Just Because
By Mary Ann Fitzmorris

The weekend just passed was the tenth Hogs for the Cause event, a wildly successful fundraiser ($1.45 M this year) to fight against pediatric brain cancer. That number was matched by 85–the number of teams who entered their works in the competition for prizes like “High on the Hog” “Whole Hog” and many others. Fun is the real theme of this event, as proven by the clever play on words everywhere.

The all-star celeb team–it won Whole Hog title–had a roster that included Chef Tory McPhail (from Commander’s Palace), Justin Kennedy (Parkway Poor Boys), Chris Montero (Napoleon House), Mike Brewer (City Pork in Baton Rouge) and Jared Ralls (La Boca).

Some other fun names: Silence of Da Ham.
Deuce Bigaleau Pork Gigolo
Smokey and the Bacon
David Hasselhogs
Swine Spectators
DeSwine Intervention
and of course. . .
Make Pork Great Again

Some of these teams came in massive expensive rigs, but Silence of Da Ham won Whole Hog with a homemade pit constructed with cinder blocks donated by Lowe’s.

It’s impossible to really eat one’s way around such an event, but so much fun to try! We went Friday night. Perfect! Less crowded, and the glorious weather included a breezy night with ideal temps.

The parade grounds seemed more spacious at the lakefront than in City Park. We started with a favorite barbecue place in town, Central City BBQ, but got a bacon and jalapeño tamale with a barbecue sauce so spicy I choked on it.

The next stop was a few stalls down. I was lured by a fat crusty slab of brisket, glistening with ribbons of meat fat. Is it just me, but who doesn’t love animal fat? This was a disappointment. The meat had crossed over into too crusty.

Moving on, bacon on a stick was so promising that everyone else beat me to it. I should have waited, because I couldn’t remember what it was or where it was when I tried to go back. Neuske’s bacon was featured throughout the festival. This is a superior product, a great start to any dish. And most of the offerings Friday night included this delicious bacon.

Wandering among the choices I looked for something different. It was Friday in Lent after all, so I tried a seafood jambalaya. Oysters, crab, shrimp and crawfish were plentiful in a plentiful portion of very mediocre seafood jambalaya.

Reeling over my bad choices, my bracelet was running out of funds and I still hadn’t found anything I wanted to finish. My mind wandered to something Tom has often said about me; I have a knack for ordering the wrong thing. I was determined to regroup.

Cubano croquettes sounded interesting. Finally, something I wanted to have more of, though the smaller portion for $3 worked.

I passed the appealing bacon-wrapped pork tips. And the a booth with several interesting choices, including ham balls? (Yes, that was the name.) An enthusiastic customer gave me a testimonial. The balls included pimiento cheese and homemade pepper jelly.

That left me two dollars which I was happy to just leave on my bracelet, but the conveniently placed popcorn booth was a great last stop. They were happy to give me a $2 portion for the road.


Escargots Bourguignonne

This is the classic snail appetizer with garlic butter. There are more adventuresome sauces out there, and some of them are really delicious, but nothing beats having the snails sizzling in this fragrant butter, except perhaps having a loaf of hot French bread to dip into the sauce.

During my broadcast from Gallier Hall every Mardi Gras, Archbishop Amann visits with us for a few minutes. I always ask about the rules for Lenten eating, especially as it regards unusual foodstuffs as alligator, turtles soup, and snails. The Archbishop says that we are allowed to treat escargots as seafood, even when the snails live above ground. So now we know.


  • 24 snails, from France
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3 Tbs. freshly-chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbs. freshly-chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. Herbsaint or Pernod liqueur
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice, strained
  • A pinch of white pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

1. Take the snails out of the can and rinse off the liquid in which they were packed. Divide the snails among four small ovenproof dishes. (If you have those six-pocket snail dishes, put one snail in each pocket.)

2. Combine (at room temperature) all the other ingredients and mix well. Divide among the four baking dishes, right over the snails.

3. Put the dishes into the oven on the top shelf and bake for eight to ten minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Also warm the French bread while this is going on.

Serve immediately with French bread and, if you like, a chilled Chablis.

Serves four.

