AlmanacSquare March 8, 2017

Days Until. . .

St. Patrick’s Day–March 17

St. Joseph’s Day–19

Easter–April 1

Food Calendar

It is National French Onion Soup Day. Let’s make some before the cool weather ends completely. The story behind the dark, slightly sweet, aromatic onion soup, served in a crock with a cap of cheese on a floating crouton, was that it was first served in Les Halles, the gigantic marketplace that once was in the center of Paris. Like all such markets, it opened very early in the morning, and it could be cold. One of the vendors began cooking an onion soup covered with enough cheese to keep the soup from cooling quickly. The cheese would re-seal itself after every incursion of the spoon. (So it’s wrong to eat the cheese first, at least if you want to be entirely traditional.) Although French onion soup lends itself to cold weather eating, it’s pretty good all the time. I make a version that involves using six different onions and six different chili peppers (small ones).

Gourmet Gazetteer

Pepper Branch is a five-mile long tributary of Duck Creek in central Texas. The confluence of the Pepper and the Duck is 144 miles north northwest of Houston.
The branch runs dry most of the time through a mix of open fields for cattle ranching and oak woodlands. US 79 is within shouting distance, and an active former Missouri Pacific (now Union Pacific) main line follows the curves of Pepper Creek for most of the stream’s length. After checking all this out, head southeast to Camp Creek Cafe, very much out of the way on Camp Creek Lake.

Edible Dictionary

chitterlings, chitlins, n.–The cooked small intestine of a pig, often (but not always) stuffed with any of a wide variety of stuffings. Even among those who say they use every part of the pig except the squeal, chitterlings are low down on the desirability list. Chitterlings are as widespread throughout the world as poverty and hunger are–which is to say everywhere. Many people who have risen above that level still celebrate chitterlings as a reminder of where their forebears came from. The big problem with using chitterlings as food is that they must be very aggressively cleaned, lest the taste and smell of what’s inside that organ in its living state rise to perceptability. As Bill Cosby says, “Chitlins is spelled with the wrong first letter.”

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Always buy one or two bunches of green onions when you’re at the store, even if you don’t have any explicit plans for them. Having them in hand will make you slice them up and use them somehow, and that can’t help but make your meals more interesting.

Annals Of Soft Drinks

The six-bottle carton of Coca-Cola was introduced today in 1923. They cost less than the price of six bottles bought one at a time–usuallly the price of five bottles, so you got one free. The bottles themselves held seven ounces of the drink. Compare that with the refrigerator packs of Coke and other soft drinks today, which hold twenty-four cans at twelve ounces each. Ah, these are the good new days! (Or, come up with your own conclusions.)

The Saints

San Juan de Dios–Saint John of God–was born in Spain today in 1495. Today is his feast day, too. He is the patron saint of alcoholics, many of whom he cared for in a house in Granada that he ran for the sick.

Dimes In Dining

The New Orleans branch of the U.S. Mint began making its first coins–dimes–on this day in 1838. A dime could buy a lunch in those days, but there were no restaurants as we know then around to sell it to us. Antoine’s would not open for another two years. Vendors in the French Market would sell you at least a dozen oysters for a dime, though.

Food Namesakes

Cheryl James, “Salt” in the all-girl rap act Salt ‘n’ Pepa, was born today in 1964. . . Pop singer Cheryl Baker got the beat today in 1954. . . Jim Rice, an outfielder who won Most Valuable Player in the American League in 1978, came to life today in 1953. . . Baseball pitcher John Butcher had a less successful career in the majors–just seven years–but that’s not nothing. He was born today in 1957.

Words To Eat By

“Happy is said to be the family which can eat onions together. They are, for the time being, separate from the world, and have a harmony of aspiration.”–Charles Dudley Warner, American journalist of the late 1800s.

Words To Drink By

β€œIn wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.”―Benjamin Franklin.