu.

Food Calendar 

The buzz on the Web is that today is National Tortellini Day. Tortellini come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. They’re small ravioli — little pillows of pasta usually rolled up around the stuffing instead lying flat. The filling is most often cheese, but spinach, tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, or other fillings — more often vegetable than meat–can be enclosed in tortellini. A slightly large variation is called tortelloni, which no doubt has its own special day. My favorite tortellini (or tortelloni) dish is a salad Chef Ron Wilemon of Allegro Bistro made at a party once. I badgered him for the recipe, and I have it below, in the Recipes department.

Gourmet Gazetteer 

Orange, California 92856 is now a suburb of Los Angeles, between Anaheim and Santa Ana. It grew up around a central plaza, which is still there. Also in place are many houses that predate the suburban sameness that dominate the L.A. area. Orange is distinctive. It was founded as Richland in 1869, but got its current name as the result of a card game among four men, each of whom wanted to name the town. Interestingly, all the names were of foods: Lemon, Walnut, Olive, and (winning the hand) Orange. Oranges indeed were grown in profusion in Orange decades ago, but the groves have moved out. In their place are about 129,000 people. And dozens of restaurants — including no fewer than ten on the central plaza.

Edible Dictionary

tasso, n. A Cajun meat specialty made from pork shoulder. It’s heavily cured and smoked in small pieces, acquiring a texture about halfway to jerky, with a dense, dark brown, peppery crust. It is cut into small dice and used as a seasoning in a wide range of Cajun dishes. It imparts upfront flavors of salt, pepper, and smokiness to anything it touches. It’s particularly popular in dishes with rich sauces, but it can turns up in almost anything. The flavors of tasso are so intense that it’s almost inedible as is. The word “tasso” probably descends from the Spanish word tasajo, a Latin American word for smoked beef jerky.

Annals Of Food Research

G. Brown Goode was born today in 1851. His contribution to our tables was a new two-volume atlas of the fisheries of the United States, published in the 1880s. It was the first resource with its scope, and included over 500 etchings of the many species of fish and shellfish that were caught and sold at the time.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you have to light a stove burner with a strike-anywhere match, it will never ignite properly on its own ever again. Unless that happened to be your last match.

Food In Sho-Biz

In 1972, the musical Grease opened on Broadway. A year later exactly, another musical, El Grande de Coca-Cola opened in New York City. A movie called Kitchen Stories premiered on this date in 2004. It was a comedy about making one’s kitchen work by the assembly-line method. I hear it wasn’t very funny. What was funny was a 1932 Our Gang episode called Free Eats. It featured the debut of George “Spanky” McFarland in the series.

Music To Chew Bubble Gum By

On the musical side of sho-biz, today in 1967 the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever was released. . . The Osmond Family had a Number One hit on this day in 1971, with their song One Bad Apple.

Food Namesakes

Eddie Pye, infielder for the Dodgers, was born today in 1967. . . German artist George Schrimpf was born today in 1889. . . Canadian musician Jeff Waters of Annihilator was born today in 1966.

Words To Eat By

“All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.” — Grant Wood, artist, who was born today in 1892.

“Fish should smell like the tide. Once they smell like fish, it’s too late.” Oscar Gizelt, former manager of Delmonico’s in New York.

Words To Drink By


“Fill up the goblet and reach to me some!
Drinking makes wise, but dry fasting makes glum.”
William R. Alger, “Wine Song of Kaitmas,” 1865).