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National Spaghetti Day & A Year Of Pasta Holidays

January 4th is National Spaghetti Day, but mark your calendar to celebrate all of the pasta holidays below.

Trivia: The word “spaghetti” derives from the Italian word “spago,” which means “twine” or “string.” 

The name for a single spaghetti noodle is “spaghetto” (it’s the singular form of the plural “spaghetti” ).

Other beloved Italian foods share this same grammatical distinction — one cannoli is actually a “cannolo,” and it’s a single cheese-filled “raviolo” or “panino” sandwich.

As you’ll discover in our History Of Pasta, the beloved noodles are not an Italian invention.

  • Pasta dough originated in China, in the form of dumplings and thin noodles (i.e., the thin pasta that is called linguine in Italy).
  • It’s believed that Arab traders introduced pasta to Sicily sometime in the eighth or ninth centuries.
  • Even pasta sauce isn’t originally Italian: Tomatoes were brought to Europe in the 16th century by explorers from the New World, where the tomato originated. The Mayas, Aztecs, and other Central American peoples made a variety of sauces (“salsas”) with tomatoes.
  • The first tomato sauce recipe appeared in a 1692 Italian cookbook, “The Modern Steward, or The Art of Preparing Banquets Well,” by Chef Antonio Latini. You can buy an English translation on Amazon.
  •  
    More than 300 years later, spaghetti with tomato sauce is a perennially popular dish in Italy and the U.S. [source].

    Italy is still the country with the highest consumption of pasta, but more than half (62%) of Italian pasta production ends up abroad. The top importing countries, in order, are Germany, the U.S. France, the U.K., and Japan.

    The fastest-growing markets are China, Canada, Spain, and Saudi Arabia.

    In terms of pasta consumption per capita, Italy (23.5 kg per capita), Tunisia (17 kg), Venezuela (15 kg), Greece (12 kg), Chile (9.4 kg), the U.S. (8.8 kg), Argentina (8.7 kg), and Turkey (8.7 kg) [source]. Note that not every country makes Italian-style pasta dishes.
     
     
    > The history of spaghetti.

    > The different types of pasta: a glossary.
     
     
    A YEAR OF PASTA HOLIDAYS 

    Ready, set, get your forks!

  • January 4th: National Spaghetti Day
  • February 7th: National Fettuccine Alfredo Day
  • February 13th: National Tortellini Day
  • March: National Noodle Month
  • March 20th: National Ravioli Day
  • April 6th: National Carbonara Day
  • July 7th: National Macaroni Day
  • July 14th: National Mac and Cheese Day
  • July 29th: National Lasagna Day
  • October: National Pasta Month
  • October 17th: National Pasta Day
  • October 25th: World Pasta Day
  • The 29th of every month: Gnocchi Day (“Ñoquis del 29” [loosely, “Gnocchi on the 29th”] in Argentina)
  •  
    And how could we leave out:

  • October 27th: National Parmigiano Reggiano Day, without which a dish of spaghetti and much other pasta, would be bereft.
  •  
     
    ________________
     
    *Marinara sauce (marinara is Italian for sailor) is a tomato sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions. Variations can include capers, olives, spices, and a dash of wine.

     

    Pasta Holidays: Spaghetti & Tomato Sauce
    [1] One of our favorites: spaghetti with a no-cook tomato sauce made with olive oil and crushed canned tomatoes. Here’s the recipe (photo © DeLallo).

    Pasta Holidays: Spaghetti and meatballs, in a tomato sauce.
    [2] Spaghetti and meatballs, one of the most popular spaghetti dish (photo © Robyn Mac | iStock).

    Pasta Holidays: Spaghetti & Tomato Sauce In A Pot
    [3] Spaghetti Bolognese, the most popular spaghetti dish, is spaghetti in marinara* sauce. It originated in Imola, a northern Italian city west of Bologna sometime in the late 1800s, when the first reference to the dish’s ragu sauce appears in print (photo © Pillsbury).

     

     
     

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    A Year Of Chocolate Holidays: Mark Your Calendar!

