The Food Almanac: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's National Cheese Ball Day!

Cheese Ball

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

Food Inventions 
On this day in 1810, one Lewis M. Norton in Goshen, Connecticut, patented a form for cheese that created what became known as the "pineapple cheese." It was shaped like a pineapple, but didn't taste like one. Lewis and his cousin Alexander Norton went on to become what were the first manufacturers and marketers of cheese in America, buying milk from farmers all around the area.

Today's Flavor
Probably because of Norton's invention, today is said to be Cheese Ball Day. Cheese balls turn up frequently at gatherings in people's homes, usually brought by a well-meaning friend. We'd say I don't know who actually likes cheese balls, but in fact, we do. Philadelphia cream cheese, cheddar, herbs, garlic, nuts on the outside. . . we don't get it, but this close relative loves to make them and people do eat them. But has anyone ever really had a hunger that could only be satisfied by sticking a blunt knife into a cheese ball and spreading it across a cracker? 

Much more interesting are spheres made of more delicious things. So we're thankful to celebrate Crawfish Boulette Day, which arrives a little ahead of Crawfish Bisque Day (April 22). Crawfish bisque is traditionally served with stuffed crawfish heads, but both the stuffing (while making) and the unstuffing (while eating) of the heads are messy and inconvenient. On the other hand, you can put all the same ingredients into a crawfish boulette, add it at the table, and have something much better. These also make great appetizers served with hollandaise, remoulade, or tartar sauce. Go to my recipe for crawfish boulettes.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez: 
If you must have crawfish heads for you to accept my crawfish bisque as authentic, then you go in there and stuff the %#!@& things. I've got better things to do.

Deft Dining Rule #294
If a food has a shell that must be removed before it can be eaten, it had better be really delicious.

Edible Dictionary
pate brisee, [PAH-tay-bree-ZAY], French, n.--The French term for what we call pie dough in the U.S., pate brisee literally means "short pastry." "Short" here is the same meaning as it does in "shortening," meaning that the flour making up the dough is both held together and, after baking, made tender in texture. The other ingredients are salt, sugar, and water--but not much of any of that. The trick is to kind of pushthe dough both sideways and down against the sides of the bowl while mixing it. It takes a knack which, frankly, I do not have. Another difference between bakers and mortals.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Drink Creek is in north-central Colorado, about ten miles south of the Wyoming state line, and a 138-mile drive from Denver. It rises in one of the loftiest and most rugged parts of the Rockies, at about 10,000 feet. It drops 1600 feet into a swampy area studded with small lakes before being absorbed by the Laramie River, which flows into the North Platte, the Missouri, and the Mississippi. Drink Creek's water, then passes (very appropriately) by the French Quarter. The nearest place to to get a drink--let alone a full meal--is the Drifters Cook House in Walden, seventeen miles away from the mouth of Drink Creek.

Avid Eaters In The Movies
Arthur Lake, the guy who played Dagwood in the Blondie movies and TV show, was born today in 1905. He portrayed Dagwood as a complete nincompoop, and was very funny. As in the comic strip, Lake's Dagwood was always completely distracted from whatever he was doing by the appearance of food.

Food Namesakes
Actor Sean Bean was born on this day in 1959. He was in the Lord of the Rings series, among others. . . Victoria "Posh Spice" Adams, singer in the Spice Girls, was born today in 1974. . .Daffy Duck first appeared in Porky's Duck Hunt, a cartoon that came out on this date in 1937. . .Nancy Hogshead, who was an Olympic swimmer in 1984, then became a model, was born today in 1962. . . Hamilton Fish, one of many American politicians to bear that name, was born in 1849 on this date.

Related Stories
Kim-Cheese Balls and Brick-and-Mortar Plans for Austin's The Peached Tortilla

Words To Eat By
"A poet's hope: to be, like some valley cheese, local, but prized elsewhere."--W.H. Auden.