January 7

Now It's Carnival. Barbecue chaurice. Nick Cage. Onassis. Hot Sausage. Spicy Branch. Hot Greek Sausage. Tower of Pisa. Fanny Farmer. St. Emilion.

Days Until. . .

Mardi Gras--40

Today's Flavor

Today is National Tempura Day, honoring the fried Japanese dishes with the puffy, thick, soft coating. But here in New Orleans it's Hot Sausage Day. That's because hot sausage, also known locally as chaurice, is most appreciated for its perfect compatibility with red beans and rice. Indeed, one of my fondest taste recollections is of a fifty-cent plate of beans at Martin's Poor Boy Restaurant in the early 1970s. The cook fried a pair of hot sausage patties on the flattop grill. He then transferred them with a metal spatula, along with all the grease (there's no other word for it) that could come along for the ride, and plopped it all atop the beans. I don't know if I ever had better beans than those. These days, most hot sausage comes in large patties, either atop the beans or in a poor boy.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

I knew a short maker of sausage with red pepper He'd pack 'em in a cold box and then he would schlep 'er To a sandwich shop Mondays where in lieu of a bill He'd accept as his payment his appetite's fill Of red beans and white beans and really hot chili Filled with his product, but even so still he Kept the circle unbroken, until he retired Not rich but quite famous from the patties he'd fired.

Deft Dining Rule #744:

Hot sausage--in fact, all really spicy foods--are at their best when eating them brings you to the threshold of pain from the pepper.

Gourmet Geography

Peanut, Arkansas is about halfway between Little Rock and Tulsa, in the Ozark National Forest. It's situated at the bottom of a 300-foot bluff that overlooks the confluence of Clear Creek and the Mulberry River. The Mulberry is a tributary of the Arkansas, whose waters flow into the Mississippi and then to New Orleans. It's a wild and scenic river, and very good for canoeing through the deep Ozark woods. It's remote enough that you'll have to trek twenty miles south to the town of Ozark for the nearest restaurant: The Ozark Inn.

Edible Dictionary

St. Louis ribs, n.--A style of preparing barbecued spare ribs. The ribs come from the lower part of the pig, usually from just past the breastbone. The rack has a bout a dozen ribs, with large bones but a good deal of meat. They're cooked in a closed smoke pit at 225-250 degrees until full cooked and crusty. The next step is distinctive: St. Louis ribs, after coming off the pit, are often put into a pan full of barbecue sauce and simmered in it for a half-hour or so. This makes the ribs very tender, with the meat beginning to fall from the bone. The term is also used in some barbecue places as nearly synonymous with conventional barbecue spare ribs, without the simmering.

Familiar Icons Of Eating

The Tower of Pisa, whose image appears in more Italian restaurants than any other, was closed to the public today in 1990. Its famous tilt had gone a little too far, and for the next eleven years it was shored up and stabilized. It's back open now. As many times as you've seen pictures of the Campanile (its real name), seeing it in real life will stop you in your tracks.

Annals Of Food Writing

Today in 1896, Fannie Farmer published her first cookbook. It was originally entitled The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, but with millions of copies in print it's now known as the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. It became famous because it was the first book to specify exact quantities for all ingredients. It was much welcomed by people who'd never cooked before.

The Saints

This is the feast day of St. Emilian of Saujon, France, a small town north of Bordeaux. He was a Benedictine monk who spent a time as a hermit in the eighth century. The winemaking commune of St. Emilion, whose wine is predominantly made with Merlot grapes, is named for him.

Food Namesakes

Donna Rice, whose romance with Gary Hart brought down his campaign for the Presidency in 1988, was born in New Orleans today in 1958. . . American novelist Nicholson Baker wrote the first page of his Big Book today in 1957. . . Art Baker, the host of a 1950s television show called You Asked For It, was born today in 1898. . . Ducky Shofield, who played shortstop for a number of teams in the Big Leagues, took the Big Field today in 1935. . . John Berryman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, jumped from a bridge to his death today in 1972. The poet's life can be hard. . . Kobe Bryant made nine consecutive three-point baskets, plus three more in the same game, to set the NBA record today in 2003.

Words To Eat By

"A highbrow is the kind of person who looks at a sausage and thinks of Picasso."--Alan Patrick Herbert, British author of the early 1900s. "Doctor, do you think it could have been the sausage?"--Alleged to be the last words of French poet Paul Claudel.

Words To Drink By

"Never cry over spilt milk. It could've been whiskey."--Pappy Maverick, in the TV show Maverick.