July 24

Tequila

Today is the anniversary of the 1905 opening of<strong> Angelo Brocato's</strong> ice cream parlor. Brocato began a career of making ice cream in his native Palermo when he was twelve. He immigrated to New Orleans in the early 1900s, and set about realizing a dream: to open his own gelateria as fine as the ones he remembered in Sicily. He did that with a classic parlor on Ursulines Street in the French Quarter in 1905. The original Angelo Brocato's remained there until the 1980s, when it moved to North Carrollton Avenue just off Canal. By that time the business was in the third generation of the Brocato family, and had become the gold standard for its spumone, cannoli, cassata, lemon ice, cookies, and dozens of other confections. They were in the throes of celebrating their one hundredth anniversary when the storm came, flooded their parlor and factory deeply. Brocato's came back, though, picking up right where it left off, to the great delight of ice cream lovers.

Days Until. . .

Annals Of Gelato

Today is the anniversary of the 1905 opening of Angelo Brocato's ice cream parlor. Brocato began a career of making ice cream in his native Palermo when he was twelve. He immigrated to New Orleans in the early 1900s, and set about realizing a dream: to open his own gelateria as fine as the ones he remembered in Sicily. He did that with a classic parlor on Ursulines Street in the French Quarter in 1905. The original Angelo Brocato's remained there until the 1980s, when it moved to North Carrollton Avenue just off Canal. By that time the business was in the third generation of the Brocato family, and had become the gold standard for its spumone, cannoli, cassata, lemon ice, cookies, and dozens of other confections. They were in the throes of celebrating their one hundredth anniversary when the storm came, flooded their parlor and factory deeply. Brocato's came back, though, picking up right where it left off, to the great delight of ice cream lovers.

Drinking Calendar

Today is National Tequila Day. Tequila is growing in popularity every year, thanks largely to the many new tequilas hitting the market with their many claims to excellence. The best tequila is made by distilling the fermented juice of the blue agave, a desert plant that grows in Mexico and the Southwest United States. (Cheaper tequilas are not always made entirely from agave.) As is true of the better Cognacs, Scotches, and Bourbons, the quality factor in tequila comes from selecting which agave from which locations are used, how carefully the distillation process is, and how long the spirit is aged. As better tequilas come along, aficionados of the stuff grow ever more enthusiastic and particular. And tequila gets ever more expensive. It's not unheard of for super-premium tequilas going for $50 a shot. I think we've been fooled into thinking this is worthwhile.

Edible Dictionary

caffe latte, [LAH-tay], Italian, n.--In Italy, this method of serving coffee blends strong coffee with hot milk. It's virtually identical to French and New Orleans cafe au lait. Caffe latte is most commonly drunk with breakfast in Italy, and at no other time. In this country, the term has come to represent something well along the way to cappuccino. The coffee for American caffe latte is espresso, and the milk is foamed. The Italians call this concoction caffe macchiato. The new-style American coffeehouses of the past couple of decades made this variety of caffe latte so popular that it's usually ordered with just the word "latte." That means "milk" in Italian. If you order "latte" in Italy, you get a glass of milk. In any case, and I hate to say it, but theirs is better than ours. No place in the world makes better coffee of any kind than what is found in Italian.

Gourmet Gazetteer

There are two Fry Pan Creeks in Idaho. This one is at the base of the panhandle, in the mountainous Nez Perce National Forest, less than ten miles west of the Continental Divide. The creek drains a small lake at 7114 feet, then descends 3400 feet in seven miles to Cub Creek. All of this is in the headwaters of the Snake River, the major tributary of the Columbia. You are far away from civilization on Fry Pan Creek, although you might catch some fish in it. The nearest restaurant is a strenuous twenty-five-mile hike over the Divide to Darby, Montana. There you find not only Trapper's Restaurant, but a golf club and resort.

Annals Of Food Writing

This is the birthday, in 1802, of the French writer Alexandre Dumas. Although he is best known for his famous stories The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, he also write extensively about food and wine. His great work in that field was Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine, in which he not only held forth in numerous articles about the art of eating, but also had copious notes about wines.

Food And Politics

Today in 1959, Richard Nixon (then the Vice-President) and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev had a heated discussion while touring a kitchen in Moscow. The event became known as the Kitchen Debate, and kicked up a lot of favorable publicity for Nixon. In an unrelated coincidence fifteen years later on this same date, Nixon was ordered by the Supreme Court to turn over sixty-four subpoenaed White House tapes.

Annals Of Bad Coffee

Nescafe, the first commercially successful instant coffee, hit the Swiss market today in 1938. The process took eight months for the Nestle Company to get right. What happens is that brewed coffee is sprayed into a heated stainless-steel cylinder, where all the water evaporates and crystals of coffee are left behind. This is something like letting your coffee dry up to a crust at the bottom of the pot (and we've all done this), then adding water to it and swirling it around till the crust dissolved again. Why anyone would buy that strictly for the slight convenience advantage is incomprehensible.

Food Namesakes

Bob Lemon, a pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, hit two home runs today in 1949. Unusual for a pitcher to hit one homer a year, let alone two in one game. . . John Partridge, British actor and singer best known for his performance in Cats, was born today in 1971. . . Banana Yoshimoto, a Japanese novelist, was born today in 1964. Her real name is Mahoko.

Words To Eat By

Today is the birthday, in 1842, of Ambrose Bierce, an American satirical writer whose book The Devil's Dictionary has provided us with more than a few quotations for this department. Among them: "Cabbage, n.: A familiar kitchen-garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man's head." "Chop, n.: A piece of leather skillfully attached to a bone and administered to the patients at restaurants." "Custard, n.: A detestable substance produced by a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow and the cook." "Edible, adj.: Good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm." "Fork, n.: An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth." "Mayonnaise, n.: One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion." "Rarebit, n.: A Welsh rabbit, in the speech of the humorless, who point out that it is not a rabbit. To whom it may be solemnly explained that the comestible known as toad-in-the-hole is really not a toad, and that ris de veau à la financière is not the smile of a calf prepared after the recipe of a she-banker."

Words To Drink By

"One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor."--George Carlin.