Posts Tagged ‘Food’
While Duke Ellington is rightly revered as the extraordinary musician and composer that he was, he was known among his friends almost as prominently for his appetites. As frequent sideman Tricky Sam Nanton said, “he’s a genius, all right, but Jesus, how he eats!”
Ellington was happy to share his gourmand enthusiasms. In a 1944 interview (recounted in Lapham’s Quarterly) he reminisces…
There’s a place in Chicago, the Southway Hotel, that’s got the best cinnamon rolls and the best filet mignon in the world. Then there’s Ivy Anderson’s chicken shack in Los Angeles, where they have hot biscuits with honey and very fine chicken-liver omelets. In New Orleans there’s gumbo filé. I like it so well that I always take a pail of it out with me when I leave. In New York I send over to the Turf Restaurant at Forty-ninth and Broadway a couple of times a week to get their broiled lamb chops. I guess I’m a little freakish with lamb chops. I prefer to eat them in the dressing room, where I have plenty of room and can really let myself go. In Washington, at Harrison’s, they have deviled crab and Virginia ham. They’re terrific things. On the Île-de-France, when we went to Europe, they had the best crêpes Suzette in the world, and it took a dozen at a time to satisfy me. The Café Royal, in the Hague, has the best hors d’oeuvres in the world—eighty-five different kinds, and it takes a long time to eat some of each. There’s a place in Paris that has the best octopus soup. And oh, my, the smorgasbord in Sweden! At Old Orchard Beach, Maine, I got the reputation of eating more hot dogs than any man in America. A Mrs. Wagner there makes a toasted bun that’s the best of its kind in America. She has a toasted bun, then a slice of onion, then a hamburger, then a tomato, then melted cheese, then another hamburger, then a slice of onion, more cheese, more tomato, and then the other side of the bun. Her hot dogs have two dogs to a bun. I ate thirty-two one night…
* Duke Ellington
As we Take the A Train, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937 that the first animated-cartoon electric sign display in the U.S. was lit by its designer, Douglas Leigh, on the front of a building on Broadway in Times Square. It used 2,000 bulbs, and its four-minute show included a cavorting horse a ball tossing cats. Leigh, who went on to design such famous billboards as the Eight O’Clock Coffee sign (with a coffee pot that was, literally, steaming) and the Camel Cigarette sign (that blew smoke rings), became know as “The Man Who Lit Up New York.” While his signs are now gone, his lighting of the Empire State Building (Leigh was also a pioneer in the illumination of city skylines and buildings) survives; and his large illuminated snowflake is still hung at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street every holiday season.
“Eclecticism is the degree zero of contemporary general culture: one listens to reggae, watches a western, eats McDonald’s food for lunch and local cuisine for dinner”*…
Say it aloud: Chef Jacques La Merde
What do you get when you cross fast food with fine dining? A brilliant new Instagram account that marries tongue-in-cheek humor with kitchen slang. Chef Jacques Lamerde— a pseudonym for a chef familiar with New Nordic plating techniques — has a penchant for fast junk food and crazy-cool flavor combinations. The chef’s tagline is “small portions | tweezered everything,” but it’s the image descriptions that have us laughing out loud. “Hay-baked Hot Pockets with Hidden Valley Bacon Ranch spheres and a puree of Zoodles” anyone? What would René Redzepi [the king of Nordic cuisine] say?…
As we tuck in our napkins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1531 that Richard Roose (or Rouse), the cook in the household of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was boiled to death after being convicted of high treason. It was claimed that Roose had poisoned a porridge (or pottage) served to Fisher and his guests on 18th February 1531. All who ate it became ill, and two people died. King Henry VIII enacted a special law decreeing Roose– who argued that he’d added a purgative to the dish “as a jest”– be boiled alive for the offense. Henry’s decree, with death by boiling as punishment for poisoning, remained on the law books in England until 1863; at least one other person was stewed under its provisions.
