December 5

Prohibition Ends. Jefferson's Wine. Sic Trans Fat Gloria Mundi. Pot Pie. Coffeeville. Brioche. Trillin. Wrigley.

Days Until

Christmas 20. New Year's Eve: 27.

Today's Flavor

This is National Pot Pie Day. The cold weather has settled in, and there's something inherently warming about a pot pie--both in the thought and the eating of it. Second, we still have a lot of turkey to get rid of from Thanksgiving. Especially the dark meat, which with its bigger flavor and chunkier pieces, are perfect for pot pie. Pot pies have gone out of vogue, and I think I know why. The pastry used for them is too firm and yucky. And the filling doesn't have enough zing. It just sits there in a starchy sauce thickened with too much flour and potatoes, and without enough chunks of meat or vegetables. I think the solution is to use a fluffier pastry than the dense pie crust usually found, and make them smaller. And we ought to use more seasonal vegetables and things that go with pepper. Like beef and oysters together, for example. Carrots. Brussels sprouts. Mushrooms. You will go a long time between sightings of pot pies in restaurants. It doesn't seem like restaurant food to most people, except perhaps in rural areas where home-style cooking is all they know. Even there, the chains have killed so many old cafes that there aren't many left to make pot pies. Reclaim them by making one or two this week.

Drink And The Law

At 4:32 p.m. on this date in 1933, Utah (of all states!) ratified the Twenty-First amendment to the Constitution, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment, and therefore ending fourteen years of Prohibition. We could lift a glass legally again. But not so fast. One of the provisions of the new amendment was that states and localities could continue to make their own laws concerning alcoholic beverages. Out of that came the impossible hodgepodge of local and state rules, some of which defy rationale. (Example: By Louisiana law, a restaurant must pay for deliveries of beer, but not wine or spirits, at the time of delivery.) Prohibition, of course, exacted it own costs, primary among them (from our perspective, anyway) the closing of much of the American wine business.

Annals Of Expensive Bottles Of Wine

Today in 1985, a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite once allegedly owned by Thomas Jefferson sold at auction to Malcolm Forbes for $157,500. That would be insanely cheap nowadays, but I remember that this made headlines back then. I wonder if Forbes ever opened it? Chateau Lafite is one of the first-growth Bordeaux standard-setters, and made in a style that leads to long life. But I don't know about that long.

Annals Of Healthy Eating

Today in 2006, New York City passed a law banning trans-fats in food served in restaurants. They had till 2008 to stop using trans-fats in frying oils. By now, the evil stuff is supposed to be gone from every ingredient. Many thought of this as an outrageous intrusion into personal liberty, but it does address a very real and proven health hazard. The fallout from this has not all landed yet, and other cities are considering the same ban.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Goose Creek, South Carolina 29445 is eighteen miles northwest of Charleston. It's an incorporated (since 1961) suburban community of 36,000 people. The town is named for an actual creek, which meanders wildly through the surrounding Low Country marshes before emptying into the Cooper River. European settlement of the area dates back to at least 1672, but the swampy conditions kept many people from living there permanently until after World War II. The city's main restaurant is Montana's, two blocks from the banks of the creek itself.

Edible Dictionary

quiche, [KEESH], French, n.--Beaten eggs poured into a pastry shell and baked, usually with an assortment of other ingredients interspersed within the eggs. The additives can be just about anything. The most famous quiche, named for the province of Lorraine in France, contain chopped crisp bacon, Gruyere cheese, and green onions. A well-made quiche will be very light and somewhat custardy in texture--different from that of an omelette--and have the perfect balance of other ingredients. It's usually served just barely warm, never hot. Because of the success of Bruce Feirstein's 1982 book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche, the dish has taken on an undeserved reputation as food for wimps and sissies. Many men can't bring themselves to order quiche. Women don't have this problem and can enjoy quiche for what it is: a good light lunch or supper.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Stale brioche is the ultimate main ingredient for pain perdu (French toast, lost bread).

Annals Of Food Writing

Today is the birthday, in 1935, of Calvin Trillin. He's written a great deal about food over the years; his famous book on the subject is Alice, Let's Eat, but he has two others along those lines that he refers to as his "Tummy Trilogy." A recent piece of his in The New Yorker described his passion for a stew served only during Holy Week in a few towns in South America. He writes on many other things; lately, he's been reflecting on his father, his wife, and his being a father. His unique humor makes his words a pleasure to read.

Annals Of Chewing Gum

Today is the birthday of chewing gum magnate Philip K. Wrigley, in 1894. And, coincidentally, on this day in 1905, the trademark of Chiclets--for lozenge-shaped, candy-coated gum, a competitor with Mr. Wrigley's works--was registered.

Food Namesakes

A clothing and paraphernalia store called Apple was opened by the Beatles on this date in 1967, on Baker Street in London. . . Dutch actor Jeroen Krabbé was born today in 1944. . . Rock musician J.J. Cale was born today sometime after midnight on this date in 1938. Now here's something odd. Yesterday we had birthdays both for somebody else named Cale and somebody else named Crabbe. Hmm. . . Honey, a movie about an inner-city girl who wanted to become a choreographer, premiered today in 2003. . . .Sir Arthur William Currie was born today in 1875. He was a Canadian military hero in World War I. . . And Eddy Curry Jr., NBA basketball player, was born today in 1982. . . Today is the feast day of St. John Almond, who lived in Ireland in the 1600s.

Words To Eat By

"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."--Calvin Trillin, born today in 1935. Here are a couple more of his better lines: "I never eat in a restaurant that's over a hundred feet off the ground and won't stand still." "My wife Alice has a weird predilection for limiting our family to three meals a day.”

Words To Drink By

Oh many a peer of England brews Livelier liquor than the Muse, And malt does more than Milton can To justify God's ways to man.--A. E. Housman, 1896.