August 11

It's National Green Onions Day

Owen Brennan and Pogo. Robert The Bruce. Franklin Stove. Vietnam. Green Onions. Chili. Soubise Sauce. Superdome.

Days Until. . .

Coolinary Summer Specials End 34 Three-course dinners $39 (or less). All the menus can be found here.

Today's Flavor

Today is National Green Onions Day. Green onions are miraculous, especially when used as a last touch to a dish that needs a certain something. They don't work universally (nothing does), but I find myself sprinkling green onions almost as often as salt and pepper when I'm finishing a savory dish.Green onions are nothing more than the first shoots of regular onions. They have a good taste, but not especially a strong one. Certainly not as assertive as mature yellow onions or garlic. In their raw or near-raw state, they have a pleasing sharpness accented with a peppery quality. Their magic lies as much in their fresh crunch as their flavor. They enliven the food they garnish without really altering its flavor.Crispness and vivid fresh flavor is what you want from green onions. The smaller the stalks, the better the taste. The flavor and texture of green onions change from top to bottom. The top parts are tough; be ruthless about disposing of them. By contrast, as you approach the white end, the flavor sharpens dramatically.Green onions were once commonly called "shallots" around New Orleans, but that's dying out as we use more real shallots in our cooking. "Scallions" is another, more accurate word for them.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Chili is a small farm town in north central Indiana, in the center of corn country. It's sixty-five miles west-southwest of Fort Wayne, home of the annual Chilifest in October. Chili is where Washonis and Flower Creeks flow into the Eel River, which marks a spot where the Wisconsin Glacier once stopped and melted. The Eel is a tributary of the Wabash River, whose waters make it all the way to New Orleans. Chili's good people mostly cook and eat at home, but if you must go to a restaurant from there it's only four miles west to Denver, and the Denver Hotspot Restaurant.

Edible Dictionary

soubise, [soo-BEESS], (French), adj.--An onion-flavored sauce from classic French cookery, named for the gourmet Charles de Rohan, the Prince of Soubise in France in the 1700s. It has become uncommon. The last time I saw a soubise sauce, it was served with a poached egg dish at brunch at Commander's Palace. It's made by cooking sliced onions slowly in butter for just under an hour, adding bechamel, straining the mixture, then enriching it with heavy cream. It could be ripe for a revival with the likes of panneed veal, or perhaps with a fish. Or maybe it will just become extinct.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

Green onions should never be put through a food processor if you're using them as garnish; you must slice them, as thinly as you can, using a very sharp knife or kitchen shears, immediately before adding them.

Restaurants In The Comics

Today in 1953, in Walt Kelly's brilliant satirical comic strip Pogo, Pogo (a possum) pushed a flatboat through the swamp with his friend Albert (an alligator). The boat had different name each time it showed up. New Orleanians perked up when they saw this one: "The S.S. Owen Brennan." Owen Brennan was the founder of the Brennan restaurant business--the brother of Ella, Dick, John. Adelaide, and Dottie Brennan. Walt Kelly was one of Owen's thousands of friends. Kelly has another New Orleans connection: he drew Jayson, the Jesuit Blue Jay. Kelly's artwork is still emblazoned on nearly everything at Jesuit High School.

Food Coincidences Through History

Robert the Bruce, heroic king of Scotland from 1306 to 1329, was born today in 1274. A different Robert Bruce, the grandson of Willie Maylie (who owned the restaurant of the same name) was the only executive chef in the history of the now-gone New Orleans location of Smith and Wollensky. Which was where Maylie's used to be. And so. . . well, see if you can think of something. I've lost track of Robert Bruce lately.

Food Inventions

Today in 1742, Benjamin Franklin introduced what became known as the Franklin stove. It wasn't really a stove, but a fireplace. It used fuel more efficiently and radiated more heat into the room. His original had smoke problems, but they were resolved by other inventors. The Franklin stove was in wide use by the turn of the century. Franklin intentionally did not patent the invention, wanting it to go immediately into the public domain. When's the last time you heard any inventor do that?

Food In Politics

Today in 1995, President Bill Clinton ordered full diplomatic relations to resume between the United States and Vietnam, thereby opening the way for bubble tea to be introduced to American eaters.

Annals Of Food Research

This is the birthday, in 1858, of Christiaan Eijkman, who discovered that a lack of vitamins in your food can make you sick. Specifically, he found that people who ate a diet mostly of polished white rice got a weakening disease called beriberi. It could be prevented by eating brown rice. Or taking Vitamin B.

Food Namesakes

Jim Kale, the bass guitarist with the rock group Guess Who?, was born today in 1943. . . Speaking of leafy, thick greens, Catherine Collard, a classical pianist, was born today in 1947. . . David Rice Atchison, who organized the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, was born today in 1807. He was a U.S. Senator, and president pro tempore of the Senate. He was officially President of the United States for one day, when Zachary Taylor, not wanting to be inaugurated on a Sunday, caused a vacancy in the chief executive's office. . . Richard Mead, a famous London doctor of his day, was born in 1673 today. . . Pro hockey player Floyd Curry hit the Big Ice today in 1925.

Words To Eat By

"Banish the onion from the kitchen and the pleasure flies with it. Its presence lends color and enchantment to the most modest dish; its absence reduces the rarest delicacy to hopeless insipidity, and dinner to despair."--Elizabeth Robbins Pennell, author of A Guide For The Greedy in the early 1900s.

Words To Drink By

Words To Drink By"A small amount of wine, such as three or four cups, is of benefit for the preservation of the health of human beings and an excellent remedy for most illnesses."--Maimonides, Talmudic scholar of the 1100s.

Annals of Junk Food

Today in 1971, the four years of construction began on the Superdome. At noon, the work crews took a lunch break for Mrs. Drake's sandwiches. The food on the site never reached that height again.