    Best Chocolate Covered Cherries
    [1] Chocolate=covered cherries. National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day is January 3rd (photo © Katherine Pollak | © The Nibble).

    Chocolate Bonbons
    [2] A box of fancy bonbons. International Chocolate Day is September 13th (photo © Vosges Haut Chocolat).

    Chocolate Layer Cake
    [3] Chocolate layer cake. January 27th is National Chocolate Cake Day. Here are wines to pair with chocolate cake (photo © King Arthur Baking).

    Chocolate Ice Cream Cone
    [4] Dark chocolate ice cream cone. June 7th is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (photo © Clementine’s Creamery).

    Glass Of Chocolate Milk With Shaved Chocolate Garnish
    [5] Chocolate milk. September 27th is National Chocolate Milk Day (photo © Yi Mun Loo | Unsplash).

    Chocolate & Red Wine
    [6] Chocolate truffles with a glass of Banyuls. Check out pairing wine and chocolate. National Chocolate Day is October 28th (photo © Chef Stefan).

    Pouring Hot Chocolate
    [7] Hot Chocolate. National Hot Chocolate Day is January 7th (photo © Maddi Baccocco | Unsplash).

     

    The first official chocolate holiday of the New Year is January 3rd, National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day. There are 69 chocolate holidays in all.

    How much does America love chocolate? There are at least two chocolate holidays every month of the year.

    The runner-up holiday category, wine holidays, has no holiday in January and only one in April and September.

    > Check out our favorite chocolate-covered cherries, from John & Kira’s.

    > The history of chocolate-covered cherries.
    > Pairing wine and chocolate.
     
     
    JANUARY

  • January 3rd: National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day (photo #1)
  • January 10th: National Bittersweet Chocolate Day
  • January 27th: National Chocolate Cake Day (photo #3)
  • January 31st: National Hot Chocolate Day (photo #7)
  •  
    FEBRUARY

  • February: National Chocolate Month a.k.a. Celebration Of Chocolate Month
  • February 1: National Dark Chocolate Day
  • February 5: National Chocolate Fondue Day
  • February 5th: World Nutella Day
  • February 9th: Chocolate Day*
  • February 11th: National Peppermint Patty Day
  • February 14: National Cream-Filled Chocolate Day / Valentine’s Day
  • February 16th: Tim Tam Day†
  • February 19th: National Chocolate Mint Day
  • February 23rd: Tootsie Roll Day
  • February 25th: National Chocolate Covered Nut Day
  • February 27th: National Chocolate Covered Strawberry Day
  • February 28th: National Chocolate Soufflé Day
  •  
    MARCH

  • March 5th: Chocolate Chip Cookie Week
  • March 6th: National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day
  • Third Full Week: American Chocolate Week
  • March 19th: National Chocolate Caramel Day
  • March 24th: National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day
  • March 28th: Eat An Eskimo Pie Day
  • March 28th: National Black Forest Cake Day
  •  
    APRIL

  • April (date varies): Easter & Orthodox Easter
  • April 3rd: National Chocolate Mousse Day
  • April 21st: National Chocolate-Covered Cashews Day
  •  
    MAY

  • May: National Chocolate Custard Month
  • May 1st: National Chocolate Parfait Day
  • May 2nd: National Truffle Day
  • May 3rd: National Chocolate Custard Day
  • May 12th: National Nutty Fudge Day
  • May 15th: National Chocolate Chip Day
  • May 18th: I Love Reese’s Day
  • May 19th: National Devil’s Food Cake Day
  •  
    JUNE

  • June 2nd: National Rocky Road Day
  • June 3rd: National Chocolate Macaroon Day
  • June 7th: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (photo #4)
  • June 11th: National German Chocolate Cake Day
  • June 16th: National Chocolate Fudge Day
  • June 22nd: National Chocolate Eclair Day
  • June 24th: National Pralines Day
  • June 26th: National Chocolate Pudding Day
  •  
    JULY

