May 26

National Cherry Dessert Day

American Pie. Iron Chef Three. Whooping Crane. Cherry Desserts. Cherrytown. Cherries Jubilee. Restaurants In Parks.

Today's Flavor

Today is National Blueberry Cheesecake Day. What a terrible thing to do with both blueberries and cheesecake! It's also National Cherry Dessert Day. My favorite of those is the ancient flaming dessert, cherries jubilee. The cherries are cooked down in a syrup made right there in the pan, then flamed with kirsch, and served over ice cream. It is believed to have been created by no less than Auguste Escoffier, the arbiter of classic French cooking, on the occasion of Queen Victoria' s fiftieth jubilee. Escoffier's original recipe didn't have ice cream, but that was such a natural addition that it's now universal. Most restaurants that make it (Antoine's is the most famous locally) use canned cherries, but it's much better with fresh cherries. Problem: we rarely see fresh cherries until July. Another cherry-full dessert is Black Forest cake, a light chocolate cake with white icing and cherries between the layers.

Deft Dining Rule #112:

A restaurant that specializes in flaming desserts served tableside these days is likely to have an exceptionally good service staff, but unimaginative food.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cherrytown is a little over a mile south of the Mason-Dixon Line, in north central Maryland. It's forty-five miles northwest of Baltimore. It's in a mix of open fields and woods in rolling terrain, with farmhouses and country homes of people who work in the city. It's a pretty area. There's even a white tablecloth restaurant a mile away: Bud's at Silver Run, with good crab cakes and prime rib.

Edible Dictionary

marjolaine, French, n.--A neglected French dessert made by layering several flavored meringues one atop another, then baking them. Classically, the meringues are flavored with ground almonds, hazelnuts, and cocoa. Sometimes the meringues are sandwiched between layers of puff pastry. Another variation is to separate the layers with chocolate, mocha, or praline-flavored ganache or buttercream. What comes out of all this is a cloudlike cake with a nutty flavor. It doesn't hold up long, which may be why we don't see it even in French bakeries much. Too bad.

Music To Eat On The Levee By

On this date in 1971, Don McLean recorded the song American Pie. It wasn't about pie at all! Instead, it stirred up nostalgia (among those who could figure out what it meant) for the late 1950s. That was long before the gourmet era began.

Celebrity Chefs Today

TV's third Japanese Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto, was born today in 1955, in Hiroshima, Japan. After working in New York at Nobu and some other high-profile establishments, he opened a restaurant under his own name in Philadelphia. We've never been there, but wonder whether its kitchen runs by the rules of the Iron Chef TV foolishness.

Food In The Wild

Today in 1950, the first whooping crane hatched in captivity was born. It was delicious, I hear. Such a joke must be made whenever bringing up an endangered species in a fluffy medium like this one, but it's a long-standing tradition through history. An alarming number of last examples of species were killed to be eaten or added to a collection of taxidermy. I don't get it.

Food Namesakes

Ernst Bacon was born today in 1898. He was an excellent composer of classical music, particularly songs, with a distinctly and intentional American quality. He is well enough revered to have a website. . . Stephen Rice,, a professional hockey player, was born today in 1971. . . Pro golfer Stephen Robert Pate was born today in 1961.

Words To Eat By

"The jelly--the jam and the marmalade,And the cherry-and quince preserves she made!And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear,With cinnamon in 'em, and all things rare!And the more we ate was the more to spare,Out to old Aunt Mary's! Ah!"--James Whitcomb Riley.

"No man is lonely while eating spaghetti."--Robert Morley, movie actor, born today in 1908.

Words To Drink By

"No poems can please for long or live that are written by water-drinkers."--Horace.

Culinary Landmarks

This is the birthday, in 1822, of Frederick Law Olmsted, who is considered the father of municipal parks. New York's Central Park was largely his design, as was Jackson Park in Chicago. He consulted on New Orleans City Park, which was influenced greatly by his earlier work. He did not really like restaurants in his parks, but he got them anyway.