Obfuscated by piles of notes and dog-eared magazine articles, newspaper clippings and gum wrappers, it''s probable that somewhere in here is my keyboard. This is also a clue that it might be time to disseminate the wealth of culinary data that otherwise might suddenly and haphazardly list from its perch and smash a limb or bury a household pet.
It''s called "stuff I learned while trying to learn about other stuff," and accumulating it doesn''t make you more efficient and it''s not found anywhere on the list of Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. But it might make you more interesting over a bowl of salted nuts at one of those wildly entertaining mixers.
Did you know that the Japanese are the biggest importers of Lodge cast-iron cookware? (This would come as very startling news if you had to process this data after having spent third grade in Miss Inez''s class in sleepy, slow-as-molasses South Pittsburg, Tennessee, where Lodge cast-iron cookware is still produced. And yes, square dancing was part of the curriculum.) So taken are they with the fine points of Dutch-oven cooking that frequent high-stakes cook-offs are serious stuff in Japan, where everything from stir-fried udon noodles to chili beans might be found under the lid.
Even more startling but nonetheless true: Sturgeon C-sections. It''s a little early to tell just how successful it will be--or a little late since these pre-historic giants of the Caspian Sea and producers of the world''s finest caviar are at the brink of extinction--but it may mean the difference between garnishing your toast points, or not. Although there are some kinks to work out, Russian researchers are working on ways to induce sturgeon ovulation so that the eggs may be harvested without killing the fish. So far, so good, except that the texture of the slaughter-free caviar tends to be sort of like a stick of Juicy Fruit, enjoyed somewhat past its prime.
If you prefer to get your RDA of protein by less complicated means and you''re among the kindred who are aware of the most sublime filling ever found wrapped in a steamy corn husk, the season is open on green corn tamales, the beluga of its class. (If you get lucky, sometimes you find them as a special at The Whole Enchilada in Moss Landing.) If you''re headed to LA, El Cholo restaurant--a great Mexican restaurant worth the trip all on its own--throws a tamale-making party in June to hail the season that lasts until October. Their tamales, made from hand-grated corn with a perfume like pastures of heaven, are so incredible that they ship them around the world. They''ve also been at it a while. Since they opened in 1922, they''ve sold enough tortillas, laid end to end, to circle the globe 3 1/2 times.
But, if your name was Kendall-Jackson and you were opening your new winery in Soledad just a couple of months from now, all the oak barrels you''d be installing, laid end to end, would be enough to circle the Costco parking lot 873 times. Their new digs are now entering the final phase of construction on 418 acres in South County, and in case you''re not very good with math, that''s 40,000 oak barrels.
Quick! How many AVA''s (American Viticultural Appellations) in MoCo? Would you believe seven? Monterey County, Chalone, Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, Hames Valley and San Lucas. Somebody around here must like wine. cw