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DiningDiarySquare-150x150 Diary For Thursday, 10-11-2018, The New England And Canada Are A Week Ahead on the Calendar. We leave early in the morning next Thursday. I awaken every morning thinking about what needs to be done, as Mary Ann assures me that all the pieces are in place, and that I would be better off thinking how pleasurable the week and a half under the fall colors will be.

That doesn’t erase a bunch of tasks on my calendar. The radio station needs me to produce a number of commercials to run while I’m away. That job can get so onerous that sometimes I’m tempted not to take vacations just to avoid the extra work. Over the weekend I get a lot of it finished. But I’ll bet that a list of more spots will be waiting for me when I return from the weekend.

On another front, Mary Ann says that she doesn’t want to have breakfast with me anymore. It’s about her food intake, not anything I said or did. (I think.) I enjoy weekend breakfast so much that I switch to solo on Sunday, when I find a long wait for either a table or a spot at the counter top. The guys at Mattina Bella have added a new dish. Or this could be perceived as a new version of an established recipe, in which the poached eggs are on top of a pile of crabmeat with mushrooms. The new idea is to use two crab cakes. They are well engineered, browned around the edges with loads of crabmeat.

I still have not found my formal wear. Specifically, a box filled with a variety of cufflinks and studs I’ve accumulated over the years. I can’t find that box, and I’ve looked everywhere. Even though Norwegian Cruise Lines probably has only one formal night per cruise–if that many–I like to dress up and get the special atmosphere that comes from it.

At this point, any rational person on this quest would probably just go over to the likes of Jos. A. Bank or and buy a new one. They’re not expensive, unless you go to Perlis or another of the name-brand outfits. Maybe that tuxedo shop next door to Impastato’s.

Sunday, 10-7-2018. On Sunday, I have two hours to broadcast. The Saints are on Monday Night Football tomorrow, and I can fill two of the hours that opened today. However, my lack of football knowledge makes me let loose a goof. For a while I said that the game was later today, not tomorrow. A mistake like that lets a radio guy know just how many listeners he has, because they will all call in to report on my mistake.


Eggplant and Tomato Soup

Every now and then, a chef will make an eggplant-and-tomato soup as the soup of the day, and find it so good that he wonders whether anyone else ever discovered this. A few chefs have, I’m happy to say, and the results are always great. The combination of those two flavors is about perfect.

Eggplant and tomato soup

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • 4 leaves fresh rosemary (only 4 leaves!)
  • 3 28-ounce cans whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand, juice reserved OR 7 medium, ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, and seeded
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

1. Peel the eggplant and cut into large dice

2. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat. When it shimmers, add the garlic cloves and crushed red pepper. Cook until the garlic is browned at the edges. Remove the garlic, and add the eggplant, cooking until it’s browned on the edges. Lower the heat to medium-low.

3. Add all the other ingredients and stir to blend. Add one and a half cups of the reserved tomato juice. Bring to a light boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every now and then.

4. Roughly puree the soup in a food processor, leaving small chunks of eggplant. Return to the saucepan, add the lemon juice, and adjust seasonings. Add a little water or chicken stock if necessary to lighten up the texture.

Serves six to eight.

AlmanacSquare October 6, 2017

Upcoming Deliciousness

Halloween: 25
Thanksgiving (Nov. 23): 48

Today’s Flavor

Today is National Seafood Chowder Day. In the Northeast, this means clam chowder, so widely available in restaurants that, with a New England sound, it’s known as “cuppachowdah.” Here in New Orleans, we don’t have good clams (despite the millions of them in Lake Pontchartrain). So when we make chowder, it’s usually with leftover fish and shrimp and crabmeat. I like it and think it’s an underutilized idea, because it’s good and contrasts with gumbo, bouillabaisse, and bisques.

New England Clam Chowderwith crostini

A chowder contains, in addition to seafood, three essential ingredients: potatoes, bacon (or something like bacon–pork cracklings, for example), and fish stock (or something like fish stock). I make mine with oyster water, which I beg from my friends in the oyster business. The rest is easy. The recipe is in today’s newsletter.

