August 8

Zucchini

Days Until. . .

Coolinary Summer Specials End 25 Three-course dinners $39 (or less). All the menus can be found here.

Today's Flavor

Today is allegedly National Frozen Custard Day. Frozen custard is not something we recognize around New Orleans, despite the efforts of the late Chef Warren LeRuth to introduce it in his Chelsey's in the 1980s. Frozen custard is a variation of soft-serve ice cream, but the softness is provided by eggs in the mix. It's good stuff, and very popular in St. Louis. ZucchiniFrom the same web sources we learn that it's National Zucchini Day. From the same web sources we learn that it's National Zucchini Day. I am about to say something terrible about zucchini: they really don't have much in the way of flavor. I believe we serve them only to have a vegetable on the plate, or as a carrier for something that does have flavor (i.e., garlic butter or a seafood stuffing), or to add some color to a bread.

Today's Aroma

Remember those purple-printed mimeograph copies that schools used in the 1950s and 1960s? When the teacher passed out freshly-printed mimeograph copies of a test, some kids sniffed the strangely appealing (to them) odor and rolled their eyes back. The mimeograph process was patented on this date in 1876, by none other than Thomas Edison.

Methods Of Payment

DollarSignOn this day in 1786, Congress officially named the dollar as the United States currency and the decimal system of splitting it up. As late as the 1940s, a dollar could buy you a complete plate dinner in almost any restaurant in New Orleans. I don't know when the last dinner for a dollar became extinct, but quite a few such opportunities persisted into the mid-1970s: red beans and sausage at Buster Holmes, dinner specials at the Camellia Grill, and lunch platters at Mother's were among them.

Annals Of Food Storage

The first refrigerator for home use was patented today in 1899. The inventor was A.T. Marshall of Brockton, Massachusetts. It would not be until after World War I that the device became common in American homes, but it changed the way we buy food, and therefore the way we eat. Previously, anything perishable had to be bought the day you wanted to cook it, making daily shopping a necessity. That habit that lived on long after refrigerators became commonplace. When I was a kid in the 1950s, almost every neighborhood in New Orleans had at least a small grocery store within walking distance to serve that need. Within a decade, that business was nearly dead, replaced by stores designed to provide you with a week's worth of meat, dairy products, or anything else. It was more convenient, but we paid a price in certain areas. Eggs, meats, and seafood in the home would, on average, never be as fresh again.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Fryer, Kentucky (and what a perfect state to have a town of with name!) is a rural crossroads in the western part of the state, fifty-eight miles from Paducah. Its in a valley full of farm fields between two green-hill ridges that rise about 300 feet above it. A very pretty place, full of running streams and ponds. The nearest restaurant of note is the Family Place, ten miles away in Dawson Springs. I hope they have good fried chicken.

Edible Dictionary

Broasted chicken, n.--A recipe for marinating chicken which is then fried under pressure. The recipe, the equipment, and the word "Broasted" are all patented trademarks of a Wisconsin company that has been franchising the technique since the middle 1950s. Broasting was my first cooking gig, at the Time Saver on Jefferson Highway in River Ridge, one of a small number of locations where you could get Broasted chicken. The pieces were standard, but the coating was softer and not what you could call crisp. The chicken itself is quite good. Whenever I encounter Broasters on the road, I always try it again. It always tastes the same as it did in my teen years.

Food Namesakes

Don Cook, who wrote a number of books on American history, was born today in 1920. . . Veronese actor and lyric tenor Nino Martini was born today in 1905. He once did two concerts a week on CBS Radio. . . Carl Switzer, who played the character Alfalfa in the Our Gang movies, was born today in 1927. . . Astros infielder Mike Lamb took his first swing today in 1975.

Words To Eat By

"The first zucchini I ever saw I killed it with a hoe."--John Gould, Maine writer.

Words To Drink By

All animals are strictly dry; They sinless live and swiftly die, While sinful, gleeful, rum-soaked men Survive for three score years and ten. And some of us--a mighty few-- Stay pickled 'till we're ninety-two. --A toast given by Harlan F. Stone,twelfth Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.