  • July 3rd: National Chocolate Wafer Day
  • July 7th: World Chocolate Day
  • July 8th: National Chocolate With Almonds Day
  • July 23rd: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Day
  • July 25th: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day
  • July 28th: National Milk Chocolate Day
  •  
    AUGUST

  • August 4th: National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day
  • August 10th: National S’mores Day
  • August 20th: National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day
  •  
    SEPTEMBER

  • September 12th: National Chocolate Milkshake Day
  • September 13th: International Chocolate Day* (photo #2)
  • September 16th: National Choose Your Chocolate Day
  • September 22nd: National White Chocolate Day
  • September 27th: National Chocolate Milk Day (photo #5)
  •  
    OCTOBER

  • October 7th: National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day
  • October 13th: National M&Ms Day
  • October 14th: National Chocolate-Covered Insects Day
  • Third Monday: Chocolate Week
  • October 28th: National Chocolate Day (photo #6)
  •  
    NOVEMBER

  • November 7th: National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day
  • November 20th: National Peanut Butter Fudge Day
  •  
    DECEMBER

  • December 1st: National Peppermint Bark Day
  • December 5th: National Sacher Torte Day
  • December 13th: National Cocoa Day
  • December 16th: National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day
  • December 28th: National Chocolate Candy Day
  •  
     
    Have we forgotten one? Let us know!
     
     
    ________________

    *This is different from the World Chocolate Day observed on July 7 to commemorate chocolate’s introduction to Europe in 1550.

    †Tim Tam biscuits are Australia’s most loved chocolate biscuit (cookie). It’s a chocolate cookie sandwich with a cream filling, enrobed in chocolate.

     
     

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    A Year Of Cheese Holidays, Starting With National Swiss Cheese Day

    January 2nd is National Swiss Cheese Day. After a brief explanation of “Swiss” cheese, we’ll head into all of the year’s cheese holidays.

    > The history of cheese.

    > The different types of cheese: a glossary.
     
     
    THERE IS NO ONE SINGLE “SWISS” CHEESE 

    Swiss cheese is the generic name used in the U.S. for several related varieties of cheese, inspired by those made in Switzerland.

    Emmental (photo #1), which has large holes (properly known as eyes*), is the original cheese from Switzerland that Americans think of as “Swiss” cheese. Not all kinds of cheeses made in Switzerland have them.

    In fact, there are some 450 known Swiss cheeses, classified into five categories:
    The categories of Swiss cheese, and examples, include:

  • Extra-Hard: Sbrinz
  • Hard: Emmental (or Emmenthal, Emmenthaler or Emmentaler), Gruyère/Greyerzer (photo #4), Sapsago, Vacherin Fribourgeois
  • Semi-Hard: Appenzeller (photo #3), Bündner Bergkäse, Mutschli, Raclette, Tête de Moine, Tilsiter
  • Semi-Soft: Facherin Fribourgeois (photo #5), Vacherin Mont d’Or (photo #5)
  • Soft: Gala (fresh cheese), Tomme Vaudoise
  •  
    Cow’s milk is used in 99% of the cheeses produced (the same goes for Swiss-style cheeses made in the U.S.).

    When émigré cheesemakers from Switzerland arrived in the U.S., some made Emmenthaler-style cheeses which they sold as “Swiss cheese” (photo #2).

    As a result, most Americans think of “Swiss cheese” as the cheese with big holes.

    If you’re a “Swiss cheese” lover, try some authentic Emmental and taste the difference.
     
     
    CHEESE HOLIDAYS 

    January 

  • January 2nd: National Swiss Cheese Day
  • January 19th: World Quark Day
  • January 20th: National Cheese Lover’s Day
  •  
    February 

  • February: National Fondue Month
  • February 13th: National Cheddar Day
  •  
    March 

  • March 5th: National Cheese Doodle Day
  •  
    April 

  • April: National Grilled Cheese Month</li>
  • April 9th: National Pimento Cheese Day
  • April 11th: National Cheese Fondue Day
  • April 11th: National Poutine Day
  • April 17th: National Cheese Ball Day
  • April 20th: International Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day
  • April 20th: National Cheddar Fries Day
  •  
    May 

