The Food Almanac: Thursday, February 7th, 2013

It's National Fettuccine Alfredo Day!
Stone Crab Claws
Wikimedia Commons/ Andre Engels

Stone Crab Claws


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

Days Until. . . 
Mardi Gras--5
Valentine's Day--7

Food Names In The Movies

The man with what may be the greatest food name of all time, Buster Crabbe, was born today in 1908. He came to prominence first as a swimmer in the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. His good looks got the attention of Hollywood, and his acting career began. He made over 75 movies, usually cast as a powerful hero: Tarzan, Flash Gordon, and Buck Rogers were among his best-remembered recurring roles.

Whether Buster Crabbe ever ate a buster crab, I don't know. This seems the perfect day for National Buster Crab Day, but it's too early in the year for these little hand-peeled soft-shell crabs, which we start seeing in a month or two. (Although people with good connections-- like John Besh, whose brother-in-law raises soft shell crabs--can get them almost year-round.)

Gourmet Gazetteer
Picnic, Florida is a crossroads some fifty-six miles east of St. Petersburg. Lots of orange groves grow around there, along with stands where you can buy oranges and make them part of your picnic. There's a little park at the spot, with Hurrah Creek flowing past sluggishly. You can pick up the rest of the food at Buddy's Deli, six miles away.

Edible Dictionary
tendon, n.--One of the most distinctive beef products in Asian cooking, tendon is exactly what it implies: the cartilaginous tissue that connects muscles to bone, or to other muscles. It is very strong, and must be simmered for a long time before it finds its way into a recipe. After cooking, it has a jellylike but firm and chewy texture. It's better than it sounds. The main contribution of tendon to a soup or sauce is gelatin. Tendon (almost always seen in the singular form on menus) is particularly popular in the making of the Vietnamese soup called pho, in which it's one of many beef options (often many are served together) for the big steaming bowls of broth and noodles.

Deft Dining Rule #216:
Stone crabs are so expensive because many people who order them are just showing off their wealth. Try them once, and consider forgetting them forever after.

Food Names In The Newspapers
Crawdaddy, a newspaper about pop and rock music in the 1960s and 1970s, first appeared today in 1966. I once gathered a bunch of back issues of Crawdaddy spread them on a table where we were eating boiled crawfish. Nobody got the joke.

Today's Flavor
Today is National Fettuccine Alfredo Day. What is little noted about that dish, as practiced by the much-turned-over Alfredo's of Rome, is that a raw egg yolk is stirred into the hot pasta as the very last step. Few versions have egg at all, and it's probably for the best. Most versions now are just pasta, cream, and Parmesan cheese. Which isn't exactly bad. I have my recipe for it in today's Recipe department.

Outside A Restaurant Window
In a speech today in 1839, Henry Clay said, "I had rather be right than be president." If only that were the rule today. Orleanians thought enough of Henry Clay that a statue of him stood for decades in the neutral ground of Canal Street at St. Charles. The streetcar tracks curved to go around it. That statue is now in Lafayette Square, opposite Gallier Hall. Henry Clay waves to diners at Herbsaint, Café At The Square and Mike's On The Avenue, all of which are roughly within sight of his statue.

Music To Eat Ice Cream By
On a related note, the Beatles arrived in the United States for the first time today in 1964. To honor the occasion, Baskin-Robbins created a flavor called "Beatle Nuts." Don't remember what it tasted like, and not sure I want to.

Food Namesakes
John Deere, of farm equipment fame, was born today in 1804. . .Jimmy Greenspoon, the organist of Three Dog Night, was born today in 1948. . . Artist Arthur Berrycame along this day in 1925. . . Today in 1959, John Cook and co-pilot Robert Timm landed their airplane in Las Vegas after being continuously airborne for just shy of sixty-five days. Yes, you read that right, and it was a record. . . BaseballDan Quisenberry was born today in 1953. When do the quisenberries get ripe?

Words To Eat By
"Those from whom nature has withheld taste invented trousers."--Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, early French food authority.

Words To Cook By 
"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it."--Unknown.