Joe Jost's Special

I grew up in Long Beach California, and like every town in America, there's one bar that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE knows.  Enter Joe Jost's - the place is an icon, practically representing the fair City of Long Beach in all corners of the earth.  You could be at a secondary school rugby match in Fiji and see some guy wearing a Joe Jost's T-shirt.

It's been around since the early 1920's and if you're not up on American history, that means it survived prohibition.  (By the way, the only good thing that came of Prohibition was women's suffrage, but that's another post).  Joe Jost's has survived 80+ years by sticking to the basics and doing them well.

They serve cold beer, very cold, 29 degrees cold.  That's below freezing for you literary types and they serve it in giant frozen 15 ounce glasses called Schooners.  The sheer mass of the Schooner keeps your beer cool drastically longer than a standard pint glass, and while they stay cool, they look a heck of a lot cooler too.

Besides cold beer, there's root beer, peanuts, pickled eggs, and five different kinds of sandwiches: cheese, liverwurst, hot dogs, a salami sandwich, and Joe's Special.  

Joe's Special is it.  While I'm sure the other sandwiches are good, the Special is the only sandwich anyone in my company has ever ordered.  In their own words, a Special is, "A Polish Sausage made from our family’s own blend of spices, slice of Swiss cheese and pickle, mustard on rye bread."

With a Schooner in one hand and Joe's Special in the other, life can be pretty grand.   Recently we recreated them in our own home, and while I omitted the Swiss cheese, I added an onion relish.  You could do them together, the combination of flavors will be delicious.  Try this at home:

Joe's Special (printable recipe)

  • 1 Polish sausage, grilled and split lengthwise
  • 1 slice of Rye bread
  • 1 dill pickle spear
  • 1 healthy slathering of Dijon mustard, about a tablespoon
  • 1 slice of Swiss cheese

For the onion relish:

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

Put all of the ingredients for the onion relish in a pan over medium heat.  Cook until the onions soften and the liquids reduce, about 12 minutes. 

Put the cheese on the piece of bread.  Place the Polish sausage into the slice of rye and configure the dill pickle spear to fit like a key inside of the split in the sausage.  Add a slouge of mustard, a table spoon of onion relish, and fold together like a taco.  

Wrap up in a paper towel or parchment paper.  Try not to drool in your beer.


Making a "Joe's Special" from Papawow on Vimeo.

Authordavid koch

Soda.  Pop.  Coke.  Cola.  Soda-pop.  Coca-Cola.  Whatever you call it colloquially, carbonated sugar water has been part of the American diet since the mid 1800's.  Originally sold as health-foods, veritable tonics, a panacea; their benefits have been revealed to be nothing more than snake oil.  

I recently perused the soda aisle at a supermarket and was amazed at the variety of soda they stock.  Some of the more unusual ones boasted a new type of Diet soda, made with Splenda, so it's better now.  Some even touted vitamins and minerals!  Rejoice!  Finally they put vitamins in my soda!

There may have been 30 different SKU's of Coke products when you count 2-Liters, 12-packs, and mini-cans and multiply by Coke Classic, Diet Coke, Caffeine-Free Coke, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Coke with Splenda, Vanilla Coke , Coke with Lime, and Banana Bread Flavored Diet Coke Plus Ginsing, Vitamin D and Coemzyme Q10.

I was tempted to purchase a box of TaB, I was like an archeologist sumbling into an artifact that I thought was destroyed in a great fire.  I didn't know Coca-Cola still made the stuff.  TaB has an interesting story:  It was introduced to the US market in 1963 and was originally sweetened with cyclamate.  Congress banned cyclamate in 1969 and instead, saccharin was used.  

In 1977, Congress moved to ban sacchrin also, they didn't but all products that contained any had to carry the warning, "Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin, which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals." Remember this?  It was also present on every diner table in a little plastic boat, on the little pink packet of Sweet-N-Low.

