Thursday, February 02, 2012

Old School Thursday: Groundhog Day (among other things) Edition

Kind of a big day today. In addition to it being Groundhog Day (shoutout to Punxsutawney Phil, who made his debut in 1887), today is also National Heavenly Hash Day and California Kiwifruit Day. Heavenly hash and kiwi – to me, that screams ‘80s, though I’m sure heavenly hash is really more ‘50s.

Now on to the good stuff – and it is good stuff. Today in 1659, Jan van Riebeeck, who was then governor of the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, made his first wine from grapes he’s planted on the cape in 1655. Winemakers all over South Africa rejoice.

It’s also an enormous day for the French. Today is Talleyrand’s birthday (1754) – the French statesman whose chefs included Bouchee, Careme and Avice - and also the anniversary of the death of Brillat-Savarin (1826), whose contribution to food criticism and philosophy just can’t be measured.

Those anniversaries bookend a February 2, 1795 announcement of a French government prize going to someone who invented a method of preserving food to transport to the French army – the prize was won by Nicholas Appert for his canning method.

And finally, today in 1897, Alfred Cralle of Pittsburgh patented the basic ice cream scooper design still used today.

So much to celebrate today – including, apparently, six more weeks of winter. It’s been a warm winter so far, but it looks like that ice cream scooper might come in handy for snowball-making, after all.

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