Traditional recipes

The Food Almanac: Tuesday, September 14, 2013

The Food Almanac: Tuesday, September 14, 2013

Today's Flavor
Today is widely noted as Cherries Jubilee Day, celebrating a dessert that's all but gone from restaurant menus, living on only at historic establishments like Antoine's. (Which, in fact, makes the definitive version.) It's pretty simple: cherries are cooked down in a syrup made right there in the pan, then flamed with kirsch, and served over ice cream. It is believed to have been created by no less than Auguste Escoffier, the arbiter of classic French cooking, on the occasion of Queen Victoria' s fiftieth jubilee. Escoffier's original recipe didn't have ice cream, but that was such a natural addition that it's now universal.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Cherryville is in southeastern Missouri, 102 miles southwest of St. Louis. Appropriately, it's on the east side of the Cherry Valley and its creek, a tributary of the Missouri, and therefore a contributor to the water drunk in New Orleans. It's in the middle of broad open fields populated with cows. Small as Cherryville it, it has not one but two restaurants: Bowers and Cottrell's, and The Wedge Grill.

Edible Dictionary
cherry bounce, n.--Anywhere cherries grow, people turn them into wine or liquor. In the South, cherries are small and extremely tart. That's the perfect kind for making cherry bounce, which doesn't really work well wit cherries from the store. Different makers of this use different liquors for the marinade, but the most common is vodka. It has no flavor of its own, and lets the subtle cherry taste come through.

Cocktails On Television
Today in 1977 was the launch date for The Love Boat, the situation comedy-drama set on a Princess cruise ship. The series tremendously boosted the popularity of cruising as a mainstream vacation. Previously, the average age of cruisers was "deceased." The Love Boat showed people of all ages having all kinds of fun on a spiffy, glamorous ship. What I remember most about The Love Boat was that no matter where you were on the ship, no matter what time it was, if you ordered a cocktail it would be mixed by Isaac, played by Ted Lange. He appeared to be the only cocktail server on the whole ship. Also at odds with our experience on cruise ships was the ease with which one could arrange to have dinner at the captain's table.

Annals Of Coffee
Riccardo Illy was born today in 1955. He joined his family's coffee company in Trieste, Italy, where he greatly expanded the marketing reach of Illy Caffe. He wrote an influential book about how to make espresso, starting with the unroasted beans and finishing in the cup. He then went into politics, where he's still a major player in that field.

Annals Of Brewing
Arthur Guinness, who founded the Guinness Brewing Company, was born today in 1725, in Dublin, Ireland. Members of his family worked as brewers, but Arthur got into the business on the entrepreneurial side. He started out making ales, but then moved to porter--the higher-alcohol, darker beers for which Guinness eventually became famous. Guinness is now the leading brand name of such beers, as well as the sponsor of the Book of World Records. The latter began as a means of settling arguments that may well have started over glasses of Guinness Stout.

Annals Of Restaurant Advertising
Today is the birthday, in 1870, of Georges Claude, the Frenchman who invented the neon lighting tube in 1910. Restaurants have been among the best customers of neon signmakers, and still use them heavily. Imagine the Acme Oyster House, Mandina's or Tujague's without neon!

Music To Eat Pie By
Today in 1967, Jay and the Techniques hit Number Three with their biggest record, Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie . It was about a girl!

Eating Around The World
Today is Heritage Day in South Africa, a holiday celebrating the ethnic diversity of that country. It is also known as National Braai Day. A braai is a barbecue, the kind you'd have with family and friends. Since it's early spring in South Africa, it's sort of the kickoff of that season.

Food And Drink Namesakes
We begin with food-named twins: Paul and Morgan Hamm, both American Olympic gymnasts, born today in 1982. Today in 1865, James Cooke walked a tightrope from the original Cliff House in San Francisco to the Seal Rocks, well out into the Pacific Ocean and covered with sea lions. Actor Don Porter, whose most famous role was as Sally Fields's father in the television show Gidget, hit The Big Stage today in 1912. I wonder if he knew that he shared a birthday with the most famous name in porter, Arthur Guinness (see above).

Words To Eat By
"Time's fun when you're having flies."--Kermit the Frog, the Muppet created by Jim Henson, who was born today in 1936.

Words To Drink By
"First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you."--F. Scott Fitzgerald, born today in 1896.

The Curious Viand Known as Faggots.

The faggot may perhaps be better understood and appreciated via some nineteenth century definitions and descriptions:

1851: Henry Mayhew, in his London Labour and the London Poor references it thus:
“He . made his supper … on ‘fagots’. This preparation … is a sort of cake, roll, or ball, . made of chopped liver and lights, mixed with gravy, and wrapped in pieces of pig's caul.”

1858: George Augustus Sala in Journey due North refers to them as:
“The curious viands known in cheap pork-butchery … as Faggots.”

1861: The Slang Dictionary Or the Vulgar Words, Street Phrases, and Fast Expressions of High and Low Society Many with Their Etymology, and a Few with Their History Traced by John Camden Hotten gives an interesting insight into the etymology with its definition of a faggot as:
“ … a bundle of bits of the “stickings” (hence probably its name) sold for food to the London poor. It is sometimes called a DUCK. In appearance it resembles a Scotch “haggis.” FAG-END of a. thing, the inferior or remaining part, the refuse. FAGOT:, a. term of opprobrium used by low people to children and women “you little FAGOT, you!” FAGOT was originally a term of contempt for a dry, shrivelled old woman, whose bones were like a, bundle of sticks, only fit to burn—Compare the French expression for a heretic, sentir le fagot.

1872: A contributor to All the Year Round, a periodical edited by Charles Dickens, included a short description of faggots in a piece which firmly places it in its nineteenth century social and historical perspective:
"Late on certain evenings the nostrils of the wanderer in Newport Market are assailed by an odour of exceeding savouriness. This hunger-compelling scent proceeds from a singular dish called "faggots," all hot—round lumps compounded, it is believed, chiefly of the interior organs of animals, highly seasoned the faggot is, indeed, a sort of degenerate Southern imitation of the Scottish national dish, haggis. Hungry children crowd round the steaming dishes of brown and savoury spheres, greedily inhaling the delightful odour, while those happy in the accidental possession of "browns," rush to gratify their appetites in more substantial fashion. Under the flaring gas-lights slipshod girls, carrying basins hidden under their pinafores, bear off triumphantly their supper to the poor home, where probably even such slender meals as "faggots" afford are somewhat scarce."

Here is a recipe for a rather posh version of faggots for those of you who love pig offal:

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