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Posts Tagged ‘cuisine

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food”*…

 

French food

 

As the rest of the world had begun to (re)discover their own cuisines and innovate, the French restaurant seemed to be stagnating in a pool of congealing demi-glace.

Elsewhere, places such as Balthazar in New York and the Wolseley in London seemed to be doing the French restaurant better than the French. In France, the old guard of critics and restaurateurs remained convinced that French cuisine was still the best in the world and a point of national pride. The bistros cleaved to the traditional red-and-white checked table cloths and chalked-up menus even as they were microwaving pre-prepared boeuf bourguignon in the back. In 2010, when the French restaurant meal was added to Unesco’s list of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”, it felt as if the French restaurant had become a museum piece, and a parody of itself.

The perceived excellence of their cuisine and restaurants has long represented a vital part of French national identity. It was too easy to ascribe this decline to a certain national conservatism, complacency and parochialism – facile Anglo-Saxon taunts. The real story is more complicated. The restaurant business always has been subject to changes in society and economic circumstances. Food – what we eat and how we go out to eat it – is constantly evolving, according to trend and time…

French food was the envy of the world – before it became trapped by its own history.  Can a new school of traditionalists revive its glories? “The rise and fall of French cuisine.”

* George Bernard Shaw

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As we ponder prandial progress, we might recall that it was on this date in 1904 (as the Library of Congress notes) that the first ice cream cone was served.

On July 23, 1904, according to some accounts, Charles E. Menches conceived the idea of filling a pastry cone with two scoops of ice-cream and thereby invented the ice-cream cone. He is one of several claimants to that honor: Ernest Hamwi, Abe Doumar, Albert and Nick Kabbaz, Arnold Fornachou, and David Avayou all have been touted as the inventor(s) of the first edible cone. Interestingly, these individuals have in common the fact that they all made or sold confections at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. It is from the time of the Fair that the edible “cornucopia,” a cone made from a rolled waffle, vaulted into popularity in the United States.

Another claimant, Italo Marchiony, actually received a patent in 1903 for a device to make edible cups with handles. However the patent drawings show the device as a molded container rather than the rolled waffle seen at the Fair. Although paper and metal cones were used by Europeans to hold ice cream and pita bread was used by Middle Easterners to hold sweets, the ice-cream cone seems to have come to America by way of “the Pike” (as the entertainment midway of the St. Louis World’s Fair was called).

Randolph Smith Lyon, Mildred Frances Lyon, Mrs. Montague Lyon (Frances Robnett Smith Lyon), Montague Lyon, Jr., eating ice cream cones at the 1904 World’s Fair. Snapshot photograph, 1904.  (Missouri History Museum)

The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis: site of the national debuts of peanut butter, the hot dog, Dr Pepper, iced tea, cotton candy– and of course, ice cream cones. (source)

 

Written by LW

July 23, 2019 at 1:01 am

“The art of the cuisine, when fully mastered, is the one human capability of which only good things can be said”*…

 

cuisine-igredients

Every cuisine, while sharing many common elements with others, uses a handful of ingredients that combine for unique flavors.

With Chinese food, you often see soy sauce, green onion, and sesame oil. With Italian food, you often see garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Vietnamese food uses fish sauce. Korean food uses chili paste.

As I venture into new cooking territories, it’s been fun to discover the flavor bombs from various cuisines. A lot of “where have you been all of my life” moments.

So what are the ingredients that make each cuisine?…

From the ever-illuminating Nathan Yau and his wonderful blog Flowing Data, a deep dive into the Yummly ingredients dataset (which contains ingredient lists for just under 40,000 recipes, from 20 cuisines– amounting to 6,714 ingredient)– the top five ingredients in 20 different cuisines: “Cuisine Ingredients.”

* Friedrich Durrenmatt

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As we read it and reap, we might recall that it was on this date in 1903 that Italo Marchiony applied for a patent for an ice cream cup mold. Marchiony is credited with inventing the ice cream cone in 1896, when he introduced it in New York City.  Initially, he folded warm waffles into a cup shape.   He then developed the 2-piece mold that would make 10 cups at a time. (U.S. patent No. 746,971 was granted on Dec 15, 1903).

Several other claimants introduced “ice cream cones” at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, known as the St. Louis World’s Fair.  While they weren’t the inventors of the cone, it was from the time of the Fair that the edible “cornucopia,” a cone made from a rolled waffle, vaulted into popularity in the United States.

Marchioni source

 

Written by LW

September 22, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Every restaurant needs to have a point of view”*…

 

chili bowl

Launched in 1931 by former amateur boxer Art Whizin, the Chili Bowl chain had 22 outposts at its peak. Each building was round and shaped like a chili bowl with 26 stools around a circular counter where diners could get the signature dish: an open-faced burger blanketed with chili. This 1937 photo shows the original Chili Bowl, located at 3012 Crenshaw Boulevard.

One stop on a wonderful tour of La La Land’s most exceptional eateries; see them all at: “LA’s Awesome History Of Weird, Food-Shaped Restaurants.”

* Danny Meyer

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As we muse on the mimetic, we might sparea thought for Charles Elmé Francatelli; he died on this date in 1876.  A Italian chef working in England, renown in his time, he was chef to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for a time, chef of the St. James Club, among other prestigious postings .  But he is probably better remembered for his best-selling cookbooks, The Modern Cook (1845), A Plain Cookery Book for the Working ClassesThe Cook’s Guide and Housekeeper’s & Butler’s Assistant, and The Royal English and Foreign Confectionery Book.

