Share

A. Whale blubber

B. Beef tallow

C. Emulsified calf belly

D. Rendered chicken and duck fat

B.

Margarine, consisting of beef tallow churned with milk, was first patented in France in 1869. It was created by French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès, using acide margarique, a fatty acid discovered in 1813 by fellow chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul. The substance contained lustrous, pearly deposits so Chevreul named it after the Greek word margarites, meaning “pearly.” Mège-Mouriès came up with the butter substitute in response to a challenge by Emperor Napoleon III to create a less-expensive option for the military and the lower classes. Jurgens & Co., an established Dutch butter trader, purchased the patent, dyed the stuff yellow, and popularized its use. Production was limited by the availability of beef tallow until 1902 when Wilhelm Normann in Germany patented a process to harden oils by hydrogenation.

Share

A. Orchid tubers

B. Saffron threads

C. Grape seeds

D. Lentil hulls

A.

In Turkey, winter is the season of salep, a hot, milky drink traditionally made from ground orchid tubers. A beloved street food, salep is the consistency of eggnog and usually topped with cinnamon. Five hundred to 2,000 orchid plants are needed for a single pound of salep flour. Unfortunately, habitat loss, climate change, and over-harvesting have damaged the orchid supply. Protections under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) have done little to stop collection, though do make legitimate export difficult. Turkish expats around the world turn to cheap imitations or online black markets for supposedly “pure” salep flour. A packet of 75 grams (about 2.6 ounces) sells for almost $60.

Share

A. Spain

B. Turkey

C. Croatia

D. Italy

D.

Stretching across the north of Italy in the Po River basin is a vast rice and corn belt, with the result that risotto and polenta are as customary as pasta. Piedmontese risottos made with rich meat broth, wild mushrooms, and arborio rice grown locally are fantastic with a glass of Barolo or barbera. Italy is the largest producer of rice in Europe with a total of 543,600 acres (220,000 hectares) cultivated. The crop is grown mainly in Piedmont (the largest source), Lombardy, and the Veneto. Roughly 80% of EU rice production takes place in Italy and Spain. European rice-growing areas resulted from the drainage of swampy regions in preparation for agriculture. Often planted as a “pioneer crop,” rice would leach excess salt from the soil, making it suitable for other crops such as grapevines and grain crops.

Share

A. Peanut Butter

B. Venison

C. Haggis

D. Seaweed

C.

Though it may only be a matter of time, as whiskeys redolent of chocolate, salted herring, jalapeno peppers, and snake have all hit the market. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), defines whiskey with vague precision as:

“a spirit distilled from a fermented mash of grain at less than 95% alcohol by volume having the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whiskey and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof).”

Lately, distillers have been taking colorful advantage of the TTB’s relatively lax parameters for taste and aroma. When Ocean Beach, CA, bar owner Steven Yeng turned his predilection for slathering peanut butter on everything into a massively popular whiskey shot, Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey was born. New Hampshire-based Tamworth Distilling recently added The Deerslayer, a whiskey flavored with smoked venison, to its lineup of spirits including a whiskey flavored with beaver musk oil. Across the Atlantic, where whiskey must age in wooden casks to earn the name, Irish distillery Origin Spirits released the world’s first whiskey finished in seaweed-charred oak barrels, Currach Single Malt Irish Whiskey.

Share

A. To preserve a lady’s lipstick

B. To keep a gentleman’s mustache wax from melting into his tea

C. To protect wooden teeth from staining

D. To strain botanicals from herbal tea

B.

The Detachable Mustache Guard was designed to be affixed to the rim of cups, tumblers, and wine glasses, in order to protect well-waxed whiskers from tea steam, beer foam, and red wine stains. Patented by, the presumably long-suffering and hirsuit, C. H. Barrows on May 28, 1878, the invention’s popularity spread throughout Europe, until potters began featuring a cup with a mustache guard built right in. For many decades, famous china manufacturers such as Limoges, Meissen, Royal Bayreuth, and others created their own versions. Mustache cup production slowed after 1920 and finally faded from cups altogether by the later 20th century. However, as facial hair returns to fashion, a plethora of protective paraphernalia has hit the market including the “Mo’ Guard”, “Whisker Dam,” and “Lipmaster.”

Share

A. Author of the first published cranberry sauce recipe

B. Inventor of the electric carving knife

C. Advertising executive who created the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line

D. Magazine editor who campaigned to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday

D.

