July 12

Blueberry Muffins

Edible Dictionary

Masters Of Food Research

George Washington Carver was born today in 1864, as a slave. He became one of history's greatest botanists, gaining particular renown because his discoveries benefited poor farmers. He first advocated the more widespread planting of sweet potatoes by showing all the things it could be used for. He then moved to his most famous specialty: peanuts. He showed not only that peanuts could be used in hundreds of different ways, but also that growing them improved the soil. He did all this while constantly fighting people who wouldn't take a former slave had to say. His work spoke for itself, however, and by the 1920s, his reputation as a great man was beyond dispute.

Food Calendar

In honor of George Washington Carver, today ought to be National Peanut Something Or Other Day. But there are already many peanut observances on the calendar. And it's also National Pecan Pie Day. Pecan pie is one of the finest desserts in all of Southern cooking. We eat our share of it in New Orleans. The most famous local pecan pie is the one at the Camellia Grill. Like everything there, it's a pretty simple recipe. Pecan pie is not easy to make; the problem many cooks have is in getting the custard mixture to set. For that reason, for a long time one of New Orleans' best restaurants (you'd be shocked if I told you who, but I won't) took Mrs. Smith's pies out of their boxes, sliced them up, and served them.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Peach Hill rises 180 feet above sea level, forty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts. There is no higher spot anywhere between the two places. The hill is thoroughly wooded, but houses are evenly spaced along Peach Hill Road and the other highways in the area. A mile north is the Bolton Road House Bar and Grill for a pop and a nosh.

Exercising The Food Away

Today is the birthday of fitness and exercise comedian Richard Simmons. He's a New Orleans guy, and succumbed to the common local condition of enjoying food so much that he became quite pudgy. When he got into exercise, the zeal of the converted propelled him onto television, where he works his way to the edge of embarrassment for laughs. Here's his website.

Annals Of Food Advertising

The Green Giant trademark was registered today in 1927. Originally, it was applied to a variety of extra-large peas, but the brand had such resonance that it was extended to package all kinds of vegetables.

Deft Dining Rule #184

If you want to throw off an overbearing waiter, ask him if the peas on the dish that has them (there always seems to be one) are genuine Green Giant peas.

Annals Of The Dinner Table

Josiah Wedgwood was born today in 1730. He was a fanatical perfectionist in the art of pottery, leading him produce the fine dinner china that still bears his name. You know--the plates you were given when you got married, but have never actually used? Wedgwood was also the grandfather of Charles Darwin.

Edible Dictionary

rollmops, n.--Pickled herring, rolled around pickled cucumbers and onions. The roll is pickled by marinating in vinegar and mustard for a few days. Although the roll part of the word is clear, rollmops have no resemblance to a mop. "Mops" is German for "dog's head," which clears up nothing. Rollmops are most often seen in kosher-style delicatessens as well as German ones. Pickled herring, in places like New Orleans where it's never seen, is among the most underrated of delicacies.

Food Namesakes

Willis Eugene Lamb, Jr., who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1955, was born today in 1913. . . Eugene Louis Boudin came out of the casing today in 1824. He was a French Impressionist painter. . . Film director Tod Browning heard "action!" today in 1880. . . Gospel singer Sandi Patty (I think I've had one of those from a burger joint at the beach) got the spirit today in 1956. . . British comedian Richard Herring got his first laugh today in 1967.

Words To Eat By

"I never did like chitlins. I think they spelled it wrong."

"The least-used sentence in the English language is, 'Can I have your beets?'"--Both these by Bill Cosby. Unfortunately, quotations from Cosby--and there are many good ones related to food-- have become taboo. He was born today in 1937, for what that's worth.

Words To Drink By

"To eat, to drink, and to be merry."--A toast from Ecclesiastes, 8:15.