March 10

Creole Cream Cheese Day

Blueberries. Creole Cream Cheese. Cream. Restaurants By Radio. Clabber. Syzygy.

Days Until. . .

St. Patrick's Day--7 St. Joseph's Day--9

Food Calendar

In New Orleans it's Creole Cream Cheese Day. It's a distinctly local product, enjoyed for over a hundred years before suddenly brought to the brink of extinction in the 1980s. The Baby Boom generation never picked up the habit from their parents, and suddenly the last commercial dairy making Creole cream cheese gave it up. It made a comeback in recent times when the Boomers felt nostalgia for the idea, if not the reality. Enough small dairies began making Creole cream cheese that it's now easily available again. Dairymen describe Creole cream cheese as clabber--the solid part of milk that has turned and separated. It has loose, soft curds in enough whey to keep it moist. Good Creole cream cheese has a sour flavor more pronounced than Philadelphia cream cheese or cottage cheese, which it resembles. In the old days, Creole cream cheese was eaten with fresh fruit (notably strawberries) and sugar as a breakfast item. My mother loved it; none of my siblings touched the stuff. In these days, Creole cream cheese is more used to make dessert cheesecake (which it does very well), and savory cheesecakes with the likes of mushrooms or crabmeat. The dairies currently making excellent Creole cream cheese include Mauthe's and Smith's. You can also make your own with little difficulty, if you can find one odd but critical ingredient: rennet.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Cream City, Ohio, is near the Pennsylvania state line, fifty-seven miles west of Pittsburgh. It's one of a number of small exurban towns along the Yellow Creek Valley, flanked on both sides by Appalachian foothills. Yellow Creek runs a few miles away into the Ohio, which means that water released from Cream City winds up in New Orleans. The houses in Cream City are fairly substantial country homes on big pieces of property. It's a five-mile drive to the nearest restaurants, in Wellsville, where you find Da Lonzo's On the Hill Restaurant.

Deft Dining Rule #639:

A restaurant that uses no locally-produced foods in its cooking will always be inferior to one that does. The more, the better.

Edible Dictionary

clabber, n.--The solid part of milk that has been allowed to sour and separate. It's the curd of curds and whey. This happens naturally to unpasteurized milk after a time, less often to pasteurized milk, and only after a long time or some special treatment of homogenized milk. Clabber has a somewhat sour flavor comparable to that of yogurt. When drained and allowed to dry, it's the beginning state of cheese. In New Orleans, clabber is packaged and sold as Creole cream cheese, a traditional breakfast food eaten with fruit or sugar.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

The way to determine whether fish on the grill or in the broiler is cooked is to jab a kitchen fork into the center of the fish and hold it there for about five seconds. Pull it out and tough the tines to you lips. If it feels warm at all, the fish is done. Your lips are very sensitive to heat, and quite accurate. Do this carefully. You will not likely burn your lips, but you don't want to poke yourself in the eye.

Food On The Air

Today in 1975, I read a two-minute review of the Coffee Pot restaurant in the French Quarter on WGSO 1280 radio, New Orleans's leading talk radio station at the time. I have broadcast some kind of daily radio show every weekday ever since. I remained was on WGSO until 1983, then did a couple of years each on WBYU and WWL. My current program began on WSMB 1350 in 1988, the management changed the call letters to WWWL in 2005, and the show moved back to it's original WGSO 990 a few months ago. It is now the longest-running radio program of any kind in New Orleans radio history. Food is a good topic for radio. Forty-six years!

Food Namesakes

Bob Berry, the Vikings quarterback who played in three Super Bowls, was born today in 1942. . . Rap Singer Ninah Cherry screamed for the first time today in 1964. . . Actress Jasmine Guy came to life today in 1964, too. . . Pianist and singer Raymond Raspberry was born today in 1930. . . Film and television writer and director Paul Haggis gave his first cues today in 1953. . . Early Yankee second baseman Jim Curry was born today in 1893. . . Actor Jon Hamm came out of the oven today in 1971.

Words To Eat By

"A man who is careful with his palate is not likely to be careless with his paragraphs."--Clifton Fadiman.

Words To Drink By

"This Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it."--Unknown, about coffee; from the 1500s.

Looking Up

In 1982, all nine planets lined up (sort of) one one side of the sun, giving people other than crossword puzzle fans the chance to use the word "syzygy." Perhaps because of this, a restaurant check I added up for correctness proved to be wrong--in my favor. A miracle!