It looks like a cool–if perhaps alittle wet–day to hail Rex, Zulu, the Jefferson City Buzzards, and all the other characters on the streets of our unique city.

I will begin my celebration at Gallier Hall, where for the twenty-seventh year I will anchor the broadcast on WWL. After that, I will choodle my way into Mid-City with my fingers grossed that the Krasna Vojkovich and her family has a table waiting for me at their Crescent City Steakhouse. The word “carnival” means “farewell to meat.” My personal observance of this tradition involves eating a steak. And not just any steak, but a seriously large one of fine quality. I get it, in the company of anyone who cares to join me, at the Crescent City this afternoon.

Mardi Gras has several eating traditions. The first is saying good-bye to meat and alcohol for the Lenten season that begins tomorrow. You do this by generally overindulging today. The strangest aspect of Mardi Gras is that, despite this emphasis on indulgence of the senses, it’s the worst day of the year to eat a gourmet repast. If you can avoid going to a restaurant, it’s a very good idea to do so.

Many other parts of the world have eating traditions on this day. The entire French-speaking world does, of course–that’s how it got to New Orleans. This is the day for pancakes in places that refer to this day as Shrove Tuesday–notably Liberal, Kansas. (See below.)

In Hawaii, the Portuguese presence in its past left behind a tradition of making malasada, a kind of doughnut. The Amish people in Pennsylvania Dutch country make fastnacht, a potato cake served with dark syrup today. In Iceland, they call this Sprengidagur, which translates as “Bursting Day.” They they celebrate by eating peas and salted, cured meats.

Deft Dining Rule #158: If you can’t let yourself have a Lucky Dog on Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras, you have no soul. If you eat Lucky Dogs any other time, you have no brain.

Mardi Gras has several eating traditions. The first is saying good-bye to meat and alcohol for the Lenten season that begins tomorrow. You do this by generally overindulging today. The strangest aspect of Mardi Gras is that, despite this emphasis on indulgence of the senses, it’s the worst day of the year to eat a gourmet repast. If you can avoid going to a restaurant, it’s a very good idea to do so.

Many other parts of the world have eating traditions on this day. The entire French-speaking world does, of course–that’s how it got to New Orleans. This is the day for pancakes in places that refer to this day as Shrove Tuesday–notably Liberal, Kansas. (See below.)

In Hawaii, the Portuguese presence in its past left behind a tradition of making malasada, a kind of doughnut. The Amish people in Pennsylvania Dutch country make fastnacht, a potato cake served with dark syrup today. In Iceland, they call this Sprengidagur, which translates as “Bursting Day.” They they celebrate by eating peas and salted, cured meats.

Deft Dining Rule #158: If you can’t let yourself have a Lucky Dog on Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras, you have no soul. If you eat Lucky Dogs any other time, you have no brain.

AlmanacSquare February 13, 2017

Valentine’s Day–1

Food Calendar

TortelliniThe buzz on the Web is that today is National Tortellini Day. Tortellini come from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. They’re small ravioli–little pillows of pasta usually rolled up around the stuffing instead lying flat. The filling is most often cheese, but spinach, tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, or other fillings–more often vegetable than meat–can be enclosed in tortellini. A slightly large variation is called tortelloni, which no doubt has its own special day. My favorite tortellini (or tortelloni) dish is a salad Chef Ron Wilemon of Allegro Bistro made at a party once. I badgered him for the recipe, and I have it below, in the Recipes department.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Buster Lake is in East Texas, 131 miles northeast of Houston. It’s unlikely that buster crabs are caught here, but possible. The lake is an abandoned curve in the Angelina River, which runs through a marsh before flowing into the Neches River behind the Bay Steinhagen Lake, a reservoir. Crabs need brackish water at least, though, so maybe it’s better to fish for sac-a-lait and catfish here. If even that fails, the Catfish Hut is eight miles east in Jasper.

Edible Dictionary

osteria, Italian, n.–A very informal restaurant in Italy, with minimal service and an abbreviated menu. Not much service is needed, really, because osteria tend to be patronized by the same people and families, who meet friends in the place and sometimes even serve themselves. A hallmark of the osteria is that it offers a set menu each day. You show up, and that’s what you eat. In recent times, the usage has broadened to take in restaurants with a daily fixed menu but without the regular customers–unless you call tourists regulars. The osteria grew out of the inn for travelers, who expected to be fed, but with simple food.

Annals Of Food Research

G. Brown Goode was born today in 1851. His contribution to our tables was a new two-volume atlas of the fisheries of the United States, published in the 1880s. It was the first resource with its scope, and included over 500 etchings of the many species of fish and shellfish that were caught and sold at the time.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

MatchesIf you have to light a stove burner with a strike-anywhere match, it will never ignite properly on its own ever again. Unless that happened to be your last match.

Food In Sho-Biz

In 1972, the musical Grease opened on Broadway. A year later exactly, another musical, El Grande de Coca-Cola opened in New York City. A movie called Kitchen Stories premiered on this date in 2004. It was a comedy about making one’s kitchen work by the assembly-line method. I hear it wasn’t very funny. What was funny was a 1932 Our Gang episode called Free Eats. It featured the debut of George “Spanky” McFarland in the series.

Music To Chew Bubble Gum By

On the musical side of sho-biz, today in 1967 the Beatles song Strawberry Fields Forever was released. . . The Osmond Family had a Number One hit on this day in 1971, with their song One Bad Apple.

Food Namesakes

Eddie Pye, infielder for the Dodgers, was born today in 1967. . . German artist George Schrimpf was born today in 1889. . . Canadian musician Jeff Waters of Annihilator was born today in 1966.

Words To Eat By

“All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.”–Grant Wood, artist, who was born today in 1892.

“Fish should smell like the tide. Once they smell like fish, it’s too late.”–Oscar Gizelt, former manager of Delmonico’s in New York.

Words To Drink By

“Fill up the goblet and reach to me some!
Drinking makes wise, but dry fasting makes glum.”
William R. Alger, “Wine Song of Kaitmas,” 1865).

FoodFunniesSquare

Getting The Important Heath Statistics About Your Food.

Finding out about heavy metal concentrations is one of the most critical indices of that you eat.

Click here for the cartoon.

1 Readers Commented

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  1. Bernhard Fraling on February 13, 2015

    HI Tom,
    “Today is the traditional day for the Krewe of Hermes parade. Hermes was the messenger to the gods, and very swift of foot…” Sounds like the perfect fit if I ever should join a Krewe… I love your food radio show. You are one of the reason why I focus on the food niche:–))) I would be happy to meet you one day in person…
    Happy Mardi Gras
    Best, Bernhard Fraling

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