Sarah Josepha Hale was editor of the influential Godey’s Lady’s Book for 40 years, from 1837 to 1877, during which time she published numerous editorials extolling the virtues of a national day of Thanksgiving. Inspired by a sentimental account she read about the 1621 feast shared by the Pilgrims and Native Americans, Hale published recipes for turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie and invented colonial “traditions” out of whole cloth, earning her the nickname the “Mother of Thanksgiving.” Over the course of 36 years, the prolific writer (credited as a co-author of the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”), she sent a flood of letters to governors, senators, presidents, and other politicians in pursuit of her quest. In 1863, at the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln finally took Hale’s request to heart, and to “heal the wounds of the nation,” proclaimed the final Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Eagerly celebrated for 76 years, the holiday was unexpectedly moved up a week in 1939 by president Franklin D. Roosevelt, in an ill-conceived attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. After passionate public outrage, he compromised by legally fixing the date as the fourth Thursday in November (some years there are actually 5), when we have feasted ever since.

Share

A. China

B. Russia

C. Greece

D. Japan

A.

XO sauce is a luxe umami-rich condiment created by a chef at the exclusive Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon, Hong Kong, in the early 1980s. Named after the wildly popular and premium aged cognac (XO is slang throughout Hong Kong for anything of high quality considered a luxury), XO sauce is a complex combination of finely chopped dried shrimp and scallops (called conpoy), salty Chinese cured ham, shallots, garlic, chili, and oil—but no actual Cognac. Ubiquitous in southern Cantonese cooking, XO sauce is slathered on just about everything. But despite being nicknamed the “caviar of the Orient,” the sauce is often most delicious eaten alone with a simple bowl of noodles or rice. The chunky jam-like condiment takes hours to make and calls for pricy ingredients (just one pound of conpoy can cost up to $100). Fortunately, jarred versions are now available online and at Asian food markets—expect a price tag at least 10 times higher than soy sauce.

Share

A. 250 million pounds

B. 10 thousand pounds

C. 200 thousand pounds

D. 1 million pounds

A.

According to the National Association of Pizza Operators, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the U.S. That might explain why we have a national holiday dedicated to it—September 20 is National Pepperoni Pizza Day. The fact that only 1 in 50 people surveyed hate pizza, may also have influenced the tribute. Pizza Hut, one of the world’s biggest pizza chains, uses 14 billion pounds of pepperoni worldwide. Pepperoni is actually an American creation—first appearing in Italian-American markets following World War I. Its popularity as a pizza topping was driven by economics. When pizza chains Pizza Hut and Domino’s started their delivery businesses in the 1960s, they were looking for toppings that were inexpensive and “traveled well.” While making a very humble pie, pepperoni served its purpose valiantly and has risen to the top of the toppings.  For a great, affordable pairing with this spicey, meaty pie try the VIETTI “Tre Vigne” Barbera d’Asti 2017 or the MASSERIA LI VELI Susumaniello 2018.

Share

A. Soufflés

B. Popovers

C. Baguettes

D. Macarons

C.

Although no bread was recorded as being called a baguette (French for “wand” or “stick”) before 1920, long loaves of crusty wheat bread have been typical in France since the era of Louis XIV, when they often reached lengths of a yard or two and were quite wide. One origin story of the modern slender shape claims that Napoleon Bonaparte passed a law decreeing that bread for his soldiers should be made in long slim loaves of exact measurements to fit into a special pocket on their uniforms. Another points to a growing interest in bread that didn’t need to be cut with a knife. For some time, a loaf of bread was regulated by weight, so in order to make it thin enough to be easily torn, it ended up being long and slender. A final theory gives credit to a 1920 French law forbidding bakers from working between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. With less time to prepare the traditional, often round, loaf or boule (hence bakers in French are called boulangers) before the morning rush, bakers turned to the baguette, likely because its thin form allowed it to cook fast. The bakers loved it because it went stale quickly and the customers would come back for more later in the day!

Share

A. Pear juice

B. White peach purée

C. White fig syrup

D. Sun-dried moscato bianco grapes

B.

While cocktail bars today may often substitute Champagne, the Bellini was most definitely born from Prosecco—celebrated yesterday on National Prosecco Day. The first Bellini was poured in the summer of 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder and barman of the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice. Inspired by the region’s fragrant white peaches and world-famous sparkling wine, Cipriani pushed the fresh fruit through a sieve to create a purée, then combined it with crisp, bright Prosecco. The official recipe is one-part pureé to two-parts Prosecco. According to Arrigo Cipriani, current bar owner and Giovani’s son, Cipriani named his refreshing concoction after 15th-century local Venetian artist Giovani Bellini, whose landscapes glowed with similar pale pink shades. Harry’s Bar opened in Venice in 1931 and was declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs in 2001.

Share

A. Hazelnut

B. Anise

C. Orange

D. Sour Cherry

C.

