AlmanacSquare February 7, 2017

Days Until. . .

Mardi Gras–6
Valentine’s Day–7

Food Names In The Movies

The man with what may be the greatest food name of all time, Buster Crabbe, was born today in 1908. He came to prominence first as a swimmer in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. His good looks got the attention of Hollywood, and his acting career began. He made over 75 movies, usually cast as a powerful hero: Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers were among his best-remembered recurring roles.

Crab on crab.

Whether Buster Crabbe ever ate a buster crab, I don’t know. This seems the perfect day for National Buster Crab Day, but it’s too early in the year for these little hand-peeled soft-shell crabs, which we start seeing in a month or two. (Although people with good connections– like a chef I know whose brother-in-law raises soft shell crabs–can get them almost year-round.)

Gourmet Gazetteer

Pease is a town of some 250 people in central Minnesota, sixty miles north of the Twin Cities. The uninterrupted Midwestern cornfields south of Pease start to break up around there. The town was originally a station on the Great Northern Railway, but that’s gone now. An interesting census statistic is that not one single person claiming to be African American lives in Pease. This does not bode well for those of us with a preference for the New Orleans taste in our food cuisine. But we’ll keep an open mind and go to the Pease Cafe in the middle of town, and ask them whether they know that “pease” is the original name what we now call the pea.

Edible Dictionary

darne, French, n.–A steak of fish, cut crosswise into a thick, usually U-shaped slab, with the major bones still intact. This presentation is most common in this country for use with salmon, but the vogue is moving away from that int he direction of fillets. The fish can be cooked in almost any way, from grilling to braising or steaming. If there’s a sauce, it will not be many steps away from a fish stock.

Deft Dining Rule #216:

Stone crabs are so expensive because many people who order them are just showing off their wealth. Try them once, and consider forgetting them forever after.

Food Names In The Newspapers

Crawdaddy, a newspaper about pop and rock music in the 1960s and 1970s, first appeared today in 1966. I once gathered a bunch of back issues of Crawdaddy spread them on a table where we were eating boiled crawfish. Nobody got the joke.

Today’s Flavor

Today is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day. What is little noted about that dish, as practiced by the much-turned-over Alfredo’s of Rome, is that a raw egg yolk is stirred into the hot pasta as the very last step. Few versions have egg at all, and it’s probably for the best. Most versions now are just pasta, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Which isn’t exactly bad. I have my recipe for it in today’s Recipe department.

Outside A Restaurant Window

In a speech today in 1839, Henry Clay said, “I had rather be right than be president.” If only that were the rule today. Orleanians thought enough of Henry Clay that a statue of him stood for decades in the neutral ground of Canal Street at St. Charles. The streetcar tracks curved to go around it. That statue is now in Lafayette Square, opposite Gallier Hall. Henry Clay waves to diners at Herbsaint, CafĂ© At The Square and Desi Vega’s Steak House, and Marcello’s, all of which are roughly within sight of his statue.

Music To Eat Ice Cream By

On a related note, the Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time today in 1964. To honor the occasion, Baskin-Robbins created a flavor called “Beatle Nuts.” Don’t remember what it tasted like, and not sure I want to.

Food Namesakes

John Deere, of farm equipment fame, was born today in 1804. . . Jimmy Greenspoon, the organist of Three Dog Night, was born today in 1948. . . Artist Arthur Berry came along this day in 1925. . . Today in 1959, John Cook and co-pilot Robert Timm landed their airplane in Las Vegas after being continuously airborne for just shy of sixty-five days. Yes, you read that right, and it was a record. . . Baseball
Dan Quisenberry
was born today in 1953. When do the quisenberries get ripe?

Words To Eat By

“Those from whom nature has withheld taste invented trousers.”–Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, early French food authority.

Words To Cook By

“Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it.”–Unknown.