July 23

It's National Vanilla Ice Cream Day

Robert Parker. Diet Coke. Vanilla Ice Cream. Moon. Cheese Creek. Telephone Wires. Patron Of Gout.

Days Until. . .

Food Calendar

It is National Vanilla Ice Cream Day. Vanilla ice cream is derided by many--especially the chocolate lovers. But try to imagine Baked Alaska, bananas foster, cherries jubilee, mile-high ice cream pie, or apple pie a la mode without it. The best vanilla ice cream in my experience was the French vanilla made by the late Chef Warren Leruth at his revolutionary Gretna restaurant. He claimed that it had an astronomical twenty-five percent butterfat content. He confided to me once that it was actually higher than that. He also made his own vanilla bean extract that had a flavor so wonderful you could almost use it as a perfume. The Leruth formulas are now being made by Ronald Reginald's.The timing is right for this observance. July is National Ice Cream Month, so declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Deft Dining Rule #103

Women who prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate make boring dinner dates.

Annals Of Popular Cuisine

Today is one of several that has been named as the birthday of the ice cream cone. We know the year (1904) and the place (the St. Louis World's Fair), and the story (an ice cream vendor who ran out of cups bought some waffles from a nearby vendor and used them as plates, which people then rolled up), but the names differ. Today's story involves one Charles Menches. Eat an ice cream cone today in honor of whoever is real innovator.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cheese Creek twists and turns through rolling prairieland, emptying in Haines Branch about eight miles southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. From there its water flows in turn into the Salt, Platte, Missouri, and Mississippi Rivers, which sends it on a welcome trip to New Orleans. Cheese Creek rises on the north side of a plateau at 1500 feet. A quarter of a mile south, on the other side of the plateau, is the source of Walnut Creek. Cheese and walnuts: the perfect end of a meal. Although this is sparsely-settled territory, you might be able to get those things at the Denton Daily Double Steakhouse, a mile up the creek in Denton. Or at least blue cheese on the salad.

Edible Dictionary

suppli al telefono, Italian, n.--It translates literally as "telephone wires," a name that will puzzle anyone who's seen but not eaten the dish. These are balls of rice about the size of a golf ball, held together with eggs and sometimes with just enough tomato sauce to make the rice a pale orange. In the center is a cube of mozzarella cheese. The balls are rolled in bread crumbs and fried long enough that the interior is very hot. When you cut into it with a fork and lift the bite to your mouth, festoons of cheese stretch between the ball and the fork. These are supposed to resemble telephone wires. The dish is a common appetizer around Italy, especially in Rome.

People We'd Like To Dine With

It's the birthday in 1930 of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu. He's the founder of a political dynasty, with son Mitch the ex-Mayor, and daughter Mary with a longstanding career in the Senate.

Annals Of Wine Criticism

It's the birthday, in 1947, of the world's most influential wine writer. Robert M. Parker Jr. was an attorney who was so intent on finding and enjoying the best wines that he became a tireless investigator of the viticultural world. He tastes thousands of wines and writes voluminously on the subject in his newsletter, The Wine Advocate. Rating wines on a scale of 100, Parker's reviews became so important that many wine stores began posting his ratings right next to the prices of wines. It became a wine-snob boast to never drink a wine rated below 90 by Parker.Parker's integrity has always been solid. He spurns the hospitality of winemakers and buys the wines he reviews instead of accepting free samples. Nevertheless, he has been under attack in recent years. Some say that his enormous influence has an unnatural effect on the wine world, causing too many winemakers to make wine's to his preferences, just to get high scores and thereby sell more wine. It's not Parker's fault, but that of the winemakers and wine drinkers, who ought to have more confidence in their own tastes.

Annals Of Soft Drinks

Today is the birthday of Diet Coke, introduced today in 1982, and now the biggest-selling diet drink in the world. It now seems such an obvious product one wonders why Coca-Cola was so reluctant to use its vaunted name on it. But when Coca-Cola came out with its first diet cola, they called it Tab. Diet Coke sold far better than Tab ever did. It wasn't just because of intense marketing, but also because it tasted better--sweeter than Tab. Less well known is that Diet Coke was really the first appearance of a the flavor that later appear as New Coke.

The Saints

Today is the feast day of St. Apollinaris, who goes back so far that he's mentioned in Acts. He is the patron saint of those with the gout, that intensely painful joint affliction of (mostly) men who indulge in excellent food, wine, and love.

Food Namesakes

Pitcher Catfish Hunter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today in 1987. . . It's the birthday, in 1947, of 1980s pop singer David Essex, whose real name was David Cook. . . Pro basketballer Darvin Ham dribbled for the first time today in 1973.

Words To Eat By

"I could never understand what Sir Godfrey Teale saw in Jill Bennett, until I saw her at the Caprice eating corn on the cob."--Coral Browne, Australian actor, born today in 1913."Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone."--Jim Fiebig.

Words To Drink By

"None so deaf as those who will not hear.
None so blind as those who will not see.
But I'll wager none so deaf nor blind that he
Sees not nor hears me say, 'Come drink this beer.'"
--W. L. Hassoldt.