November 26

Grilled Oysters. First Thanksgiving. Bacon, New York. Brochette. Refrigerator Car.

Days Until

New Year's--35

Feasting Through History

Today in 1789, Americans celebrated the first Thanksgiving. President George Washington proclaimed the day of gratitude for a multitude of things, chief among them the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. In those days, big feasts--even bigger than what we do now--were the way one celebrated matters like this. So was born the dinner that has always been the hallmark of Thanksgiving Day. Today in 1846 Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of a woman's magazine, began a campaign to have Thanksgiving declared a permanent national holiday. She would persuade Abraham Lincoln to do so in 1863--again, on this very date.

Food Calendar

This is Grilled Oysters Day. At this time of year in the Gulf of Mexico, the water has cooled enough for oysters to leave their spawning days behind and start bulking up. They stand up to a grilling without shrinking dramatically. Grilling oysters on the shell is nothing new, but some fifteen years ago Drago's version became a legendary dining phenomenon. Dozens of restaurants have imitated it. The recipe for their char-broiled oysters is simple enough: it's garlic butter with some herbs, pepper, and parmesan cheese on top. Some of the butter runs off the sides of the shells and flames up in the open fire, licking over the tops of the oysters and leaving behind a smoky flavor. You can make them at home if you have a) a good source of oysters, 2) someone to open them, and iii) a really hot grill.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Of the six towns named Turkey around America, three of them are in that small part of the country that has the most food-named places: where Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina come together. Turkey, Kentucky is 120 miles southeast of Frankfort, the state capital. It's five miles away from the intriguing town Shoulderblade. It's on the Terry Fork of Turkey Creek, a tributary of the Kentucky River. The water flows through intermediate rivers all the way to New Orleans. Turkey is at the end of Deadening Hollow. Great names around there. It's hilly country, and the rivers form gulches as much as 400 feet below the summits in the near vicinity. Moonshine, anyone? The nearest restaurants are eleven miles away in Booneville, with the Home Town Cafe sounding most appropriate.

Edible Dictionary

ballottine, [French], n.--A boned meat--usually that of a bird--wrapped around a stuffing or a forcemeat and roasted. Often the stuffing involves another, smaller bird, perhaps more than one. So a chicken could be stuffed with a squab, which is in turn stuffed with a quail. The best-known American version of a ballottine is the Cajun turducken, in which a Cornish hen or chicken is stuffed inside a duck, which in turn is stuffed inside a turkey. All the birds are completely boneless, and layers of stuffings are inserted between the birds. In any of its forms, a ballottine is a chef's showpiece more than it is a culinary masterpiece. Ballottines are often confused with galantines, which are only slightly similar, being pates wrapped with meats and served cold. There is no such thing as a "ballantine," but that word does appear on menus.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you put unopened oysters on a hot grill, they will pop open after a short while. It saves the work of opening them (not an easy job), but it seems to me something is lost in the process.

Annals Of Food Transportation

Today in 1867, J.B. Sutherland patented the refrigerated railroad car. It made possible the shipping of fresh meats and produce across great distances, notably from to the West. The descendants of the refrigerator car--refrigerated shipping containers--can be seen piled up on ships and railroad flatbed cars to this day.

Food Namesakes

The British supergroup Cream (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce) gave its farewell performance at Royal Albert Hall today in 1968. . . Captain James Cook landed on Maui in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii now), the first European to do so. . . American tennis pro Jay Berger served himself up today in 1966. . . American mathematician Norbert Wiener appeared at his origin in 1894. He created the term and concept "cybernetics". . . Robert H. Curry, Louisiana state representative and Civil War veteran, was born today in 1842.

Words To Eat By

"I loved my mother very much, but she was not a good cook. Most turkeys taste better the day after; my mother’s tasted better the day before. In our house Thanksgiving was a time for sorrow."--Rita Rudner, American comedian. "If you don't love life you can't enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea and all its weeds and breezes."--Eleanor Clark, American writer.

Words To Drink By

"How beautiful would be drinking pure water, if it just was a sin!"--Italian folk saying.