February 7

Buster Crabs. Buster Crabbe. Stone Crabs. Crawdaddy. Fettuccine Alfredo. Clay. Beatle Nuts.

Days Until. . .

Mardi Gras--20 Valentine's Day--7

Food Names In The Movies

The man with what may be the greatest food name of all time, Buster Crabbe, was born today in 1908. He came to prominence first as a swimmer in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. His good looks got the attention of Hollywood, and his acting career began. He made over 75 movies, usually cast as a powerful hero: Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers were among his best-remembered recurring roles. Whether Buster Crabbe ever ate a buster crab, I don't know. This seems the perfect day for National Buster Crab Day, but it's too early in the year for these little hand-peeled soft-shell crabs, which we start seeing in a month or two. (Although people with good connections-- like John Besh, whose brother-in-law raises soft shell crabs--can get them almost year-round.)

Gourmet Gazetteer

Pigeon, Louisiana (pronounced "PEE-zhonh," in the French way) is far out in the marshes of the Atchafalaya River Basin, twenty-five miles from Donaldsonville by way of White Castle. Pigeon is where Little Bayou Pigeon and Big Bayou Pigeon used to meet Grand River, an ancient former route of the Mississippi. The Intracoastal Waterway disrupts the natural waterways now. But coooo, are there some crawfish around there! And plenty of Cajuns too, yeah. The place to eat is Nawnie's Restaurant, right there on Pigeon Road. Probably no squab on the menu.

Edible Dictionary

harisi, (Lebanese) n.--A soft, damp, sweet pastry made in Lebanon and Syria. It begins with semolina flour--the same kind used to make pasta. Since semolina is made with hard wheat and milled to a rough texture, harisi has a somewhat gritty texture. It's good, though, because it releases the mixture of yogurt and syrup with which it's saturated. Some versions add a little tahini (pureed sesame seeds) to give a vaguely nutty flavor in the background. Like most desserts from that part of the world, these are small and light, giving the effect of eating a big, extra-moist cookie.

Deft Dining Rule #216:

Stone crabs are so expensive because many people who order them are just showing off their wealth. Try them once, and consider forgetting them forever after.

Food Names In The Newspapers

Crawdaddy, a newspaper about pop and rock music in the 1960s and 1970s, first appeared today in 1966. I once gathered a bunch of back issues of Crawdaddy spread them on a table where we were eating boiled crawfish. Nobody got the joke.

Today's Flavor

Today is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day. What is little noted about that dish, as practiced by the much-turned-over Alfredo's of Rome, is that a raw egg yolk is stirred into the hot pasta as the very last step. Few versions have egg at all, and it's probably for the best. Most versions now are just pasta, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Which isn't exactly bad. I have my recipe for it in today's Recipe department.

Outside A Restaurant Window

In a speech today in 1839, Henry Clay said, "I had rather be right than be president." If only that were the rule today. Orleanians thought enough of Henry Clay that a statue of him stood for decades in the neutral ground of Canal Street at St. Charles. The streetcar tracks curved to go around it. That statue is now in Lafayette Square, opposite Gallier Hall. Henry Clay waves to diners at Herbsaint, Café At The Square and Desi Vega's Steak House, and Marcello's, all of which are roughly within sight of his statue.

Music To Eat Ice Cream By

On a related note, the Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time today in 1964. To honor the occasion, Baskin-Robbins created a flavor called "Beatle Nuts." Don't remember what it tasted like, and not sure I want to.

Food Namesakes

John Deere, of farm equipment fame, was born today in 1804. . . Jimmy Greenspoon, the organist of Three Dog Night, was born today in 1948. . . Artist Arthur Berry came along this day in 1925. . . Today in 1959, John Cook and co-pilot Robert Timm landed their airplane in Las Vegas after being continuously airborne for just shy of sixty-five days. Yes, you read that right, and it was a record. . . Baseball Dan Quisenberry was born today in 1953. When do the quisenberries get ripe?

Words To Eat By

"Those from whom nature has withheld taste invented trousers."--Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, early French food authority.

Words To Cook By

"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it."--Unknown.