The Food Almanac: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's Grilled Oysters Day!
Wikimedia Commons/ DJC1970

At this time of year in the Gulf of Mexico, the water has cooled enough for oysters to leave their spawning days behind and start bulking up.

Feasting Through History 
Today in 1789, Americans celebrated the first Thanksgiving. President George Washington proclaimed the day of gratitude for a multitude of things, chief among them the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. In those days, big feasts--even bigger than what we do now--were the way one celebrated matters like this. So was born the dinner that has always been the hallmark of Thanksgiving Day. Today in 1846 Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of a woman's magazine, began a campaign to have Thanksgiving declared a permanent national holiday. She would persuade Abraham Lincoln to do so in 1863--again, on this very date.

Food Calendar
This is Grilled Oysters Day. At this time of year in the Gulf of Mexico, the water has cooled enough for oysters to leave their spawning days behind and start bulking up. They stand up to a grilling without shrinking dramatically. Grilling oysters on the shell is nothing new, but some fifteen years ago Drago's version became a legendary dining phenomenon. Dozens of restaurants have imitated it. The recipe for their char-broiled oysters is simple enough: it's garlic butter with some herbs, pepper, and parmesan cheese on top. Some of the butter runs off the sides of the shells and flames up in the open fire, licking over the tops of the oysters and leaving behind a smoky flavor. You can make them at home if you have a) a good source of oysters, 2) someone to open them, and III) a really hot grill.

Gourmet Gazetteer
Bacon Hill is an unincorporated town in the resort area of upstate New York, eleven miles east of Saratoga Springs. It's one mile west of the Hudson River, on an escarpment 175 above the river. Quite scenic. The nearest restaurants are two miles south in Schuylerville, where Randy's is the favored eatery. The geological Bacon Hill is on the other end of the state, in the Finger Lakes wine district. The wooded hill rises to 1620 feet.

Edible Dictionary
en brochette, French, adj.--On a skewer, French style. Dishes en brochette are known as pinchos in Spain, shish kebabs in the Middle East, souvlaki in Greece, and satays in the Far East. They can be grilled, fried, or set up on a rotisserie. The advantage of the method is that it employs pieces of food too small to be cooked conveniently if they're loose. The most common brochette in New Orleans involves oysters, which are usually fried and napped with brown butter for an appetizer.

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez: 
If you put unopened oysters on a hot grill, they will pop open after a short while. It saves the work of opening them (not an easy job), but it seems to me something is lost in the process.

Annals Of Food Transportation
Today in 1867, J.B. Sutherland patented the refrigerated railroad car. It made possible the shipping of fresh meats and produce across great distances, notably to the West. The descendants of the refrigerator car--refrigerated shipping containers--can be seen piled up on ships and railroad flatbed cars to this day.

Food Namesakes
The British supergroup Cream (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce) gave its farewell performance at Royal Albert Hall today in 1968. . . Captain James Cook landed on Maui in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii now), the first European to do so. . . American tennis pro Jay Berger served himself up today in 1966. . . American mathematician Norbert Wiener appeared at his origin in 1894. He created the term and concept "cybernetics". . . Robert H. Curry, Louisiana state representative and Civil War veteran, was born today in 1842.

Words To Eat By
"I loved my mother very much, but she was not a good cook. Most turkeys taste better the day after; my mother’s tasted better the day before. In our house Thanksgiving was a time for sorrow."--Rita Rudner, American comedian.

"If you don't love life you can't enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea and all its weeds and breezes."--Eleanor Clark, American writer.

Words To Drink By
"How beautiful would be drinking pure water, if it just was a sin!"--Italian folk saying.

Related Links
Everything You Need to Know About Oysters