A Harte Appetite

flickr use jeffreyw (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

What’s the one item you’re likely to find on nearly every menu in Italy?  If you said spaghetti and meatballs, your answer is plausible, but it’s wrong.

Spaghetti and meatballs is actually an American dish, invented, it is true, by Italian immigrants to this country, but invented here nonetheless.  These days you can find spaghetti and meatballs on the menu in Italy, but more often than not at tourist traps.  In contrast, the one item you are almost always assured to find on any restaurant menu there is spaghetti carbonara.

flickr user Mike Mozart (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

"He was a bold man who first swallowed an oyster," observed Jonathan Swift. He was right, but the first person to eat an artichoke was probably no less intrepid.

That's because food prejudices are hard to change. The notion that what one diner might consider disgusting, another might simply consider supper was driven home to me recently as I perused "Strange Foods" by Jerry Hopkins. One of the most fascinating books I've ever read, even if it doesn't contain many recipes -- and the ones it does include, like jellyfish salad and stir-fry bat, I'm not especially eager to try.

The Origins of Oatmeal

Jan 22, 2018
flickr user Daniella Segura (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

It is not true, as the humor website Cracked satirically suggests, that oatmeal was invented by a research scientist at Britain's Royal Academy of Adhesives and Sealants during an experiment in search of new forms of industrial glue. But if your idea of oatmeal is the pasty variety made in a microwave from a packet, the story can seem plausible.

In Scotland they know better. Their oatmeal, or porridge, is a hallowed dish, celebrated every year at the World Porridge Making Championship in the village of Carrbridge.

Hail to the Chef

Jan 15, 2018
flickr user Matt Wade (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode)

Gesturing toward the White House, a senator once facetiously asked Calvin Coolidge, "Who lives there?" Coolidge replied, "No one. They just come and go."

Though Coolidge was correct that occupants of the White House are only temporary tenants, their impact is often felt long after they move out. And perhaps nowhere is this more the case than with dining and entertaining. Each first family has left its own culinary imprint on the country and the executive mansion.

flickr user Boston Public Library (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

Ever been in a sticky situation? We all have. But probably none as sticky as the Great Molasses Flood, sometimes called the Molasses Massacre, which hit Boston in 1919.

The tragedy occurred when over 2 million gallons of molasses stored in a 50-foot tall tank at the Purity Distilling Company burst forth, when the temperature rose from below zero one day to 40 degrees the next.

A wall of molasses estimated to be as high as 30 feet swept down Boston's Atlantic Avenue at the rate of 25-35 miles per hour, engulfing everything in its path.

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