Gas stations have long been synonymous with cold pizza, dried-out doughnuts and mediocre hot dogs rotating on unappetizing roller grills. But in cities like Miami, Kansas City, and even Saxapahaw, N.C., among others, patrons can fuel up on gourmet grub and top off their tanks in one stop…
Gas stations for a long time have been a low-margin business. Owners typically make their real profits not on fuel sales but on the snacks and other items customers purchase when they come inside the station. These latest gas station eats are just taking that business model up a notch or two…
Fill ‘er up at “The Joys of Good Gas Station Food.”
* “Clark Griwold” (Chevy Chase), National Lampoon’s Vacation
As we pull in to take out, we might send tasty birthday greetings to the culinary genius behind green eggs and ham, Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he was born on this date in 1904. After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of young readers.
The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
– I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)
Daily diets very considerably around the world; so, then, do their caloric contents. This interactive graphic from National Geographic breaks it down in a way that makes comparison– country to country, and any country to the world as a whole– easy and clear.
It’s fascinating to observe that the average for the world has risen nearly 30% in the last 50 years, to a level that’s roughly commensurate with the recommended calorie intake for an adult man; as users will see, averages for the U.S. and other developed countries are well above that… Expert opinion on the rise in obesity in the U.S. (and many other nations) is conflicted; still, it’s interesting to note the correlation.
* W.C. Fields
As we pass on the side of bacon, we might pause to note that, while there’s no clarity as to its origin, there’s wide agreement that today is National Bagel and Lox Day, a celebration of the quintessential Jewish-American “sandwich” once found only in New York delis, but now universally popular. Bagels originated in Poland in the early 17th century. Jewish families often ate bagels on Saturday evenings at the conclusion of the Sabbath, perhaps because the they could be baked very quickly. Lox is an entirely American invention. It became a popular sandwich filling in the mid 1800s when the transcontinental railroad began shipping barrels of brined salmon to the East Coast.
Surely coincidentally, today is also National Toothache Day. Some believe the celebration can be traced to the founding of the Hersey Corporation on February 9, 1894. But others (including your correspondent) reckon that it is related to St. Apollonia, the Patroness of Toothaches, whose feast day is today.
“What do we do to things we don’t need/want/like?” Amy Erickson asks on her blog, Oh, Bite It!. “We fry it … that’s what!” In this case, the creator of deep-fried Pumpkin Spice Lattes and, for rougher days, deep-fried tequila shots has put Brach’s famous candy corn inside Pillsbury dough rounds and subjected the whole package to a bath of hot oil. The finished product is dusted with powered sugar, zeppole-style, and allegedly yields “doughy pillows” that are “just a shadow of that seasonal, sad, tooth-buster of a treat.”
In a world in which somebody has already fried every bagged item that comes in a snack size — M&Ms, Tootsie Rolls, Twizzlers — no one can really blame Erickson for daring to dream, but the ultimate end-of-October Frankenfood made Rusty Foster’s Today in Tabs (“Two words: DEEP FRIED CORN CANDY”), and now that’s basically what the internet is doing, pretty unanimously and in repulsion:
— Kyla Gardner (@gardnerkyla) October 20, 2014
— F. Thot Fitzgerald (@DaniFantastic) October 21, 2014
Fried. candy corn. LISTEN, MAYNE. pic.twitter.com/djDdrdQW7B
— Laraine Lujack (@therainebeaux) October 21, 2014
Why did the phrase “deep fried candy corn” just crawl across my timeline? Why is that a thing? What is the matter with people?
— H. G. WellActually (@andthenlynsaid) October 20, 2014
Deep fried? Fine. Candy? Okay. Corn? We’ll allow it. But those four words in THAT order? NAW.
— H. G. WellActually (@andthenlynsaid) October 20, 2014
Well, almost. Some blame is getting spread onto others known to fry a thing or two
— Styx (@RenRennyy) October 20, 2014
via Grub Street
* proverbial saying of unknown origin
As we heat up the oil, we might send fertile birthday greetings to Luther George Simjian; he was born on this date in 1905. The son of Armenian parents in Turkey, Simjian escaped the genocide and made his way to the U.S., where he worked initially as a lab photographer at Yale Medical School– and began his career as a inventor, creating a projector for microscope images among many other devices.
