June 22

It's National Chocolate Eclair Day

Seared Tuna. Martini Run. Chess Master. Chess Pie. Doughnuts. Bacon And Beans. Daiquiri. Napoleon. Eclairs.

Days Until. . .

Fourth Of July 11

Today's Flavor

This is Seared Fresh Tuna Salad Day. The timing is perfect. The heat has emphatically set in, and even though eating cold food doesn't actually lower your temperature, the sensation of eating chilled, nearly-raw fish with crisp, cold greens and perhaps some avocado seems a perfect antidote to the weather. The best fresh tuna salads are made with vividly fresh tuna, seared on a very hot grill or pan to a noticeable crust on the outside, but still completely rare on the inside. The color contract between the interior of the tuna (sliced after the searing, of course) and the greens is dramatic and appetizing.Today is also National Chocolate Eclair Day. The original chocolate eclairs were made with choux pastry--the same stuff creampuffs are made from--and stuffed with pastry cream and topped with chocolate.

Edible Dictionary

chess pie, n.--A staple dessert of the American South, chess pie is most succinctly described as a pecan pie without the pecans. It also resembles a custard pie, except that it's made without milk, and usually sweetened with corn syrup. It's also common for the crust to be made with cornmeal or corn flour instead of wheat flour. It has no top crust. Chess pie is usually very sweet; some bakers add a little vinegar to the custard to offset this. The origin of the name is something of a mystery. The story that rings most true (or it could be that it's just the most entertaining one) is that it's the expression "just pie" (as plain old pie) said with a Southern accent. It does not seem to have anything to do with the game of chess.

Deft Dining Rule #183:

You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the size of the capers in the salade Niçoise. The bigger they are, the less the place spends on ingredients.

Food Through History

Today in 1847, the doughnut was invented when Hanson Gregory watched his mother struggle to get her fried cakes fully cooked in the center. He suggested that she cut a hole in them. It worked! Which explains why beignets are often doughy in the center. If they had holes, they wouldn't.

Great Restaurant Addresses

This is the birthday in 1837 of Paul Morphy, who many chess experts consider the greatest grandmaster of all time. He lived on Royal Street in the building that now houses Brennan's. He also has a street named for him. In his day--and still, among chess enthusiasts--he was a major celebrity in New Orleans.

Music To Eat Bacon And Beans By

On this date in 1959, people around the country had these lyrics running around in their heads: "They took a little bacon and they took a little beans, and they fought the bloody British in the town of New Orleans." Johnny Horton's record The Battle of New Orleans was a million-seller and at the top of the charts.

Food And Drink At War

Back in 1898, during the Spanish-American War, six American ships landed at Cuba's coast. From there the Rough Riders, led by Theodore Roosevelt, invaded the town of Daiquiri. (I suppose they picked up a few in go-cups and rode on.) . . . In another great moment in history, on this date in 1815, Napoleon threw in the towel for the last time after being defeated at Waterloo four days earlier. He abdicated and went into exile, but only after stopping at the Napoleon House for a muffuletta.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Martini Run is a short stream that cuts a respectable gorge--about 250 feet deep--through the hills in the northern part of Kentucky. About forty-six miles northeast of Louisville, it runs into the Drennan River, a tributary of the Kentucky, the Ohio, and finally the Mississippi. Martini Run travels about eight miles through country where Kentucky bourbon is much more popular. The restaurant that seems most inviting is Mom's, eight miles away in New Castle.

Food Namesakes

Gary Beers, bass player and singer for the rock group INXS, was born today in 1957. . . Operatic tenor Peter Pears was born today in 1910. . . Danny Baker, a radio comedian in England, gave his first laugh today in 1957. It would be nice if we had more radio comedians here. . . Stephen Chow is a comedian, too--as well as a film producer and director in Hong Kong. He jumped onto The Big Stage today in 1962.

Words To Eat By

"Many people have eaten and drunk themselves to death. Nobody ever thought himself to death."--Gilbert Highet, Scottish-American author, born today in 1906.

Words To Drink By

"Sometimes too much to drink is barely enough."--Mark Twain.