May 27

Vincent Price. Breakfast Hill. Naked Chef. Kissinger. Three Little Pigs. Pineapple. Pulque. Big Tuna. Red Onions.

Days Until. . .

Phase 2 Begins-- 5

Gourmets In Show Biz

On this date in 1911, Vincent Price was born. He was famed for all those horror movies he did, but he was also a very fine radio actor. Most notably, he played Simon Templar in the radio version of "The Saint." He was also a gourmet cook, and well enough known as such to encourage people to eat more butter in a series of commercials in the 1970s. The payload line was, "I can easily tell the difference between margarine and real butter. Can't you?"

Celebrity Chefs Today

Today is the birthday, in 1975, of Jamie Oliver, "The Naked Chef." He has turned what started as a frivolous television cooking show into a very successful empire of restaurants, cookbooks, restaurants, and much more television. A recent survey places him as the third most successful chef in the world. He has been very active in his native England in an effort to get better, fresher food into schools.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Breakfast Hill is in the southeast corner of New Hampshire, two miles from the Atlantic shore. US 1 crosses its southeastern flank as the hill rises to 151 feet. That's a good 75 feet or more higher than the surrounding terrain. The Breakfast Hill Golf Club is on the other side of the hill. You can actually eat breakfast there on the weekends, and lunch and dinner every other day.

Deft Dining Rule #610

The first bite of a strip of bacon should register as smoky, salty, sweet, and rich on your palate. If not, it isn't very good bacon.

Today's Flavor

Today is National Pineapple Day. The pineapple so astonished the early explorers of the West Indies that they brought it back to Europe as a great treasure. It is an amazing fruit. Actually, it's a bunch of fruits all growing together so compactly that they fuse with one another. Have you ever found a pineapple seed? They do exist, but only rarely. It seems that the seeds had been bred out of the original plant long before Columbus arrived.Its English name comes from its resemblance to a pine cone. The French word for it, ananas, comes from the original Brazilian Indian name, which means something like "excellent fruit." It is indeed an excellent fruit, especially when eaten fresh. The best fresh pineapples are flown in from Hawaii, but those are not typical. Most of what we find in stores now come from Mexico, picked underripe, making them hard and less sweet. As they hang around they get softer but not much sweeter. The way to tell if a pineapple is ripe is to smell it. If it smells good, it's ready.You peel a pineapple by cutting off the bottom and top, and then cutting down the sides with a very sharp knife in strips about an inch or two wide. You can cut out the center if you like, but although it's fibrous it's quite edible. A unique property of pineapple is that it contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is an extremely effective meat tenderizer. This is well known to cheap steakhouses, which have been using it as a marinade on their tough beef for years. But it tastes good, too.Thousands of recipes for pineapple exist, not all of them for sweet dishes. Among currently popular pineapple dishes, the hardest to figure is pineapple pizza. Some people love them. Hmm.

Edible Dictionary

pulque, Spanish, n.--A beverage of low alcoholic content made from the juices extracted from agave plants in Northern Mexico. Specifically, the agave classically used is the maguey or century plant. It's usually still cloudy, to the point of being milky. It's also a little on the thick side. The agave juices are what's used to make tequila. It could be said that pulque is to tequila what wine is to brandy, in that the first could be distilled to make the second. Pulque has been made and drunk by Native Mexicans for hundreds of years, originally as a sacred beverage drunk by the most prominent people. Pulque doesn't travel well, so it doesn't show up in this country much. It's worth trying if you find it in Mexico.

Food In World Politics

Former Secretary of State and Nixon associate Henry Kissinger was born today in 1923. In addition to being one of the most influential people in the world in the 1970s, he was a man about town, always at the best parties and in the best restaurants, accompanied by the most important people, with whom he socialized as much as dealt with. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once took him out for Mongolian hot pot in a restaurant. "It is not often done by Chinese leaders to invite guests to a restaurant," said Kissinger, implying that Deng took him as a friend.

Animated Barbecue

Walt Disney's cartoon Three Little Pigs was released on this date in 1933.

Food And Drink Namesakes

Tony "The Big Tuna" Accardo, a mobster whose career as an enforcer for the mob dated back to Al Capone, died at 86 on this date in 1992. . . Canadian classical composer Claude Champagne hit some Cs today in 1891, as he was being born. He was a teacher of many other composers. . . Former Pennsylvania Congressman Edward M. Beers was tapped today in 1877.

Words To Eat By

"Red onions are especially divine. I hold a slice up to the sunlight pouring in through the kitchen window, and it glows like a fine piece of antique glass. Cool watery-white with layers delicately edged with imperial purple. Strong, humble, peaceful, with that fiery nub of spring green in the center"--Mary Hayes Grieco, inspirational writer."

Words To Drink By

"A cause may be inconvenient, but it's magnificent. It's like champagne or high heels, and one must be prepared to suffer for it."--Arnold Bennett, English writer, born today in 1867 and died today in 1931. He also is quoted as saying something a lot like what someone I know said after Hurricane Katrina:"Always behave as if nothing had happened, no matter what has happened."