Charles_Elme_Francatelli source

 

 

Written by LW

August 10, 2018 at 1:01 am

“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage”*…

 

Although he achieved almost unthinkable fame for the Victorian era, the life of chef Alexis Soyer is now considered a fairly obscure topic, infrequently discussed outside culinary circles. Soyer was born in 1810, in France, to a working-class family. His older brother, a Paris chef, helped secure an apprenticeship for Alexis with the highly regarded Georg Rignon, for whom he began working at the tender age of 11. When Soyer moved on, it was to Maison Douix, one of the most famous restaurants in Paris. After a year, he became chef de cuisine. He was 17…

By the time of his death, in 1848, “Soyer’s death is a great disaster,” wrote Florence Nightingale. “He has no successor.”  The story of “The first celebrity chef.”

* Erma Bombeck

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As we dig in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1947 that Sylvester the Cat tried to have Tweety Bird for lunch in the Warner Brothers cartoon Tweetie Pie, which won Warner Bros. its first Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons).

 

Written by LW

May 3, 2017 at 1:01 am

“I got to get this cheese with my crew”*…

 

Cheese curls (or cheese puffs) have been around for 80 years and have been a staple for over 50 (since 1948, when Cheetos achieved national distribution)… not bad for what was originally the unintended by-product of an animal feed-producing process.

The whole tasty story at: “Junk Food’s Happiest Accident.”

* Snoop Dogg

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As we try not to wipe our fingers on our clothes, we might send delicious birthday greetings to Prosper Montagné; he was born on this date in 1865.  Considered (with Georges-Auguste Escoffier) to be one of the two men with the greatest impact on French gastronomy (and thus, on that of the world at large), Montagné was one of the greatest French chefs of all time, and earned a place of honor in gastronomic history by creating Larousse Gastronomique (1938), the basic encyclopaedia of French gastronomy.

 source

 

Written by LW

November 14, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Some days I feel like playing it smooth. Some days I feel like playing it like a waffle iron.”*…

 

If you’ve been paying attention to breakfast in the past 15 years or so, you might have noticed something: waffles have gotten thicker and thicker. Stockier waffles with deep syrup pockets, often topped with fruit or Nutella or mountains of whipped cream, are the new norm. They’re what men with beards are handing you out of food truck windows, and what servers are plopping down in front of you at brunch. Today, in most diners and restaurants and those omnipresent hipster comfort-food places, if you order a waffle, it’s gonna be Belgian…

Waffles, like pancakes, have been in America for centuries. Thomas Jefferson allegedly brought the waffle iron to America from France. In the early 20th century, waffles were thin and flat, a wartime breakfast that spared frills. Skinny waffles were successfully mass-marketed to the public when three California brothers debuted frozen Eggo waffles in the ’50s. (Kellogg’s purchased the company in 1968.)

But even during the peak of Eggo popularity, a taste for a thicker waffle was percolating in America. Belgium natives Maurice and Rose Vermersch first served up thick, chewy waffles, known originally as Brussels waffles, at the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens. The waffles were such a hit at the fair that the Vermerschs simplified the name, deciding that the majority of Americans wouldn’t know where Brussels was. And from there, a craze was born…

The whole enchilada at: “The Tyranny of Belgian Waffles.”

* Raymond Chandler, Trouble Is My Business

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As we reach for the syrup, we might spare a thought for Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland); he died on this date in 1956.  (The name “Curnonsky” comes from the Latin cur + non “why not?” plus the Russian suffix -sky, as all things Russian were in vogue in 1895, when he coined it.)

An author who got his start as a ghostwriter for ‘Willy‘, Colette‘s husband, Curnonsky became France’s “Prince of Gastronomy,” the country’s most celebrated food and wine writer in the 20th century.  He wrote or ghost-wrote over 65 books and enormous numbers of newspaper columns. He is often considered the inventor of gastronomic motor-tourism as popularized by Michelin– he named the company’s mascot Bibendum and wrote Michelin’s weekly column “Les Lundis de Michelin” in Le Journal— though he himself could not drive. His “title,” “Prince-elu de la Gastronomie,” was awarded in a 1927 Paris-Soir poll of 3,000 French chefs, and has never been given since.  Curnonsky died by falling out of the window of his apartment. He was dieting at the time, and it is speculated that he had fainted.

Curnonsky (left) with his friend, Dr. Robine

 source

 

Written by LW

July 22, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Opposites attract”*…

 

Indian food is categorically delicious: its flavors are complex, oscillating between sweet, savory, and spicy; its textures meld creamy sauces with doughy breads and tender meat and vegetables to make the slop of dreams. It’s a divine synthesis that is aromatic and sophisticated without being bougie. Hell, you can get a better-than-decent plate of it for nary more than the cost of a deli sandwich.

But what is it that makes Indian food so endlessly rich and tasty? Scientists were wondering, too, and recently performed an analysis of 2,500 recipes to find out…

Find illumination (and a timely life lesson) at “There’s a Scientific Reason Why Indian Food Is So Delicious.”

* Proverb

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As we dive into the dal, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967 that Arlo Guthrie’s anthemic “Alice’s Restaurant was released.  In 1965 (then 18-year-old) Arlo Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins were arrested by Stockbridge, MA police officer William “Obie” Obanhein for illegally dumping a bag a garbage after eating Thanksgiving dinner at Alice’s Restaurant.  Guthrie and Robbins pled guilty, were fined $50 dollars each, and sentenced to pick up their garbage.  Guthrie memorialized the incident in “The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” which he first performed live on WBAI radio (a listener-supported station in New York); the song was so popular that the station would play it only after a listener made a substantial donation.  Since then, as some readers will know, it’s become traditional for many classic rock radio stations to play the song each Thanksgiving.

 source

Written by LW

November 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

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