Saturday, June 23, 2012

Buffalo's sandwich in the Champlain Valley?

Recently tried the Vermont version of the "beef on weck" sandwich. I had been seeing it on restaurant menus around the area, and I had always been curious about the Buffalo, New York, creation. A few days ago, I could resist no more and placed my order for "beef on weck," drawing curious looks from my companions.

The sandwich was good, but I suspect the original western New York version is substantially more flavorful and more... well... damp. 

There was little in the way of salt/caraway seed crusting on the alleged-kummelweck roll (caraway is the "kummel" portion of the German kummelweck roll recipe). The mound of roast beef was more medium than the traditional rare. That was actually a relief, as there was no cow blood spurting from my meal, but it was not entirely authentic. Rather than dunk the top of the roll in beef juices, as apparently called for in the original Buffalo version, the Vermont sandwich was served with au jus on the side. 

A pickle and a good amount of fresh horse radish was also served on the plate. The horse radish is an essential ingredient in the beef on weck sandwich (as well as an incredibly effective decongestant), but it cannot be slathered on by the chef - its use needs to be carefully controlled by the consumer. 

A pleasant dining experience, I nevertheless have to assume that the Vermont sandwich was "beef on weck lite."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Resolving the Celsius-Fahrenheit Thing

Got a solution to the Celsius-Fahrenheit thing. You're probably aware that the war over conflicting temperature scales has been raging for the past 270 years or so. Well, I'm putting a stop to it here and now.

Celsius forces gradually have taken over much of the world (most of the conquest was achieved while they called themselves Centigraders, but we knew what they really were). The United States and fellow former British colonies the Cayman Islands and Belize are the remaining bastions of Fahrenheitism.

The solution to the dispute is fairly simple. I'll walk you through it:

Now, let's first agree that it would be stupid to drop °F for °C, because °F is a far more precise measurement. There are almost two Fahrenheit degrees for every Celsius degree. It frankly makes no sense to move from our slender, exact Fahrenheit degrees to fat, clumsy Celsius degrees. All those countries that have already done so are simply dumb. (Sorry. I know the truth hurts sometimes.) Making such a change also would be abhorrent to the many Americans who know that "F" really stands for "Freedom," and "C" really stands for "Communism."

Still, the °C people have a good argument for the freezing point of water being zero. That's a good place for us to start. Thirty-two degrees is really tough for people to remember - if asked the temperature of an ice cube, many careless Fahrenheiters would probably round down to zero anyway.

So, why don't we keep the precise °F scale but adjust it to a zero-degree freezing point? The zero then becomes a useful thermometer signal for putting on winter coats and using more caution when driving. And it makes all those freeze-approximating Fahrenheiters correct.

This simple adjustment happily drops the boiling point of water to a convenient 180°. I'm sure you will agree that 180° is a much easier number to remember than the current 212°F. One hundred and eighty degrees also makes good symbolic sense, as it is the geometric measurement of an about-face. So, under this system, the about-face of freezing is, as it should be, boiling.

You like that, don't you?

In order to avoid getting our new efficient temperature scale confused with the silly, outdated temperature scales, we should designate the new temperatures with a different letter than C or F. Why not use "T"? (No reason. I just happen to like it.) And, when the excited public demands that the new system be named for its originator, we'll have a convenient initial already in place. After all, the old systems were named for Danny Fahrenheit and Andy Celsius (really - you can look it up).

So..., from now on, water freezes at 0°T and boils at 180°T.  All agreed? Terrific. I'm glad we've finally settled this thing.

By the way, under our new system, normal human body temperature - formerly the cumbersome and entirely forgettable 98.6°F - becomes the far more memorable (apologies to the superstitious) 66.6°T.

The most pleasant side effect of this system: It was only about 68°T outside today!