December 30

New Year's Eve Eve. Mushrooms, Cream, Pasta. Cabbage Creek. Stuffed Cabbage. Boletes. Coke Man. Girl Scout Cookies.

Days Until. . .

New Year's Eve 1. Carnival Begins 6.

The Fifth Day of Christmas

Five golden rings? This is getting expensive. Also today: five silver bells (Andy Williams), a statue of a naked lady with a clock where her stomach ought to be (Allan Sherman), fried onion rings (Benny Grunch), and five soft-shell crabs (my version).

Food Calendar

Msuhrooms, cream, pasta This is Mushrooms, Cream, And Pasta Day. That's an interesting free-form observance. But it sounds right. Something light in texture (if not in calories and fat) and simple between the feasting of Christmas and the feasting of New Year's Eve. This can be as simple as cooking some onions and parsley in a little olive oil, adding the sliced mushrooms and cooking until they get soft, adding reduced cream from that second saucepan on the back of the stove, a little salt and pepper. Add the cooked fettuccine noodles (or the pappardelle, or even torn rags of sheet pasta) and toss them with the sauce until the pasta is coated. Shaved Grana Padano cheese. Nice. Or, if you want to get ambitious, make a duxelles (a fancy word for finely chopped mushrooms and onions, in a three-to-one ratio) and stuff it into ravioli, preferably with homemade pasta. Same cream sauce. My wife made that a couple of days ago, having never done it before, and it was not only delicious but soothing and comfortable.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Greensburg is a quaint town in the Florida Parishes of Southeast Louisiana, thirty-seven miles northeast of Baton Rouge. The population is about 650 people, most of whom serve the needs of the many dairy farmers and foresters in the vicinity. The countryside is rolling and open, and driving there is pleasant. It is a virtual certainty that more greens are consumed in Greensburg than in the average U.S. town, along with more beans and rice. The restaurant in Greensburg is Hank's Deli, right in the center of town.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Step One in cooking a cabbage is to cut out the cone-shaped stem from the center. Step Two: Cut it into eight wedges: two cuts top to bottom, one around the equator. Steaming works better than boiling. The gentler you do it, the fewer problems--and you know what problems I mean.

Edible Dictionary

balsamic vinegar, n.--Wine vinegar with a dark color and a vaguely sweet flavor. In its most traditional form, it's made by aging vinegar on oak barrels, sometimes for a very long time. There is such a thing as 100-year-old balsamic vinegar. It is very dark, intensely flavored, and as thick as syrup. Balsamic vinegar traditionally is made directly from grape juice, not stopping at the wine stage. It takes on a dark brown color from the aging. Balsamic vinegar has such a lofty reputation that it has many inexpensive imitators, colored with caramel and not aged much, if at all. The price is usually a guide as to whether it's really aged or not. The name "balsamic" is a reference to the medicinal qualities aged vinegar is reputed to have.

Deft Dining Rule #212:

Any restaurant with four or more different kinds of fresh mushrooms is a place worth dining in.

Annals Of Soft Drinks

It's the birthday (1851) of Asa Candler, who bought a formula called Coca-Cola from Atlanta druggist John Pemberton for all of $2300. He began marketing it aggressively, and the result was that, although Coke wasn't the first fizzy brown sweet drink (Dr Pepper, among other brands, is older), it became the icon of the industry.

Food And Medicine

Today in 2003, the sale of meat from animals who appeared to be sick was banned in the United States. It was mostly a protection from mad cow disease. . . Ephedra was also banned that day, after 155 deaths were attributed to the weight-loss dietary supplement. There are better ways to lose weight--notably limiting oneself only to really good food.

Music To Eat Cookies By

The musical Kiss Me, Kate opened on Broadway on this date in 1948. It was written by Bella Spewack, whose other claim to fame was co-inventing Girl Scout Cookies. The musical is better known for its songs by Cole Porter, the best of which was From This Moment On.

Food Namesakes

Joseph Bologna, a screenwriter and occasional actor, was born today in 1934. Among his works are Blame It On Rio, My Favorite Year, and Rags To Riches . . . David Baker, a British professional bicyclist, was born today in 1965. . . Lucy Punch, an actress who usually appears in comedies, got her first line out today in 1977.

Words To Eat By

"Boiled cabbage a l'Anglaise is something compared with which steamed coarse newsprint bought from bankrupt Finnish salvage dealers and heated over smoky oil stoves is an exquisite delicacy."--William Neil Connor, a British columnist who wrote under the name "Cassandra."

Words To Drink By

"What is your host's purpose in having a party? Surely not for you to enjoy yourself; if that were their sole purpose they'd have simply sent Champagne and women over to your place by taxi."--P. J. O'Rourke.