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Today in 1894 Domenico Melegatti won an Italian patent on an apparatus for producing pandoro on a commercial scale. Pandoro is a rich, eggy, sweet, yeast cake that looks sort of like a bundt. It's name means "bread of gold," and its was so expensive to make in the days before easily-available sugar that it was only on the tables of the nobility. Now we can all enjoy it, along with its close cousin pannetone. Both of them are traditional Italian treats around the holidays.
This is Cochon de Lait Day. Cochon de lait is a small pig, still suckling its mother's milk (hence the name). It's roasted whole over an open fire. It's a mainstay of festivals at this time of year throughout Southeast Louisiana. My direct experience with it came from roasting them at Boy Scout campouts. One of the other dads had rigged up a rotisserie, and the forty-pound pig roasted on it from eight in the morning until about five in the afternoon. What came out was eminently tender, smoky, and wonderful. Forty pounds might be a bit large for cochon de lait, but the idea is the same. The typical way to roast them is to butterfly the pig on a flat metal rack, which is then propped up in front of the fire and turned every now and then.
Such a process goes beyond what most restaurants want to undertake. Very few restaurants offer cochon de lait these days. The most prominent is Donald Link's appropriately named Cochon, where the whole idea is to recapitulate all that Cajun butcher shop cookery in the Acadiana.
If you want to try it yourself, the hard part is getting a pig. Langenstein's will order one for you, and the Gourmet Butcher Block also has them on special order. I like the product, but having watched the process a few times I must say it's not something I'm inclined to perform myself--even though my wife has been badgering me for years to dig a pit and try. She may ultimately win out, but I hope not.
Today is also to be National Candy Corn Day. A great deal of candy corn has been purchased for distribution tomorrow across America. Candy corn is another one of those foods (to stretch the definition) like blue cheese, liver, and anchovies: you either love it or you hate it.
Annals Of Popular Cuisine
Today in 1952, Clarence Birdseye--the inventor of frozen food as we know it--presented his new frozen peas to a waiting world. Peas became much more popular after they didn't need to be shelled. Today in 1989, the Smith Dairy of Orrville, Ohio made the world's record milk shake: 1575 gallons. The flavor is unknown.
Pig, Kentucky is halfway between Louisville and Nashville, on the southeast boundary of Mammoth Cave National Park. It's a pretty, rolling area of farm fields and strips of woods, with numerous houses spread well apart. Probably pigs are raised, and certainly they are eaten around there. Memphis-style barbecue rules. If you want to be served, it's a six-mile drive to the Porky Pig Diner in Smith's Grove.
boucherie, n., French--The French word for "butcher shop" takes on a special meaning in the Cajun country of Southwest Louisiana. There are found many small shops specializing in smoking and curing meats, making sausages, roasting whole pigs, and creating other meat specialties. The cuts, cooking methods, seasonings, and final products are highly distinctive to the area. Andouille and boudin are the most popular, but just the beginning of the Cajun boucherie's range. More's the pity, the concept has not spread far from Acadiana. The French roots of these shops is clear, although in France the products would be different, with a greater emphasis on pates and terrines and less on smoked meats.
Deft Dining Rule #901
Cochon de lait roasted by a bunch of guys standing around an open pit drinking beer will always be incomparably better than that which comes from a restaurant.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
Slow and low is the most delicious way to cook a whole pig. But too slow and too low will kill you.
Annals Of Food Writing
Andrew Jackson Downing, who wrote about landscaping in the early 1800s, was born today in 1815. His landmark book was The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America. He was an influence on Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed many of the major American city parks.
Today in 1974, pitcher Catfish Hunter won the American League Cy Young Award. Television actor Ken Berry was born today in 1933. The man who created the Little Golden Books we all read as children, Albert Rice Leventhal, was born today in 1907. American actor Rex Cherryman took The Big Stage today in 1897.
Words To Eat By
"Any part of the piggy
Is quite all right with me
Ham from Westphalia, ham from Parma
Ham as lean as the Dalai Lama
Ham from Virginia, ham from York,
Trotters, sausages, hot roast pork.
Crackling crisp for my teeth to grind on
Bacon with or without the rind on
I'm not a vegetarian.
I'm neither crank nor prude nor prig
And though it may sound infra dig
Any part of the darling pig
Is perfectly fine with me."--Noel Coward, British songwriter.
New York Raising Age to Buy Cigarettes to 21
Buying cigarettes in New York City is about to become a lot harder for young people, as lawmakers on Wednesday adopted the strictest limits on tobacco purchases of any major American city.
The legal age for buying tobacco, including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos will rise to 21, from 18, under a bill adopted by the City Council and which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said he would sign. The new minimum age will take effect six months after signing.
The proposal provoked some protest among people who pointed out that New Yorkers under 21 can drive, vote and fight in wars, and should be considered mature enough to decide whether to buy cigarettes. But the Bloomberg administration’s argument — that raising the age to buy cigarettes would discourage people from becoming addicted in the first place — won the day.
“This is literally legislation that will save lives,” Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker, said shortly before the bill passed 35 to 10.