These orange liqueurs appear in classic cocktails like the Margarita, Sidecar, Long Island Iced Tea, and Cosmopolitan—no respectable home bar should be without at least one. Liqueur is not the French spelling of “liquor” but a combination of a liquor (a distilled spirit such us vodka or brandy) with added sugar and flavorings. Curaçao was first made by Dutch settlers on the island of Curaçao in the 19th century. A traditionally rum-based liqueur, it ranges from 15-40% abv and is made with tropical oranges. Avoid cheap versions appearing in artificial orange, blue, and green hues—true Curaçao is clear. Grand Marnier was created in 1880 by Frenchman Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle from a mix of Cognac, distilled bitter orange essence, and sugar. At 40% abv, Grand Marnier is the incendiary ingredient in Crêpes Suzette, the quintessential French dessert made by dousing a crêpe, or buttery pancake, with it and flambéing briefly. Triple sec is a drier style of orange liqueur, whose name is thought to be a translation of the words “triple dry.” The drink was first released in 1875 and is made using a mix of sweet and bitter orange peels and sugar beet alcohol. Cointreau claims to be the world’s first triple sec producer and is 40% abv.

Share

A. The fattiest portion of the tuna, used for sushi and prized in Japan as a pairing to sake

B. A dish from the Piedmont region of Italy, composed of tuna and carpaccio of veal

C. The meat from a bull killed in a bullfight, eaten throughout most of Spain

D. A thick round cut of beef tenderloin, wrapped in boar bacon and grilled over a fire of used oak barrel staves in Argentinian asados

C.

Toro de lidia is the meat of a bull raised for bullfighting. Bull meat stewed in red wine for several hours is a culinary specialty in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia. Historically, it was believed that eating the meat of a bullfighting bull would imbue the eater with the bull’s strength, courage, and virility. In much of central and southern Spain, cattle were used primarily for utility, pulling ploughs, or transport. In every herd there were some bulls, described as bravos, who were too aggressive for these purposes. Instead, they were sacrificed during bullfighting festivals, which the Spainish call corridas—or “runs” (the most famous being Pamplona’s annual running of the bulls which begins this Sunday, July 5)—culminating with the standoff between bull and matador. Once killed, some of the bull’s meat was given to the triumphant bullfighter, who would take the meat back to his hometown, where it would be made into a stew for the whole village, providing a rare opportunity for poor rural communities to eat beef. Currently, bullfighting is illegal in Catalonia and in the Canary Islands, although it remains well established in many parts of the rest of Spain. The fattiest, and most expensive portion of the tuna is known simply as toro or otoro and is prized because it literally melts in your mouth. The classic Italian dish of raw veal in a tuna sauce is called vitello tonnato. And thick round end pieces of beef tenderloin are called tournedos, the leanest cut of meat, which requires the extra flavor that the fatty bacon provides.

Share

A. She is credited with writing the country’s first restaurant review, published in 1861 in the now defunct Philadelphia Inquirer.

B. She brought a lawsuit against a Los Angeles restaurant, effectively ending the existence of “ladies menus.”

C. She was the first restaurateur to introduce the idea of adding a gratuity to the bill for distribution among staff.

D. She operated the country’s first food truck, during the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915 in San Francisco.

B.

Yes, there were once “ladies menus.” (Yours truly was given such a menu several times in New York back in the day). Ladies menus were the same as men’s but did not include prices. Virtually extinct today, “ladies menus” were a fixture of upscale restaurants throughout Europe, but fairly rare in the United States. However, in 1980, Kathleen Bick sued the Los Angeles restaurant L’Orangerie (owned by Parisian émigrés Virginie and Gerrard Ferry) for giving her a ladies menu when she took her business partner, Larry Becker, out for dinner and discovered that only he was privy to the prices of the dishes, since only his menu listed them. Bick’s suit stated that the restaurant’s policy was discriminatory and violated California’s Civil Rights Act. Bick’s well-known feminist attorney, Gloria Allred, explained that the sanitized menu “insulted businesswomen, as well as married women, who might want to have a say on what was being spent on their meal.” L’Orangerie’s owners, meanwhile, defended the practice as “a tradition done in the same spirit as lighting a cigarette or standing up when [a woman] enters the room.” After much public scrutiny, the suit was eventually dropped, as were the ladies’ menus.

Share

A. Baguettes

B. Crème Brûlee

C. Cheese

D. Dijon Mustard

C.

