July 19


Days Until. . .

Restaurant Namesakes

Today is the birthday, in 1834, of French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas. Today is the birthday, in 1834, of French Impressionist painter Edgar Degas. He lived for a few years on Esplanade Avenue here in New Orleans, in a house that's now used for catering special events. The excellent French bistro Cafe Degas--a few blocks toward City Park from his former home--is named for him. Eat there today in his honor.

Edible Dictionary

pawpaw, n.--A fleshy, moderately sweet fruit that grows on small trees in the eastern half of the United States. It's about eight inches long and three inches wide. It's a member of a large family of tropical fruits, and probably gets its name because of confusion with the papaya. Its flavor is reminiscent of that of a banana, and because of that and its shape it has a lot of nicknames along the lines of "prairie banana." It's a berry, though, and juicier than a banana. You will probably never see it in a sort, because as soon as it's picked it starts not only to ripen but to ferment. They grow here and there around New Orleans but are not common.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Fudges Creek is both a town and a stream that runs through it in central West Virginia. The town is forty miles west of the state capital, Charleston. It's in hilly country with a good deal of coal mining. Some of the earliest oil wells were in the vicinity. (I hope neither of those gave the creek its name.) Until the real estate bust, many rural weekend homes were being built around there. Fudges Creek's water runs into Mud River en route to the Ohio and the Mississippi, which puts some of that fudge right here in New Orleans. The nearest restaurant to Fudges Creek is Sassy's, three miles away in Barboursville.

Food Holidays

Today in the town of Dunmow, Essex, England, it's Flitch Day. Any married couple that can prove to the satisfaction of a mock jury that they have never wished that they were not married get a "flitch" of bacon--half a pork belly. The tradition dates back to 1104, and it still goes on every four years. Big event there.

Deft Dining Rules #287 and #288

No amount of bacon is enough for your appetite.
Only an amount of bacon too small to satisfy your appetite constitutes healthy eating.

Food Calendar

It is National Daiquiri Day. The daiquiri has evolved from a good, slightly sour drink (rum and lime juice, shaken with ice and something sweet) to a frozen slush for adults, flavored with almost anything you can think of. Drive-through daiquiri stands have become a commonplace, against all conceivable logic. The answer to the question, "Where's the best daiquiri in town?" is "False." The daiquiri is named for a spot on the southern coast of Cuba, near Santiago. The drink is said to have been concocted there around 1905, after the American invasion of the island.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

I heard a joke about daiquiris from a dishwasher about thirty years ago. Seems that an otolaryngologist stopped in a certain bar near his clinic on the way home every afternoon, and was in the habit of ordering a daiquiri with some crushed pecans on top. One day the bartender ran out of pecans. Not wanting to disappoint the doctor, he went out to buy more, but saw that a hickory tree just outside had some ripe nuts. He picked them, toasted them, and grated them. When the physician took a sip at the drink the bartender made with those nuts, a big smile spread across his face. "This is the most delicious daiquiri I've ever had," he said. "What did you do differently?" The bartender smiled back and said, "Well, that's a hickory daiquiri, doc!"

Food Trademarks

Breyer's Ice Cream became a registered trademark today in 1921. Ah. . . a good excuse to eat a bowl of the stuff.

Food In Music

In 1963 on this date, the Essex had the Number One pop hit with Easier Said Than Done. I couldn't make out the lyrics when I first heard it. It sounded to me that they were singing, "It's easier. . . to eat your candied yak." I still think of eating candied yak every time I hear the song, even though I know better.

Worst Flavor Of The Day

Today in 2002, nineteen millions pounds of beef suspected of being contaminated with e. coli was recalled by ConAgra. And that's not candied yak.

Food Namesakes

Dr. Charles Mayo was born today in 1865. He and his brothers founded the Mayo Clinic. . . Lizzie Borden, who was accused by acquitted of applying forty whacks with an axe to her parents, was born today in 1860. . . French artist Polydore Roux began his life's canvas today in 1792. . . Former major-league pitcher Jimmy Gobble was born today in 1981.

Words To Eat By

"The difference between a rather average cook and a chef is that the chef is never really satisfied with what he is serving. He is constantly trying to achieve the high expectation he has set for himself. He is seeking to develop his palate and to enhance the skills of his palate through cooking, travel, and just being open."--Bradley Ogden, San Francisco restaurateur.

Words To Drink By

"An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do."--Dylan Thomas.