The Food Almanac: Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's International Suckling Goat Day!
Wikimedia Commons/ Dtarazona

Today's Flavor
Today is International Suckling Goat Day. In the Spanish-speaking world, that's cabrito. In Italy, capretto. In both countries, and many other parts of the world, baby goat is eaten as commonly and avidly as we eat lamb or veal. It has not caught on in America much, outside of ethnic restaurants. Maybe the reason for this is that the English name for baby goat (analogous to "lamb" or "veal") is "kid."

Chefs looking for something different to keep themselves in the avant-garde should look more closely at goat meat. It's lighter in flavor than lamb, more flavorful than veal, not gamy, and very delicious. Among the four or five best meals of my life was one I had at a winery in Friuli, Italy. The featured course was braised capretto, in a light natural jus. I can't explain how it was as delicious as it was, but I'll never forget it.

Goat meat is very tender without being fatty at all. To keep it that way different parts need different attentions. The loin and ribs can be roasted or barbecued. Other parts need low, slow, moist cooking. Like rabbit, goat meat starts out tender then toughens up during rapid cooking.

Unfortunately, little goat shows up on local menus. Not even the Mexican restaurants offer it much. Chef Andrea Apuzzo at Andrea's runs it once in awhile. The Indian restaurants keep it on the menu all the time, but served with a lot of bone attached. Some of them misidentify it as "mutton." If you ever encounter goat anywhere, try it. It's easy to gain a taste for it. Start with a goat cheese salad as a first course.

Many web sites are reporting that today is National German Chocolate Cake Day. The really great local rendition of that dessert has returned at the newly-reborn Santa Fe restaurant, now on Esplanade Avenue. Its original owner, Chef Mark Hollger, served mostly Mexican food, but he's German, and he used to make this and other first-class German-style desserts.

Deft Dining Rule #726: 
Any restaurant with goat on its menu will be adventuresome about everything else, and better than a comparable restaurant without goat.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Goat City, Tennessee is ninety-seven miles northeast of Memphis. It's on US 45E, on the other side of the tracks (literally) from Milan Arsenal, a World War II-era munitions plant that now manufactures shells and grenades. A couple of industrial buildings and a cemetery are in downtown Goat City, but the area is surrounded by farms where goats would indeed be very happy to live. The nearest place to eat is two miles south at Cafe Medina, in the town of the same name, or at the Rhodes Family Diner.

Edible Dictionary
zest, n.--The outermost skin of a citrus fruit, containing the flavorful oils, scraped off in very thin strips with a special tool. A "zester" has a handle like a knife's, and a stubby blade with several small holes along the end. The citrus oils in the zest have a different flavor than that of the juice of the fruit, and is aromatic. Zest is used as much as a garnish as an ingredient. Lemon zest is a component of gremolata, a finished touch for osso buco and some other northern Italian dishes.

Food In Sports
Pro football punter Tom Rouen was born today in 1968. His name is that of the town in France famous for the classic pressed-duck recipe, canard rouennaise. We only bring this up because we're still hung over from celebrating Donald Duck's birthday two days ago.

Food Through History
Today in 1947, after five years beginning in wartime, sugar rationing ended in the United States. . . In 1939 on this date, King George VI of England and Queen Elizabeth (the mother of the present British Queen) visited the United States. President Franklin Roosevelt served the royal guests hot dogs, of all things. They had never tried those, and wanted to.

Annals Of Food Research 
Mary Jane Rathbun, American zoologist, was born today in 1860. For a long time, she was the world's authority on crustaceans, and developed the taxonomy of crabs and their kin. She named many crab species, including the blue crab so much enjoyed on New Orleans tables--callinectes sapidus. (The name means "delicious crab.")

Food Inventions
Carl von Linde was born today in 1842. He invented mechanical refrigeration, an idea that transformed how food is preserved, purchased, shipped, and stored. It's hard to imagine getting along without it now--although some relics of the pre-refrigeration epoch remain. Salted fish, duck confit, clarified butter, and sun-dried fruits all remind us that we did not always just open the reefer and throw the perishables inside. 

Another essential kitchen appliance was patented today. Robert Heterick (or Haeterick) registered his design for a cast-iron stove today in 1793. It wasn't the first stove, of course, but it was the first one to receive an American patent.

Extremes In Food 
Today in 1994 a container with a volume of 6620 cubic feet was filled with popped popcorn, strictly for the purpose of setting a record. It was not buttered.

Food Namesakes
Frank King, who created the comic strip Gasoline Alley, was born today in 1883. The strip is still being published after ninety years. Now and then a hot dog stand called Frank King is depicted in the background of one of its panels. . . Gospel singer and songwriter Chris Rice was born for the first time today in 1970. . . James IV, the Duke of Brabant, was born today in 1403.

Words To Eat By
"Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter."--Brother Dave Gardner, country comedian, born today in 1926. 

"Man, of all the animals, is probably the only one to regard himself as a great delicacy."--Jacques Cousteau, inventor of scuba diving, born today in 1910.


Words To Drink By
"Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza."--Dave Barry.