The Food Almanac: Friday, November 2, 2012

Deviled Eggs, Giant Squids, and the Soup Nazi

In The Food Almanac, Tom Fitzmorris of The New Orleans Menu, notes food facts and sayings.

Today's Flavor
Today is Deviled Eggs Day. Deviled eggs used to be common as an appetizer around New Orleans. The most famous place for them was Maylie's, which served them with remoulade sauce. It sounds strange, but it's actually very good. Arnaud's revived the idea a few years ago and had them on their lunch menu as "The Count's Eggs." No lunch there at the moment, though. So if we're going to eat deviled eggs with remoulade, we have to make them ourselves.

Annals of Royal Food Proclamations
Today is the birthday, in 1755, of Marie Antoinette, the queen of France. Aside from her famous recommendation that certain people eat cake (actually, she recommended that they eat brioche), she had a New Orleans hotel named for her on the corner of Toulouse and Dauphine. That was the original location, in 1970, of Louis XVI French Restaurant, named for Marie's husband. The restaurant later moved to where it is now, on Bienville off Bourbon.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Napoleon is a mid-sized city of just under 10,000 people in the northeast corner of Ohio, an even 100 miles south-southwest of Detroit. It was founded in 1836, and has always been a manufacturing town, albeit one with a bit more natural beauty in its countryside than most. The Maumee River, where you can actually catch fish, flows through town and on into Lake Erie. Many restaurants are in Napoleon, but try Spengler's founded in 1879 and still going strong as a downtown café and saloon. Their menu is bereft of napoleon pastry, but some other restaurant must have it, wouldn't you think?

Edible Dictionary
mille-feuille, [meey FUH-yeh], French, n. The name literally means "a thousand leaves." That may be an understatement. A mille-feuille pastry is usually made of several sheets of puff pastry, each of which contains at least 512 sheets, from having been folded over and rolled out nine or so times. After baking, the leaves of pastry become flaky and pull apart a bit to display just how many of them there are. The most famous mille-feuille has a name of its own: the Napoleon pastry. But these days more than a few chefs are making all sorts of desserts in the mille-feuille style, as well as some savory dishes. Louis XVI, for example, used to make a mille-feuille filled with crawfish and crabmeat.

Deft Dining Rule #204
If you order two napoleon pastries for yourself at one time, you may expect to hear the French lady on the other side of the counter exclaim, "Mon dieu!"

Food Records
Today in 1978, fishermen off the coast of Newfoundland caught the largest squid ever: 55 feet long and weighing almost two tons. These giant squid are known to battle sperm whales to the finish in a fair fight. One fried ring feeds a family of twelve.

Food in Show Biz
The Soup Nazi a guy who made great soups, but who put his customers through hell to get them appeared for the first time today in 1995 on the Seinfeld television show. The character was based on that of Al Yeganeh, who ran the Soup Kitchen International in Manhattan. It has become a small chain of souperies in the last couple of years.

Food in Art
Today is the birthday, in 1837, of Émile Antoine Bayard, a French painter and illustrator. Among his best-known works are the drawings in several of Jules Verne's novels. He is remembered (barely) on the menu at Antoine's in New Orleans with a salad. It has a Cubist look, with an artichoke heart stuffed with a mix of minced celery, parsley, and green onions, topped with a rolled anchovy stuffed with caviar. As weird as this sounds, it is of interest because the chopped part of this is the starting point for Antoine's oysters Rockefeller recipe. I don't think they sell many salades Bayard, but I've always liked it.

Food Namesakes
Danny Cooksey, a television actor who played Sam on Diff'rent Strokes, was born today in 1975 . . . Former Saints tackle Chris Port was born today in 1967 . . . British cricket star Fred Bakewell stepped up to life's wicket today in 1913 . . . Longtime Kentucky Congressman Romano Mazzoli, whose name sounds like a dish, was born today in 1932 . . . The Spruce Goose, the largest airplane ever built, was taken on its first and last flight today in California in 1947. The pilot was Howard Hughes, who designed it.

Words to Eat By
"They say that a good cook can ignite sparks by the way he kisses. The way I see, just because a guy can turn on the stove doesn't necessarily make him a good cook."   Stephanie Powers, who played the girl from U.N.C.L.E. on the 1960s television show. She was born today in 1942.  

Words to Drink By
"I have seen all, I have heard all, I have forgotten all." Marie Antoinette, born today in 1755.

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