Tuesday, July 18, 2006

PSA: Heat Wave

Man this weather is brutal. It broke eighty degrees here yesterday. Fahrenheit!

The cure is a cool drink on the patio after a long day: specifically The Miracle of Summer. This drink consists of Fergus Henderson's Miracle topped off with lavish quantities of soda water. Or seltzer, whatever. Basically a Fernet spritzer (over the years, I've realized that the creme de menthe should play a role like that of vermouth in a martini; I'm starting to suspect that Henderson père included it to discourage the cure from becoming the cause). So:


Febbrifugo, vermifugo, tonico, corroborante, calofacente e anti-colerico.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Speaking of David Karp, I just had a delicious and interesting new stone fruit, which the store called a "Black Velvet apricot," I think (senility may be setting in here). The skin is indeed almost black, at the darkest edge of the plum spectrum, but just slightly downy like a normal apricot. Flavor was not earth-shattering, but surprisingly good acid and sugar, without that over-the-top apricot unctuousness that some people (including Karp) seem to like. A little poking around reaveals that it is not a Zaiger's Genetics product, but there is a chance interspecific hybrid (not an "apricot") discovered 17 years ago, called Royal Velvet, which has got to be the same thing. If you see one, eat it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Happy Happy

Lest I be accused of permanent negativity, I'd like to point out this typically superb David Karp article on Fragaria moschata in the new Smithsonian.

Also: John Seabrook's excellent 2002 article on Karp.

From the New Yorker.

No mistakes.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Kill him again

I was attempting to enjoy a normal, New Yorker-free life when I came across:
Paris et al., "First Known Image of Cucurbita in Europe, 1503-1508," Annals of Botany 98 (2006) 401-7.

The authors compare a series of cucurbit paintings in the Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne. The bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is labeled Cucurbita/Quegourdes; the painting they ID as Cucurbita pepo (i.e., "squash") is called Colloquintida/Quegourdes de turquie.* So bottle gourds were unequivocally called cucurbitas in 16th-century France (and distinguished from colocynth to which the new species were mistakenly assimilated). And as we know, zucca is the Italian form of cucurbita (via cocuzza, if you must). It is likely that a similar practice prevailed in northern Italy.

[article | illumination*]


This Buford saga has been variously referred to as a rant, an evisceration, an excoriation, and so on. I've written plenty of those in my time on the internets, but I really was trying to be reasonable with all this. I don't know why. Further evidence, as if it were needed, of the irrevocable lost-ness of the cause was provided by a food blogger who conferred with the dessert chef and decided that Buford "was talking about restaurant dessert, which is a very different thing." Indeed. But it didn't appear until the 18th century not because there was no dessert, but because there were no restaurants.


The only good thing to come of this is the discovery that the BNF has been spending a lot of time putting pretty pictures on the internet. That, and the cuculoupe.

*I realize I sound like a crazy person, but this is why: if the authors of the paper had even a rudimentary knowledge of paleography, they would not have misread the Latin name as "Colloquitida [sic]". Are there no standards anymore?***

**If the static link doesn't work, go to the search page, type in Latin 9474, then make your way to image 295. The Lagenaria is image 142.

***Yes, I started with an Eric B. & Rakim reference and ended with Pantera. So what?

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