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Spud lovers month

farnsworth.gifGood news everyone. February is ‘National Potato Lover’s Month’…. Spudtober perhaps, but I guess, if you want to get all technical, Spudruary might be more appropriate.

potato-ricer.jpgThankfully our friends at Amazon.com have a few products available to help us celebrate. Like this potato ricer for instance. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t rice potatoes.

Love for the spud doesn’t end with February however. August 19th is ‘National Potato Day’ and August 24-25th are ‘Potato Days’ in Barnsville Minnesota. And if you think that’s the cat’s pajamas, get a load of this. The United Nations has declared 2008 as the ‘International Year of the Potato‘, in Resolution 4/2005 of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, adopted on 25 November 2005. So when will there be a ‘French Fry’ day?…well, everyday is a french fry day in my opinion.

And there was much rejoicing…

one last thing…here’s a list of other food related holidays

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Revving the Search Engine

Looking through my blog stats recently I saw that a search engine term that led people to this blog was ‘poutine prostitute’. Interesting combination. My first thoughts were something about gravy and second degree burns, then french fry pimp, and then finally, what on my site could possibly be linked to this search term? It took me a bit to remember but here’s the answer.

G. from Geoffrey’s Periodic Inanities made this comment a while back:

When I was younger and in Quebec I mispronounced “poutine” as “poutan.” Nothing gets a cafeteria worker’s attention faster than ordering a prostitute.

I was curious to see what else I could find about poutine prostitutes so I did a little googling and found this article:

Now we come to the reason that French is known as the language of diplomacy. In France’s official documents, as well as uniformly in the French press, Vladimir Putin’s last name is spelled Poutine. As a natural result, it is pronounced poo-TEEN, rhyming with our ”routine.” The French undoubtedly know that is not the way he or his compatriots, or even President Bush looking into his soul, pronounce Putin’s name. (To head off a torrent of e-mail from Quebec, let me acknowledge that poutine is also French-Canadian comfort food: fried potatoes suffused in cheese and dollops of salty gravy.)

Why the error in transliteration? Official French sources tell me that because the sound that we write as in has no place in French pronunciation, an e has been added to make the sound more amenable to the French tongue, and that’s all there is to it. They note — somewhat stiffly, anticipating the direction of my inquiry — that they have added a vowel to other names for this purpose. But other, more conspiratorial linguists suggest that the spelling of Putin in English would be pronounced as putain in French — that is, sounding close to pew-TANH.

Putain, in French, means ”prostitute; whore,” or in current correctese, ”sexual-services provider.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is the probable source, slightly corrupted, of the U.S. slang term poontang, a derogation of women as a means of sexual gratification. Hence, the rejection of the English spelling of Putin and the switch to Poutine, pronounced poo-TEEN. Small wonder that French arbiters of usage and pronunciation — perhaps out of commendable delicacy, in the interest of the avoidance of offense and the leers of pundits — have embraced phony phonetics, unanimously choosing to mispronounce the name of the president of Russia.

Bam!

healthy-fries.JPGOver at StartCooking.com you’ll find an interesting recipe, from Emeril, for making ‘healthier’ french fries. Here’s the jist: fries coated with seasoned egg white and then oven baked. They certainly look tasty enough.

catvomitsign.jpg1. Cats instinctively (spitefully) seek out a puke zone with the following characteristics:

a) the puke zone must contain multiple objects

b) objects within the puke zone must be oddly shaped with multiple surfaces, holes, nooks and or crannies (e.g. shoes, radiators, things made of wicker)

c) the puke zone must contain at least one object covered in or made from fabric, leather, or other porous material

2. Cat puke is both solid and liquid

3. Cat puke must come in contact with and settle in, on, or around all objects within the puke zone

Mmmm…Pectolytic

homer-smart.gifEnzymes improve quality of French fries, says study

Using pectolytic and hemicellulytic enzymes to change the microstructure of potato cells in French fries improves the quality of the finished product, suggests research from Novozymes.

Writing in the Elsevier journal Food Chemistry, Lisinska and co-workers report: “The results obtained in the study show that pectolytic and hemicellulytic activities of enzymes used for French fries production improve the quality of the finished product, especially fat content, after the first and the second stage of frying, which was 10-20 per cent lower in treated than in untreated French fries.”

Using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), the researchers report that the enzymes worked by destroying the cell wall of the potato cells.

“Destruction of the cell structure caused by enzymes suppressed penetration of fat into the internal portion of French fries, immediately after they had been taken out of the frying oil,” they said.

I’ll digest my fries myself, thank you very much.

From an article in the Roseville Press Tribune:

It’s amazing the popularity of the French fry in this country. The average American consumes more than 140 pounds of potatoes annually, and 51 pounds of those are French Fries. More than 6 million pounds of potatoes are processed into frozen fries every year.

If you think McDonald’s and Burger King are waging a war for your burger buck, think again.The success of fast food chains is not about big burgers. Instead, it’s all about the small fry.

In 1997, Burger King – the nation’s second-biggest hamburger chain – invested $70 million in marketing might behind its new and improved French fries, claiming they were tastier than those from McDonald’s.
The public disagreed, and McDonald’s fries remain at the top of almost any poll on the subject.

McDonald’s, in its early years, spent countless hours in search of the perfect French fries. In 1957, the company opened a research lab dedicated to turning the production of French fries into a science.

A potato computer – still used to this day – was developed. The device monitors the temperature of the frying oil and notifies the operator when a batch of fries is cooked to perfection.

From the Bookshelf

Another stop on the ‘End is Nigh’ tour. This week: A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller, Jr. A rather whimsically ominous look at the folly of mankind. Here’s a description from wikipedia:

canticle.jpgIt is set in an abbey in the Southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, and takes place at intervals of hundreds of years apart as civilization rebuilds itself. The plot combines elements of dark comedy with more serious examinations of the issues surrounding faith, knowledge, and power. The book was inspired by the author’s witnessing of the destruction of the monastery at Monte Cassino during World War II.

Despite some of the religious symbolism that I didn’t always understand, I really enjoyed this book. One of those books where you promptly gain empathy towards the characters without a lot of character development. I give it a 4 out of 5 fry rating.