The Food Almanac: Monday, March 10, 2014
In New Orleans it’s Creole Cream Cheese Day. It’s a distinctly local product, enjoyed for over a hundred years before suddenly brought to the brink of extinction in the 1980s. The Baby Boom generation never picked up the habit from their parents, and suddenly the last commercial dairy making Creole cream cheese gave it up. It made a comeback in recent times when the Boomers felt nostalgia for the idea, if not the reality. Enough small dairies began making Creole cream cheese that it’s now easily available again.
Dairymen describe Creole cream cheese as clabber–the solid part of milk that has turned and separated. It has loose, soft curds in enough whey to keep it moist. Good Creole cream cheese has a sour flavor more pronounced than Philadelphia cream cheese or cottage cheese, which it resembles.
In the old days, Creole cream cheese was eaten with fresh fruit (notably strawberries) and sugar as a breakfast item. My mother loved it; none of my siblings touched the stuff. In these days, Creole cream cheese is more used to make dessert cheesecake (which it does very well), and savory cheesecakes with the likes of mushrooms or crabmeat.
The dairies currently making excellent Creole cream cheese include Mauthe’s, Smith’s, and John Folse’s Bittersweet Creamery. You can also make your own with little difficulty, if you can find one odd but critical ingredient: rennet.
Lunch Peak is in the Idaho panhandle, 103 miles northeast of Spokane, Washington. With lightly wooded slopes, it rises to 6412 feet, viging such a superb lookout that a gravel road goes to the top of it. Lunch Creek flows down the eastward-facing slope. Other food names are in the area, including Nosebag Creek, Smorgasbord Creek, and Trout Creek. Great area for hiking and skiing. It’s a ten-mile pull (downhill, mostly), to the nearest restaurant, The Old Ice House.
Deft Dining Rule #639:
A restaurant that uses no locally-produced foods in its cooking will always be inferior to one that does. The more, the better.
monkfish, n.–A very strange-looking saltwater fish that lives on ocean and sea bottoms. One of its several other names–anglerfish–is a reference to the way it attracts prey. A long appendage on its head looks like a worm or some other kind of food. When a would-be predator goes for this “worm,” the monkfish zooms up and swallows it. To that end, it had a very large mouth, almost human in its conformation. It seems that the fish is more mouth than anything. Monkfish is known to fish merchants as lobster fish, because its very white flesh has the same texture as that of lobster. It can grow pretty large; the record is over 200 pounds. Monkfish liver is made into a pate by Japanese chefs, who call it Japanese foie gras. Monkfish is a prize catch in terms of eating.
The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:
The way to determine whether fish on the grill or in the broiler is cooked is to jab a kitchen fork into the center of the fish and hold it there for about five seconds. Pull it out and tough the tines to you lips. If it feels warm at all, the fish is done. Your lips are very sensitive to heat, and quite accurate. Do this carefully. You will not likely burn your lips, but you don’t want to poke yourself in the eye.
Food On The Air
Thirty-six years ago today, I began broadcasting a daily two-minute restaurant review on WGSO radio. I have had some kind of daily radio show about food ever since. The first one was about the Coffee Pot restaurant on St. Peter Street. I was on WGSO until 1983, then on WBYU and WWL before starting my present show in 1988 on WSMB (now called WWWL. And that’s more than you wanted to know.
Bob Berry, the Vikings quarterback who played in three Super Bowls, was born today in 1942. . . Rap Singer Ninah Cherry screamed for the first time today in 1964. . . Actress Jasmine Guy came to life today in 1964, too. . . Pianist and singer Raymond Raspberry was born today in 1930. . . Film and television writer and director Paul Haggis gave his first cues today in 1953. . . Early Yankee second baseman Jim Curry was born today in 1893. . . Actor Jon Hamm came out of the oven today in 1971.
Words To Eat By
“A man who is careful with his palate is not likely to be careless with his paragraphs.”–Clifton Fadiman.
Words To Drink By
“This Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it.”–Unknown, about coffee; from the 1500s.