August 26

It's Stuffed Flounder Day

Columbus. Flounder. Turbot. Lemon Sole. Radio Maker. Bacon. Shellfish.

Days Until. . .

Coolinary Summer Specials End 18

Today's Flavor

Today is Stuffed Flounder Day, celebrating the signature dish of the West End seafood restaurant community. The hurricane laid a quietus on West End. No signs remain that restaurants were ever there--let alone a dozen of them in one block. Almost all of them featured a whole flounder, cut with a half-dozen or so slits across its upward side, and fried or broiled. You could get it stuffed with crabmeat dressing if you liked. If you were lucky, you got what the fishermen referred to as a "doormat"--a really big one, so called for the flounder's habit of lying on its side on the shallow bottom of the lake or Gulf.The West End-style flounder was already in decline before the storm. The population of the fish was diminished, forcing the closing of commercial flounder fishing now and then. Bruning's--the most famous and oldest of the West End restaurants--continued to make whole stuffed flounder its house specialty until all parts of it were blown away by Katrina. Whole flounders are still served here and there. Fury's in Metairie--operated by old West End hand John Fury--has it whenever the fish can be obtained fresh. Middendorf's on the west side of the lake and Vera's in Slidell also have flounder most of the time. We eat it for its deliciousness, but flounder also has the distinction of being the fish lowest in fat of commonly-eaten fish. The full moon in August (last week) is known around New Orleans as the Flounder Moon for this beautiful, round, silvery, delectable denizen of Gulf waters.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Turbotville is in the northeast quadrant of Pennsylvania, a 159-mile drive over the Appalachians from Philadelphia. It's considered a borough, and is surrounded by Lewis Township. Population is around 700 people. It was incorporated in 1859. It's named for a hero of several wars, Colonel Turbutt Francis. The name was later changed to Turbot Township, then Turbortville. A turbot is a flatfish much admired in Europe for its edibility. It's related to our flounder, but that fact has no connection with Turbotville. The place to eat is R&R's Tin Cup, which probably doesn't have turbot on its menu.

Food On The Air

Today is the birthday, in 1873, of Lee DeForest, one of the inventors of the electron tube. That was the critical component in making radio sets that you could listen to without headphones. I wonder if he would have bothered had he known it would make "The Food Show With Tom Fitzmorris" possible

Turning Points In Eating Habits

This is the birthday of Christopher Columbus, in 1451. Whatever else can be said about him, his voyages and their aftermath changed eating habits worldwide--and rather quickly, at that. Starting with his first transatlantic crossing, he brought to Europe New World food that had never been seen there before. Imagine the cuisines of the world without tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and chocolate. More about Columbus on the anniversary of his landing in the Americas.

Edible Dictionary

Lemon sole, n.--A popular fish off the North Atlantic coasts, lemon sole is a flatfish, lying on on side at the bottom of the water with both its eyes looking up, waiting for prey. It is known almost as much for its misleading name as it is for the deliciousness of its fine-textured, white flesh. It is not really a sole, and the word "lemon" is not backed up but any aspect of its looks or its flavor. The name seems to have come from mixups in the French language in describing the rough surface of the fish's skin, or perhaps the silty ocean bottom where it lives. If you like flounder or Dover sole, you'll like lemon sole.

Deft Dining Rule #126

Almost all fish taste better with the skin on and the bones in.

Food Namesakes

Frank Bacon began a Broadway run of over a thousand performances of a play called Lightnin' on this day in 1918. . . Peter Appleyard is a jazz vibraphonist, born today in England in 1928. He played most of his career in Canada.

Words To Eat By

"Shellfish are the prime cause of the decline of morals and the adaptation of an extravagant lifestyle. Indeed of the whole realm of Nature the sea is in many ways the most harmful to the stomach, with its great variety of dishes and tasty fish."-- Pliny the Elder, ancient Roman writer.At last! The decadence of New Orleans is explained!

Words To Drink By

"Ah, the rapturous, wild, and ineffable pleasure of drinking at someone else's expense!"--Henry Sambrook Leigh, British writer of the 1800s.