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Posts Tagged ‘Food

“I am sure my music has a taste of codfish in it”*…

 

High-frequency sounds enhance the sweetness in food, while low frequencies bring out the bitterness.  So, could sound replace sugar? And what kind of music should restaurants play?  The Guardian digs in…

Sound is the final frontier in food presentation. Restaurants agonise over menus, crockery, furniture and lighting, yet often any old CD will be stuck on for background music with nary a thought. However, now that we’re starting to understand that everyone has synaesthetic tendencies when it comes to taste, sound is set to play a bigger part in our eating experience. Ben & Jerry’s, for example, is considering a sonic range of ice-cream flavours, with QR codes on the tubs that will allow eaters to access complementary sounds via their phones…

Confirming the hunches of so many ravenous aeroplane passengers, a study published in 2011 found that loud background noise suppresses saltiness, sweetness and overall enjoyment of food. (For flyers, this is compounded by the high altitude blocking nasal passages, and therefore access to aromas.) Incidentally, for those among you who curse that you can’t hear yourself think, or indeed taste, in some restaurants, it isn’t unheard of for the background din to register 90db, which is a tad louder than commercial flights.

However, Charles Spence, director of Oxford’s Crossmodal Laboratory, points out: “Have you ever noticed how many people ask for a bloody mary or tomato juice from the drinks trolley on aeroplanes? The air stewards have, and when you ask the people who order, they tell you that they rarely order such a drink at any other time.” Spence reckons this is because umami may be immune to noise suppression. If he proves his hypothesis, perhaps concentrating on umami-rich ingredients such as tomatoes, parmesan, mushrooms and cured meats in the sky could help obliterate plane-food hell…

Much, much more at “How sound affects the taste of our food.”

* Edvard Grieg

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As we slip on our headphones, we might spare a thought for Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni; he died on this date in 1827.  Widely regarded as “the father of acoustics,” he built on the work of Robert Hooke to create “Chladni figures,” demonstrations of complex patterns of vibration; variations of this technique are still commonly used in the design and construction of acoustic instruments like violins, guitars, and cellos.

Creating Chladni figures

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Chladni measured the speed of sound in various gases by determining the pitch of the note of an organ pipe filled with each gas, and determined the speed of sound in solids using analysis of the nodal pattern in standing-wave vibrations in long rods.

Chladni was an accomplished musician (and inventor of he musical instrument called “Euphon“), and fathered another science–  meteoritics– when, in 1794, he published Über den Ursprung der von Pallas gefundenen und anderer ihr ähnlicher Eisenmassen und über einige damit in Verbindung stehende Naturerscheinungen (“On the Origin of the Pallas Iron and Others Similar to it, and on Some Associated Natural Phenomena”) in which he proposed that meteorites have an extraterrestrial origin.

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Written by LW

April 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

“We all have hometown appetites”*…

 

Lebanon: fatoush (tomato salad), pita bread, and parsley

As part of a promotion for the Sydney International Food Festival, the advertising agency WHYBIN/TBWA designed 18 national flags using foods for which each country is commonly known…

United States: hot dogs, ketchup, and mustard

China: dragon fruit and star fruit

Japan: tuna and rice

 

See other prandial pennants at Marvelous. [Grateful TotH to reader @krasney]

Foreigners cannot enjoy our food, I suppose, any more than we can enjoy theirs. It is not strange; for tastes are made, not born. I might glorify my bill of fare until I was tired; but after all, the Scotchman would shake his head and say, ‘Where’s your haggis?’ and the Fijan would sigh and say, ‘Where’s your missionary?’
-Mark Twain, Roughing It

* Clementine Paddleford (quoted in Charles Wysocki’s Americana Cookbook)

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As we ask for extra mayonnaise, we might recall that it was on this date in 1960 that Elvis Presley was honorably discharged after two years in the U.S. Army; he left with the rank of sergeant.  Presley, whose career had been carefully stoked with banked material during his service, went right back to work: within a month he recorded and released a single, “Stuck on You,” that went straight to Number One, the ballads “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”, and the rest of Elvis Is Back!, which went straight to Number Two on the album chart.  And he hit the sound stage as well, making G.I. Blues in time to release it that summer– and watch it climb to Number Two on Variety‘s box office chart.

Elvis entertaining King Mehendra and Queen Ratna of Nepal on the set of “G.I. Blues”

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Written by LW

March 5, 2014 at 1:01 am

Bless you…

 

One of the first “sneeze guards” appeared in Johnny Garneau’s American Style Smorgasbord in Monroeville 1958.

