Tidbits has drawn up quite a few quick facts about these foods all beginning with “Q.”
• Mix up some seasoned ground fish or meat with vegetables and eggs, form into a dumpling, and poach it, and you will have a quenelle. The dumplings are served with a crayfish sauce or a cream sauce.
• A quahog is an edible hard-shell clam. The white-shelled American quahog is found off North America’s Atlantic coast from Canada to Florida. The 5-inch-long (12.7 cm) clams are especially abundant around New Jersey, Cape Cod, and Rhode Island. Rhode Island supplies 25% of the annual commercial quahog catch in the U.S. It’s that state’s official shellfish. The ocean quahog clam is a larger deep-water clam, up to 8” (20 cm) in diameter, with a mahogany brown shell. Pieces of quahog clam shells are often polished and used to make jewelry.
• The Owl and the Pussy Cat, who “went to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat” in the famous poem by Edward Lear, “dined on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon.” Quince is a golden yellow fruit, one of the earliest known fruits. In Greek mythology, quince was the “golden apple” given to Aphrodite. It’s a symbol of love and happiness, frequently shared at wedding banquets. It’s a very hard-skinned, extremely tart fruit, similar in appearance to a pear, but inedible when raw. They’re most often made into jams and marmalades, but can be served stewed or baked. Just what is a “runcible spoon?” “Runcible” was a nonsense word created by Lear and used in some of his other verse – a runcible cat, a runcible goose, a runcible cat, and a runcible wall.
• Lots of folks enjoy eating the American quail, also known as a bobwhite or partridge. The bird has about 2 ounces of lean breast meat with a sweet nutty flavor. Many countries deem quail eggs a delicacy. They are smallest eggs commercially marketed.
• To the physicist, a quark is a group of particles that form the basic components of matter. Quarks combine to form hadrons, the constituents of atomic nuclei. But to a chef, quark is a fresh dairy product — a tart, soft, white cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk, warming soured milk until it curdles. Its taste and texture resemble a cross between yogurt and cottage cheese.
• Although we frequently think of quiche as a French dish, the English were making this pastry in the 14th century, the Italians in the 13th century, and the Germans in the 1700s. It’s a pastry crust filled with beaten eggs, cream, and pieces of meat, cheese, seafood, or vegetables. The common Quiche Lorraine contains bacon and Gruyere cheese, while Quiche Nicoise’s ingredients include anchovies, olives, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese. The word “quiche” comes from the German word “kuchen,” translating “tart.” A record-breaking quiche was concocted by French chef Alain Marcotullio in 1997, using 127 quarts of milk, 1,928 eggs, 156 lbs. (71 kg) of bacon, 134 lbs. (61 kg) of butter, and 140 lbs. (63 kb) of flour. It required over 18 hours of baking before 125 people joined in its consumption. In 1982, humorist Bruce Feirstein’s satirical book “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche” was published, claiming that men who ate quiche were “wimpy,” resulting in a drastic reduction in consumption of the pastry. Feirstein’s book was on the best seller list for 55 weeks, selling upwards of 1.6 million copies.
• Quinoa has been grown in South America’s Andes Mountains for thousands of years. Although some call it a grain, botanically, it’s not a grain, but rather the fruit of an herb plant. Quinoa is considered a “superfood” nutritionally, because it contains eight essential amino acids, and is rich in B vitamins, Vitamin A, phosphorus, iron, and calcium. Because it’s not a grain, it’s the perfect choice for those who are gluten-intolerant.