March 24

Stuffed Crab Day

Stuffed Crab. Soda Butte. Half Dollar. Mammoth Biscuit. American Wheels. Train Radio.

Days Until. . .

Easter --11

Today's Flavor

It's Stuffed Crab Day. And the dish needs to be remembered. Once ubiquitous on menus all along the Gulf Coast and upthe Atlantic, stuffed crabs have been shoved aside by its upscale cousin, the Baltimore-style crab cake. Crab cakes give stuffed crabs an image problem. It is the nature of a stuffed crab to contain other ingredients than crabmeat. And the crabmeat is usually claw meat, at that. The quality criterion for crab cakes, in contrast, is the percentage of lump crabmeat content. From a flavor perspective, however, a well-made stuffed crab (also known as a deviled crab) easily rivals a crab cake. The best versions have a good crab flavors that comes not only from the crabmeat but also the crab stock the bread component is wet down with. Green onions, bell pepper, fresh parsley, cayenne, and even a little bacon add further interest to a good stuffed crab. I'd like to see a revival of stuffed crabs, in crab shells if possible. (Health departments don't like to see those in restaurants, which is why you see aluminum shells most of the time.)

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Use claw crabmeat, not white or lump, when you're making a stuffing. It has a more assertive flavor and it much cheaper, to boot.

Edible Dictionary

pita, n.--A flatbread baked in such a way that a pocket forms in the center. The pocket can be filled with a wide variety of foods, but the most common is the spit-roasted processed meat called gyros. Pita bread is by far the most common form of bread in the Middle East. In fact, in Aramaic the word means "bread." It's served with every dish and used to scoop up almost any scoopable food. It's related to the naan of India, and in fact was at one time baked in a similar oven to an Indian tandoor. Pitas are baked at very high temperatures--at least 450 degrees. As the exterior becomes firm it traps steam inside, which separates the top and bottom into the pocket.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Soda Butte is a landmark along the northeast entrance road to Yellowstone National Park. It's the cone of a dormant geyser, and rises to 4645 feet--about 150 feet above Soda Butte Creek, which flows into Lamar Valley, a very pretty place. Soda Butte is famous among naturalists as a place where packs of wolves, re-introduced in mid-1990s, have taken up residence. It was the first place they've lived in Yellowstone since the rangers wiped out the last wolves in 1926. If you're hungry as a wolf around there, it's a twelve-mile drive to the well-named Range Rider Lodge in Silver Gate.

Annals Of Menu Pricing

In 1964 on this date, John F. Kennedy replaced Benjamin Franklin on the half-dollar coin. You could have purchased a good plate of food for fifty cents then, but ten years later you couldn't. That's what I found out when I went through a bunch of my old menus of restaurants here in New Orleans. A fifty-cent plate of beans and rice was easy to find in 1964. By 1973, the lowest price I could find was ninety-five cents. Maybe this is why nobody uses half dollars anymore. When's the last time you saw one?

Deft Dining Rule #232:

A great restaurant for fried seafood will not have tartar sauce on the table. And you will not need to ask for it.

Annals Of Popular Cuisine

Robert Allison, the first person to buy an American-made automobile, did so on this date in 1898. His flivver was made by the Winton Motor Carriage Company. He immediately went out for a fish sandwich with tartar sauce, but he couldn't find a place with a drive-through.

Food In Traffic

A truck carrying margarine and flour caught fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel through the Alps today in 1999. This was serious: thirty-nine people died. Good thing a milk tanker wasn't just ahead of the truck, or a mammoth biscuit would have blocked access.

Food Namesakes

On this day in 1932, singer Belle Baker did the first radio program ever from a moving train. That's something I always wanted to do. . . Andrew Mellon, founder of the Mellon banking dynasty, was born today in 1855. . . Comedian Fatty Arbuckle came out laughing today in 1887. . . Alan Sugar, a British computer manufacturer, clicked out a "1" today in 1947. . . Olive Schreiner, a South African writer, had Page One of her life today in 1855. . . Isabel Suckling, the youngest classical musician ever to sign a major recording contract, voiced her first note today in 1998.

Words To Eat By

"My first words were 'Seconds, please.'"--Louie Anderson, American comedian, born today in 1953.

Words To Drink By

"She's like somebody's mom who'd a few too many drinks at a cocktail party."--Nick Lowe, British rocker, born today in 1949. He was referring to Grace Slick.