Terre de Lait, an organization for the French dairy industry, has created the “Fromagissons” campaign, a combination of fromage (cheese) and agissons (let’s act). The campaign asks people to start buying traditional cheeses in support of French cheesemongers who have seen sales fall as much as 60 percent since the crisis began. French magazine Agri Culture reports that only 500 tons of an anticipated 2,000 tons of cheese were sold in April. Terre de Lait is urging it’s countrymen to “work together” so that France remains the country of over 1,000 cheeses.

Share

A. Tomatoes

B. Pasta

C. Grapes

D. Artichokes

D.

The U.S. Artichoke industry emerged around 1900 in California, and much of the crop was shipped east, where Italian Americans paid handsomely for the edible thistles. At first, mafia families used their control of rail-line entry points into New York to impose an informal import tax on artichoke shipments. But later, they began intimidating growers into limiting crop sizes and selling at deflated prices. By 1935, the Sicilian American mafia had controlled the American artichoke market (worth about $12.5 million in 2020 dollars) for at least two decades. Mayor LaGuardia had campaigned for office on a promise to take on the mob, and had a penchant for drama. On December 21, 1935, surrounded by horn-blowing policemen, he hopped onto the back of a vegetable truck at the Bronx Terminal Market to denounce the mafia’s tactics and embargo the artichokes.

Share

A. Grasshoppers

B. Coffee beans

C. Turkey breasts

D. Rattlesnake skin

C.

To make a special savory/spicy mezcal known as mezcal de pechuga (pechuga is Spanish for breast), maestro mezcaleros (master mezcal makers) traditionally hang skinless turkey or chicken breasts inside the still during a third distillation.  Variations include deer, rabbit, and even iguana. The steam cooks the meat as the spirit distills, allowing the meat’s fat and juices to drip into the mezcal. Collagen released from the protein creates a rich, robust mouthfeel not found in most mezcals. The meat also provides a subtle savory note that balances the sweetness of fruits and grains often steamed with it.  Mezcal, by the way, is slightly different than tequila.  Mezcal can be produced from up to 28 varieties of agave, around the city of Oaxaca and a few surrounding states. Tequila is made only from blue agave and must be produced in the state of Jalisco and its environs. Mezcal is made by roasting or grilling the agave hearts in pits (for its unique, smoky flavors), while tequila makers bake them in above-ground ovens.

Share

A. An old fashioned, humble French stew made with rabbit marinated in red wine for 2 days

B. The traditional process of making foie gras by force-feeding geese to swell their livers

C. A type of pork hash, a specialty of southern France, generally consumed with glasses of Armagnac

D. An ancient method of tempering chocolate so that the chocolate is smooth and silky

B.

Gavage is the process of force-feeding geese and ducks to swell their livers to make the French delicacy foie gras (the words mean “fatty liver”).  The process is highly controversial, with critics asserting that the practice is both unethical and cruel because it involves forcing feeding tubes down the animals’ throats.

Share

A. Ecuadorian bitter chocolate

B. Plum pudding

C. Earl Grey tea

D. Oysters

D.

The London restaurant Wright Brothers recently partnered with The Ginstitute Distillery of West London, to create an oyster-flavored gin said to have “high mineral notes and a pink-pepper finish.” It’s also claimed to be a perfect gin to accompany seafood dishes. The gin is made with Carlingford oyster shells, which are cold-macerated in neutral spirits and then distilled. The oyster distillate is then added to the gin along with juniper, Amalfi lemons, and kelp seaweed.

Share

A. Peru

B. Kazakhstan

C. China

D. Nova Scotia

B.

All of those Fujis, Romes, Deliciouses, and Granny Smiths in your market can be traced back to one place where apples still grow wild—Kazakhstan. According to Gastro Obscura, the ancestor of the domestic apple is the Malus sieversii, which grows wild in the Tian Shan Mountains. Scientists believe that Tian Shan apple seeds were transported out of Kazakhstan by birds and bears long before humans ever cultivated them. By the time humans did begin to grow apples the Malus sieversii was growing in Syria. The Romans discovered it there and then spread the fruit around the Roman Empire. Wild apple forests still exist in Kazakhstan in protected patches within National Parks.

Share

A. Italian cordials (often homemade) produced from fermented fruits, barks, and spices

B. Ancient Sicilian vegetables once thought to have gone extinct

C. Types of specialty dried pasta

D. Rare cheeses that are specialties of the wine regions that ring the Italian Alps

C.

There are well over 100 different shapes of pasta, which come dried or fresh. All of the pastas in the question are dried. Fisckariedd are the leftover cuts after other forms of pasta are made. These leftover pieces are dried and then tossed into soups. Strozzapreti are tightly rolled short ropes. The name translates as “strangle the priest.” And corzetti are large flat disks which can be stamped with a logo or other mark. They are usually served with a sauce or in a soup.