In 1934 Simjian moved to New York City, where he invented a self-posing portrait camera, with which the photographed person could see and optimize their own image in a mirror before the photo was actually taken. In order to manufacture and distribute the camera, which became a success for use in department stores, he founded the company Photoreflex. Years later, after selling the invention and the trade name, the company was renamed Reflectone, after another of Simjian’s inventions, a kind of cosmetic chair with movable mirrors, via which one could see one’s own body from all perspectives.
In 1939 Simjian had the idea to build the Bankmatic Automated Teller Machine, probably his most famous invention. Despite skepticism from banks, he registered 20 patents for it and developed a number of features and principles that can still be found in today’s ATMs– including their name. He finally persuaded the City Bank of New York (today Citibank) to run a 6-month trial. The trial was discontinued — surprisingly not due to technical inefficiencies, but to lack of demand. “It seems the only people using the machines were a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who didn’t want to deal with tellers face to face,” Simjian wrote. Hence Simjian missed out on not only the commercial success, but also the fame associated with inventing the ATM. (This credit is often attributed to John Shepherd-Barron, who invented the first true electronic ATM, and Donald Wetzel, who directed a 5 million US-$ project to build upon Shepherd-Barron’s invention in the late 1960s.)
Simjian achieved real commercial success during World War II with another invention, his Optical Range Estimation Trainer, a kind of simple flight simulator, made from mirrors, light sources and miniature airplanes, used to train US military pilots in estimating the speed and distance of airplanes; Simjian sold over 2000 of these devices. Today’s successor of Reflectone (after a number of mergers and acquisitions), CAE, is still selling flight simulation and control technology.
Simjian founded several other companies in the following years and invented a number of very different devices and technologies,including a teleprompter, medical ultrasound devices, a remote-controlled postage meter, a golf simulator, and a meat tenderizer. He never stopped inventing in his laboratories in Fort Lauderdale. At the age of 92, he got his last patent on a process for improving the sound of wood for musical instruments– seven months before his death in 1997.
Everything has a limit – or does it?…
Some maximums will never be surpassed, but as the author Arthur C Clarke once said, “the only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
See a larger version of the graphic above at “Ultimate limits of nature and humanity.”
* Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
As we bump up against boundaries, we might send compressed birthday greetings to Aaron “Bunny” Lapin; he was born on this date in 1914. In 1948, Lapin invented Reddi-Wip, the pioneering whipped cream dessert topping dispensed from a spray can. First sold by milkmen in St. Louis, the product rode the post-World War Two convenience craze to national success; in 1998, it was named by Time one of the century’s “100 great consumer items”– along with the pop-top can and Spam. Lapin became known as the Whipped Cream King; but his legacy is broader: in 1955, he patented a special valve to control the flow of Reddi-Wip from the can, and formed The Clayton Corporation to manufacture it. Reddi-Wip is now a Con-Agra brand; but Clayton goes strong, now making industrial valves, closures, caulk, adhesives and foamed plastic products (like insulation and cushioning materials).
Have we reached peak delivery service? Just in case you had a craving for airline food for some reason, there’s now a company in Germany that will bring it to you. Air Food One is a subscription food delivery service that has teamed up with grocery company AllYouNeed.com and LGS Sky Chefs to bring leftover airline food right to the door of anyone living in Germany – the service is only available there for now…
The rest of this tasteless tale at “Air Food One Delivers Airline Food Right To Your Door.”
* Wolfgang Puck
As we ask for the vegetarian option (which is available from Air Food One), we might recall that it was on this date in 1999, at the urging of animal rights activist (and actress) Brigitte Bardot, that the Russian Duma passed legislation forbidding Russians from eating their pets (or slaughtering them for their furs/skins). On January 6 of the following year, Vladimir Putin, in office for less than a week, vetoed the bill.