May 12

National Crowder Peas Day

The Saint. Blue Food. Yogi. Crowder Peas. Dip Creek. Popovers. Bob. Cocktails For Two. Limericks.

Food Calendar

Today is National Crowder Peas Day. This extraordinarily delicious bean is less common on menus and supermarket shelves than it once was. Crowder peas are closely related to field peas and blackeye peas. Crowders are about the same size as blackeyes, but are a uniform light brown, and have a different, meatier flavor. They're considered a Southern bean, needing a warm climate to grow. That the name comes from the practice of planting them in cotton fields, where they would crowd (and fertilize) the cotton rows. (Another story: the beans are more tightly packed into their pods than typical.) As much loyalty as I have to red beans, I like crowder peas better. You cook them the same way as red beans, but they cook faster and need less fat in the preparation. Don't cook them so long that they start falling apart.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Three streams in Idaho are all named Dip Creek. Coming from different directions the water from all three winds up in the Snake, the major tributary of the Columbia. What are the chances of that? The first is in the southeast corner of the state, hard on the Wyoming state line, in the ski areas of the Rockies near Soda Springs and Jackson Hole. It runs five miles and drops about a thousand feet before its water enters Dry Creek. The second Dip Creek is up in some more serious mountains, a 158-mile drive east from Boise. This one drops about 1500 feet through a canyon into the Big Wood River. The third Dip Creek is in the Idaho Panhandle, 134 miles east of Spokane, Washington. It begins on the slope of Crescendo Mountain (what a great name!) and drops 2200 feet through a rough, tree-filled wilderness canyon. It goes six miles to the Foehl River, a tributary of the Clearwater River and then the Snake. None of these are near any known restaurants, so pack the potato chips in your rucksack..

Deft Dining Rule #141:

If you ate at least five different beans with some frequency, each prepared differently, you would eat better than if you didn't.

Edible Dictionary 

popover, n.--A savory, eggy, buttery pastry made in muffin tins with a batter somewhat similar to that used for making pancakes. Butter is heated in the tins and then the batter is poured in. After baking in a very hot oven for a few minutes, the batter rises well above the top of the pan and swells up, ultimately "popping over" and falling inward. What comes out is usually hollow in the center, with most of its bulk near the top. They're at their best (and irresistibly light) right out of the oven. Popovers are similar to Yorkshire pudding, commonly served with prime rib. The difference is that the latter is made with roast beef fat and drippings instead of the butter. They are nothing like turnovers, with which they are sometimes confused.

Great Fictional Gourmets 

Today in 1907, British-Chinese author Leslie Charteris was born in England. He created The Saint, a series of books, radio and television shows. The namesake character was Simon Templar, a former criminal gone straight, ever involved in mystery and intrigue. The Saint was a cultured sybarite, never far from the next fine wine, magnificent dinner, or beautiful woman. A lot like James Bond. In fact, Roger Moore played The Saint on television before becoming James Bond in the movies. On radio, The Saint was Vincent Price, who was a gourmet in real life.

Food In Comedy 

George Carlin was born today in 1937. Among his many classic routines was a long rambling that begins, "Why is there no blue food?" He said that the reason you never see blue food is that it was being kept from regular people by The Man. What about blueberries? "Blueberries are blue on the bush, but red when you eat them. They're just called that to make us think we're getting the blue food!" Demand the blue food!

People We'd Like To Have Dinner With 

Yogi Berra was born today in 1925. He was an active player, and a major star at that, when I was a kid. I always liked his unconventional ways of doing everything. His quote about a popular restaurant ("Nobody goes there anymore--it's too crowded") is one of the finest of a long collection of Yogi-isms.

Music To Drink By 

Today in 1934, Duke Ellington's renditions of Cocktails for Two hit Number One on the charts.

Annals Of Weather 

On this date in 1978, the National Weather Service announced that it would be using men's names as well as women's for hurricanes. All previous named storms were girls. The first male hurricane was Bob, which looked like it had a chance to come our way. I remember that it felt funny to talk about Hurricane Bob on the radio.

Food In Literature 

Today is the birthday of poet and artist Edward Lear, who wrote books of limericks. Let's write a New Orleans food limerick:In Galatoire's mirror she gazed outA beautiful girl with a pleased loutShe ate crab RockefellerWhile her date tried to sell herOn love, but he soon was phased out.

Food Namesakes 

Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, was born today in 1889. . . Kix Brooks, half of the country music duo Brooks and Dunn, was born in Shreveport in 1967. Trix are for kids, I know, but what about Kix? (It's a corn-puff cereal.) . . . Kid Creole, of the very wild band the Coconuts, was born today in 1951 in (he says) the Bronx, Haiti, and Tahiti. . . Twin child actors Sullivan and Sawyer Sweeten were born today in 1995. They were on Everybody Loves Raymond.

Words To Eat By 

"You better cut the pizza into four slices, because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."--Yogi Berra, born today in 1925.

Words To Drink By

"Stay busy, get plenty of exercise, and don't drink too much. Then again, don't drink too little."--Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith-Johannsen, a Canadian who lived to be 112.