November 23

Spaghetti With Hog Jowls. Espresso. Hogjowl Creek.Salmon Man. Long Commercials. The Return Of Food. Jukebox.

Days Until. . .

Christmas--32
New Year's--39

Chef d'Oeuvre du Jour

Salmon with Choucroute and Gewurztraminer Sauce @ Bayona, French Quarter: 430 Dauphine. 504-525-4455. As good as Bayona has been during its entire eighteen-year history, it seems to me that it's improved since the hurricane. One index of that is what happened to this dish, a standard on Chef Susan Spicer's menu since opening day. The salmon is now routinely wild-caught Pacific salmon. That's exceptional here; I know of only one other restaurant that offers that incomparably superior salmon all the time.

The dish itself always was good. Its flavor is that of Alsace, the ancestral home of the spicy, white Gewurztraminer grape. That's the flavor of the sauce. The salmon is encrusted with bread crumbs, then semi-panneed in butter. Although Alsace is long part of France, it has been German in its history as well, and you see that influence in the food. Choucroute is French sauerkraut. I've been to restaurants in Alsace and had this very dish there, and Susan has it nailed. Every time I order it, my mind is prousted back to Colmar. This is one of NOMenu's 500 Best Dishes in New Orleans Restaurants. The entire list is here

Gourmet Gazetteer

Dining Fork, Ohio is the unpopulated junction of State Highways 212 and 332, in the hilly eastern part of the state, fifty miles from Canton, Ohio. Eat at Hugo's, a half-mile east, and ask them to explain the significance of the name Dining Fork.

Edible Dictionary

figgy pudding, n.--A British holiday treat, best known for its being mentioned in the second stanza of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas," after which it completely takes over the song. Figgy pudding is a variant of plum pudding, a dense, cake-like confection riddled with spices and dried fruits. It's more of a tradition in England than here. There, the preparation of the pudding takes at least weeks and sometimes a whole year. The ritual stirring of the ingredients is a big party. The Royal Sonesta Hotel here used to hold such a pudding-stirring party for all the town's media hacks (which is why I know about it). Then the pudding is set out to age, traditionally in a cloth bag hanging from a hook. It's served flaming in rum. Its flavor is like that of a very moist fruitcake.

Annals Of Cold Cuts

This is the birthday, in 2003, of the world’s longest salami. It was 1,597 feet long, and made in Italy by Rino Parenti and Pro-Loco Zibello. Now, for eighty points, how many muffulettas will that make?

Food Calendar

Today is National Espresso Day. You can't understand espresso until you make your first trip to Italy. That's where it was invented, originally so workers could get an intense burst of coffee in a swallow or two and get right back to work. (Italians save lingering over coffee for their extended mealtimes.) It's made with very dark roasted coffee ground into a powder. Hot water under steam pressure is forced through these grinds, and it extracts an intensely flavorful brew.

In Italy, a serving of espresso contains about half the volume of what's served in this country. It is also much more intense in flavor. Because it employs the best quality of coffee, it is never, ever served with a lemon peel. Italians put quite a bit of sugar into their espresso, and consider it weird if you don't.

Deft Dining Rule #606

If the flavor of an espresso doesn't linger at least thirty minutes after you drink it, it wasn't a well-made espresso.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez

If you want to see whether your cappuccino is made well, sprinkle a packet of sugar across the top of the milk foam and watch what happens. In a good one, the sugar will first move toward the center, then fall down a small hole in the foam made by the collective weight of the sugar. Try it!

Annals Of Salmon

Dr. Archibald Huntsman, a Canadian expert of fisheries and the ecology in which they occur, was born today in 1883. His research on Atlantic salmon was definitive, but he was interested in all kinds of marine animals, and studied fine points like the ways in which fish get tired. Huntsman was also an innovator in processing, freezing, and packaging fish.

Food On Television

In 1982, the FCC discarded its regulations about how long a television commercial could be, thereby opening the door for those fabulous infomercials showing Chef Tony demonstrating knives by cutting dozens of pounds of perfectly good food and then throwing it all away.

Food In War And Peace

On this date in 1945, almost all food rationing ended in the United States. World War II was over. Rationing would go on much longer in England and the rest of Europe.

Music To Dine By

The first jukebox was put into service on this date in 1889, at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. It played Edison cylinder recordings for a nickel. It it took in a thousand dollars in its first six months. Jukeboxes were at one time universal in all but the fanciest restaurants. Now they're the province of neighborhood cafes, and not many of those. Many great old jukeboxes were destroyed by the hurricane, including the one at the Crescent City Steak House, which had some Al Jolson records. The best jukebox in a New Orleans restaurant now is at Pizza Man of Covington.

Food Namesakes

Jerry Bock, who wrote the music for Fiddler on the Roof, was born today in 1928. . . Vin Baker, a professional basketballer, came to life in 1971 on this date. . . Adam Eaton, a pitcher for the Padres, celebrates his birthday today (1977). . . Music producer John "Jellybean" Benitez was born today in 1957.

Words To Eat By

"Even during the rationing period, during World War II, we didn't have the anxiety that we'd starve, because we grew our own potatoes. And our own hogs, and our own cows and stuff, you know."--James Earl Jones.

Words To Drink By

"Brewing espresso, unlike other methods of brewing coffee, is rocket science."--Kevin Knox and Julie Sheldon Huffaker, authors of Coffee Basics, a book on the subject.