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A Harte Appetite

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A Harte Appetite

Every Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m., Tom Harte shares a few thoughts on food and shares recipes. 

A founder of “My Daddy’s Cheesecake,” a bakery/café in Cape Girardeau, a  food columnist for The Southeast Missourian, and a cookbook author, he also blends his passion for food with his passion for classical music in his daily program, The Caffe Concerto.

  • The Romans believed cinnamon was sacred and every Roman emperor stocked cinnamon in his treasury. The Romans weren’t the only ones who valued cinnamon. The ancient Egyptians used it for witchcraft and embalming.
  • Rose Levy Beranbaum, in her book, “The Pie and Pastry Bible,” a volume which I’ve read religiously, says, “There are two kinds of people: cake people and pie people.”
  • A 3.5 ounce serving of spinach contains more iron than the same sized hamburger patty. Not bad for a food that is 91% water.
  • Feta cheese -- sometimes referred to as the princess of cheeses -- is every bit as admirable as any other Greek invention, and it is surely just as ancient. It is likely as old as Greece itself.
  • Delmonico's was the first American restaurant to have a printed menu, the first to offer a separate wine list, the first to have tablecloths, the first to offer a private dining room and the first to provide an orchestra for background music.
  • No wonder the carrot is the second most popular vegetable in the world after the potato—not bad for a plant which, according to the Oxford Companion to Food, “had an unpromising origin.” It is, after all, merely a refined version of a common weed—Queen Anne’s lace.
  • The French think they're superior to us when it comes to clothing, wine, and food -- not to mention romance! And, admittedly, they do have a way with each; and perhaps nowhere is French sophistication more evident -- at least in the culinary world -- when it comes to pancakes.
  • From a culinary perspective, every season is joyous, but for me it’s always spring, at least in my kitchen. That’s because my favorite item of kitchenware is the springform pan. The function of the pan is to make it possible to take out of the pan a cake which is too fragile to trust to the conventional method of turning it upside down and keeping your fingers crossed that it comes out in one piece.
  • As California restaurant critic Merrill Shindler observes, "Like politics and religion, nobody agrees about the one true chili." It's a dish that's easy to get into an argument over.
  • Contrary to popular belief, corned beef and cabbage is not the national dish of Ireland. You won’t find it on menus there except in places where there is a lot of tourist traffic. Some food historians even go so far as to question whether the dish is actually Irish at all.