The Food Almanac: Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Staff Writer
It's Nacho Day!
Wikimedia Commons/ Gene3
The first nachos were fried tortilla chips topped with melted cheese and jalapenos. It became a hit, and mutated into chips covered with all kinds of stuff from the Mexican steam tables.

World Food Records
Today in 1993, the biggest peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever was made in (appropriately) Peanut, Pennsylvania. It was forty feet long and used 150 pounds of peanut butter. The jelly was kept to fifty pounds to keep the ants from going nuts. It was a poor boy sandwich, by the way, but not dressed. Parenthetically, let's note that this is Peanut Butter Lover's Month, according to Skippy.

Gourmet Gazetteer
This is a tale of two. . .well, not cities, that's for sure, but two places named Peanut, both in Pennsylvania. The first is forty-three miles east of Pittsburgh. It's a subdivision between Derry and New Derry, on the western shore of Ethel Springs Lake. It appears to have an Italian heritage; all the restaurants nearby are Italian, including M&M Pizza right there in Peanut. The other Peanut, PA is near the Ohio state line, fifteen miles from Youngstown. It's in the Mahoing River valley, and has several manufacturing plants nearby. The nearest place to eat well is Ambrosini's Restaurant, two miles away.

Today's Flavor
Today is Pan-American Nacho Day. Nachos were created by Ignatio Anaya, whose nickname was Nacho. (Say "Ignatio" and you'll see why.) In his restaurant in the bordertown of Piedras Negras, Mexico, he created a dish he named for himself: Especiales de Nacho. It was fried tortilla chips topped with melted cheese and jalapenos. It became a hit, and mutated into chips covered with all kinds of stuff from the Mexican steam tables.

Deft Dining Rule #718
The maximum number of ingredients that can top an order of nachos before they become limp and gross is three.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
If you want to make your own tortilla chips but don't feel like frying them, brush corn tortillas with olive oil on both sides, cut them into quarters, then arrange them on a cookie sheet. Bake them in the oven at 375 degrees for five minutes.

Edible Dictionary 
borscht, n.--A soup usually made of beef stock and various root vegetables, almost always including beets. That makes it some shade of red--usually an alarming magenta. It's served either hot ot cold, usually with a finishing dollop of sour cream. The national soup of the Ukraine, but found all over Eastern Europe in one form or another. In this country, it's particularly identified with Ashkenazi Jewish cooking, since so many American Jews can trace their origins to Russia. Most large delis in New York, for example, serve borscht every day. It is almost never seen in New Orleans, although in the 1970s a grand restaurant in Metairie called Romanoff's made it the house soup.

Annals Of Sensitivity
Today in 1981, Edy's--maker of a line of premium ice creams--bought a quarter-million-dollar insurance policy on the taste buds of its chief tester and flavor developer, John Harrison. A quarter-million? Is that all? My poor taste buds have given me more pleasure than that.

Annals Of Prohibition
Today in 1911, Maine law made it illegal to sell alcoholic beverages within its borders. It became the first dry state. No wonder they call themselves Maniacs. No more gin and Moxie for awhile.

Annals Of Beer Marketing
Director Mike Nichols was born today in 1931. Early in his career, he did voice-overs for the famous series of cartoons advertising Jax Beer here in New Orleans, with Elaine May doing the female voices.

The Saints
This is the feast day of St. Leonard of Noblac, who lived in the early France in the sixth century. He is the patron saint of grocers.

Food Namesakes 
Glen Frey, a member of the rock group The Eagles, was born today in 1948. . . American Olympic hockey star Laurie Baker was born today in 1976. . . Today in 1583, the first European explorer to land in Texas did so. His name was Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, which translates "cow's head.". . . Jim Pike, one of the singers in the close-harmony group The Lettermen, gave out his first note today in 1934.

Words To Eat By
"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."--Charlie Brown.

Words To Drink By
"It reminded him of his Uncle Seamus, the notorious and poetic drunk, who would sit down at the breakfast table the morning after a bender, drain a bottle of stout and say 'Ah, the chill of consciousness returns.'"--Molly O'Neill.

Related Links
Margherita Pizza, Nachos, and 26 Other Foods Named After People