The Food Almanac: Thursday, June 20, 2013

National Vanilla Milk Shake Day


Today's Flavor
Today is National Vanilla Milk Shake Day. I prefer malted milkshakes myself, but I do lean toward vanilla over chocolate. Seems to allow the malted taste to come through better. First one I ever encountered was from a panel truck with a soft-serve ice cream machine aboard and the entire range of ice-cream-parlor ingredients. I loved it immediately. It was called Dairy Dan, and made the rounds in River Ridge in the 1960s. Anybody else remember it?

This is also Eggs Sardou Day. Poached eggs atop an artichoke bottom filled with creamed spinach, with a substantial flow of hollandaise sauce. The idea is such a good one that not only is the dish probably the most popular fancy eggs in New Orleans, but it has given rise to many other things Sardou as well. For example, there's crabmeat Sardou, in which lump crabmeat takes the place of the eggs, but everything else is left standing.

Eggs Sardou was originally created at Antoine's in New Orleans, in the late 1800s, when Antoine Alciatore himself was still alive. He named it for playwright Victor Sardou, who'd just written a French comedy called Uncle Sam. (Imagine--the French poking fun at America!) The playwright is probably best remembered because posters for his plays were painted by the Art Nouveau master Alfonse Mucha, but I'm getting off the subject.

Antoine's eggs Sardou is different from others in that it doesn't include the spinach, but does have a bit of chopped anchovy. It's a good dish, even though eating eggs at Antoine's seems a little funny. The restaurant that makes the dish best, however, is Brennan's. That's where the spinach got added to the recipe. The perfection of Brennan's hollandaise adds further distinction. Making eggs Sardou at home is too much work for just one or two, but if you have a bunch of friends coming over for brunch, it would impress them.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Greensburg, Indiana 47240 is midway between Indianapolis and Cincinnati on I-74. About ten thousand people live there. It has been the center of that farming area since the 1820s, and was incorporated in 1859. Its logo shows its courthouse tower (which resembles the Campanile in Venice), which is famous for having a tree growing through its roof. Storie's Restaurant is right across the street. Have a nice green salad.

Edible Dictionary
collard greens, collard greens, n.--A plant in the brassica family (which also includes cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts) with large, thick leaves that don't form a head. They are a mainstay of Southern cooking, particularly among African-Americans. In New Orleans, they're an essential ingredient of gumbo z'herbes. Collards are most often boiled, often with other greens, and flavored with seasoning meats. They come out like cabbage, but with a sharper flavor. Although they're typically grown in the spring, they're considered by most fans as a cold-weather vegetable. Collards are believed to have been cultivated and eat longer than any other member of the cabbage family. They're eaten all over the world. The name comes from the Old English colewort.

Deft Dining Rule #107:
One of the first steps to becoming a gourmet is deciding whether you want good or plenty.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez: 
If your hollandaise breaks, add a tablespoon of warm water and see if it re-emulsifies. If not, start over again with just one egg yolk, whisking over gentle heat until it gets thick, then whisk in the broken sauce a little at a time.

Music To Eat In Your Room By 
Today is the birthday, in 1942, of Brian Wilson, the songwriting genius and distinctive falsetto voice of the Beach Boys. His food quotation was, "Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once, and you'll suck forever."

Food Namesakes 
Toast Of The Town-- which later became better known as the Ed Sullivan Show, made its first appearance on CBS television on this date in 1948. It was on Sunday nights for twenty-three years. . . Candy Clark, who was an actress in a bunch of 1970s and 1980s movies, was born today in 1947. . . Novelist Charles Chesnutt was born today in 1858. . . Actor John McCook was born today in 1945. . . Writer Lillian Hellman came out of the jar today in 1905.

Words To Eat By
"I am not strict vegan, because I'm a hedonist pig. If I see a big chocolate cake that is made with eggs, I'll have it."--Grace Slick, lead singer of Jefferson Airplane/Starship.

Words To Drink By
"I like my whisky old and my women young."--Actor Errol Flynn, born today in 1909.


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