July 18

National Caviar Day

Caviar. The Weinermobile. Apple, OK. Food Show Birthday. Scented Crayons.

Food On The Road

Today in 1936, the first Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was built in Chicago. It was a tremendous hit, especially with kids, and the hot dog-shaped cars (now more like RV's) have been on the road ever since. They appear in parades and at festivals, driven by young people just out of college. Crews of three or four of them drive one of the six Wienermobiles around the country. I'll bet that's a great experience. We've had the Wienermobile crews on my radio show many times in the past, and they're well-spoken representatives with a unifying talent for making awful puns about hot dogs. They come here to participate in Mardi Gras parades. In the New Orleans parades, they're required by the law against commercial displays in parades to cover up the company logo. But you'd have to be really out of it not to recognize the Wienermobile for what it is.

Food Calendar

It is National Caviar Day. The word "caviar" connotes luxury and gourmandise. The best caviar is among the most expensive and rarest foods in the world. Indeed, the king of caviars--from the endangered beluga sturgeon in the Caspian Sea--has become so rare that it lately has been banned from import into the United States. But not all caviar is expensive; not all of it is good.You know that caviar is fish eggs, but there's more to it than that. Eggs in fish are enclosed by a pouch, and held together by a membrane. Like every other part of a fish, roe is highly perishable. The challenge and expense in making caviar is to separate the eggs and to somehow keep them from spoiling. The latter job is usually accomplished through the addition of barely enough salt to do the job.You probably eat more caviar than you think you do. Tobiko, for example, is the tiny caviar you get on sushi rolls. (It's from flying fish.) Around New Orleans, we eat a great deal caviar from bowfin (choupique, as we call the fish). If you dine in Greek restaurants you may enjoy a great appetizer spread called taramasalata, made with carp caviar.I do hope it's possible to enjoy beluga caviar again someday. It's best all by itself--no onions, sour cream, capers, or anything. Maybe some little bread underneath. (I use small, non-sweet waffles for that.) But if the beluga sturgeon must be left alone to preserve the species, then we must not eat any more beluga caviar, no matter how delicious it is.

Deft Dining Rule #715

Eating a great deal of caviar can give you a buzz. It is not all coming from the Champagne that you're drinking with it.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Apple is a crossroads in cattle ranching and farming country in southeast Oklahoma. It's ten miles north of the Red River and the Texas state line. It's also right next to a growing reservoir called Lake Hugo, which spreads out from the banks of the Kiamichi River, a tributary of the Red. All the restaurants are ten miles away in Hugo, where there's a bunch of fast food plus the intriguing Angie's Circus City Diner.

Edible Dictionary

beluga caviar, n.--The most prized and expensive of all caviars, it is no longer legally available in the United States. It's the roe of the beluga sturgeon, which lives in the Caspian Sea and (in much smaller numbers) in the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea. It is considered an endangered species, hence the American import ban. The Caspian Sea is the world's biggest lake, and straddles the border between Russia and Iran--both of which continue to harvest the 2000-pound fish for caviar. The eggs are the largest of all the sturgeon roes, with a metallic gray color and a magnificent flavor that is best appreciated with no garnishes of any kind. Maybe conservation efforts will make it possible to taste it again.

Food On The Air

At five minutes after ten in the morning on this date in 1988, I threw a microphone switch and began a new daily radio talk program called The Food Show. It broadcast from the original 1925-vintage studios of WSMB, on the roof of the Maison Blanche Building. I'd been on the radio since 1974 with a variety of shows on several stations, but this gig took on a life of its own. I know of nothing comparable in any other city. And what other radio show shares a birthday with the Wienermobile?

Food In Art Supplies

Today in 1994, Crayola began selling scented crayons. My two favorites are Garlic-Sardine and Huitlacoche.

Food And Drink Namesakes

David Cone pitched a perfect game on this date in 1999 for the Yankees. . . Soap actor Dolph Sweet experienced his first episode today in 1920. . . Syd Mead, an industrial designer who created cars and gizmos for movies, invented himself today in 1933. . . Canadian actor Carl Grain was harvested today in 1978.

Words To Eat By

"Caviar is to dining what a sable coat is to a girl in evening dress."--Ludwig Bemelmans.

"There is more simplicity in the man who eats caviar on impulse than in the man who eats grape-nuts on principle."--G.K. Chesterton.

"There is, we feel, a decent area somewhere between boiled carrots and Beluga caviar, sour plonk and Chateau Lafitte, where we can take care of our gullets and bellies without worshipping them."--J.B. Priestley.

Words To Drink By

I cannot eat but little meat,
My stomach is not good;
But sure I think that I can drink
With him that wears a hood.
--Bishop Still, in Gammer Gurton's Needle.