The Food Almanac: Friday, June 21, 2013

It's the first day of summer!

Looking Up 
The summer solstice occurs at sixteen past noon here in New Orleans. This ought to be a holiday. It's one of the four days with meaning for every living thing on earth. What it means for New Orleanians is that four months of uncomfortably hot, humid weather lie before us. It also means that crabmeat prices will be coming down as the quality keeps going up. That sno-balls, icy beer, and cold watermelon will taste better and better. And that, after the trek of a block or two from where you parked your car, the overcooled environs of Galatoire's and Antoine's will be very welcome.

Today's Flavor 
Today is allegedly National Peaches and Cream Day. As popular as that saying is, when's the last time you ever had that combination? I don't think I ever have. I like nectarines (one of which my daughter is eating at the very second I am writing these words) with torroncino ice cream from Brocato's.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Peach Orchard is in the northeast corner of Arkansas, 116 miles northwest of Memphis. It's in the center of flat farmland with modest hills to the east and much steeper ones to the west. A main line of the historic Missouri Pacific Railroad has a siding in Peach Orchard, although the orchard is not likely the reason for that. The nearest restaurant is Dowler's, eleven miles east in Paragould.

Annals Of Cajun Food
Halifax, Nova Scotia was founded today in 1749. It was established by the British, who in the ensuing years would force the existing French Acadian population in the area to either give up Catholicism or move. Most of them moved to the French colony of Louisiana, where they created the unique Cajun (a slurring of "Acadian") culture. Meanwhile, Halifax grew to be an important port. It's a city of significant size, but the funny thing about it is that it's unincorporated. I've been there twice in the past few years. The lobsters, mussels, and scallops around there are as good as any in the world.

Moving Food Around 
On this date in 1933, the first grain barge ever to travel from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico down the Mississippi River arrived in New Orleans. It left Lake Michigan by way of the Chicago River, then down the Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal to the Illinois River, then the Mississippi.

Music To Eat Fruit By
O.C. Smith, whose biggest hit record was Little Green Apples, was born today in 1932, in Mansfield, Louisiana. His real name is "Ocie," so the second initial doesn't stand for anything. Before he went solo, he was a big-band jazz singer with Count Basie's matchless orchestra.

Edible Dictionary
nectarine, n.--Nectarines are less different from peaches than one random apple is different from another. Two matters give nectarines their own identity. First, their skins are smooth and shiny, usually more red than orange or yellow. Second, they're a bit sweeter and less acidic--but only a bit. Regardless of those small variations, many people prefer one or another. I am one of those people.

Food Namesakes
Siméon Denis Poisson, a French mathematician who has a famous equation named for him, presented his first problem today in 1781.

Words To Eat By
"'The bigger the better' is, though a common, not a universal rule; it does not, for instance, apply to fish."--George Saintsbury,British historian and critic.


Words To Drink By
"We borrowed golf from Scotland as we borrowed whiskey. Not because it is Scottish, but because it is good."--Horace Hutchinson, early star golfer.