October 30

Chef Gunter. Pandoro. Birdseye's Peas. Candy Corn. Cochon de Lait. Pig. Boucherie. Fruit Trees.

Days Until. . .

Halloween 2

Our Outstanding Chefs

Today is the seventy-fifth birthday of Chef Gunter Preuss, the longtime owner of Broussard's. He retired only last year (2013) when he sold the grande dame restaurant to its present owners. He was born in Berlin in 1936, which must have been. . . interesting. He came to New Orleans in the middle 1960s, and developed the menu for the Sazerac restaurant in the Roosevelt (later the Fairmont) Hotel, when the restaurant was a glittering new addition to the hotel's dining options. He later opened his own restaurant, the five-star Versailles on St. Charles Avenue, in 1972. Eleven years later, Gunter and a partner bought Broussard's. As time went on he bought out the partner, closed the Versailles, and focused on Broussard's. The restaurant came a long way under Gunter, cooking New Orleans food with European polish. A bon vivant, Gunter and his wife live in the Quarter and are dedicated Orleanians, still showing up at Broussard's often.

Food Inventions

Today in 1894 Domenico Melegatti won an Italian patent on an apparatus for producing pandoro on a commercial scale. Pandoro is a rich, eggy, sweet, yeast cake that looks sort of like a bundt. It's name means "bread of gold," and its was so expensive to make in the days before easily-available sugar that it was only on the tables of the nobility. Now we can all enjoy it, along with its close cousin pannetone. Both of them are traditional Italian treats around the holidays.

Today's Flavor

This is Cochon de Lait Day. Cochon de lait is a small pig, still suckling its mother's milk (hence the name). It's roasted whole over an open fire. It's a mainstay of festivals at this time of year throughout Southeast Louisiana. My direct experience with it came from roasting them at Boy Scout campouts. One of the other dads had rigged up a rotisserie, and the forty-pound pig roasted on it from eight in the morning until about five in the afternoon. What came out was eminently tender, smoky, and wonderful. Forty pounds might be a bit large for cochon de lait, but the idea is the same. The typical way to roast them is to butterfly the pig on a flat metal rack, which is then propped up in front of the fire and turned every now and then. Such a process goes beyond what most restaurants want to undertake. Very few restaurants offer cochon de lait these days. The most prominent is Donald Link's appropriately named Cochon, where the whole idea is to recapitulate all that Cajun butcher shop cookery in the Acadiana. If you want to try it yourself, the hard part is getting a pig. Langenstein's will order one for you. I like the product, but having watched the process a few times I must say it's not something I'm inclined to perform myself--even though my wife has been badgering me for years to dig a pit and try. She may ultimately win out, but I hope not. Today is also to be National Candy Corn Day. A great deal of candy corn has been purchased for distribution tomorrow across America. Candy corn is another one of those foods (to stretch the definition) like blue cheese, liver, and anchovies: you either love it or you hate it.

Annals Of Popular Cuisine

Today in 1952, Clarence Birdseye--the inventor of frozen food as we know it--presented his new frozen peas to a waiting world. Peas became much more popular after they didn't need to be shelled. . . Today in 1989, the Smith Dairy of Orrville, Ohio made the world's record milk shake: 1575 gallons. The flavor is unknown.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Candy Town, Ohio is a campsite in the woods about sixty-two miles southeast of Columbus, off US 33. Nothing appears on the aerial shot but a small loop on a road leading to an old dump. (I am not making fun: the road leading to the dump is called Old Dump Road.) Somehow, this all adds up to a place where lovers could find some privacy, but I'm only guessing. Perhaps before you head to Candy Town, you might have a nice dinner at the Rhapsody Restaurant, a mile away in Nelsonville.

Edible Dictionary

strata, n.--Strata--the Latin word for "layers"--are (is?) an egg dish that's somewhere between an omelette and a quiche. It's baked in a casserole dish in layers made with bread, beaten eggs, cheese, and meats or vegetables. As with omelettes, almost any meats or vegetables can be used. Many strata, no doubt, were baked in an effort to use up leftovers. When finished, the strata can be cut into squares and served either cold or hot. Strata can be made sweet (coming out sort of like a bread pudding), but they're most commonly made savory as an alternative for breakfast. They're most popular in the Midwest and on the West Coast.

Deft Dining Rule #901

Cochon de lait roasted by a bunch of guys standing around an open pit drinking beer will always be incomparably better than that which comes from a restaurant.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

Slow and low is the most delicious way to cook a whole pig. But too slow and too low will kill you.

Annals Of Food Writing

Andrew Jackson Downing, who wrote about landscaping in the early 1800s, was born today in 1815. His landmark book was The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America. He was an influence on Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed many of the major American city parks.

Food Namesakes

Today in 1974, pitcher Catfish Hunter won the American League Cy Young Award. . . Television actor Ken Berry was born today in 1933. . . . The man who created the Little Golden Books we all read as children, Albert Rice Leventhal, was born today in 1907. . . American actor Rex Cherryman took The Big Stage today in 1897.

Words To Eat By

"Any part of the piggy Is quite all right with me Ham from Westphalia, ham from Parma Ham as lean as the Dalai Lama Ham from Virginia, ham from York, Trotters, sausages, hot roast pork. Crackling crisp for my teeth to grind on Bacon with or without the rind on Though humanitarian I'm not a vegetarian. I'm neither crank nor prude nor prig And though it may sound infra dig Any part of the darling pig Is perfectly fine with me."--Noel Coward, British songwriter.

Words To Drink By

“Cigarettes and coffee: an alcoholic's best friend!”--Gerard Way. And then, out he goes for a Big Mac.