A Harte Appetite

Every Tuesday at 7:31 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.

Local support for A Harte Appetite comes from Cyclewerx.

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.

Red Velvet Cake

Jan 1, 2018
flickr user Dan Costin (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

The non-violent overthrow of Czechoslovakia's communist government in 1999 was called the Velvet Revolution; growing up in St. Louis, the preferred ice cream of my youth was called Velvet Freeze; and the late crooner Mel Torme was called the Velvet Fog (or to those who weren't fans, the Velvet Frog.)

But to me the most deserving object of the designation "velvet" is red velvet cake -- a rich relative of devil's food cake only with a distinctive red color and frosted with white icing for contrast.

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