April 1

National Sourdough Bread Day

Airborne Yeast. Bozo's. Saucier. Pil-Pil. Physiology Of Taste. Staub. Saint Of Chartruese.

Days Until. . .

Easter--4

Restaurant Anniversaries

Bozo's opened today in 1928. Founder Chris "Bozo" Vodonovich was one of many Croatians who created great restaurants in New Orleans in the 1900s. He relied on his connections with the fishermen in Plaquemines Parish to supply him with first-class oysters and other seafood. Bozo's became legendary, always packed with people waiting for the simple but meticulously fried and boiled seafood. Bozo's son--also named Chris--continued that attention to details until he sold it to Ed McIntyre in 2013. He renamed it Mr. Ed's Oyster Bar & Fish Grill and expanded the menu a bit, but the standards set by Bozo are still in place.

Food Calendar

This is Sourdough Bread Day. Sourdough is to San Francisco what New Orleans-style French bread is to our town. It's served everywhere a local flavor is desired. It's an interesting product. The making of sourdough begins with a mixture of flour and water set out in the open to capture free-floating yeasts from the air. (San Francisco is supposed to have the best airborne yeast in the world, but that has never been proven.)The yeasts begin leavening this starter dough and multiplying. More flour and water are added--as well as milk and sometimes sugar or potato starch. When enough active starter is made, some or all of it goes into a batch of bread flour, where over a period of hours it leavens the dough. Most of that gets baked into bread, but some of it is kept unbaked, to continue feeding the yeasts. That's used to make the next day's batch of sourdough bread, and the process is repeated.Long-time San Francisco bakers claim that their sourdough starter has been developing this was continuously for decades. All the above is the original, artisan's method of making sourdough. In actual practice, most bakers of sourdough also use a commercial baker's yeast to help the process along. (They say it improves the taste, but the purists call this a shortcut.) It's great bread, no matter how you slice it.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Saucier, Mississippi 39574 is nineteen miles north of the Gulf of Mexico beaches at Gulfport, up the US 49 artery. It's pronounced in the French way [SO-shay], but the look of the word conjures up a superabundance of delicious sauce. Or (returning to the French) the person who makes sauce. Saucier has a population of 1300, and is evolving from a rural railroad stop in the woods into an exurb of Biloxi and Gulfport. The countryside is rolling, pine-dominated woods. The place to eat is the Magnolia Diner, about three miles south of the center of town.

Edible Dictionary

pil-pil, Portuguese, n.--Also piri-piri, particularly in places with a Portuguese heritage. A dish, usually involving shrimp or fish cooked in olive oil with chile peppers. It it usually quite hot to the taste, though not always. Pil-pil seems to be a dish that moved around the world a lot. Nobody's quite sure which cuisine created it. My theory is that it's a creole (in the generic sense) idea. It certainly has roots in the French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Africa, from which versions went back to the mother country for further evolution. The Basques also claim it. The essential chile peppers give it an American origin, too.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

If you make a good yeast sponge, you are evermore committed to taking care of it the rest of your life. Or you're not a true bread baker.

Deft Dining Rule #235

A restaurant that serves just enough bread is more interested in its food cost percentages than your pleasure. [Note: Most chain restaurants don't serve bread at all anymore.]

Annals Of Food Writing

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, physician and author of The Physiology of Taste, was born today in 1755. His witty, appreciative tome was the first modern book on the subject of fine cuisine and dining, and remains definitive. His most famous quotation was "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." Here are two more:"A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.""The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star."

Food And Sports

Rusty Staub was born in New Orleans today in 1944. After a long and distinguished career in baseball with Jesuit High School, the Astros, and the Expos, he moved to New York and was adopted by Mets fans. He was popular enough that he opened Rusty's, a restaurant that served Cajun food to New Yorkers for twenty-one years. He remains a gourmet and oenophile. A very nice guy, he is an ardent philanthropist.

The Saints

This is the feast day of St. Hugh, the patron saint of Grenoble, France. A dish noted as being the the Grenoble style almost always includes capers. It's also where the potent Chartreuse liqueur comes from. St. Hugh donated the land on which Chartreuse Abbey, where the potent beverage originated, was built. Perhaps this explains why St. Hugh is also a patron saint of headache sufferers.

Food Namesakes

Apple Computer was founded today in 1976. . . Otto von Bismarck, the chancellor of Germany in the late 19th century, was born today in 1815. (A bismarck is a kind of filled doughnut) . . . Actor Wallace Beery came out onto the Big Stage today in 1885. . . Billy Currie, who plays many instruments for the group Ultravox, was born today in 1950. . . Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker got married today in 1961.

Words To Eat By

"Ex ovo omnia. Everything from an egg."--William Harvey, British physician, born today in 1578.

Words To Drink By

"Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them, and Champagne makes you do them."--Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, born today in 1755.