In a twist of sweetener fate, saccharin was banned in Canada in 1977 - so now Sweet-N-Low in Canada is made from cyclamate (banned in the US) and Sweet-N-Low in the US is made from saccharin (which is banned in Canada).

I always thought TaB was the first ever diet soda, but it was not.  According to the Wiki, the Kirsch Bottling Company launched a sugar-free Ginger Ale called No-Cal in 1952.  The Royal Crown Cola Company "RC Cola" released Diet Rite in 1958.  No-Cal fizzled out and died but was resurrected in 2005 by the INOV8 Beverage Company in 2005 with the flavors Cherry Lime, Chocolate, Clementine, and Vanilla Cream.

I enjoy a cold soda now and then over ice.  Everything in moderation, I say, even moderation.

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

photo by stgermhKrispy Kreme, since July 1937








I recently completed a book that was written in 1937.  There were some funny passages that had no intention to be humorous, they were so because because so much has changed since publication.  For instance, how bald men are so because they wear hats that are to tight and they cut off the circulation to the follicles in the head.  That may have been sound in the 1930's even though we are now pointing fingers at the EDA2R gene.

Well there was one short passage about food and I thought it was so profound because of how much has NOT changed.  1937 was the year that SPAM was introduced and Krispy Kreme was founded, but putting those aside.  in the book, there was a break-down of a breakfast in New York City, where the food was shipped from, and how much it cost.  It is as follows:

"A family of two living in the heart of the Times Square district... far removed from the source of the production of foods...

Grapefruit juice from Florida, 2 cents.  Rippled wheat breakfast food from Kansas, 2 cents.  Tea from China, 2 cents.  Bananas from South America, 2 and a half cents.  Toasted bread from a Kansas farm, 1 cent.  Fresh country eggs from Utah, 7 cents.  Sugar from Cuba or Utah, one half cent.  Butter and cream from New England, 3 cents. 

Grand total 20 cents.  It is not very difficult to obtain food in a country where two people could obtain all they want or need for a dime a piece. 

Observe that this simple breakfast was gathered by some strange form of magic from China, South America, Utah, Kansas, and the New England states and delivered on the breakfast table ready for consumption in the very heart of the most crowded city in America at a cost well within the means of the most humble laborer.  The cost included all Federal, State, and Local taxes."

What is more a testimony to the industrial food shipping and distribution system and their "strange form of magic" was not the spread at breakfast available for New Yorkers in 1937 - but the existence of New York City in the first place.  The population then was more than 80% of what it is today.

Here are some other food prices from 1937 via The People's History:

  • Campbells Tomato Soup - 4 cans for 25 cents Indiana 1937
  • Oranges -  2 dozen 25 cents Indiana 1937
  • Kellogs Corn Flakes -  3 Pkgs 25 cents Indiana 1937
  • Mixed Nuts -  19 Cents per pound Indiana 1937
  • Pork Loin Roast - 15 cents per pound Indiana 1937

Other notable events that year included: Amelia Earhart disappearing, the Hindenberg burst into flames, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released, The Hobbit was published by J. R. R. Tolkien, and Of Mice and Men is published by Steinbeck.

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

People can argue ad nauseam  about the origin of Spaghetti (Etruscan or Chinese) or Pizza (Italian or Greek) but when it comes down to dishes, some are so basic (flour, egg, and water in a tube shape/flat bread with sauce) it is inevitable that people had been making similar foods pre-historically.  

Sometimes; however, we learn that the origins of a dish that are so surprising that it shifts our world-view.  Like a Wookiee living on Endor, they just don't make sense.  Prepare for bewilderment, here are 7 eatables you may be surprised when you find out where they come from:
Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor

photo by Loren Tama

Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) was created by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, wine-loving husband-wife authors of the Wall Street Journal Tastings column. OTBN is the one night each year when wine lovers around the world open that bottle they are afraid to open. It is the bottle people cherish, the one that is most special to us. Maybe we received it from a past loved one, a special winery visit, or maybe it’s a bottle we bought but couldn’t afford. Ultimately it is the bottle that, if we hold it for too long, will result in disappointment. OTBN encourages you to open that bottle.

