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After Black Linguine: Black Couscous?

May 02, 1991|CHARLES PERRY

Millet--a catch-all term for just about any grain other than wheat, corn, rice, barley, oats or rye--is the staff of life for many of the earth's people. (In this country, it's the staff of life for many canaries and budgies.) Mostly it's eaten as porridge or polenta, but you can also make it into couscous. The Tubu of the Sahara Desert (they're the next-door neighbors of the Tuaregs) even gather the seeds of a variety of goosefoot weed, which makes a black couscous. Avant-garde restaurateurs, please note, but don't expect Tubus to flock to your door--they eat only black couscous during famines.

A Bucket of Scud Wings, Extra Crispy

All 17 Kentucky Fried Chicken stands in Kuwait were ransacked during the Gulf War, but two were quickly reopened, and the one in Salmiya was soon serving up to 1,200 people a night during Ramadan. A Kuwaiti Air Force mechanic, asked by USA Today about the portrait of Col. Sanders, replied: "Yes, I know this man; I know his story. His last name is 'Kentucky.' " Sorry, pally, not any more--not since the chain renamed itself KFC.

New Vegetables on the Block

The Wall Street Journal reports an uphill struggle for some new health food crops. Farmers are instinctively reluctant to plant amaranth, which resembles--and in fact is--a variety of pigweed. Rapeseed (Canola, to you) is so tiny it leaks from the bins, and last year's crop makes the fields stink all winter. Given the plush subsidies for wheat, corn and cotton, a lot of farmers would rather not switch.

Coming Soon--Turkey Jerky

We're living in turkey-oriented times. It used to be people ate turkey only on holidays, but now it's a year-round food in 40% of all homes (up from 26% just four years ago), and a lot of that is in new forms such as ground meat, ham and sausage. Only about a third of all turkey is eaten as roast today--nearly half meets its doom in sandwiches.

Call Me 5% Marge

The "Smart" Burger, so far available only in corporate and federal dining rooms operated by the food service company Canteen Corporation, is a new entry in the low-cal beef race. Canteen claims the new burger contains 60% less total fat, 60% less saturated fat (1.01 gram/ounce) and 43% fewer calories than a regular beef patty, but that nobody has been able to tell the difference in taste tests conducted without bun or condiments to mask the flavor. The secret: 95% lean meat plus 5% unsaturated margarine.

Restaurants and Romance

Married: Darrien Earle, owner of Panama Red's restaurants in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, to Chrysler personality and autobiographer Lee Iacocca; chefs Karl Heinz Jakowitsch and Aimee-Louise Bell, at the annual Grand Marnier Chefs Ski Race in Sun Valley, on skis.

Battle of the Commercial Gimmicks

The United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Assn. is trying to raise everybody's consciousness about fresh fruits and vegetables with a lot of cute characters: Adam Apple, Priscilla Pineapple, I.C. Berg (a lettuce) and so on. They're called the Frugies, and they'll find themselves up against the Wild Bunch--Pepsi's line of colas flavored with strawberry, raspberry, pineapple and orange. To judge from a movie we once saw, our money's on the Wild Bunch.

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