March 2

Foie Gras a l'Orange. US Routes. Roadhouse. Texas. Banana Cream Pie. War Of The Oranges. Orange, PA. Orangemouth. Mel Ott. To Serve Man.

Days Until. . .

Food On The Road

US90SignToday in 1925, the national highway numbering system came into being. Three major US routes--11, 61, and 90--originate in or pass through New Orleans. US 90 is the most delicious of the old US routes, beginning in Jacksonville, running along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans, past Mosca's, along several bayous through the heart of Cajun country, then to the Tex-Mex capitals of Houston and San Antonio, touching Mexico in Del Rio, and ending in the Big Bend country of West Texas at Van Horn. If you make it there, go to the Smokehouse for some very good Texas barbecue. Another strong candidate for tastiest US Highway is US 1, which starts in Maine and runs through all the major Eastern cities, ending in Key West.

Deft Dining Rule #369:

If you feel comfortable drinking anything but whiskey, beer, or iced tea in a restaurant out on the highway, you are not in a real roadhouse.

Eating Across America

This is Texas Independence Day, noting the territory's separation from Mexico in 1836. It's also the birthday of Sam Houston, for whom the biggest Texas city (and fourth biggest in the United States) is named. Houston has become a very good eating town. The restaurant population there is riddled with awful places and chains, but if you do even a little bit of searching you'll turn up a great wealth of ethnic food (not just the expected Mexican but also many Asian cuisines) and top-end restaurants that stand with the best in the country.

Todays Flavor

It is National Banana Cream Pie Day. The most famous local banana cream pie is served at Emeril's. As a good banana cream pie should be, it is almost criminally rich. Each pie contains about a quart of whipping cream. The recipe appears in Emeril's first cookbook, and has a problem: for lots of people, it doesn't ever set. But that's baking for you.

Food At War

In 1801 on this day, the War of the Oranges began when Napoleon sent troops to invade Portugal. The emperor wanted a big piece of their land. The war entangled Spain and England, too. The Queen of Spain received a shipment of oranges from her general as he prepared to storm Lisbon, hence the name.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Baker is a cluster of farmhouses in the middle of endless cornfields in north central Illinois, seventy-five miles west of Chicago. Most bread (and other food)in Baker is made into meals right there, but it's only four miles to Earlville for some toast, scrambled eggs and sausage at Sunshine Restaurant.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Next time you make any dish with lemon juice, think about using orange juice instead. Use three times as much as the recipe calls for in lemon juice.

Edible Dictionary

chili con carne, Spanish, n.--Literally, "chile peppers with meat." Chili con carne is unarguably a Texas dish, going back at least to the 1850s. Even then it had a reputation as a low-down food, a reputation that no doubt contributed to its continuing popularity. The many chili-cooking competitions in Texas and elsewhere incite almost religious ferocity. Every person who makes it says that his is the only authentic and best way. Most recipes agree that some form of chili peppers and ground or chopped meat should be in the pot. Onions are almost as universal. Most chili cooks agree that a visible amount of orange grease from the meat should be present. Beyond that, everything is wide open. The main ingredient controversy involves beans: yes or no? Chili con carne was once common in New Orleans neighborhood restaurants, but except where it's used as a hot dog enhancement, it's seldom seen anymore.

Food In Sports

New Orleans baseball hero Mel Ott was born today in 1909. It seems to us the way to celebrate this Hall of Famer would be to have a great hot dog. Why do hot dogs at a baseball stadium taste better? The ones at Zephyr Field are excellent. The best we ever had were at Wrigley Field. This is also the birthday of current sports hero Reggie Bush. But nothing about the Saints brings up images of good food.

Food On Television

On this day in 1962, one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone showed on television for the first time. In it, visiting aliens leave behind a book entitled To Serve Man. After translating it (with great difficulty), the earthlings discover that the tome is a cookbook.

Food In Children's Literature

Today is the birthday (1904) of Theodor S. Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, the most praised author of children's books in history. His book Green Eggs and Ham is so well known that Chef Kevin Vizard, when he had a restaurant on St. Charles Avenue, created a dish called Greens, Eggs, and Ham. (In case you're wondering, Chef Kevin is in the kitchen at the Southern Yacht Club.

Words To Eat By

"Texas does not, like any other region, simply have indigenous dishes. It proclaims them. It congratulates you, on your arrival, at having escaped from the slop pails of the other 49 states."--Alistair Cooke. "An orange on the table, your dress on the rug, and you in my bed, sweet present of the present, cool of night, warmth of my life."--Jacques Prevert, French writer and poet.

Words To Drink By

"[President James K. Polk was] a victim of the use of water as a beverage."--Sam Houston, born today in 1793.