Agenda: April 5-April 11
Enlarge Image Credit: VinoFamily/FlickrApril 5
Pelican Point Coconut Festival
Pelican Point, Grand Bahama
This town on the southeastern coast of Grand Bahama Island harvests a bounty of Jamaica Tall coconuts each spring. To celebrate the meaty fruit of the palm, locals cook ribs in coconut sauce, bake bread filled with coconut, and feast. The ensuing Greasy Coconut Tree Contest is a slippery mischief. Information: 242/352-8044.
White House Easter Egg Roll
Washington D. C., USA
First Lady Dolley Madison inaugurated the Egg Roll, on Capitol Hill, after hearing that Egyptian children were known to roll colored eggs at the Pyramids. An early observer of the practice described "a set of boys…with joined hands…trying to come down in somersaults without breaking the chain." In 1877, Congress banned the occassion, but President Hayes took pity on the kids and moved the event to the White House lawn's gentler slope, where it now occurs every Easter Monday, often with the First Family in attendance. Information: http://www.whitehouse.gov/easterEggRoll
This Coptic Easter celebration begins just after midnight on Saturday, when the faithful break a 55-day vegan fast with fetta -- a dish of stewed meats and bread. The next day, families dress entirely in new clothes and visit each other bearing gifts of kahk (honey- or date-filled cookies) and goreiba (butter cookies with nuts). On Monday, feasting continues with afternoon picnics. Information: 202/296-3888.
China, Hong Kong, Taiwan
On this day, whose name means "clear and bright", families pay homage to their forebears by sweeping out ancestral tombs and leaving offerings of paper money, wine, and food (often a favorite dish of the deceased's). Once ancestors have eaten their "spiritual" fill, the food is removed for feasting at home. Information: 212/760-8218.
Egg Salad Week
On the Monday after Easter, all those eggs you've spent the previous few days hard-boiling and decorating will come back to haunt you. No matter how well you've hidden them, the kids will persist in retrieving them. What can you do? The American Egg Board advises you to make egg salad, and quickly. Hard-cooked eggs keep in the fridge for only a week -- less than fresh eggs -- because their protective coating has been washed off during boiling. Information: http://www.incredibleegg.org
Anniversary: Hostess Twinkies
Chicago, USA, 1930
During the Great Depression, Hostess Bakery manager Jimmy Dewar determined one day to put some unused pans to work baking his new creation: oblong sponge cakes filled with banana cream. While promoting the treat, Dewar was inspired by a billboard for "Twinkle Toe Shoes" and christened the cakes Twinkies. A banana shortage during World War II prompted a change in the cakes' filling, from banana to vanilla cream; the rest is junk-food history.
Anniversary: Invention of Teflon
Deepwater, New Jersey, USA
Tougher than Bruce Willis, more water-repellent than a duck's back, able to leap pot-scrubbing hurdles in a single bound, Teflon is one of the super-inventions of the century. Little did DuPont chemist Dr. Roy J. Plunkett suspect that his accidental 1938 discovery would forever endear him to scientists, engineers, and chefs worldwide. Teflon has a thousand uses, from pump coating to protecting the Statue of Liberty from wear and tear to making pancake-flipping a one-handed task.
In Morocco, at the end of Passover, Muslims used to visit their Jewish neighbors, bearing fresh yeast (prohibited during Passover) and whole fish (symbolizing fertility). Transplanted to Israel in 1948 by Moroccan-Jewish emigres, the holiday now involves an all-day picnic in Jerusalem, where thousands indulge in local delicacies. Information: 212/499-5660.
Birthday: David Grandison Fairchild
Lansing, Michigan, USA, 1869.
At just 29, this botanist, author, and, incidentally, son-in-law of Alexander Graham Bell established the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Section of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction; he devoted 35 years to traveling the world and collecting more than 80,000 plants. Today we have Fairchild to thank for many foods that are now grown stateside, among them alfalfa, nectarines, dates, horseradish, avocados, pistachios, soybeans, and mangoes.
Birthday: Willie Keith Kellogg
Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, 1860.
W.K. (who hated the name Willie and at age 38 had it legally changed to Will) was working at his brother's famous Battle Creek Sanitarium when he accidentally left a batch of boiled wheat out overnight and discovered that the result was crisp, wonderful cereal flakes. The process, called tempering, became the basic idea behind Kellogg's Corn Flakes, the company's flagship ready-to-eat breakfast cereal. Kellogg's business savvy and emphasis on the importance of advertising gave the inventor great wealth, much of which, after 1930, he donated to charity through his Kellogg Foundation, and some of which he used to indulge in his favorite pastime: raising Arabian horses.
Lamb is big in the Rocky Mountain State -- Colorado is the country's fourth largest producer of the meat -- so it's fitting that the Taste of Vail festival starts with a lamb cook-off. Chefs from 20 local restaurants will rub, glaze, roast, and braise tender pieces of the meat, and visitors can sample the results in tents set up on the town's main streets. Last year's dishes included lamb pot stickers, lamb burgers, and lamb ravioli with Thai curry sauce. If the high altitude doesn't make you woozy, be sure to check out the wine tastings. Information: 970/926-5665.