  • May 18th: National Cheese Soufflé Day
  •  
    June 

  • June 4th: National Cheese Day
  • June 25th: National Goat Cheese Day
  •  
    July 

  • July 14th: National Mac & Cheese Day
  • July 25th: National Wine & Cheese Day
  • July 29th: National Cheese Sacrifice Purchase Day
  • July 30th: National Cheesecake Day (savory cheesecake recipes)
  •  
    August 

  • August: National Goat Cheese Month
  •  
    September 

  • September 5th: National Cheese Pizza Day
  • September 15th: National Cheese Toast Day
  • September 18th: National Cheeseburger Day
  • September 20th: National Queso† Day
  • September 20th: National String Cheese Day
  •  
    October 

  • October 9th: National Moldy Cheese Day
  • October 15th: National Cheese Curd Day
  •  
    November 

  • November: National Fun With Fondue Month
  •  
     
     
    ________________
     
    *Three types of bacteria are used in the production of Emmental cheese: Streptococcus thermophilis, Lactobacillus, and Propionibacter shermani. In a late stage of cheese production, P. shermani consumes the lactic acid excreted by the other bacteria and releases carbon dioxide gas. This forms the bubbles that appear to be “holes” when the cheese is sliced. These bacteria are also used in the production of some other cheeses from Switzerland. The cheese industry calls these holes or tunnels “eyes.” Swiss cheese without eyes is known as “blind.”
     
    †Queso is a cheese dip that is historically baked (queso fundido/queso flameado). In recent decades, it has been made into a pasteurized cheese dip and sold in jars like salsa. The recipe in the link is a muenster dip but you can substitute Cheddar, Jack, or a Hispanic melting cheese.

     

    Emmethal, Emmenthaler Swiss Cheese
    [1] Emmenthaler cheese from Switzerland (photo © DeLaurenti).


    [2] Swiss émigrés to the U.S. made cheese according to the Emmenthaler recipe they knew, but sold the cheese as “Swiss cheese” (photo © Wisconsin Cheese).

    Appenzeller Swiss Cheese
    [3] Appenzeller cheese (photo © Artisanal Cheese).

    Slice Of Swiss Le Gruyere Cheese
    [4] Gruyère. Swiss Gruyère is the original, with A.O.P. protection. Gruyère is also made on the other side of the border in France, but it must be labeled “French Gruyèere” (photo © Murray’s Cheese).

    Vacherin Fribourgeois Swiss Cheese
    [5] Vacherin Fribourgeois. The canton of Fribourg (also the canton of Freiburg) is located in western Switzerland. Vacherin refers to a type of soft Swiss cow’s milk cheese. There are also French vacherins (photos #5 and #6 © Cheeses From Switzerland).

    Vacherin Mont d'Or Swiss Cheese
    [6] Silky and luscious Vacherin Mont d’Or is crafted from cow’s milk produced during the fall and winter months when the herds spend their days munching straw and fodder instead of grazing on pasture. When ripe the cheese is spoonable/spreadable. Mont d’Or is a mountain that lies between the Swiss canton of Vaudo and the French Jura.

     
     
     
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    The Tom & Jerry: Eggnog With Brandy, For National Eggnog Day

    Tom & Jerry Eggnog Cups
    [1] A Tom and Jerry in special Tom & Jerry cups. Here’s the recipe (photos #1, #2, and #3 © House Of Hawthornes).

    Tom & Jerry Eggnog Cups
    [2] Different companies created Tom and Jerry punchbowl and cup sets in the 1940s. This set is from Hazel Atlas, a prominent producer.

    Tom & Jerry Eggnog Cups
    [3] This set, from Homer Laughlin, is more elegant.

     

    December 24th is National Egg Nog (or Eggnog) Day. Most Americans know the drink as full of cream, rum, brandy,

    Is it eggnog or egg nog? Modern philologists consider that eggnog has become a closed compound word, i.e., a word derived from two separate words joined together without a space between them.