People around the world celebrate OTBN on the last Saturday of February with food, family, friends, or sometimes in the comfort of solitude. Dottie and John highlight some of the more notable experiences in their Tastings column. 

This year for Open That Bottle Night I surprised my girlfriend by taking her to Vinopolis, a wine tasting and education experience in London ( While we found the atmosphere cheesy and the “experience” to be catered to wine neophytes, the opportunity to taste new and obscure wines made the event pleasurable. 

Of the 22 wines we tasted (we each had 11 small pours, which we shared), our favorite by far was a Mavrud from Bulgaria. We found the Mavrud laid-back and pleasing; it tasted predominantly of berries, with just enough black cherry and tobacco to add nice depth to every sip. The wine felt young, but not over-simplified or abrasive. At £6.99 this wine was a steal by UK standards, so we came home with a case. Neither of us had ever tasted Bulgarian wine before.

After Vinopolis, the special part of the evening really began. A little tipsy and laden with a case of wine, we cancelled our restaurant plans to come home and make linguine from scratch. We found it ironic to celebrate OTBN with an “everyday” wine, but our pasta was perfect and it tasted even better with a newly-acquired bottle of Mavrud. 


AuthorLoren Tama
CategoriesDrinks, History

photo by Kristin Brenemen

Fat Tuesday is right around the corner and I'm hearing more and more about King Cake.  A  friend of mine in college, Lucas, was from New Orleans and my first experience with King Cake was when his mom sent him one all the way to our dorm in California to celebrate.  

I was the lucky guy who found the little plastic baby inside.

Lucas had failed to mention there was a choking hazard buried in there...

Thank God no one was hurt or killed but it got me wondering, has anyone died from King Cake?

I dug and dug through the internet and although I couldn't find anything conclusive - that doesn't mean it hasn't happened.  I did; however, find that Mochi [the squishy marshmallow-like Japanese rice cakes] seem to kill a few elderly people each year during New Years in Japan.  

No way.  Really?  


This Associated Press clipping claims four elderly Tokyo residents died in the first two days of 1996 while choking on Mochi, and that the rice cakes had claimed the lives of five more in the first three days of 1995 as well.

In 2000 - Elderly choke on year end delicacy

In 2001 - 'Mochi' claims three more elderly

In 2007 - Four choke to death on 'mochi'

From the Japan Times, "According to data compiled by the health ministry, 4,407 people died by choking in 2006. By age, about 85 percent were over 65... By type of food, "mochi" pounded rice was the top culprit."  Again, I couldn't find any hard data but I'm starting to think that Mochi kills more people each year than sharks!

Whether it is the baby in the King Cake or a scrumptious ball of delicious yet deadly mochi, if something goes awry - and the Heimlich fails - you can always try the vacuum like this woman successfully did, Daughter uses vacuum cleaner to save dad's life (via Japan Times).

Happy Fat Tuesday!

Authordavid koch

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that some of the commonplace recipes in the ubiquitous Joy of Cooking have seen calorie contents skyrocket from its first publication in 1936 to its 75th Anniversary Edition published in 2006.

From WebMD:

"Wansink and Payne reviewed seven editions of The Joy of Cooking, looking for recipes published in each edition (printed in 1936, 1946, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1997, and 2006).

Only 18 recipes qualified: chicken gumbo, corn chowder, plain omelet, Spanish rice, chicken a la king, goulash, biscuits, blueberry muffins, cornbread, brownies, sugar cookies, rice pudding, tapioca pudding, baked macaroni, waffles, apple pie, chocolate cake, and chili con carne."

17 of the 18 recipes analyzed showed an increase in calories per serving, and the average increase was by a whopping 63%.  The gains were found to be from a variety of reasons in addition to an increase in the size of the portions: extra meat, more butter, more sugar, or adding nuts and raisins.


