April 21

National Romano Cheese DayNational Chocolate-Covered Cashew Truffle Day

This is the anniversary of the founding of Rome in 753 BC. Its glories are so great that one is easily distracted from eating there, despite the presence of many restaurants serving the first great European cuisine. It's also <strong>National Romano Cheese Day.</strong> Romano cheese is a long-aged, hard grating cheese made from sheep's milk--hence its tangy flavor. The best Romano cheese is Pecorino Romano, the exclusive appellation of a consortium of makers in a wide area in Italy (not just around Rome). Romano cheese has a long history, extending all the way back to the ancient Roman Empires. Although Parmigiana cheese has a more vaunted reputation in this country, there's nothing like Romano--especially in the making of lasagna.Today is also <strong>Chocolate-Covered Cashew Truffle Day.</strong> That must have been started by someone who makes such a thing.

Days Until. . .

Mother's Day--19

Today's Flavor 

This is the anniversary of the founding of Rome in 753 BC. Its glories are so great that one is easily distracted from eating there, despite the presence of many restaurants serving the first great European cuisine. It's also National Romano Cheese Day. Romano cheese is a long-aged, hard grating cheese made from sheep's milk--hence its tangy flavor. The best Romano cheese is Pecorino Romano, the exclusive appellation of a consortium of makers in a wide area in Italy (not just around Rome). Romano cheese has a long history, extending all the way back to the ancient Roman Empires. Although Parmigiana cheese has a more vaunted reputation in this country, there's nothing like Romano--especially in the making of lasagna.Today is also Chocolate-Covered Cashew Truffle Day. That must have been started by someone who makes such a thing.

Annals Of Popular Cuisine 

German air ace Manfred von Richtofen, the Red Baron,was shot down and killed over France on this date in 1918. He's the same Red Baron Snoopy was always fighting from the roof of his doghouse. I wonder how the Baron would feel about his name plastered over the box of a frozen pizza.

Restaurant Anniversaries 

The oldest revolving restaurant in the world, The Top of the Needle, opened on this date in 1962 at the apex of the Space Needle at the Seattle World's Fair. It's now called SkyCity restaurant. Reservations are required well in advance. The food is contemporary American.

Deft Dining Rule #237

A restaurant at the top of any kind of tower doesn't have to impress you with its food, and usually doesn't.

Dining Royally

Queen Elizabeth II, who has ruled England since 1952, was born today in 1926. If you're going to dine with a monarch, you'd be hard pressed to find a more impressive one. I tried to learn what the Queen's favorite foods are, but apparently this is one of those facts hidden behind the screen separating royalty from subjects. What little she's said on the subject indicates that she likes traditional English food.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Curry is a small farm town in the dry plains of southeastern Washington. It's eighty road miles from Walla Walla, but only fifty miles by air. (The Snake River and its Sacagawea Lake cut off a direct road.) Curry is the turnoff to get the the Connell City airport. Said city, two miles away, is where you'll have to go for food if you find yourself on Curry Road. There you find Mei Ling Inn, where they have curry in both the Chinese and Thai styles.

Edible Dictionary

ouzo, Greek, n.--The Greek answer to absinthe and pastis, ouzo is a high-alcohol spirit with the flavor of anise, and usually a few other, hard-to-pick-out bottom notes. Ouzo is clear in its bottle but turns cloudy when added to water, as it usually is. When served with crushed ice, it turns pale blue as well as cloudy. Although it is comparable in flavor and alcohol to liqueurs used as after-dinner drinks, ouzo usually precedes the meal, and is drunk all the way through it. It is common for the host of a table in a taverna to order and entire bottle of ouzo, and for a party of four or more to drink it all. The word "ouzo" is now recognized by the European Community as being distinctly the property of Greece.

Food In Show Biz 

Comedienne Elaine May was born on this date in 1932. She has an obscure New Orleans connection: her voice, along with that of Mike Nichols, were heard on the famous animated commercials for Jax Beer in the 1950s and 1960s. If you haven't seen them, they play continuously in the Jackson Brewery mall.Anthony Quinn was born today in 1915. I think of him every time I dine in a Greek restaurant, where it's inevitable that you'll hear the theme music from Zorba the Greek. Quinn starred in that classic.

Food On The Air

At seven p.m. on this date in 1925, WSMB Radio signed on the air from the top of the Maison Blanche Building. The call letters referred to the co-owners, the Saenger theater and the Maison Blanche department store. It was the first professionally-operated radio station in New Orleans; the few other radio stations on the air at that time were all home-built jobs. WSMB's factory-built transmitter and expansive studios allowed major dramatic productions and concerts of live music, which filled all the hours of broadcasting in those pre-network days. WSMB remained in those studios until 1990; I hosted the last hour broadcast from there. The station lives on, although the call letters and the transmitting electronics have changed.

Food Namesakes 

Wild rocker Iggy Pop was born today in 1947. . . Leo Blech, a composer and conductor of operas, was born today in 1871. We say his name when we taste (or think about) food we don't like. . . On a related note, Page Belcher, Congressman from Oklahoma in the 1970s, was born today in 1899. . . Actress Patti LuPone was born today in 1949. Pone is sort of a wet, undercooked cornbread. . . Today in 1908, Frederick A. Cook claimed to have been the first man to reach the North Pole. Most authorities say he did not, really.

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,founder of the Slow Food movement.

Words To Drink By

"Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough."--Mark Twain, who died today in 1910.