Traditional recipes

The Food Almanac: Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Food Almanac: Thursday, March 7, 2013

Annals Of Restaurant Reservations
In 1876 on this date Alexander Graham Bell was granted the patent for the telephone, thereby allowing us to call restaurants to reserve tables. What did people do to get a spot in the dining room before the phone was in widespread use? Perhaps reservations were not needed, or the reservation concept was not in existence. This bears some research.

Annals Of Food Research
Today is the birthday, in 1849, of the botanist Luther Burbank. He developed at least 800 new breeds of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, and showed the way to generate many more of them. We owe him a debt for the great diversity of food on our tables.

Today's Flavor
It is Crown Roast of Pork Day. This is what passed for gourmet food in America during the first half of the 1900s. It is a grand presentation: an entire rack of pork chops curled in a circle, with some sort of stuffing in the center. However, no part of the dish cooks well. The chops themselves get steamed more than roasted, and that makes them either too tough if cooked to the proper temperature, or juiceless if cooked beyond that. This is one we ought to rename Crown Roast of Pork Memorial Day.

This is also noted as National Cereal Day. That's because on this date in 1897, Dr. John Kellogg began serving corn flakes to the patients in a mental hospital. His brother William K. Kellogg, who started the cereal company that bears his name, improved on the flakes by adding sugar to them to make them taste better. The two Kellogg guys had some nutty ideas about health, but they did introduce a great new way to incorporate more grains into the modern diet.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Eaton Butte is a prominent mountain on the eastern slope of the Cascade Range in central Oregon, 103 miles southeast of Eugene. Its western side rises 1000 feet in a quarter mile to a 5169-foot summit. It's lightly forested, and popular among campers and hikers. Jeep trails crisscross it. Any eatin' will be done by those who packed in a lunch, or who drive nine miles east to Sugar Pine Cafe int he town of La Pine.

This is the twenty-second in a series of Gourmet Gazetteer places whose names begin with "Eat."

Edible Dictionary
Muscadine, n.--A white grape variety native to North America. It grows wild throughout the South, and is the most common variety of grape found there. It is also cultivated for eating or making wine. Muscadine wines--also called scuppernong--is almost always made sweet, and often with a high alcohol percentage that comes from fortifying it with brandy. It's not a great wine, but it does have the panache of being a local product.

Ancient History Today
Today in 321, Emperor Constantine decreed that the official weekly day off for the Roman Empire would be Sunday, the day honoring the pagan sun gods. Although most (but not all) Christians already considered Sunday their day of worship and rest, Constantine's prominence as the first Christian emperor definitively gave mainstream acceptance to Sunday over Saturday. So you have Constantine to blame for the Sunday closing of the restaurant you really wanted to dine in. And for Sunday brunch.

Deft Dining Rule #128:
Sunday is the chef's day off, and tied with Monday for the worst day to dine in an ambitious restaurant. This remains true for Sunday brunch--unless that's the only time any local people ever go to the place. The very finest restaurants admit the accuracy of this rule by closing on Sundays and Mondays.

The Saints
Today is the dual feast day of St. Felicity and St. Perpetua, who were friends and both patron saints of cows. (Don't even think "holy cow!")

Food Namesakes
Tammy Faye Bakker, the televangelist with the overdone makeup, was born today in 1942. .Matthew Fisher, who plays the baroque-sounding organ on Procol Harem's A Whiter Shade of Pale, was born today in 1946. Rachel Rice, actress, model, and English teacher in Wales, began to live today in 1984.

Words To Eat By
"If I go down for anything in history, I would like to be known as the person who convinced the American people that catfish is one of the finest eating fishes in the world."--Willard Scott,born today in 1934.

Words To Drink By
"The greatest luxury of riches is that they enable you to escape so much good advice."--Sir Arthur Helps, British writer, who was born on this date in 1813, and died on this date in 1875.


Hellish Food.

The American writer Henry Miller died on this day in 1980. He once had a conversation by correspondence with his British writer friend Lawrence Durrell on the subject of the food in Hell.

Miller wrote: “Hell is probably quite similar to most Paris bistros . a bit overheated, somewhat too crowded, and a little too noisy for my tastes. The waiters will surely treat you rudely and the cashiers will always add a few extra francs to your bill but . and this is the important part . the food will be marvellous”.

Some time later, Miller and Durrell spent some time on the island of Corfu , which – being part of the Ionian Islands – is of volcanic origin and sometimes smells of the sulphur. Durrell apparently asked his friend how he would feel about his “bistro” smelling sulphurous (as Hell is said to do).

