The Food Almanac: Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Food Calendar
Today is alleged by many Web sites to be National Cherry Tart Day. More interesting is its designation as International Picnic Day. The food at picnics has changed a lot since we were kids. It was just hot dogs and hamburgers then–if you were lucky. If you were unlucky, it was potato salad, cold fried chicken, and bologna sandwiches. Now food magazines tell us to pack a fantastic gourmet feast, including wines, into a picnic basket. It's not really hard; the trick is to go cold with everything (it's usually warm outside when you picnic, anyway). Or to bring along one of those Cajun kettles for boiling crawfish, or something else. (Even that seems a lot of work for the laziness that a picnic connotes.)

The best picnic I ever attended was set for 1500 people at the Napa Wine Auction in the early 1990s. The food was prepared by the excellent Tra Vigne–all cold Italian fare. on the lawn of the magnificent Meadowood resort. With, you may well imagine, incredible wines. What an evening that was!

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez: 
Picnics are magic. They make cold fried chicken taste good.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Ice Cream Butte is a spire of rock rising between two usually-dry tributaries of the Musselshell River in Rosebud County, Montana. Drivers on I-94 can see it clearly, four miles to the north. It looks like an inverted ice cream cone. It's uninhabited, so for ice cream or anything else to eat, you need to go to Forsythe, some thirteen air miles away. A number of diners are there. I like the ring of the Top That Eatery.

Edible Dictionary
Genoa salami, n.–A medium-hard, cured, fermented sausage, two to three inches in diameter, made of finely-ground pork with a moderate amount of fat. It's seasoned with peppercorns, anise seeds, and has a distinctive and assertive aroma. It doesn't really come from Genoa, but is patterned against salamis made in that area, where pigs raised in the woods eat lots of acorns and chestnuts. The best salami from that area are dry-cured with crusts of salt and mold on the outside when mature. The kind used on muffulettas–the New Orleans Italian sandwich in which Genoa salami is essential–is more typically wet-cured with brine.

Annals Of Popular Cuisine 
Today in 1898 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Boardwalk opened. This is the Boardwalk of Monopoly fame, also known as the Steel Pier. It was nine miles long, and offered no end to the assortment of food, drinks, music, sideshows, and hawkers selling all sorts of things. It's where Ed McMahon got his start. Imagine nine miles of Bourbon Street, and you have an idea. Speaking of that, have you noticed a new style of barker on Bourbon Street? Used to be that enterprise was the preserve of croak-voiced, thin guys trying to get you inside a strip show. Now every restaurant and bar has its people–often young women–walking around with signs telling how you can get this beer or that pizza. My wife and daughter hate even crossing Bourbon Street, and ask me whether this is what I love about New Orleans. I answer, quoting Louis Armstrong: "If you have to ask, you're never gonna know."

Food Namesakes
It's the birthday, in 1960, of Barbara Broccoli, daughter of Albert Broccoli, producer of the James Bond movies. She took over the job when her dad died. . . Speaking of Bond, the stunt coordinator on License To Kill, Barry Champagne, was born today in 1952–in Louisiana. . . Early film actress Blanche Sweet, who was well named, made The Big Debut today in 1896. . . Today in 1914 Oscar Egg, who made many records in the early years of bicycle racing, set one of those–44 kilometers in an hour. . .Mateus Galiano da Costa, a professional soccer player from Angola (the country, not the prison), kicked off his life today in 1984. He mostly goes by his first name only. Mateus is also the name of a Portuguese blush wine in a flagon, very popular in the 1970s. It would make a good picnic wine.

Words To Eat By
"The man who has nothing to boast of but his illustrious ancestry, is like the potato—the best part under ground."–Sir Thomas Overbury, born today in 1581.

Words To Drink By
"Let's drink the liquid of amber so bright; Let's drink the liquid with foam snowy white; Let's drink the liquid that brings all good cheer; Oh, where is the drink like old-fashioned beer?"–Unknown, 1800s.