The Food Almanac: Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's National Cherry Pie Day!
Cherry Pie
Wikimedia Commons/ Evan-Amos

Cherry Pie


Today's Flavor
Many websites claim that today is National Cherry Pie Day. The problem with this is that cherries are totally out of season right now, and we must make any cherry pie with canned cherries, resulting in a cloyingly oversweet dessert. Remember when you could get a cherry pie at McDonald's and places of that ilk? Just apple now, I think (although I'm behind on my research on fast-food fried pies.)

Great Moments In Grocery Shopping
The square-bottomed paper bag was invented by Luther Crowell of Cape Cod, who spent his spare time folding paper and attempting to make things out of it. He got a patent for his bag--which was universal in grocery stores until the plastic sack took over--in 1867. But on this day in 1872 Crowell patented the machine that made them easily and cheaply.

Beer Through History 
The Yuengling Brewery opened in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on this date in 1829. It's still in business, the oldest American brewery that can make that claim. I guess that makes them a bit older than Dixie. It continued operation during Prohibition by making a nasty drink called "near-beer." 

Inventions For Better Eating 
toothpick manufacturing machine was invented on this day in 1872, by two guys, J.P. Cooley and Silas Noble. One of them did the round toothpicks and the other flat. The best toothpicks are made of alder wood. Ask the next very expensive restaurant you dine in whether they have alder toothpicks. Then tell them that they should. Let's see how long this takes to make it into the national food magazines. Most of the toothpicks made in America, by the way, are made in Maine.

Annals Of Wine Marketing
The first wine auction that we know about took place in London on this date in 1673. Amazingly, a bottle of Phelps Insignia went for almost $2,000. No, it didn't. The wine being auctioned was entirely in barrels, and was sold as a bulk commodity.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Bing is thirty-five miles south of Missoula, Montana, in the westernmost part of that state. The Bitterroot River flattens a ten-mile wide, north-south, high valley filled with farms. Bing began as a station on a Northern Pacific Railroad branch line, now abandoned. It's now a headquarters for several of the farms. No evidence of Bing cherry farms can be seen. The nearest restaurants are three and a half miles away in Victor. The Flying Pig Bar and Grill sounds good.

Edible Dictionary
Bing cherry, n.--The most common variety of fresh cherry in America is a large fruit as cherries go, dark red to almost black. It's a cultivar of the North American wild cherry, created in Oregon in 1875. It's named for a Chinese orchardist named Ah Bing. In some stories, he's the person who raised the hybrid. It has a large stone that must be removed, but the cherry is so popular that machines do that now. Bing cherries are perfect for desserts like cherries jubilee or Black Forest cake.

Dining In The Movies
Today is the birthday of Sidney Poitier, whose first big movie was Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? in 1967. It's about the problems the older generation had when their children started hanging around with people of other racial backgrounds.

Words To Eat By
"The majority of those who put together collections of verses or epigrams resemble those who eat cherries or oysters: they begin by choosing the best and end by eating everything."--Nicolas Chamfort, an eminently quotable author from the mid-1700s.