In 1959, the restaurateur and inventor Johnny Garneau patented the “Covered Food Serving Table,” later known as the “sneeze guard,” a means of protecting food on display from bacteria and other germs that may be spread by sneezing.  Today, it’s required by law that retail, self-service food bars have one—no salad bar shall be left uncovered…

At the time of his invention, he owned and ran a chain of American Style Smorgasbord restaurants in Ohio and Pennsylvania—a set price, all-you-can-eat buffet model based off of the the traditional Swedish “smorgasbord,” a celebratory meal, buffet style, with a laid-out table of food. The first example of a smorgasbord in America appeared at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Garneau’s “American Style Smorgasbord” restaurant was one of the first of many self-service restaurants that would pop up in the the United States in the ’50s.

“Being the germaphobe that he was, he couldn’t stand people going down the Smorgasbords smelling things and having their noses too close to the food,” Barbara Kelley, one of five of Garneau’s children says. “He said to his engineers, ‘We have to devise something—I don’t want these people sneezing on the food”…

The saying is that “necessity is the mother of invention.” It took a Midwestern restauranteur to realize that without something to protect them, everyone’s favorite buffet foods were defenseless from the attack of a 40 mph sneeze.

Read the full story, and peruse the patent, at “How the “Sneeze Guard” Changed Buffet Tables Forever.”

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As we reach for the hand sanitizer, we might spare a thought for Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort, KCB, FRS, FRGS, MRIA; he died on this date in 1857.  A career naval officer and hydrographer, Beaufort devised, in 1806, a simple scale that coastal observers could use to report the state of the sea to the Admiralty.  Originally designed simply to describe wind effects on a fully rigged man-of-war sailing vessel, it was later extended to include descriptions of effects on land features as well.  Officially adopted in 1838 (and in use to this day), it uses numbers 0 to 12 to designate calm, light air, light breeze, gentle breeze, moderate breeze, fresh breeze, strong breeze, moderate gale, fresh gale, strong gale, whole gale, storm, and hurricane. Zero (calm) is a wind velocity of less than 1 mph (0.6 kph) and 12 (hurricane) represents a velocity of over 75 mph (120kph).

A sneeze of the sort that spooked Johnny Garneau often measures an 8 on the Beaufort Scale: “Fresh Gale.”

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Written by LW

December 17, 2013 at 1:01 am

When good food and good company just aren’t enough…

 

Ithaa restaurant in the Maldives is located 5 meters (about 16.5 feet) below the surface and has 180-degree views of the vibrant coral gardens. The cuisine has a European slant, and is constructed into a six-course tasting menu paired with champagnes. The menu offers items like Malossol Imperial caviar with sour cream and potato blinis, and yellowtail king fish with saffron champagne risotto and beurre blanc foam. The all-inclusive six-course option will cost around $320 per person (plus a 10 percent service charge and 8 percent tax per person), but the restaurant does offer a slightly less expensive four-course lunch tasting menu that costs $125 per person.

Polish up the platinum card, then check out the other nine options at “The 10 Most Expensive Restaurants in the World.”

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As we tuck in our napkins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Domincan sister Jeanine Deckers, a Belgian singer-songwriter who performed as Sœur Sourire (Sister Smile), but was known in the U.S. as “The Singing Nun,” reached the top of the Billboard chart with “Dominique.”  As History.com notes:

The previous month, pop radio stations around the country had briefly gone dark out of respect for the late President John F. Kennedy following his assassination in Dallas on November 22. The following month, those same stations would begin broadcasting, nearly nonstop, the first sounds of a coming revolution, as the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” hit American shores on January 13. Perhaps only during the unique moment in pop-music history that fell between those historic landmarks could an actual Belgian nun have ascended to the American pop charts with a jaunty tune about a Catholic saint—sung in French, no less.

She held the #1 spot for four weeks, effectively blocking Louie, Louie from ever reaching the top.

email readers click here for video

 

Written by LW

December 7, 2013 at 1:01 am

All the food that’s fit to eat…

 

Wired partnered with Food Network to crunch 49,733 recipes and 906,539 comments from their massive website.  The result is a fascinating overview of how Americans cook… and eat.  From food fads to celebrity chefs, from Thanksgiving dinner to regional cuisines, readers can whet their appetites at “Math Proves Bacon is a Miracle Food.”

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As we tuck in our napkins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1836 that Alonzo Dwight Phillips of Springfield, Massachusetts received the first U.S. patent (No. 68) for the phosphorous friction safety match. Though the first friction matches were made and sold in England in 1827,  Phillips’ match– which could be safely stored/carried, then struck on any rough surface– was the first genuine friction match made in America. Known as “loco focos,” and later as “lucifers,” they were a key enabler of the spread of cigar smoking, of gas lighting, of gas cooking– and thus of the acceleration of interest in “finer” cooking that more-flexible gas stoves made possible– in the U.S.  Indeed, by the outbreak of the Civil War fifteen years later, about a million matches a day were being manufactured.

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Written by LW

October 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

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