March 28

Black Forest Cake

Days Until. . .

French Quarter Festival--8 Easter --12 Jazz Festival--31

Restaurant Anniversaries

La Petite Grocery, an excellent restaurant on Magazine Street a block from Napoleon Avenue, opened today in 2004. In a way, it was a spinoff of Peristyle, where Anton and Diane Schulte worked before opening the Grocery with partner and gourmet caterer Joel Dondis. When they left to open Bistro Daisy, Justin Devillier took over as chef. He has since bought the restaurant. Le Petite Grocery is named for the Frank A. Von Der Haar Grocery, a first-class food emporium that operated for decades in the building. The renovation that resulted in the restaurant left a few signs of the old days (I remember the ceiling in particular). La Petite Grocery was one of the first major Uptown restaurants to reopen after the hurricane. For many Orleanians, it was the place where they reconnected with friends after the storm, and saw that it was possible for the life we love to go on

Great American Brewers

Now here's an odd coincidence: August Anheuser Busch Jr., the long-time boss of Budweiser, was born today in 1899. And Frederick Pabst, for whom that brand of American beer is named, was also born on this date, in 1836.

Food Inventions

Victor Mills was born today in 1897. He lived to be 101, which gave him time to achieve several major advances in the food world. His method of milling flour for cake mix made Duncan Hines into the country's dominant cake mix brand. He figured out a way of keeping the oil in peanut butter from separating out--and Jif was born. Then he devised the method of stacking potato chips that led to Pringles. He also worked on the other end: he created Pampers.

Deft Dining Rule #7:

All other things being equal, a new pleasure beats the repetition of an old one.

Eating Around The World

Today in 1930, Turkish authorities changed the name of Constantinople to Istanbul. In the same stroke, they changed the name of bean dip to hummus.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Add what seems like the right amount of lemon juice to your hummus recipe, then add that much again. It strikes flavor-heightening battle with the bitterness of the garlic and the chickpeas.

Music To Dine By

Be My Love, the biggest hit recorded by Mario Lanza, reached the top of the charts today in 1951. It is heard frequently in Italian restaurants everywhere. . . On this date in 1899, William Fleming received a patent for an electrically operated player piano. Many restaurants have grand pianos, but few have matching pianists. The gizmos now available to play the piano electronically are amazingly good. But you can't ask them to play your song.

Edible Dictionary

pasta cu li sardi, Italian, n.--Also called pasta con sardi, this is the traditional dish served on St. Joseph's Day in Sicily, as well as anywhere else with a Sicilian heritage. The sardi are Mediterranean sardines, five or six inches long, broiled or fried, served whole and almost entirely edible. (Some people even eat the heads.) These accompany pasta tossed with a tomato sauce. The traditional pasta used is bucatini or perciatelli, two names for a thick string pasta with a small hole running through it. The pasta is topped not with cheese but bread crumbs, which recalls not only the privations of Lent, but also the sawdust of Joseph's carpentry. Since St. Joseph's Day is always in Lent, it's a meatless dish.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Orange, New Jersey 07050, population 33,000 is a densely populated suburb of New York City, fifteen miles west of Manhattan. It's populous enough that it's surrounded by Eat Orange, West Orange, and South Orange. It was incorporated as a township in 1806, and as a city in 1872. It has always been an industrial town. It's cut in half by I-280, which hurt the fabric of the city when it was built in 1967. It is seventy-five percent African American--one of the highest such statistics in the country. In the center of town is a genuine African restaurant called Odabro. According to its website, its menu offers goat head (isi ewu), ugba and okporoko (stockfish), goat pepper soup, chicken pepper soup, fish pepper soup, stockfish, moi-moi and specials. main menu okro soup, ogbono soup, egusi soup, vegetable soup; served with garri, pounded yam, farina, semolina, rice flour or amala with a choice of goat meat, beef, chicken, fish, or stockfish. Jollof rice and plantain, white rice and plantain with stew, beans and plantain, boiled or fried yam with stew, and a choice of goat meat, beef, chicken, fish, or stockfish.

Food Namesakes

The Raspberries, the 1970s rock group, broke up today in 1974. . . Cheryl James, "Salt" of the hip-hop group Salt 'n' Pepa, was born today in 1969.

Words To Eat By

"It is part of the novelist's convention not to mention soup and salmon and ducklings, as if soup and salmon and ducklings were of no importance."--Virginia Woolf, who drowned herself today in 1941.

Words To Drink By

"Drink to the point of hilarity."--St. Thomas Aquinas.