Who wouldn't want more butter, sugar, and extra nuts and raisins?

In that case, then I agree with Beth Wareham, editor of the 2006 edition and quoted by The LA Times: "It's such a tiny number of recipes. It's really a non-event,"

The authors of the report are Collin Payne, an Assistant Professor of Marketing at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and Brian Wansink, Director of Cornell University's Food Lab.

Authordavid koch
2 CommentsPost a comment

photo by v.max1978 

Somewhere between 1,600 and 1,900 years ago a cook book was written titled, “De re Coquinara” (Concerning Cookery) and attributed to a Roman gourmet named Apicius.  Although there are records in China dating thousands of years earlier, including a 9,000 year old recipe for beer, this may be the first cookbook in Western culture. 

It contains some very strange entries, from the article Pluck a Flamingo (The Economist):

"There are recipes for ostrich and flamingo, befitting the sweep of the Roman Empire. Apicius instructs cooks to add honey to almost everything, including lobster. He teaches them how to cook one dish so that it resembles another and how to disguise bad food.

One recipe explains that stale birds should be cooked in a sauce of pepper, lovage, thyme, mint, hazelnuts, dates, honey, vinegar, liquamen (fish sauce), wine and mustard. Through that concoction it would be impossible to detect a stale smell, or indeed any smell at all."

Some of the dishes in the text include:


  • Boiled Ostrich

  • Treatment of Strong Smelling Birds of every Description

  • Another Treatment of Odor

  • Sauce for Partridge, Heath-cock and Turtle-dove

  • Julian Meal Mush
  • Lentils and Cow-parsnips

  • Peas Supreme Style

  • Spayed Sow's Womb

  • Stuffed Sow's Belly

  • Another Way to Cook Lung



"An Every-day Dish" (Patina quotidiana #142)

"Pieces of cooked sow's udder, pieces of cooked fish, chicken meat and similar bits, mince uniformly, season well and carefully.  Take a metal dish for a mould. Break eggs in another bowl and beat them. in a mortar put pepper, lovage and origany, which crush; moisten this with broth, wine, raisin wine and a little oil; empty it into the bowl with the beaten eggs, mix and heat it in the hot water bath.

Thereupon when this is thickened mix it with the pieces of meat. now prepare alternately layers of stew and pancakes, interspersed with oil in the metal mould reserved for this purpose until full, cover with one real good pancake cut into it a vent hole for chimney on the surface bake in hot water bath and when done turn out upside down into another dish. Sprinkle with pepper and serve."

Sounds delicious.

A translation of the entire “De re Coquinara” can be found here.


Authordavid koch

photo by architekt2

If Ettore Boiardi only knew what ConAgraFoods was doing with his name (albiet Americanized) he would likely not approve.  The story of Boiardi (from Wikipedia):

"The Chef Boyardee product began when its founder, Ettore Boiardi, founded an Italian restaurant, Giardino d'Italia, at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.  People began asking Ettore for his recipe and samples of his ingredients, and as demand grew he opened a factory in 1928 to keep up with orders.

Ten years later, he moved his factory to Milton, Pennsylvania. When his product began mass-distributing, he decided to name his product "Boy-Ar-Dee" to help Americans properly pronounce his name."

I'm all for getting creative but with reagards to food, a line needs to be drawn where children especially begin to become alienated from what they're actually eating.  How is a 6 year old suppose to draw the conclusion that his pasta dinosaurs came from a field of Semolina?

Here are some of the more off-the-wall products with the Chef Boyardee label on them:

ABC's 'n 123's Mini Meatballs - Nothing says delicious like food shaped like letters and numbers. 

Beefaroni - I have nothing to say about this one.

BIG Beefaroni - A bigger version of the previous entry that made me speechless.

Cheesy Burger Macaroni - I like cheeseburgers AND macaroni; however, I don't think they should be stuffed into a can together.

