March 1

Texas Cooking. Peanut Butter. Pig. Smokehouse. Chicken-Fried Steak. Bananas. Saint Of Leeks. Rum Drams. Holy Cow!

National Tex-Mex Cooking Day

Days Until. . .

St. Patrick's Day--16
St. Joseph's Day--18

Today's Flavor

This is national Tex-Mex Cooking Day. Today in 1845, President John Tyler annexed Texas to the United States. With the permission of the Texans, of course. A Texas cuisine was already in place. It could even be said that Tex-Mex food was already born. It has grown ever since, with the influence of Germans, Czechs, Africans, and a constant flow of people from Central America. It's still not enough to keep the ballooning chain restaurant cuisine in check, though.It is also Peanut Butter Lover's Day. And National Pig Day, but I think this is more for their lovable pet image than for the animal's very substantial contribution to the human diet. Today also begins National Celery Month, National Flour Month, National Frozen Food Month, National Nutrition Month, National Noodle Month, National Peanut Month, National Sauce Month, and National Caffeine Awareness Month. I'm aware that I need a cup of coffee to keep track of all that.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Sausage Ponds, Maryland is a pair of long ponds backed up behind earthen dams on a small creek. It's all in Anne Arundel County, near the western shores of Chesapeake Bay, thirty-three miles from Washington, D.C. The area is a mix of farms and country homes. The ponds are listed in a guide to Maryland fishing spots (here), in case you think we're making this one up (and we don't blame you). In case you don't catch anything, the nearest restaurants are in Edgewater, two miles north. We recommend the Wharfside Bar and Grill.

Edible Dictionary

choriqueso, [chore-ee-KAY-so], Spanglish, n.--A portmanteau word of recent vintage, made from "chorizo" and "queso." The former is a peppery sausage. The Mexican variety of chorizo is a fresh sausage that is as often broken down into a ground state as it is served whole. It's different from the fully-cooked, cured, firmer Spanish chorizo. The second half of the word is queso, the generic word for cheese in Spanish. Shoved together, it tell you two things: you have found a Tex-Mex restaurant, and will shortly be served a bowl of melted white cheese with the ground choriso mixed into it. This usually comes with flour tortillas for wrapping the stuff. It also makes a good dip for tortilla chips.

Deft Dining Rule #227:

If someone tells you where the best chicken-fried steak is to be found, he has eliminated that restaurant from your consideration.

The Saints

Today is St. David's Day in Wales, where he is the patron saint. His symbol is the leek. Many Welshmen wear a leek today in St. David's honor. Or a daffodil; the two are confused with one another in Wales.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

You must always cut a leek from end to end, and pull it apart into its many layers, because you never know what you're going to find in there: a rock, or a diamond.

Music To Eat Bananas By

Harry Belafonte was born in Jamaica today in 1927. He was the leading figure in the calypso craze in America in the 1950s and 1960s. He has long been active in civil rights movements, and still is. "Come mister tally-man, tally me banana," he famously sang in his big hit, The Banana Boat Song. "Day-O! Day-ay-ay-O!"

Sports In Dining

Harry Caray (real name: Carabini) was born today in 1919. I listened to his play-by-play of the Cardinals games in the early 1960s on KMOX in St. Louis on my first transistor radio. But he was more famous for his years with the Chicago Cubs. And for a restaurant in Chicago that bears his name. A sign in front blurts out his favorite expression: "Holy Cow!"

Drink On The High Seas

Today in 1990, New Zealand became the last navy in the world to stop issuing its sailors a daily dram of rum. Seems there were too many problems getting mint for the mojitos.

Food Namesakes

Today in 1912, Captain Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from an airplane in flight, in St. Louis, 1500 feet up. . . Suzanna Salter, the first female mayor of an American city, was born today in 1860. She lived to be 101. . . Terrence Cardinal Cooke was born today in 1921.

Words To Eat By

"Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love."--Charlie Brown.

Words To Drink By

"Always carry a corkscrew and the wine shall provide itself."--Basil Bunting, British writer, born today in 1900.