April 29

National Shrimp Scampi Day

Roosevelt Mall. Shrimp Scampi. Sticky Shells. Shrimp Bayou. Langoustine. Marvin and Tammi.

Days Until. . .

Mother's Day--11

Annals Of Presidential Eating

On this date in 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt visited New Orleans for the dedication of Roosevelt Mall in City Park, a project of Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. Lots of great Art Deco bridges, statues, and markers remain from that. Then they went to lunch at Antoine's, and New Orleans mayor Robert Maestri asked a question that became immortal: "How do ya like dem ersters, Mr. President?"

Today's Flavor 

Today is National Shrimp Scampi Day. Although that dish is a fixture of Italian menus, its name is a contradiction. Like "beef lamb." Shrimp and scampi are two different animals. A scampo (singular) is a largish (about five inches) crustacean with a hard shell, living in the Adriatic Sea. Along the Italian coastline scampi are caught and cooked in olive oil, herbs, wine, and lemon juice. True scampi don't live here in this country. The closest substitute is langoustine. But big Gulf of Mexico shrimp work just fine. So, shrimp scampi. It works as either an appetizer or as an entree.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Shrimp Bayou is a short, wildly twisting, sluggish stream running through the marshes near the Gulf of Mexico coast, just over the Louisiana state line in Mississippi. Anyone looking for shrimp in season will find them aplenty here. The bayou is a former route of the Pearl River, which meets the Gulf a few miles west now. Shrimp Bayou is inaccessible except by boat. But if you took that five miles up the coast to what's left of Waveland (it was largely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, and then drove another five miles to US 90, you could get shrimp prepared a number of ways, among other things, at Las Palmas.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If the shells stick to the meat when you cook shrimp, you're cooking them too long. The right moment to stop cooking shrimp is the first time you wonder whether they're done.

Deft Dining Rule #614:

Shrimp always taste better if cooked with the shells and heads still in place.

Edible Dictionary

langoustine, n.--A decapod crustacean with a shrimp-like head, a hard, lobster-like shell, and a meaty tail. It is widely caught and eaten from the North Sea across much of the northern Atlantic Ocean. The best specimens are as long as ten inches. It's neither as big nor as good as a langouste--the spiny lobster--but it is considered an item of gourmet cookery. A curiosity of langoustines is that their orange color doesn't change when it's cooked, the way most other crustaceans do. Langoustines are commonly called Norway lobsters. Scampi are an isolated population of langoustines that live in the northern Adriatic Sea, but not much elsewhere in the Mediterranean basin.

Music To Dine By 

This is the birthday of jazz master Duke Ellington, born today in 1899. Take The A Train. . . Mood Indigo. . . a thousand more works of genius, still played now mostly in avant-garde venues. . . Here's a funny coincidence. Tammi Terrell was born today in 1945. Marvin Gaye died today in 1984, shot by his father. The two singers created legendary duet recordings in the late 1960s, the best of which was You're All I Need To Get By. The act ended when Terrell died (essentially of hard living) in 1970. It upset Gaye so much that he dropped out for a few years.

Food Namesakes 

Chili Davis, playing for the Kansas City Royals, became the seventy-fifth baseball player to hit three hundred home runs. What kind of person tracks this kind of data? . . . French military leader and statesman Georges Boulanger was born today in 1837. (Boulanger is "baker" in French.). . . Film director John Waters called for action today in 1946. . . Captain James Cook, a frequent visitor to this department, made his first landfall on Australia today in 1770.

Words To Eat By 

"Life is like eating artichokes. You have got to go through so much to get so little."--Thomas Aloysius Dorgan, American cartoonist, born today in 1877.

Words To Drink By

"There is no such thing as 'fun for the whole family.'"--Jerry Seinfeld, born today in 1954.

Words To Drink By

The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whiskey. By diligent effort, I learned to like it."--Winston Churchill.