When I find myself in New England, I eat clam chowder at almost every meal. They make it very thick. One cookbook says it should be almost as solid as mashed potatoes. I don’t go along with that. Nor do I like the very mild seasoning you find in New England chowder–but that’s a New Orleans palate talking.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Roe, Arkansas 72134 is a town of 124 people about two-thirds of the way from Memphis to Little Rock, on the old main highway between those cities. It’s a cotton-growing area. Not coincidentally, the former Cotton Belt railroad (now part of the Union Pacific) has a main line running through Roe. It’s not a big enough town to support a restaurant; the nearest eatery is six miles back toward Memphis in Clarendon. It’s very unlikely that the White River Diner serves caviar.

Deft Dining Rule #860

No matter what anybody tells you, New England clam chowder is incomparably better than the tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder.

Edible Dictionary

pepperoni, n.–The most popular meat topping for pizzas in America, pepperoni sausage is familiar to everyone. But what exactly is it? It’s a variation on salami, a blend of pork can beef with about 20 percent fat. Garlic, salt, black pepper and red pepper flavor pepperoni. The resulting sausage–which can be as much as three inches in diameter–is air-dried until it gets hard. It’s always sliced very thin, the better to release the fat when it’s baked. It’s also very common on antipasto assortments, eaten as is.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

The two methods for lessening the work of shucking clams are exactly the opposite of one another. Either put them into the freezer for a half-hour, or drop them in boiling water for ten seconds. With way, they give up a lot quicker.

Annals Of Food Marketing

Cream of Wheat was introduced today in 1893. It was a desperate effort to save a near-bankrupt flour mill in Grand Forks, North Dakota, during the financial panic of that year. Thomas Amidon, the head miller, used the “middlings”–the prime part of wheat grains, also called farina–to make a hot cereal that could be packaged dry and sold in stores. The owners of the mill sent a sample of it to their broker in New York. The broker famously responded, “Never mind shipping us any more of your flour, but send a car of your ‘Cream of Wheat.'” The original logo with its cartoonish black cook was used because the printer of the label found it in a pile of old printer’s plates in his plant. Cream of Wheat is a bigger deal elsewhere than in New Orleans, where we’re more likely to fill that space on the menu with grits.

Music To Eat Crawfish Pie By

Today in 1952, Hank Williams had the top country hit with Jambalaya, which forever united that dish with crawfish pie and filé gumbo. Not a bad combination, really, and one found on more than a few Cajun menus.

Lounges Through History

Today in 1889, the original Parisian song-and-dance bar opened. At Moulin Rouge (“red windmill”–the building really was one) one could not only have a glass of wine or an absinthe, but also see a live show. It spawned an entirely new genre of hangout in Paris. Its fame continues not only because it’s still in business, but because of the many posters advertising its shows. The most famous were drawn by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, a seminal figure in Art Nouveau graphic design. There’s hardly a French bistro anywhere that doesn’t have a Toulouse-Lautrec poster for the Moulin Rouge somewhere on its walls.

Food Namesakes

Actress Anna Quayle hit the Big Stage today in 1936. . . Singer and songwriter Matthew Sweet was born today in 1964. . . Mets pitcher David Cone struck out nineteen batters today in 1991, tying the National League record. . . Olympic marksman Lloyd Spooner was born today in 1884. . . Long-time South Dakota Congressman E.Y. Berry was born today in 1902. . . New Hampshire Congressman Perkins Bass, whose son Charles also held that post, was born today in 1912. . . Movie and television actor Jerome Cowan was a big hit with his mom today in 1897. (“Cowan ” is a French-Cajun word for an alligator snapping turtle, the kind used to make soup.)

Words To Eat By

“Clam chowder is one of those subjects, like politics or religion, that can never be discussed lightly. Bring it up even incidentally, and all the innumerable factions of the clam bake regions raise their heads and begin to yammer.”–Louis P. De Gouy, French chef and cookbook author of the early 1900s.

Words To Drink By

“A man that lives on pork, fine-flour bread, rich pies and cakes, and condiments, drinks tea and coffee, and uses tobacco, might as well try to fly as to be chaste in thought.”–Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, early health nut, brother of the cereal magnate

But who wants to be chaste in thought?

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