The Food Almanac: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Today's Flavor
It's Chocolate Pudding Day, which brings up the question: What's the difference between chocolate pudding and chocolate mousse? Answer: chocolate pudding is usually thickened with gelatin (in the case of the instant mixes you buy in a box) or with flour (if you make it from scratch). Chocolate mousse is so easy to make and so much better in texture and flavor that it's what we always do around here when we're in the mood for such a dessert. Chocolate mousse also has the advantage of being ready to eat the moment you finish mixing it; it doesn't need to set up in the refrigerator, although some think that the refrigeration improves the texture of the mousse. But many people grew up eating chocolate pudding and still love it.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Pudding Creek runs along the northern edge of Fort Bragg, California, ending in the Pacific Ocean. It's a former route to the sea of the Noyo River, which now runs along the southern limits of the same town. All this is on the dramatic Pacific coast just northwest of the Napa and Sonoma wine districts. On a visit there, it's fun to take a day off of tasting to ride along the cliffs on State Highway 1. The best place to eat is the Old Coast Hotel Bar and Grill, right in the middle of Fort Bragg, and two miles from Pudding Creek.

Edible Dictionary
Yorkshire pudding, n.–An eggy popover bread made with the drippings and rendered fat from a roast beef instead of butter. It's the classic accompaniment served with prime rib. Yorkshire puddings are usually made in a size meant to be eaten by one person, but some restaurants in England–notably Rules in London–makes them as big as bowls. Like most popovers, they're hollow on the inside, and are at their best right out of the oven. The name is an example of how broad is the meaning of the word "pudding" is in England.

Annals Of Food Writing
Today is the birthday of Milton Glaser, in 1926. He is best known as a trend-setting graphic designer and illustrator from the 1960s onward. But in our narrow outlook he is distinguished as the New York Underground Gourmet, a reviewer of hidden, often ethnic restaurants in that city. He wrote a weekly column under that name in New York Magazine for many years, as well as the first of a series of Underground Gourmet books. Richard Collin was the Underground Gourmet here in New Orleans.

Food Inventions
Roy J. Plunkett was born today in 1910. While working for DuPont, he discovered a new polymer that led to his invention ofTeflon. DuPont saw the possibilities for cookware immediately and the first Teflon-coated pots and pans rolled out in the 1960s. Nothing sticks to Teflon, which is both its advantage and disadvantage. How do you make it stick to the thing it's coating? To this day that remains a problem, and the flaking off of Teflon and other non-stick coatings vexes all who use them. From a cooking perspective, I find that there are better ways to keep most things from sticking. And that for many dishes you want the food to stick a little (as when searing meats). However, there's nothing like a Teflon pan for cooking omelettes, or a Teflon muffin tin for making popovers.

Everything But The Oink Department
Today in 1498 is reputed to be the day the toothbrush was invented. It happened in China, when the stuff bristles from a back of a hog were attached to either a bone or wood handle. Hog bristles continued to be used for toothbrushes well into the twentieth century. One wonders how successful the invention was before the introduction of toothpaste. Especially flavored toothpaste with stripes, which my children tell me is essential or no go.

Food Games
Candy Land, the board game for kids, was patented today in 1951. My kids liked it when they were little, because it involves no reading or counting to play. However, even they were grossed out by the fantastic amount of sticky-gooey candy that one moves through. Playing it always made me feel like I did after making the first pass through the trick-or-treat bag on Halloween night.

Food And The Law
Today in 1848, the first federal legislation designed to regulate the purity of food and drugs went into effect. The Drug Importation Act was as much about raising the standards of foreign drugs as about getting domestic makers to also improve their products. It worked, and more such laws began being enacted.

Annals Of Barcoding 
The first grocery store item to be scanned for its price barcode was a ten-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum. It went across the scanner today in 1974, at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

Words To Eat By
"Blessed be he that invented pudding, for it is a manna that hits the palates of all sorts of people; a manna better than that of the wilderness, because the people are never weary of it."–Francois Maximilien Mission, French writer of the 1600s.

Words To Drink By
"There's nothing serious in mortality. 
All is but toys; renown and grace is dead, 
The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees 
Is left this vault to brag of. 
William Shakespeare, Macbeth.