The Food Almanac: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Staff Writer
It's National Farm-Raised Catfish Day!
Brandon Rush

Food Calendar
Today in 1987, President Ronald Reagan declared June 25 National Farm-Raised Catfish Day. Farm-raised catfish has the advantage of being available all the time at a consistent price. Restaurants love that, because wild-caught fish are so unpredictable. It's pretty good, but the trend in recent years has been to allow the catfish to grow bigger and bigger, which for catfish is not an improvement. Also, some fish farms have environmental issues. Wild-caught fish from good sources is better. But rolled in corn meal, fried till golden, splashed with hot sauce. . . it's a treat. Makes a good poor boy sandwich, too.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Catfish Paradise is a fishing hamlet on the Arizona side of a marshy reservoir off the Colorado River. It's across from Needles, California--a town famous for its frequently being the hottest place in America on a given day. The old Route 66 passed nearby, as did I-40 and the Santa Fe Railroad. Doesn't sound like a great place for fishing, but indeed there are catfish in there. And crappie (a.k.a. "gaspergou," various bass, and bullfrogs. The nearest interesting restaurant is Munchy's, in downtown Needles.

Edible Dictionary
channel catfish, n.--The most popular species of catfish among fishermen, channel catfish is also the one most used for aquaculture. It's scientific name is Ictalurus punctatus. It's native to North America east of the Rockies, with the Mississippi River Basin being its primary home. Channel catfish like fresh water that moves, but not rapidly. It eats almost anything, including scavenged food. It is a very adept feeder even in muddy water; the barbels (whiskers) around its mouth are taste organs, and its sense of smell is very keen. Catfish of ten pounds or more are considered very large. The smaller ones are actually better for eating.

Annals Of Food Writing 
Food adventurer Anthony Bourdain was born today in 1956. He grew up in a bourgeois New York family and was well educated. But he went his own way, working years as a chef. With that experience and a gift for colorful expression, he began writing. His breakthrough book was Kitchen Confidential, published in 2000. In it he showed a side of the cooking profession few people (other than those engaged in it) realized. He went on to write other books about the restaurant biz, along with a few crime mysteries. He became a big star when his No Reservations television show on The Travel Channel became a phenomenon. Bourdain became famous for his willingness to try almost anything in both the culinary and other sides of the worlds he visited. He's genuinely entertaining, seeing facets of the world most people miss and commenting with offbeat humor about all of it.

World Food Records
The world's largest lollipop was certified on June 25, 2002. it weighed 4,031 pounds (with stick), measured 18.9 inches thick and was more than 15 feet tall with stick (about as tall as a giraffe). Can you guess the flavor of the world's largest lollipop? That's right.

Deft Dining Rule #110: 
A restaurant offering "lamb lollipops" is best advised to limit them to the small plates section of the menu. And they had better include a thick, very good sauce.

Unusual Foods
The discovery of a previously unknown mammal called the saola was announced today in 1994. Also known as the Vu Quang ox,it lives along the border between Vietnam and Laos. An ungulate that somewhat resembles cattle, it was classified in its own genus. It weighs about 200 pounds and has sharp horns. There are only a few hundred of them in existence, living in steep mountains covered with jungle. However, the natives have killed and eaten them, and say it tastes a lot like bo.

Food Namesakes
Football player Bob Griese retired from the game today in 1980. . . Pro basketballer Dell Curry (he used to play for the Hornets) tipped off today in 1964. . . Harold Roe Bartle, former mayor of Kansas City, was born today in 1901.

Words To Eat By
"Fettuccine Alfredo is macaroni and cheese for adults."--Mitch Hedberg, American comedian.

Words To Drink By
"To your good health, old friend,
May you live for a thousand years,
And I be there to count them. 
--Robert Smith Surtees, British writer of the middle 1800s.

Related Links
Sandwich of the Week: Spitzer's Fried White Catfish Sandwich