Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hanging around on the tree.

Today, January 19th …

Since the ratification of the twentieth amendment in 1933 the traditional day for the inauguration of the President of the USA has been January 20th, and the obligatory dinners and lunches are usually on that day. In 1945 however, for reasons known only to the planners of such events, the Inaugural dinner for Franklin D. Roosevelt, was held (at the usual venue of the Mayflower hotel, a few blocks from the White House) on the 19th.

The menu was:

Terrapin Soup with Sherry en Tasse
Fried Puff Pastry

Celery Olives Nuts

Filet of Sole, Belle Meuniere

Breast of Capon on Smithfield Ham, Southern Style
Baked Half Lobster Thermidor
New Stringless Beans Sweet Potato with Apples, Winchester

Salade Rose Marie
(Hearts of Romaine with Alligator Pear and Grapefruit, Lorenzo Dressing)

Cheese Wafers

Coupe Tortoni with Chocolate Mousse

Moka Cream Cake

Demi Tasse
What I find interesting is that the salad dish, unlike the other items, was described in detail, suggesting that it was a creation of the chef. I wonder, who was “Rose Marie”? The other interesting thing is the “alligator pear”. The chef meant of course, the avocado.

The avocado has had many names. Some describe its texture and use : midshipman’s butter, butter-pear and butter-fruit, for example. The “pear” part is also obvious, but why “alligator”? It is supposedly a very tortured derivative, like the word “avocado” itself, of its original Aztec name “ahuactl”, which makes sense as the fruit originated in South America and has been cultivated there for over 7000 years.

And, most deliciously – this is my favourite food name explanation in the world - the Aztec name means “testicle” and so it is the “testicle fruit”! This makes the best sense of all, as the fruit hangs in pairs on the “testicle tree” - one slightly lower than the other of course. Check it out.

“Sauce Lorenzo” is supposedly named after the waiter at the famous “21 Club” in New York who invented it. It is a variation on the vinaigrette theme, the essential ingredients being chilli sauce and chopped watercress. This is the “genuine” recipe:

Lorenzo Dressing 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar1/2 teaspoon dry mustard dissolved in 1 tablespoon water 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/3 cup olive oil2 tablespoons bottled chili sauce2 tablespoons finely chopped watercress leaves2 tablespoons chopped cooked bacon

Tomorrow: Clubs, cabbages, and cannonballs

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