February 24

Tennessee Williams. Tortilla Chips. Dinosaur Eggs. Wild Boars. Entomatadas. Chili. Shrimp Shells. Shrimp Dip. Too Many Cooks. Fish.

This is <strong>National Tortilla Chip Day. </strong>Tortilla chips are a big issue around my house. We all like guacamole and salsa here, and we have those recipes down. However, we still have a great controversy as to which chips are the best. We seem to have settled on thin, white tortilla chips. Yet to be resolved is the matter of shape: triangular versus round. We also find that some brands are so bland that we're tempted to just throw them away. On the other side of the spectrum, flavored tortilla chips give the same effect you get from flavoring coffee.

Days Until. . .

St. Patrick's Day--22
St. Joseph's Day--24
Easter--49

New Orleans Tastemakers

Tennessee Williams died today in 1983. We all know his contributions to American theatre, but he was also a devotee of New Orleans restaurants. His favorite hangouts in his last days were Marti's (where Peristyle is now) and Galatoire's. The Tennessee Williams Festival--which always has a significant food and drink aspect--is about a month from now.

Deft Dining Rule #160:

If the shells on small shrimp are soft, just pull off the heads and eat the tail witghout peeling. You'll eat more shrimp that way.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

You're better off if you never make shrimp dip, shrimp pate, shrimp molds, or shrimp mousse.

Food Calendar

TortillaChipsThis is National Tortilla Chip Day. Tortilla chips are a big issue around my house. We all like guacamole and salsa here, and we have those recipes down. However, we still have a great controversy as to which chips are the best. We seem to have settled on thin, white tortilla chips. Yet to be resolved is the matter of shape: triangular versus round. We also find that some brands are so bland that we're tempted to just throw them away. On the other side of the spectrum, flavored tortilla chips give the same effect you get from flavoring coffee. The current favorite among the commercial chips is Santitas, a relatively new product from Frito-Lay, which created the whole category with Fritos in the 1950s. (They were so novel then that people were raving about them all over the country.) What is certain is that we eat a great many tortilla chips, and I'm glad they took the trans-fats out of them.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Salt Flat is a ghost town on the high plains of West Texas, with the towering Guadalupe Mountains in the northeast. It's well-named; lakes in the area dry up and leave salt deposits behind. A dispute as to who owned them led to a war among the settlers in the 1870s. The Texas Rangers were called in and settled it, but not until a dozen men had been killed. This is dramatic, wild desert country. And you can eat there, at the Salt Flat Cafe, about the only thing left in town.

Edible Dictionary

pulled pork, n.--One of the most prized works of the barbecue cooking culture, this is slowly-smoked pork shoulder cooked so long in so moist an environment that one can pull the meat right off the bones with tongs. Tenderness is primary; a good smoke flavor is almost as important. Pulled pork is considered by barbecue fanatics as incomparably better than chopped pork for sandwiches or platters. Along with pork ribs, it's at the center of any menu in the southeast. The sauces vary by location, from the sloshy vinegar-based sauces of the Carolinas to the thick tomato sauces of Memphis and Kansas City.

Ancient Food

In 1989 on this date, a 150-million-year-old dinosaur egg was found in Utah, still inside its fossilized mother. Unfortunately, it was not fresh, and a dinosaur embryo was found (by use of a CAT scan!) to be well formed inside the shell. No omelette there. But what a thought!

Annals Of Wild Boars

The serving of wild boars in gourmet restaurants has been expanding in recent years. Enough that not enough truly wild ones are out there, and in a great contradiction most are actually raised on farms. But the animal has long been in our lives. The first product made of nylon was a toothbrush. Dupont premiered it today in 1938. It replaced hairs from the necks of wild boars. On this day in 1979, in Stamford, Texas, the highest price ever paid for a not-so-wild pig was negotiated by breeder Russ Baize: $42,500. It was a boar named "Glacier." The record stood for eighteen years.

Cooking For The Stage

A play called Too Many Cooks, written by Frank Craven, premiered on Broadway on this day in 1914. We need a sequel, set in New Orleans in 2015, entitled Not Enough Cooks.

Food Namesakes

Abe Vigoda, who played the character "Fish" in the TV series of the same name, splashed onto the big dock today in 1921. . . Betty Lou Beets, convicted of the murder of her fifth husband, failed to get a stay of execution from then-Texas Governor George W. Bush, and got a lethal injection. . . Simeon Rice, a pro football defensive end, was born today in 1974.

Words To Eat By

"Between the ages of twenty and fifty, John Doe spends some twenty thousand hours chewing and swallowing food, more than eight hundred days and nights of steady eating. The mere contemplation of this fact is upsetting enough." --M.F.K. Fisher.

Words To Drink By

"After God, long live wine."--Rosalia de Castro, Spanish writer, born today in 1837.