Miller replied: “With a good bouillabaise, a young chicken cooked in tarragon and a good wine from Bordeaux not even the smells of hell will bother me”

Presumably, in Hell’s Kitchen, the Devil is Cook. Which made me think of the hot dishes called ‘devils’ that were so beloved of the Victorian Englishman. The eccentric English cookbook writer William Kitchener eloquently described their delights (and dangers) in his book The Cook’s Oracle, and they can be read on the Companion site HERE. We have also previously had recipes for Devilled Chestnuts and Devilled Eggs, so we should perhaps find another focus for today.

This story started with Henry Miller, whose idea of heavenly food in Hell included the French bistro version of chicken cooked in tarragon, so here is a recipe from the eccentric French cookbook writer, the Baron Brisse (1868).

Chicken with Tarragon.
Boil some finely chopped tarragon-leaves and take a third of them to mix with a stuffing made of minced liver of chicken, scraped lean bacon, salt and pepper. Stuff the fowl with it, truss and cover with slices of bacon, wrap up in a sheet of buttered paper and roast. Melt some fresh butter, stir in a little flour, and add the remainder of the tarragon leaves, a little gravy, a few drops of vinegar, salt and pepper. When the fowl is two-thirds cooked, take it off the spit and simmer in a stew-pan with the sauce until quite done. Thicken the sauce with two or three yolks of eggs before serving.

The disappearance of hot hors-d'oeuvre was the result of the excessive development of women's skirts. Baron Leon Brisse (1813-1876)


The Saltiest Foods May Surprise You

THURSDAY, March 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- You probably know that Americans consume way too much salt, but a new U.S. government report points the finger at some surprising sources of salt in the diet.

The report said the top 5 culprits were:

Surprisingly, potato chips, pretzels and other obviously salty snacks didn't make it into the top five, though they did ring in at number 7.

"Most Americans are consuming too much salt and it's coming from a lot of commonly consumed foods -- about 25 foods contribute the majority of salt," said lead researcher Zerleen Quader. She's an analyst from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Knowing which foods contribute the most salt is important for reducing your salt intake, she said.

Sodium is an essential mineral that helps the body maintain fluid balance, according to the American Heart Association. But, too much in the diet increases the risk for high blood pressure, which in turn boosts the risk for heart attack and stroke. Table salt contains about 40 percent sodium. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium, which is the maximum amount recommended by health experts.

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The new CDC report found that in 2013-2014, Americans consumed about 3,400 mg of salt daily. That far exceeds the recommended amount, and is more than double the American Heart Association's "ideal" intake of 1,500 mg daily.

And, clearly, all that salt doesn't come from the salt shaker. Most comes from packaged, processed and restaurant foods, the report said.

Many of these foods contain moderate amounts of salt, but are eaten all day long, Quader said. It's not necessarily that foods such as bread are high in salt, but eating several slices a day quickly adds to the total amount of salt you consume.

One way to reduce salt is to pay attention to food labels when shopping and choose the lowest salt option, Quader suggested.

"When cooking at home, use fresh herbs and other substitutes for salt. When eating out, you can ask for meals with lower salt," she added.

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Quader said the food industry can help by lowering the amount of salt it adds to its products. Gradually reducing salt in foods can help prevent high blood pressure ("hypertension") and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and won't even be noticed by consumers, she said.

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The CDC researchers found that 44 percent of the salt people eat comes from just 10 foods. These include bread made with yeast, pizza, sandwiches, cold cuts and cured meats, soups, burritos and tacos, salted snacks, chicken, cheese, eggs and omelets.

Seventy percent of salt in the diet is from 25 foods, the report said. Some of the foods included in the top 25 are bacon, salad dressing, French fries and cereal, the researchers found.

In addition, 61 percent of the salt consumed daily comes from store-prepared foods and restaurant meals. Restaurants have the saltiest foods, Quader said.

Processed foods not only raise blood pressure, but may also increase the risk for cancer, one nutritionist said.

Samantha Heller is a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City.

"Processed meats such as bologna, ham, bacon and sausage, and hot dogs have been classified as carcinogens by the World Health Organization," Heller said.

In addition, these and other highly processed foods are huge contributors to the excess salt in the Western diet.

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"Parents need to understand that feeding hot dogs, fries, and ham and cheese sandwiches to their kids (and themselves) is significantly increasing their risk for certain cancers, hypertension and heart disease," Heller said.

Lowering salt in your diet is "as simple and as difficult as cooking at home and using fresh ingredients, as often as possible," she suggested.

"This can save money and time in the long run, and certainly is better for our health," Heller said. "It may take some time to re-pattern your shopping and eating habits, but your health is worth it."

The report was published March 31 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.


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