AlmanacSquare March 29, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness
French Quarter Festival–April 12-15
Easter —April 1
Jazz Festival–April 27>–/h5>

Today’s Flavor

This is Wild Rice Week. Wild rice is indeed wild, but it’s not really rice. Although it is now being cultivated, the plant is exactly as the Native Americans found it for centuries in the bogs in Minnesota. The long distance of its relation to true rice is obvious when you eat it. It has a nutty flavor more like that of oats or barley than rice. But, really, it has a taste all its own. It’s most often served with game, and for decades any restaurant that served duck served wild rice with it. More often than not, wild rice in a restaurant is combined with regular rice, for the usual reason: wild rice is very expensive. It cooks quickly–just twenty minutes or so in a steamer.

Today is alleged by some sources to be National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day. Chiffon cakes are an American invention, and get their spongy, light consistency by incorporating beaten egg whites into the batter. Yawn.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Celeryville, Ohio is in the north-central part of the state, on the south side of Willard, in a large area of farms, mostly growing corn. However, they historically did grow a good deal of celery in the area, hence the name. The popular restaurant is the 224 Varsity Club, with a menu ranging from steaks to pizza, and a sports bar.

Science In Food

Biologist Charles Elton was born today in 1900. He was the first to use the term food chain, describing the deep interdependent relationships among plants and animals in nature, and how critical those relationships are to all living things. He thought of it as an energy flow, with plants taking up energy from the sun to produce food for herbivores which are then food for carnivores (to oversimplify the food chain a great deal).

Edible Dictionary

crookneck squash, n.–The most common of the summer squashes gets its name from its odd but nearly universal seventy-five-degree bend in the narrow stem end. It’s yellow with a tinge of orange, and usually has little bumps all over. The entire vegetable is edible; there’s no need to peel or seed them. You want them to be firm but not rock-hard. Soft squashes are over the hill. The best way to cook them is with steam. A little garlic-and-herb butter helps them taste like something.

Deft Dining Rule #233:

Dishes with colorful names are divided into two categories: the delicious and the terrible. There is no in-between. The very fact that it has an unusual name means the dish makes a big flavor statement.

Food At War

On this day in 1943–right in the middle of World War II–meat, cheese, and butter began to be rationed in the United States. The weekly ration for meat per person was 28 ounces. That was more of a hardship then than it would be now, because the American diet then was more meat-based. A large percentage of the American public now eats far less than 28 ounces of meat a week, by choice. Seafood eaters fared well during rationing. Fish and shellfish never were rationed, even though they were in shorter supply.

Roots Of Creole Cooking

Adrien de Pauger landed at what would become New Orleans on this date in 1721. He laid out the original street plan of the French Quarter. For his efforts he has a street named after him in the Marigny. A curiosity of a rough layout of his drawing is a note pointing to the block of Royal between Conti and St. Louis Streets. It says, “Good but expensive breakfast joint here.”

Annals Of Soft Drinks

Today in 1886 druggist John S. Pemberton began advertising a new brain tonic and intellectual beverage (as he called it), made from kola nuts and containing a cocaine precursor. He named it Coca-Cola. He did not make much money with it, because before the stuff hit really big, Pemberton sold the formula to Asa Candler, who was the marketing genius.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you add Coca-Cola or anything like it to a recipe, you may be doing so just so you can say, “Oh, yes, I make my ham glaze with root beer.”

Music To Eat With Your Man By

Today in 1918, actress and blues singer Pearl Bailey was born. “I don’t like to say that my kitchen is a religious place,” she said, “but I would say that if I were a voodoo priestess, I would conduct my rituals there.” Pearly Mae was a frequent performer at the Blue Room of the old Fairmont Hotel here. In her honor the hotel named its twenty-four-hour restaurant after her. The restaurant outlived its namesake by a few years, but ultimately closed. After the Waldorf-Astoria arm of Hilton took over the old Fairmont and re-renamed it The Roosevelt, the space where Bailey’s once was was turned over to Chef John Besh, who installed his Italian restaurant Domenica there.

Words To Eat By

“Food history is as important as a baroque church. Governments should recognize cultural heritage and protect traditional foods. A cheese is as worthy of preserving as a sixteenth-century building.”–Carlo Petrini, the founder of the Slow Food Movement.

Words To Drink By

“Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette—the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace.”–John Tyler, tenth U.S. President, born today in 1790.


Kebabs Are Everywhere, From Anywhere.

I once knew about a restaurant whose menu was half Mexican and half Greek. It was no better than this sounds.

Click here for the cartoon.

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