April 27

Tea. Prime Rib. Au Jus. End Cuts. Roast Meat Hill. Saint Of Waitresses. Maraschino.

Days Until. . .

Mother's Day--14

Food Calendar 

Today is National Prime Rib Day. Prime rib is, speaking strictly, the three rearmost ribs from the primal rib roast. However, most restaurants and butchers consider all seven ribs in the standard rib roast as being prime rib. The ones in the back have a bigger "eye" in the center and smaller islands of lean around the perimeter of fat. It's the same cut used for ribeye steaks, but before the bone is removed.The big difference between prime rib and ribeye is the cooking method. Most prime rib roasts are roasted whole for hours at low temperatures--300 degrees, give or take. That's what gives prime rib its soft, juicy texture, so different from the firmer texture of the same cut if meat grilled one steak at a time. Prime rib is usually not carved until serving time.One more confusion: the word "prime" in the expression "prime rib" is not the same as in "USDA Prime grade" for beef. A prime rib can be choice or worse grade. USDA Prime prime rib is rarely seen; the amount of fat in it is fantastic, but fans of the cut love it for that.Prime rib was much more popular in the 1960s and 1970s than it is now. Back then, restaurant chains all over America specialized in it. Two of note in New Orleans were Victoria's Station (a national chain that is down to just a few restaurants) and Ichabod's Galley, a local chain. The most famous place for the eating of prime rib, of course, is the Rib Room at the Royal Orleans Hotel.

Deft Dining Rule #712:

If you ask for the end cut in a prime rib place, the only acceptable answers are "Of course!" or "I'm sorry. . . we've already sold them tonight."

Deft Dining Rule #713:

Never order the end cut of prime rib, unless you want to be identified as a the kind of person who eats well-done steak.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

A prime rib roast with two bones is one bone short. Three bones is routine. When you have four bones, you really have something worth inviting friends over for.

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.

Food Through History 

Today in 1773, the British Parliament passed the Tea Act, which levied yet another tax that the American colonists found outrageous. It ultimately incited the Boston Tea Party, which got the attention of the British government.

Edible Dictionary

Brunswick stew, n.--Brunswick stew is the best-known American dish with squirrel meat as a main ingredient. Even so, it's not much prepared anymore. Selling wild-caught squirrel meat is illegal, and so you will not likely see the dish in a restaurant. If you do, it will be made with chicken in place of the squirrel. A better idea is to make it with rabbit. Other ingredients include bacon, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and beans. The version made in Louisiana usually contains a noticeable cayenne component (no surprise there). Two Brunswick Counties--one in Virginia, the other in North Carolina--claim that the dish is named for them.

The Saints

Today is the feast day of St. Zita. As a young servant girl, she gathered her own food as well as what other food she could find in the household of her employers and gave it to the poor in the streets of Lucca, Italy. She is the patron saint of waitresses. Her name is also the singular form of ziti, the tubular pasta a lot like penne. But there is no connection.

Annals Of The Cocktail 

Today in 1957, Mario A. Gianini passed away. (I can't find his birth date.) He was the inventor of the maraschino cherry, so common in our drinks and baking. A maraschino cherry is a light-colored cherry preserved in a brine or alcohol solution, then marinated in a colored, flavored syrup that gives it (usually) an almond flavor. The flavor is in imitation of maraschino liqueur, made from the marasco cherry and containing real almond extract. Maraschino liqueur is rarely used now. Now, we turn to a long-running and absurd argument my wife and I have. I say--and dictionaries and speakers of Italian do too--that the preferred pronunciation is "maras-kee-no." I learned that from the cartoon character Snagglepuss, who was the first person (?) I ever heard pronounce the word. My wife says that it should be "mara-shee-no," because, she claims, that's how most people say it. Sheesh.

Food Namesakes 

Former Louisiana Senator Lloyd Wheat was born today in 1922. . . A movie called The Dish opened today in 2001. Disappointingly, it was not about food, but a satellite antenna. . . Punk rock artist David Peel was born today in 1947.

Words To Eat By 

"Any of us would kill a cow rather than not have beef."--Samuel Johnson.

Words To Drink By 

"Beer is made by men, wine by God."--Martin Luther.