    Closed compound words evolve over time. There are many examples, a few of which are bookstore, cupcake, dishcloth, flowerpot, keyboard, mailbox, notebook, pancake, railroad, and snowball.

    And thus, eggnog.

    Eggnog is a descendant of milk-and-wine punches that had long been part of European celebrations and came to the New World with the colonists.

    Rum, a New World spirit, was a better (e.g., higher-proof) substitution for the wine, and eggnog laced with rum became a popular wintertime drink throughout Colonial America.

    President George Washington’s own recipe, which included rye whiskey, rum, and sherry, was reputed to be so stiff a drink that only the most courageous could down it.

    But there was no brandy in colonial eggnog. Brandy joined rum in the basic recipe much later—as part of a book promotion!
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF THE TOM AND JERRY: EGGNOG WITH BRANDY 

    In the 1820s, Pierce Egan (1772–1849) a British journalist, sportswriter, and writer on popular culture wrote a novel called “Life of London: or Days and Nights of Jerry Hawthorne, Esq. and His Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom.” You can pick up a copy on Amazon.

    Just as today’s mixologists and publicists know how to generate buzz with a new cocktail, Egan created a variation of eggnog he called the “Tom and Jerry,” after his characters. As a publicity stunt to promote his book, the half ounce of brandy he added to the basic recipe—which already had rum—and ended up furthering eggnog’s popularity. More booze, why not?

    The original name, eggnog, prevails in most places.

    The first printed reference in the U.S. appears in 1862, in Jerry Thomas’s book, How to Mix Drinks, Or, The Bon-vivant’s Companion.

    In the midwestern United States, the name Tom and Jerry is preferred to eggnog. In some places, the phrase “Tom and Jerrying” meant indulging in loud, drunken behavior.

    Here’s a classic Tom and Jerry recipe from House of Hawthornes, which collects the vintage Tom and Jerry sets shown in the photos.

    According to Atlas Obscura: “Historians are unclear as to why the Tom and Jerry has become such a Christmas staple in the Midwestern United States, but it was popular enough to merit a cottage industry of Tom and Jerry drink sets, consisting of punch bowls and mugs inscribed with the drink’s name in Old English font.”

    You can find vintage Tom and Jerry cup and punchbowl sets online, but we’ll leave the collecting to others.

    Atlas Obscura continues, “Milk glass Tom and Jerry sets produced by the Hazel-Atlas and Mckee Glass companies were fairly common in the 1940s through 1960s.

    “A New York Times article about the cocktail quotes author Jim Draeger, who wrote a book on Wisconsin’s historical taverns, as surmising that the Tom and Jerry became a Wisconsin staple because the state has an affinity for brandy drinks, and is well-known as a dairy state.”

    > How eggnog got its name.

    > 20+ eggnog recipes, including diet eggnog.

     

     
     

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    Lady M Champagne Mille Crêpes Cake For New Year’s Eve

    Readers of THE NIBBLE know how much we love Lady M’s Mille Crêpes Cakes: delicate, elegant, exquisite, ethereal bites that are perfect for special celebrations.

    We also serve them at dinner parties where we want something impressive for dessert but need it to be on the light side.

    In addition to the year-round menu of flavors, there are always wonderful seasonal specialties.

    Right now, it’s Champagne Mille Crêpes Cake.

    It’s a dazzling centerpiece, even more dazzling on the fork.

    Champagne Mille Crêpes Cake starts with the company’s classic Signature Mille Crêpes Cake.

    For this special flavor, a touch of fresh strawberries is whipped into the pastry cream. The cream is then hand-brushed between all 20 crêpe layers. 

    The cake is topped with lush Champagne gelée—such a generous touch of Champagne that Lady M says “you’ll have to show a 21+ ID card before purchasing in boutiques.” They mean it!

    The cake serves 10-14 people.

    Order yours at LadyM.com.
     
     
    WHAT’S A MILLE CRÊPES CAKE?

