November 9

Split Pea. Milk Man. Peapod Rocks. Snow Peas. Pea Soup?

Days Until. . .

Thanksgiving: 15. Christmas: 46. New Year's Eve: 53.

Annals Of Milk

Today is the birthday, in 1801, of Gail Borden, the man who caused the name Borden to be forever associated with dairy products. His great advance was figuring out how to condense milk and can it in a stable form, such that it would remain wholesome without refrigeration. He was generally interested in concentrating all sorts of foods in the same way and for the same reason, but milk was his mainstay.

Today's Flavor

This is National Split Pea Soup Week. I love split pea soup, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered why I could never make it come out the way I like it--which was the way my mother made it. The problem is the ham. I've always added it to the pot, and I've decided that it throws the flavor off, despite the tradition of including it as an ingredient. I use a vegetable stock now. I must also warn you of National Scrapple Day. Now there's a terrible food, made by mixing sausage with cornmeal and re-forming it into another sausage. No wonder its inventor can't be found to explain it.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Popcorn, Indiana is in the southern part of Indiana, just north of the Grits Line. (That means the standard combination breakfast found in roadside cafes will include not grits, but hash browns.) Seventy-four miles southwest of Indianapolis, it's well out in the middle of farmland. Some of those fields do indeed grow the town's namesake maize. A company there has built a brand out of the town's name, and has a website telling about their corn and the history of the town. If popcorn doesn't satisfy your appetite, it's about a four-mile drive up Popcorn Church Road to Arthur's Corner Cafe in Springville.

Edible Dictionary

Newberg, adj.--Often spelled Newburg, this is a rich sauce of cream, eggs, butter, and sherry most often served with lobster meat removed from the shell and cut into chunks. According to John Mariani's Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, it was invented at Delmonico's in New York. A customer named Wenberg gave the recipe for the sauce to the chef there. It became a big hit, but some problem between Wenberg and Delmonico's caused the latter to change the name of the dish. They just swapped two letters, and voila: Newberg. A number of controversies attend the recipe. One is whether the pale orange color comes from tomato or paprika. Another is whether the sauce's thickness comes from adding egg yolks at the end or starting with bechamel. Equally credible authorities can be found on both sides of these questions. What we know for sure is that Newberg dishes have gone far out of style. The only place I know to get it in New Orleans is the Bon Ton Cafe, where they use the sauce with crawfish.

Deft Dining Rule #146:

A restaurant that shells its own fresh peas is almost certainly one of the best restaurants you will ever dine in. Because. . .

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Here's a lost skill: shelling peas. You pull the stem towards the other end of the pod, which will remove a string that holds the two halves of the pod together. The pod will pop open on that side. Then just run your finger under the peas, and have a wide bowl to catch them. This is very calming work that goes on forever, but creates a great environment for conversation among the shellers.

Food Namesakes

Ron Rice, a cornerback for the Detroit Lions, was born today in 1972. . . . Harriet Freezer, the author of a number of controversial books in the Netherlands, was born today in 1911. . . Bakary Soumare, international soccer star, was born in Mali today in 1985.

Words To Eat By

"The difference between roast beef and pea soup is that anyone can roast beef."--Tom Snyder.

Words To Drink By

"Under a bad cloak there is often a good drinker."--Miguel de Cervantes.