Cheesy Burger Ravioli - Same "two dishes, one can" rule applies for ravioli.

Chili Cheese Dog Twistaroni - A new pasta appears here, the twistaroni, not to be confused with Fusilli.

Dinosaurs with Mini Meatballs - There's nothing quite like a perfectly al dente dinosaur.

Mini Bites Micro Beef Ravioli - I prefer my Micro Beef meduim rare.

Mini Bites Mini Ravioli with Mini Meatballs - Perfect for jockeys?

Nacho Cheese Twistaroni - The twistaroni with a Mexican... twist?  Pun intended.

Pepperoni Pizzazaroli - Ahh, the Pizzazaroli.  Don't confuse this with Pizzoccheri.


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor
3 CommentsPost a comment

I recently discovered The Hard To Find Grocer's online store where you can revisit those sometimes-odd tastes from your childhood.  I've been perusing the virtual aisles and been finding all sorts of goodies worth trying.  What immediately intrigued me was Aisle 8: Canned Meats, Canned Pasta, Chili, and Soups.

I was hoping to find one regional favorite close to my heart, Cincinnati Chili.  Having never heard of it before, my wife introduced me to Cincinnati Chili in my early 20's - which is a beef sauce made with pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, etc.) and poured over spaghetti.  Once the novelty wears off, it can be pretty good when done right.  

Although they don't have any "Cinici Chili", they did have some other fun stuff.  So without further adieu, let's check out what The Hard To Find Grocer has to offer on aisle 8: 



Tony Packo's Hot Dog Sauce with Beef - "The authentic sauce that tops the Hungarian dogs at Tony Packo's in Toledo - made famous by Corporal Klinger of M*A*S*H* fame in the mid-70's. Tony's original recipe remains a closely held secret!" - Maybe Jimmie Hoffa got whacked by Tony Packo and ended up in a can of hot dog sauce...


Wolf Brand Hot Dog Sauce - "The Original Wolf recipe was developed in 1895 by a Texas ranch cook. Sold in Corsicana, TX in front of the Blue Front saloon for 5 cents a bowl, it soon became a hit! This unique blend of spices, seasonings and lean cuts of beef has flavored the lives of generations." - This looks a lot like Cincinnati Chili... or the dog got sick again...


Sweet Sue Whole Chicken in a Can - "One whole chicken, ready for soups, stews and quick dinners. Great to have on hand in your pantry for emergency dinners. Sweet Sue, a division of Sara Lee." - First of all, I'm wondering how big is this can?  Secondly, I'm thinking this would be perfect for all those times when I thought to myself... I wish I had a whole chicken in a can right now...


Underwood Chicken Spread - "Begun more than 170 years ago on Boston's Russia Wharf by William Underwood. Underwood's canned foods were among staples pioneers took westward in their covered wagons. The "Underwood Devil" appeared in 1870 as a descriptive logo for the process of "deviling"(ground meat processed with special seasonings). The oldest existing trademark still stands for quality and great taste!" - If you prefer your chicken in a spreadable application, this was made just for you...


Armour Potted Meat Spread - "Delicious on crackers or for use in recipes, also creates a hearty sandwich. Convenient on the shelf or on the go!" - I like how the can's tagline is, "Made with Chicken and Beef."  Well in that case, I'll take a dozen!  The other juicy slice of advertising temptation on the label is, "America's Favorite."  Is this really true?  Is Armour brand America's favorite meat spread?  So many questions, so few answers...


Authordavid koch
CategoriesHistory, Humor

Ital Cuisine photo by svacher

Today, February 6th, is Bob Marley's birthday and it would have been his 64th.  I thought today would be appropriate to investigate Rastafarian Cuisine, also known as Ital (from vital).  The Ital diet adheres to Biblical guidelines, mostly GenesisDeuteronomy, and especially Leviticus.  Ital dietary guidlines are, like anything else, open to many different interpretations.  

