January 4

Leaping Lords. Shula. Spaghetti. Twirling And Cutting Pasta. Carbonara. Fork. Chocolat. Willy Wonka. Contented Cows. Beefeater.

<h5>Carnival Begins<strong>6.</strong> Mardi Gras <strong>57.</strong></h5>

Days Until. . .

Carnival Begins5. Mardi Gras 56.

Tenth Day of Christmas

Here come the leaping lords. I don't know what that's all about, and I don't think I want to know. Also silly: the chromium combination manicure, scissors and cigarette lighter in Allan Sherman's version of the song. In another: mistletoe arrives today, too late for the parties. Benny Grunch goes to the Tenneco Chalmette Refinery for some reason. In our own take on the Twelve Days song, today we'd like to simmer for you ten cups of red beans to go with the nine cups of rice and eight links of sausage from the last two days.

Today's Flavor

This is National Spaghetti Day. As much as I love pasta, whenever I encounter spaghetti in the strictest sense of the word, I'm glad that we don't eat it often. The thinner string pastas--spaghettini, vermicelli, angel hair--have taken over. Thicker spaghetti doesn't roll up onto a fork, or hold as much sauce. This is because, ounce for ounce, the thinner the pasta, the more surface area it has.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Breaking spaghetti to fit into a storage jar is carrying organization a little too far.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Mallow is a suburb of the city of Covington, in the Allegany Mountains in northwest Virginia. It's fifty-three miles north of Roanoke, and about twelve miles from the West Virginia state line. Mallow is located on what has been for centuries one of the main east-west routes through the Appalachians, on both US 60 and I-64. A lot of people stop there for a bite to eat. I recommend the Mountain View Restaurant. A mallow, by the way, is one of many flowering plants whose most famous member--the marsh mallow--used to flavor the confection that bears its name. But mallow products are only rarely found in marshmallows anymore.

Food In Show Biz

The movie Chocolat, about a new-in-town single mother who works her way into the hearts of her neighbors in a small French town by making excellent chocolate pastries premiered today in 2001.

It's also the birthday of fictional chocolate magnate Willy Wonka--as a trademark for the line of candy bearing the character's name. Issued today in 1972.

Food On The Air

Today was the premiere, in 1932, of the Carnation Contented Hour, a music variety show on radio sponsored by Carnation Evaporated Milk, the milk from contented cows. Would you prefer milk from a contented cow or a singing cow? I have one of the Carnation shows in my collection; I wish I had more. Good music back then.

Sounds Like A Food Story, But Isn't

Today in 2006, the first female Beefeater was confirmed. Best known for gracing the label of the bottle of the namesake gin, the Beefeaters--more properly known as Yeoman Warders--have been guarding the Tower of London for over five hundred years. All of them were men until then. But it's not the rough-and-tumble job it once was. Beefeaters now mainly entertain visitors to the Tower.

Edible Dictionary

feijoada, [feh-ZHWAH-dah], Portuguese, n--Feijoada is to Portugal and Brazil what red beans and rice with sausage is to New Orleans. Different flavor, though. It's made with black beans, usually--although there are regional variations. The meat component is beef, pork or both, again in a host of different forms, depending on where the recipe comes from. Rice is almost always part of the dish. In some areas of Brazil--where it's considered the national dish--greens work their way in between the beans and meat. It's a vary hearty concoction, which seems strange given the tropical climate of Brazil. But then we eat red beans here.

Eat Club Namesakes

Today is the birthday, in 1837, of Charles Stratton, a midget known in the world of entertainment as General Tom Thumb. I only bring this up because an Eat Club regular who travels here from Little Rock to attend our dinners has the same real name and stage name. He's not a midget, though, so his circus career didn't amount to much, forcing him to do very well in more conventional businesses.

Food Namesakes

J. Danforth Quayle, the vise-prisedint under George Bush I, was borne tooday in 1947. . . Arthur Berry, an early British Olympic soccer star, was born today in 1888. . . Wilhelm Beer, an astronomer who drew the first known map of the moon based on telescopic observations, was born today in 1797. . . Jon Appleton, an American classical composer, was born today in 1939.

Words To Eat By

"No man is lonely while eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention."--Christopher Morley. "Nothing spoils lunch any quicker than a rogue meatball rampaging through your spaghetti."--Jim Davis, author of the comic strip "Garfield." "Eating food with a knife and fork is like making love through an interpreter."--Anonymous.

Words To Drink By

"We live in stirring times—tea-stirring times."--Christopher Isherwood, British writer, who died today in 1986.