The Food Almanac: Friday, August 9, 2013

Classic New Orleans Restaurants
Today in 1993, Gunter and Evelyn Preuss bought out their partner George Huber and became the sole owners of Broussard's.The Preusses and the Hubers were long-time friends, and had run first-class restaurants for decades. Although they were all German natives, they had differing styles. Huber saw Broussard's as strictly a tourist restaurant; the Preusses felt, as they still do, that local diners should be wooed. That strategy seems to have worked for Broussard's particularly well since the storm. Not packing the house every night during the summer, of course, but good enough that this classic Creole institution remains healthy and beautiful.

Annals Of Fishing
On this date in 1593, Isaak Walton was born in England. He was to write a book that not only set down everything one could know about fishing at that time, but set the standard for books that studied any particular field. It was called The Compleat Angler. Its antique spelling lives on as a common affectation. The book was more about catching fish for food than for sport, although fun was part of it too.

Annals Of Smoking
Today in 1902, King Edward VII was crowned as the monarch of England, succeeding Queen Victoria, his mother. His first official act when he appeared before Parliament was to rescind an edict of the late Queen with this line: "Gentlemen, you may smoke." He smoked a dozen cigars a day, plus a pack of cigarettes. That's why a popular line of inexpensive cigars was named for him.

Food Calendar
This is National Rice Pudding Day. Rice pudding is one of those dishes that's much loved but rarely eaten. It's brought up on the radio show six or seven times a year always with an undertone of longing for some wonderful memory of the past. It even has a cherished old French name: riz au lait. I have a recipe for it in today's newsletter. (It's also in my cookbook, if you have it.)

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez
To really love rice pudding, you must be over seventy.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Rice is in Prince Edward County in Central Virginia, fifty-eight miles east of Richmond. Its an old farming center whose identity was obscured by the building of the four-lane King Edward Highway through the fields. It gets a flag on the Civil War map: the Battle of Rice's Station took place there on April 6, 1865, as Union and Confederate forces fought for the railroad station on what is now a main line on the Norfolk Southern Railway. The Rebs fell back to Farmville, and you should too if you want something to eat. The Big Dog Restaurant seems to be the big dog there.

Cookbooks Through History
This is the birth date, in 1762, of Mary Randolph. She married into one of the most prominent families of Virginia and lived a life of privilege, until her husband fell into disfavor with Thomas Jefferson and lost his job. Their fortunes declined. Mary Randolph opened a boarding house, where her skills at running a large manor made it a success. She wrote a cookbook called The Virginia Housewife, . It is considered the first major work on the subject of Southern cookery. Written for women with genteel lifestyles, it was carefully assembled, and included exact measurements of ingredients–a rare quality in recipes of the time.

Edible Dictionary
kheer, [keer], Indian, n.–A sweet rice pudding served in Indian restaurants as a dessert. It's made with cream, evaporated milk, whole milk, or a combination of the three. Coconut milk is usually part the the recipe, too, as are raisins. Less universal but also common are pistachio nuts, cinnamon, and cardamom. The dessert course is not strong in traditional Indian eating. Kheer–although it is an authentic India dish–was adopted by American Indian restaurants more because customers are accustomed to have some kind of sweet dish at the end of a meal than for any other reason.

Annals Of Public Buildings
The Superdome's first public event–a loss for the Saints against the Houston Oilers in a pre-season game–took place today in 1975. Best food: the SuperDog, created by the now-gone local King Cotton meat-packing company. The dog was indeed bigger than normal, and better, too, with an interesting spice and garlic component. . . Today in 1173, construction began on the Campanile in Pisa, Italy. Better known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, its image is seen somewhere in three out of four American Italian restaurants. I wonder how many pizzerias with the name "Tower Of Pizza" there are around the world. We have one here, of course.

Food Namesakes
Claude I. Bakewell, former U.S. Congressman from Missouri, was born in St. Louis today in 1912. . . Baseball pro Mike Lamb was born today in 1975.

Words To Eat By
"Blessed be he that invented pudding, for it is a manna that hits the palates of all sorts of people; a manna better than that of the wilderness, because the people are never weary of it."–Francois Maximilien Mission, French writer.

Words To Drink By
"Drinking is a way of ending the day."–Ernest Hemingway.