Monday, January 12, 2004


I have lots of friends who work in or have worked in the food-service industry to varying degrees. but none of them can tell me where the hell the term "86" comes from! 86 is what kitchen staff uses to inform the wait staff and others that they are out of an item- for example, "86 on tuna fish!", when its all gone. luckily, this answer was slightly easier to find then some in the past... but even that does not give one straight answer. sigh.

"According to Chef Dan Phillips, a restaurant history buff of sorts, the term "86" traces back to legendary French chef Georges-Auguste Escoffier, "the grandfather of cooking." Escoffier's career took him to the kitchens of the Moulin Rouge and London's Savoy Hotel in the late 1800's. Legend has it that Escoffier once could not complete a recipe that he had in mind because he could not find the 86th and final ingredient. A cold and rainy March Saturday led the Kona Breezeeditorial staff to a search for other explanations for the term, which they report as follows: At Delmonico's, America's first restaurant, the rib eye steak, Item 86, was out one night, thus the term. In the days of soup kitchens, they prepared enough soup for 85 people, so the 86th man in line was out of luck. 86 once meant "dead and buried," as in 8 feet long and 6 feet deep, the common specs for a grave for the averagesized man. In radio communication by telegraph key, the kind used at sea, 86 means "ignore previous message" or "eliminate." (More useful, by the way, is 88, "hugs and kisses.") Finally, we found that restaurants borrowed the term from bars, who "86ed" someone who had had too much to drink, a reference to Article 86 of the New York State Liquor Laws that limit service of alcoholic beverages."

Thursday, January 08, 2004

now THAT's Italian...

OK ok I am back. I took a long very long needed break over the holiday time. Hopefully I can keep it up, as they say.

Have you ever noticed the weird numbering system on packages of pasta in the grocery? do they all share the same numerology or is it based on a per company basis? I know it means something but I do not know what just yet...

also, there is of course the concept of what foods go better with what shapes.

"Thin, delicate pastas like angel hair or thin spaghetti, should be served with light, thin sauces. Thicker pasta shapes, like fettuccine, work well with heavier sauces. Pasta shapes with holes or ridges like mostaccioli or radiatore, are perfect for chunkier sauces."

"The first industrial pasta factory in America was built in Brooklyn in 1848 by, of all people, a Frenchman, who spread his spaghetti strands on the roof to dry in the sunshine!"

these concepts and more here!

a-HA! an answer:

What do the numbers on the carton or package mean?

The number associated with the shape, or cut, of pasta is known as a "cut number". Cut numbers are commonly used in the pasta industry. These numbers identify the actual cut, shape, length or width of the extruder that is used to produce that particular shape of pasta.

so does that mean the smaller noodles are smaller numbers? I am still not sure I fully understand.