September 2



The three-or-four-day Labor Day weekend begins later today, depending on what time you get off work. (I'll have my nose to the radio grindstone all the way until six o'clock.). Labor Day is Monday, traditionally the last day of summer vacation, and the date of the last barbecue of the year in the northern states. Here in New Orleans, we keep on going with the outdoor grill until it just gets too cold and rainy for it to make sense--sometime in late December. My fondest memory of a Labor Day picnic is of a day in 1960 or thereabouts. I was about nine or ten, and my extended family--including several aunts, uncles, and cousins--gathered on the lakefront, near the London Avenue Canal. We all went swimming in Lake Pontchartrain, descending into the water down the steps of the seawall. The water was clear enough that we could see crabs walking on the bottom. The adults sat around drinking Falstaff Beer from cans. On one of those cheap round barbecue pits everybody had then, they cooked hot dogs, chicken, and hamburgers. We all had so much fun that when we packed up to go home, after what seemed like eight hours or so, my mother said to the patch of grass where we'd spent the last eight hours, "Good-bye! See you next year!" But we never did that again, and in a way I'm glad. A Labor Day picnic couldn't possibly be better than that one.

Today's Flavor

This is National Frittata Day. A frittata is an unfolded omelette. The ingredients added to the eggs are usually incorporated into them rather than being enclosed by the finished omelette. They're served flat on a plate when made for one person. Sometimes they're made rather large, with as many as a dozen eggs, then sliced before serving. When made with cheese and the likes of bell peppers, tomatoes, and sausage, it becomes something like a breakfast pizza, with egg instead of the bread crust. The style began in Italy, but has spread into other cuisines.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

The best frittatas start on top of the stove and end in the oven. This is how restaurant chefs cook a lot of things, and it may be the biggest difference between restaurant food and home cooking.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Apple Street runs parallel to S. Claiborne Avenue for a dozen blocks, from S. Carrollton Avenue to the Jefferson Parish line, It's one of a half-dozen streets in that neighborhood named for fruit trees. It's the continuation of the better-known Fontainebleau Drive. No restaurants are on Apple Street, but it's only four blocks from Ye Olde College Inn, the neighborhood's most famous restaurant. It's two more blocks to Mikimoto, a good sushi bar.

Edible Dictionary

shortbread, n.--shortbreadA cookie made with one cup of sugar, two cups (a pound) of butter, and three cups of flour. All of these ingredients are mixed together until no powdery consistency remains, and everything is clumped up into small morsels about the size of grits. This is where the name comes from. "Short," in a now-obsolete usage, meant flour that and fat that had become crumbly. The buttery crumbs are formed into a cookie shape and baked at a very low temperature (as low as 250 degrees) until they've formed into hard cookies. The low temperature leaves them a very pale color. Sometimes the shortbreads are sprinkled with sugar on top. They are deceptively rich, what with all that butter.

Deft Dining Rule #130

Grits are delicious, but hash browns go better with an omelette.

Food And Sports

Eddie Price was born today in 1925. He was a major football hero during his years at Tulane. He went on to have a professional career with the New York Giants. After he retired, he opened a restaurant and bar on the corner of Broadway and Zimpel, near the Tulane campus. It was open twenty-four hours and was a major hangout for Tulanians in the 1960s and 1970s. Eddie Price's was the place I ever played a pinball machine that would pay off. Eddie handed me the $5.75 I won on one of his nickel-a-play, no-flipper machines himself, in 1968. He was the father of the recently deposed mayor of Mandeville, Louisiana.

Dining On The High Seas

Today in 1985, after decades of fruitless searching, the wreck of the Titanic was found on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery fired off a swell of interest in the luxurious ship. The dining rooms for the first-class passengers were alleged to have been magnificent. The cruise ships of today are much larger than the Titanic and incomparably more luxurious--to say nothing of being more egalitarian. The only ships on which the classes are kept apart now are the Cunard ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. The Queen's Grill and Princess Grill passengers have their own dining rooms and even their own section of the deck. But even the hoi-polloi live very well on those ships.

Food In Show Biz

Meinhardt Raabe was born today in 1915, but he never got a lot bigger. He played the Munchkin coroner who declared the Wicked Witch of the East dead in The Wizard of Oz. He went on to work for the Oscar Meyer wiener outfit, portraying Little Oscar, the World's Smallest Chef. He traveled around the country in the original Wienermobile in the 1930s. He wrote an autobiography, and he still turned up on television now and then. He also has a food name: raab is one of the words for the vegetable also known as broccoli di rape.

Great Food Disasters

Today in 1666, a baker who lived on Pudding Lane in London started a fire that spread to the entire city. It ultimately burned down over 10,000 houses, and became known as The Great Fire. Ironically, a pudding maker named Tommy Tucker who lived on Baker Street was one of its victims.

Food Namesakes

William Frye, who represented Maine in Congress from 1870 to 1911, was elected to life today in 1830. . . Jim DeMint, the current U.S. Senator from South Carolina, was born today in 1951. . . Grady Nutt, a comedian and Baptist preacher, made his mother smile today in 1934 by being born. This is the second day in a row we've had someone named Nutt in this department.

Words To Eat By

"He that but looketh on a plate of ham and eggs to lust after it hath already committed breakfast with it in his heart."--C.S. Lewis.

Words To Drink By

"Whoever takes just plain ginger ale soon gets drowned out of the conversation."--Kin Hubbard, cartoonist and humorist, 1868-1930.