July 2

It's National Anise Liqueur Day

Anisette. Pastis. Wendy's Dad. Herbsaint. Absinthe And Its Kin. Greens Fork. Morbier. Candy Man.

Days Until. . .

Fourth Of July 2

Food Calendar

Today is National Anise Liqueur Day. Anisette--a generic name for that spirit--was once very popular around America. Its anise flavor is what most people identify as like licorice. Many other liqueurs have it--notably absinthe and its many substitutes (Pernod, Ricard, and the locally-produced Herbsaint). You also find that flavor in Greek ouzo, and Italian Strega, Galliano and Sambuca. Those have largely supplanted the generic anisette in bars and homes. Not only do they make interesting cocktails, but they're often used in cooking. The most famous dish with anise liqueur as an important flavor is oysters Rockefeller. Around New Orleans, the sauce is almost always doused with Herbsaint.The big news on this front right now is the return of genuine absinthe to the market. It is now generally accepted that well-made absinthe does not carry the poisonous substances that resulted in a ban against it a hundred years ago. That toxin came from wormwood, an herb used in the making of absinthe. But the problem substance doesn't persist through distillation. So The Green Fairy (absinthe's nickname) is back. You may even see it served with water drizzled over a sugar cube on a flat, filigreed spoon set atop the little glasses designed for the purpose. Absinthe was so popular in the 1800s that a ritual grew up around its serving.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Most chefs drink more Herbsaint than they cook with.

Restaurants And The Law

Annals Of Popular Cuisine

Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's Hamburgers (and father of Wendy), was born today in 1932. He accomplished what seemed impossible at the time: taking a big chunk of the fast-food hamburger market from McDonald's and Burger King. He did it by moving the product a bit upscale (not enough to make it a great hamburger, but never mind), and by creating the drive-through window. The latter innovation did more for Wendy's than the former. But now the whole hamburger business is moving upscale, and Wendy's can be credited for starting that trend when it opened in 1969.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Greens Fork, Indiana is about halfway between Indianapolis and Dayton, Ohio. It's on the Greens Fork River, a tributary in turn to the Whitewater, Miami, Ohio, and Mississippi Rivers, which brings water from Greens Fork all the way to the French Quarter. The town of Greens Fork has a population of about 370, most of which support the wide-ranging farms in this rolling countryside. The place to eat is the Green Forks Diner, right in the center of town.

Edible Dictionary

pastis, (French), n.--A drink made by mixing a sweetened anise-flavored liqueur with ice water. Although both are clear, the mixture is cloudy and a pale greenish yellow. Classically, it is served without ice, but in New Orleans it's not uncommon to see it made with ice in the glass. Ricard, one of the leading brands of such liqueurs, is credited with having invented the drink, and in fact uses the word "Pastis" on the label of the liqueur. Pastis became popular after absinthe was banned in the early 1900s. It is especially popular in the South of France, notably in Provence.

Food Namesakes

Singer and bass player Pete Briquette, of the Boomtown Rats, was born today in 1954. . . Actress Kathryn Erbe, who made a movie with a food name (Chicken Soup) was born today in 1966. . . Country singer Marvin Rainwater yodeled his first notes today in 1925. (Rainwater is the name for a variety of Madeira wine.) . . . Classical conductor Frederick Fennell raised the Big Baton today in 1914. . . George Law Curry, newspaper publisher and last territorial governor of Oregon, was born today in 1820.

Words To Eat By

"Food is an implement of magic, and only the most cold-hearted rationalist could squeeze the juices of life out of it and make it bland. In a true sense, a cookbook is the best source of psychological advice and the kitchen the first choice of room for a therapy of the world."--Thomas More.

Words To Drink By

"They speak of my drinking, but never think of my thirst."--Unknown, Scottish.

Cheese Of The Day

Morbier, (French), n.--A cheese made from unpasteurized cow's milk in the small town of the same name in eastern France, not far from the Swiss border. It is notable for having a thin layer of vegetable ash running horizontally through the small wheels in which is it made. The tradition is that the curds made with the milk gotten in the evening was separated by the ash from the curds made with the next morning's milk. It's unlikely that any Morbier is still made that way, but the layer of ash remains. It has a rather strong aroma and a slight bitterness, which some like and some don't. The French say that since it has to be aged sixty days to be allowed into the United States, the Morbier we get is past its prime and hence too strong. It's a great cheese to eat with a pastis or absinthe.

Music To Eat Gooey Sweets By

Sammy Davis Jr. had a Number One hit on the charts with the infectious song, The Candy Man. He hated the song and recorded it only as a favor to his producer. Warning: Don't try to think of how this one goes, because you'll have it in your head for days. If it happens, beat yourself with a licorice whip until it goes away.