June 14

National Strawberry Shortcake Day

Bourbon Country. Seabob. Napoleon. Nectarine. Heimlich.

Days Until. . .

Father's Day 2Fourth of July--20

Today's Flavor

Today is National Strawberry Shortcake Day. You can now buy strawberries all year round, and we're seeing strawberry shortcake a lot more, too. We love it at our house, because it tastes good and its preparation involves three things we're always either buying or making: strawberries, whipped cream, and shortcakes. A true shortcake is not that Twinkie-like cake that came to be used for this dessert decades ago, but more like a biscuit. We bake them exactly as we do the biscuits we make for breakfast, except that we use half-and-half instead of buttermilk and about three tablespoons of sugar per cup of flour.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Fryer, Kentucky (and what a perfect state to have a town of with name!) is a rural crossroads in the western part of the state, fifty-eight miles from Paducah. Its in a valley full of farm fields between two green-hill ridges that rise about 300 feet above it. A very pretty place, full of running streams and ponds. The nearest restaurant of note is the Family Place, ten miles away in Dawson Springs. I hope they have good fried chicken.

Roots Of Bourbon

Today in 1789 was the first recorded making of whiskey from fermented corn mash, in Bourbon Country, Kentucky. That was the birth of what we now call just bourbon, the most famous distilled spirit in America. It is held in high regard overseas and in Latin America, with a reputation somewhat like the one we accord to Cognac in America. In recent years, the Bourbon distillers reversed a long slide in their fortunes by creating new small-batch bourbons of much higher quality. My favorites are Van Winkle, Baker's and Knob Hill.

Edible Dictionary

seabob, n.--A species of saltwater shrimp (Xiphopenaeus kroyeri) very common along the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf coasts, from the Carolinas down to southern Brazil. They are caught commercially in great numbers in Louisiana, although not as great as white shrimp and brown shrimp, the leading species. Seabobs are a good bit smaller than those species, and are not often seen in markets. There is a Louisiana season for seabobs, though, and when they turn up they're good for stews, etouffee, bisques, and remoulade.

Deft Dining Rule #240:

The more peculiar-looking the mushrooms in a Chinese dish, the better the dish will taste.

Annals Of French Cuisine

Napoleon won what he considered his greatest victory on this date in 1800 at Marengo in northern Italy, near Turin. He was fighting the Austrians. The battle is commemorated in a dish called chicken Marengo. It was what Napoleon's cooks served him after the battle, the ingredients foraged from the area. The original recipe's sauce was made with crawfish. Most recipes now leave that out, unless they're made in Louisiana.

Physiology Of Eating

Dr. Henry Heimlich proposed what became known as the Heimlich maneuver today in 1974. While it doesn't always work, and sometimes results in a fractured rib or two for the victim, it has saved thousands of choking victims who might otherwise have died or been permanently injured. Many of these were in restaurants, with the person doing the maneuver being just another customer. If you don't know how to do it, you should learn. Here's how, from Dr. Heimlich himself.

Food Namesakes

John Bartlett, who compiled the book of quotations that became so famous that his name is forever associated with such a book, was born today in 1820. He had no connection with the pears. . . Bill Baker, a Congressman from California, was born today in 1941 65 today. . . John Scott Trotter, who was the band leader on George Gobel's early television show, was born today in 1908. (A trotter is a pig's foot, in case you never heard the term.) . . . Gil Lamb, a movie actor in the 1940s, was born today in 1906.

Words To Eat By

"Talking of Pleasure, this moment I was writing with one hand, and with the other holding to my Mouth a Nectarine -- how good how fine. It went down all pulpy, slushy, oozy, all its delicious embonpoint melted down my throat like a large, beatified Strawberry."--John Keats.

Words To Drink By

"I know folks all have a tizzy about it, but I like a little bourbon of an evening. It helps me sleep. I don't much care what they say about it."--Lillian Carter, mother of President Jimmy Carter.