    What’s a Mille Crêpes cake? It’s a stack of paper-thin crêpes. The crêpes themselves are the same as those you might order for brunch, where they are rolled up with a filling.

    In a Crêpe Cake, on the other hand, nothing is rolled: The flat crêpes are brushed with light pastry cream and stacked (see photo #3).

    At Lady M, the top crêpe becomes a caramelized crust. Then, each flavor of crêpe cake is finished with its own special garnish.

    This leads us to a disclosure: While “mille crêpes” indicates that there are 1,000 crêpes (mille, pronounced meel, is the number one thousand in French), there are actually some 20 crêpes in each cake, each crêpe handmade in the Lady M kitchens.

    > The history of Mille Crepes Cake.
     
     
    LADY M CRÊPE MILLE CRÊPES CAKE YEAR-ROUND FLAVORS

    While there are seasonal flavors, the current roster of 9-inch Mille Crêpes Cakes includes:

  • Chocolate Mille Crêpes Cake (photo #4)
  • Dulce de Leche Mille Crêpes Cake
  • Earl Grey Mille Crêpes Cake
  • Green Tea Mille Crêpes Cake
  • Pistachio Mille Crêpes Cake (photo #5)
  • Signature Mille Crêpes Cake (vanilla)
  • Tiramisu Mille Crêpes Cake
  • Tres Leches Mille Crêpes Cake
  •  
    There are seasonal flavors: Chestnut for the holidays, Champagne for the new year, Passion Fruit for the summer, and so on. Keep checking and you may find Purple Yam, Red Bean, and Salted Caramel.

    You can even order a three-tier wedding cake, each layer made of “mille” crêpes.

    And the website currently offers these specialty flavors: Truffle Mille Crêpes Cake, Purple Yam “Ube” Milles Crêpes Cake, Jasmine Calamansi Mille Crêpes Cake, and Passion Fruit Mille Crêpes Cake.

    There are also scrumptious layer cakes and for October-November, a Pumpkin Nuage* (photo #6).

    What’s a Pumpkin Nuage? Combine the best elements of pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake, gently spiced with cinnamon, and add a touch of Lady M’s refined elegance. Plus, the most finely crushed graham cracker crust we’ve ever seen.
     
     
    ABOUT LADY M

    Lady M is a New York City maker of luxury confections, with more than 50 boutiques worldwide. Established in 2001, Lady M is the creator of the world-famous Mille Crêpes Cake.

    Lady M marries French pastry techniques with Japanese sensibilities, resulting in delicate cakes that are a touch sweet and perfect for every occasion.

    All cakes are handmade and prepared fresh without food additives or preservatives. The crêpes cakes are a very special treat, although Lady M makes a variety of delectable cakes and confections. Learn more at LadyM.com.
     
     
    BAKE YOUR OWN: CRÊPE RECIPES

    Are you up for making paper-thin crêpes? Check out these recipes.

  • Bavarian Crêpes
  • Buckwheat Crêpes With Ham & Eggs
  • Crêpes Suzette
  • DIY Crêpes Party With Savory & Sweet Fillings
  • Peking Duck Crêpes
  • Tapioca Crêpes
  •  

    Lady M Champagne Mille Crepes Cake
    [1] The new limited edition for December: Champagne Mille Crêpes Cake (all photos © Lady M).

    Lady M Champagne Mille Crepes Cake
    [2] A slice of Butter Pecan, with nuggets of candied pecans scattered between the layers for crunch.

    Making A Crepe Cake
    [3] Making a Mille Crêpes cake (with just 20 layers, not 1,000).

    Lady M Mille Crepe Cake
    [4] A popular flavor: Chocolate Mille Crêpes Cake.

    Lady M Pistachio Mille Crepes Cake
    [5] Also a fan favorite: Pistachio Mille Crêpes Cake.

    Lady M Earl Grey Mille Crepes Cake
    [6] Earl Grey Mille Crêpes Cake is available year-round.

     
     
    ________________

    *Nuage, pronounced new-AHJ, means cloud in French. There are different kinds of cloud cake, but they all aim to be light and airy.
     
     

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