At it's core, Rastafarian diets are essentially composed of foods that are fresh and natural; avoiding chemicals, additives, coloring, flavoring, and preservatives.  Most Rastafarians also do not consume coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, or even Western medicines.  

Herbs, however, are GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe: an FDA term).  Many Rastafarians are vegetarian, but those who do not abstain from all meat generally avoid pork, shellfish, and often red meat.  Those who do eat fish, generally avoid fish more than 12 inches long.

Most also take measures to avoid consuming metal.  In order to avoid metal, some Rastafarians avoid cooking and serving food in metal vessels, and some even avoid metal eating utensils.  For the same reason, some also avoid foods that have been canned.  

Many avoid preparing food with salt and/or oil.  What's left you ask?  The bulk of their diet consists of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  I found this recipe on



  • 1lb 8ozs to 1lb 14ozs sweet potato (I used 1lb 14ozs in this Pudding)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 ½tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 to 1 ¼4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups soaked raisins (I have mine soaked in Sherry for over 5 years now. I top it off with more Raisins, Prunes and Sherry every time it gets too low in the bottle.)
  • ½ - 1 cup flour (More or less flour will make it firmer or less so I used half a cup)
  • 5ozs Beet Root or Carrots (optional)


  1. Puree sweet potato and coconut milk in blender
  2. Pour mixture into a bowl
  3. Dice beet root
  4. Add all the ingredients to the bowl. Mix and pour into a well greased 8" or 10" round tin
    (vegetable shortening to grease the tin)
  5. Bake at 350F for 1 ½ hours then 300F for 25 mins
  6. Remove from the oven immediately.
  7. Best eaten the next day or at least 5 hours after cooking.
  • The pudding sets as it cools.

    And this book, specifically on Rastafarian Cuisine.


    Authordavid koch
    2 CommentsPost a comment

    Samoas vs. Caramel deLites

    Have you ever wondered why are there Samoas AND Caramel deLites?  

    • Do-si-dos AND Peanut Butter Sandwiches? 
    • Trefoils AND Shortbread?  
    • Tagalongs AND Peanut Butter Patties?  
    • All Abouts AND Thanks-A-Lots?  
    • Lemon Chalet Cremes AND Lemonades?

    The reason is there are 2 major companies that produce the cookies for the Girl Scouts and they keep some of the names to themselves.  There is Little Brownie Bakers - and there is ABC Bakers both making Cookies for the Girl Scouts.

    From Wikipedia: "Little Brownie Bakers (LBB), a subsidiary of Keebler (which is owned by Kellogg's); and ABC Bakers, a subsidiary of Interbake Food (which is owned by George Weston Limited.)  ABC Bakers has been making cookies for the Girl Scouts since 1939."

    I always thought the different names were regional (like places with a heavy Pacific Islander population had somehow rejected the name "Samoas."  However, I found another juicy tidbit on Yahoo! Answers posted by Shahid who seems to have an inside scoop:

    "[Samoas are] one of the few cookies in the group that has differences depending on the bakery. The reason there are two names is because while similar, the cookies have some differences.

    Samoas are made by Little Brownie Bakers. They are circular, with an orange color and are thicker from top to bottom, usually they also contain more caramel per coconut, and they are made with dark chocolate.

    The Caramel deLites, made by ABC Bakers, are actually hexagonal, with a more yellowish tinge, are made with milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate, and more of the cookie comes through in the flavor because of the lower caramel content."

     Caramel deLites



    So there you have it.  Case closed.






    What can we expect in the coming months from the Girl Scouts?   Cinna-spins and Sugar Free Chocolate Chips were introduced in 2008.  Cinna-spins are cinnamon-flavored cookies that come in 100-calorie packs and Sugar Free Chocolate Chips are exactly that.  

    For 2009, they will introduce the Dulce De Leche, a Latin inspired caramel cookie.  


    Dulce de Leche



    Authordavid koch
    2 CommentsPost a comment