September 3

It's National Barbecue Baby Back Ribs Day

Baby Back Ribs. Barbecue. Welsh Rarebit. Pheasant. Oil Change.

Days Until. . .

Coolinary ends 10

Chef d'Oeuvre du JourToday's Flavor

This is National Barbecue Baby Back Ribs Day. Baby backs are, as the name implies, the small ribs that come from the rear of its spinal column. They contain a higher proportion of meat to bone than spareribs or St. Louis style ribs. They're also not as fatty. This is why baby back ribs are controversial. Some people like them better than spareribs, and some say they're inferior. But they're looking for different qualities.

Baby backs can be cooked many ways. You can bake them in the oven (preferably wrapped with aluminum foil in the early stages), grill them, barbecue them, or smoke them. Or combine two techniques--start their cooking in the oven, then finishing them on a hot charcoal grill. In my opinion, the best way by far is to season the racks with Creole seasoning, then let them smoke for a few hours. Don't let barbecue sauce get anywhere near them until they're finished cooking. The worst way is to boil them then grill them over a hot fire, which is what most restaurants do. But some people even like those, because the meat slides right off the bones.

Ribs are a great Labor Day dish. Perfect timing.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

From beginner to professional, no two barbecue cooks agree on what constitutes "real" barbecue.

Edible Dictionary

saddle, n.--A cut of meat coming from behind the end of the rib roast and extending back, on both sides of the backbone. A saddle can be cut from mammals as small as a rabbit to as large as a cow. The saddle usually includes both tenderloins, and sometimes part or all of the sirloin. In smaller animals, it includes everything to the tail. A saddle can be cooked and carved whole for a grand presentation at a large banquet. A saddle of beef or venison is also known (especially in England) as a baron.

Deft Dining Rule #250:

Rule #15: No smoke, no barbecue.

Food Calendar

And it's also Welsh Rarebit Day. It's pronounced rabbit, a little joke on the Welsh, who turned it around by changing the spelling. It's a potentially disgusting mixture of cheese (Cheddar, usually), mustard, beer, butter, flour, and pepper, served warm for spreading on bread. My best advice about Welsh rarebit: avoid it.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Pheasant, Texas is an uninhabited place in the middle of vast acreage of rice paddies, just in from the Gulf Coast. It's about a hundred miles southwest of Houston. Pheasant may well show up in those fields, what with all the small animals pheasant like to eat in those environs. If you found yourself out there and hungry, it's a six-mile drive south to Palacios, where is Baytown Seafood. Might even get some rice-loving crawfish there in season.

Food In Music

Tom Glazer was born today in 1914. He sang and wrote the words of a children's song I'll bet you know: On Top Of Spaghetti, sung to the melody of On Top Of Old Smokey. If you don't remember the plot. It has to do with where the meatball got off to.

Annals Of Food Technology

Today in 2002, McDonald's changed the oil in which it fried potatoes. If you're thinking "it's about time!" that's not what I mean. They shifted from a high-trans-fats shortening to a combination of corn and soybean oils. This improved the quality of the fries--although they still were much inferior to McD fries in the glory years. Back then, they used rendered beef fat for frying fresh potatoes cut on the premises. The quality has gone steadily downward since then.

Annals Of America

Today in 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed by the governments of the United States and Great Britain, making official the results of the Revolutionary War. It was the day Americans sort of went to act of sale on their new country and moved in for good. Something else to celebrate with the ribs, hamburgers, and hot dogs this weekend.

Food Namesakes

Donald Brewer, the drummer for the 1970s group Grand Funk, was born today in 1948. . . Early MTV video jock Adam Curry introduced his life today in 1964. . . Cherry Barbara Grimm, who wrote fantasy novels under the name Cherry Wilder, had her own first page today in 1930. . . Jason "Cone" McCaslin, bassist with the pop band Sum 41, was born today in 1980. . . Race car drive Nino Farina won the 1950 Italian Grand Prix, driving a Formula One car. . . Basil Butcher--who has a rare double food name--was born today in 1933. He was a professional cricket player.

Words To Eat By

"Around here, grillin's grillin' and barbecue is, well--sigh, sweat--what dinin' in heaven's got to be all about."--Jane Garvey, American wine writer.

Words To Drink Beer By

"Show me a nation whose national beverage is beer, and I'll show you an advanced toilet technology."--Paul Hawkins, British politician.