In pushing the bill, city officials said that the earlier people began smoking, the more likely they were to become addicted. And they pointed out that while the youth smoking rate in the city has declined by more than half since the beginning of the mayor’s administration, to 8.5 percent in 2007 from 17.6 percent in 2001, it has recently stalled.
Besides raising the age to buy cigarettes, the Council also approved various other antismoking measures, such as increased penalties for retailers who evade tobacco taxes, a prohibition on discounts for tobacco products, and a minimum price of $10.50 a pack for cigarettes and little cigars.
The new law is a capstone to more than a decade of efforts by Mr. Bloomberg, like banning smoking in most public places, that have given the city some of the toughest antismoking policies in the world.
In one concession to the cigarette industry, the administration dropped a proposal that would force retailers to keep cigarettes out of sight. City officials said they were doing it because they had not resolved how to deal with the new phenomenon of electronic cigarettes, but others worried that if the tobacco industry lodged a First Amendment challenge to the so-called display ban, it could have derailed the entire package.
The smoking age is 18 in most of the country, but some states have made it 19. Some counties have also adopted 19, including Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island. Needham, Mass., a suburb of Boston, raised the smoking age to 21 in 2005.
James Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, warned on Wednesday that thousands of retail jobs could be lost because the law would reduce traffic not just for tobacco, but also on incidental purchases like coffee or lottery tickets. He predicted that the law would do little to curb smoking, as it does not outlaw the possession of cigarettes by under-age smokers, only their purchase.
Just before the vote, Nicole Spencer, 16, was in Union Square in Manhattan with a cigarette wedged between her fingers.
“I don’t think that’s going to work,” Nicole said when she heard about the plan to raise the age.
She said she began smoking when she was about 13, and had no trouble getting cigarettes. “I buy them off people or I bum them off people,” she said.
She said that “probably half” of her friends at her high school smoked.
Nicole said she thought 18 was a reasonable legal age, echoing Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, who said he voted no because it was not right for the city to ask young people to make life-or-death decisions as police officers and firefighters yet to have “no ability to buy a pack of cigarettes.”
Google's worst-kept secret: floating data centers off US coasts
They sit on barges, sprout electronic gizmos, tower several storeys high and are fast becoming Google's worst-kept secret.
The internet giant appears to be constructing floating data centres off the coasts of California and Maine behind layers of elaborate security.
Google has said nothing but the hulking structures, built out of shipping containers and shielded by scaffolding, stirred intense sleuthing and speculation on Wednesday.
Contractors working on the structures in the San Francisco bay and Portland harbour are subject to omerta, and US government officials familiar with the projects have signed confidentiality agreements.
Technology and security experts said they were probably floating data centres – for which Google was granted a patent in 2009. The Mountain View-based company is known for Kremlin-type secrecy during product development,
On barges the facilities would have access to abundant water, a requirement to cool large numbers of servers, Joel Egan, the principal at Cargotecture, which designs custom cargo container buildings, told CNET, whose investigation triggered this week's media scrutiny.
"The cutouts in the long walls of the containers, when they line up, they make hallways," said Egan. "You could put all sorts of mainframes into the containers . It doesn't have enough windows for an office building."
The San Francisco TV station KPIX suggested the purpose was to be a floating retail store for Google's "Glass" wearable computer device, but few bought that theory.
A barge built with four levels of shipping containers is seen at Pier 1 at Treasure Island in San Francisco, California October 28, 2013. Photograph: Stephen Lam /Reuters Photograph: STEPHEN LAM/REUTERS
The barges are 250 feet long, 72 feet wide, 16 feet deep and sport tall white spires that could be masts, flagpoles or antennas. They were built in 2011 in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, by C & C Marine and Repair, and are reportedly owned by By and Large LCC, a company with apparent ties to Google.
They recently appeared off Treasure Island, a former military base in San Francisco bay, and Portland harbour. Chain-link fences and security guards block access.
At least one Coast Guard employee was obliged to sign a non-disclosure agreement with Google, Barry Bena, a US coast guard spokesman, told Reuters.
Another person who would only identify himself as an inspector for a California government agency had to do the same because he was present during early construction work on Treasure Island's hangar-like Building 3. He also had to surrender his mobile phone.
Bob Jessup, a construction company superintendent who works nearby, said Google spent the past year working on the project, fencing off a wide area and employing at least 40 welders a day, who worked around the clock without saying a word.
"They wouldn't give up any of the information. It was a phenomenal production. None of them would tell us anything."
He said they worked on the inside and the outside of the containers, outfitting them with electronics – "very hush hush" – and used a crane to load them onto the barge. They put sides on the containers, with glass windows in some of them. Precision welding ensured they could stack.
Larry Goldzband, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, told Reuters his agency has had several meetings with Google officials about the barge in recent months. The company provided little information other than saying the vessel would be used for "general technology purposes," he said.
Google "could not give us a specific plan of any kind," not even whether they intended the barge to move or stay in one place, Goldzband said.
Valleywag, Gawker's technology site, mocked what it called the “spooky Nancy Drew adventure” tone of some media coverage.