May 19

Archie. Devil's Food. Meat And Three. Diners. Meat Camp. Dying On Camera. Halley. Jane Brody. Melba.

Days Until. . .

Phase 2 Begins 13

Food Calendar 

Today is National Devil's Food Cake Day. Here's how you get devil's food cake to be really dark and different: add red food coloring to the batter. It won't show as red, but as a strangely deeper dark brown.More interesting is National Meat-And-Three Day. The hotbed of the meat-and-three meal is the roadside diner. Many of those still show a list of the special entrees of the day, with a meat, poultry, or fish as a central item. Below that is a list of ten or fifteen vegetables and salads, from which you may choose three to go with your entree. Corn, peas, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, French fries, cauliflower, green salad, cole slaw, spinach, and lima beans are among the most common items on such lists. Most of us were introduced to this concept in school cafeterias, which serve a meat-and-two through grammar school, and then escalate to meat-and-three in high school.

Deft Dining Rule #173

The most enjoyable part--perhaps the only enjoyable part--of a meal in a meat-and-three kind of restaurant is the nostalgia it brings along with it for simpler times.

Deft Dining Rule #174

The restaurants of the 1950s and earlier, no matter how delicious our memory makes them seem, were nowhere near as good as the restaurants of today.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Meat Camp, North Carolina is 125 miles northwest of Charlotte. It's where the extremities of North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky come together. That's the richest part of the country in terms of the number of towns with food names. It's rolling, mostly wooded countryside there at the junction of Meat Camp Road and Little Creek Road. Meat Camp drew settlers in 1799, and was so named because a cabin where hunters stored meat was there, on a prominent rocky patch of grown. It has always been a knot of civilization, and has a few houses and even a church. Finding a restaurant is harder. A five-mile trip up a winding country road brings you to the Mountaineer Restaurant in Trade, NC. Another eatery called Sharpie's is near there

People We'd Like To Have Dinner With 

It's Archie Manning's birthday, in 1949. He and another former Saint, Danny Abramowicz, once owned a restaurant in Metairie called Archie and Danny's (how did they think up a name like that?) on N. Turnbull just off Veterans. (Now Andy's Bistro.) Now, of course, Archie and his equally famous sons are involved in a restaurant called Manning's in the Warehouse District. A great place to watch a football game (live or not), but not an especially great place to eat.

Drinking In The Movies 

On this date in 1942, the actor John Barrymore was rehearsing a script in which his character worries that he might die from drinking. Ten days later, Barrymore did indeed die of cirrhosis of the liver. (Which, in New Orleans, would be considered a death by natural causes).

Edible Dictionary 

sheepshead, n.--A Gulf fish in the porgy family, very commonly caught in the spring and summer and widely served in restaurants--although often under other names. (Like "trout" and "redfish.") Sheepshead are boldly striped fish a tall profile and generous fillets in a body that typically weighs between two and six pounds. But its head, with jaws full of disproportionately large, flat teeth, takes up so much of the body that the yield of fillets is smaller than one might expect. Otherwise, everything's good about sheepshead. It's excellent for sauteeing, grilling, and broiling, and lends itself to buttery or spicy sauces. Gulf seafood expert Jerald Horst says that sheepshead eat everything, from marsh grasses to clams to crabs and other fish. It has another official name--rondeau sea bream--but that hasn't caught on, either. It is probably the single most underrated eating fish in Gulf waters.

Looking Up 

Today in 1910, the earth passed through the tail of Halley's Comet, the anticipation of which caused panic in many gullible people. Nothing happened, except that for about twenty minutes the oysters had a strange chocolate flavor. After the event, the shells of lobsters were a lot thicker.

Annals Of Food Writing 

Jane Brody, who writes widely on cooking and nutrition, mostly in the New York Times, was born today in 1941. Jane Brody's Good Food Book is her best collection.

Food Namesakes 

Dame Nellie Melba (real name: Helen Porter Mitchell, from Melbourne, Australia) was born today in 1861. Both Melba toast and the dessert peach Melba are named for her. She was a superstar opera singer of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and men throughout the world were smitten by her. The toast named for her was what she ate to take pounds off her well-rounded body. Peach Melba, which you can get at Antoine's any day and occasionally in a few other restaurants, is peaches and ice cream with a thick raspberry sauce. . . Rice University in Houston was first chartered on this date in 1891. . . Cambodian dictator and mass murderer Pol Pot was born today in 1915.

Words To Eat By 

"I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them."--Nora Ephron, American writer, born today in 1941.

Words To Drink By 

"One reason I don't drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time."--Lady Nancy Astor, one of the wealthiest people in the world in the early 1900s.