The Thai New Year festival, Songkran, will begin next Wednesday, April 13, and run through April 15, except at Thai Orchid in Mission, where owner Wilai Rojjana plans to extend the celebration by one day -- through Saturday, April 16. During the evening hours at the restaurant on those four days, Rojjana will offer traditional Thai music, and dancers in native costumes will perform for her patrons. There will be dinner specials, too.
That's right, today -- March 22 -- is the national food holiday set aside to celebrate the French dish known as coq au vin, or rooster braised in wine, preferably a hearty burgundy. There are references to a similar dish dating back to Julius Caesar, and it's a timeless peasant dinner. But the earliest published recipes reportedly date to the 20th century. Most modern recipes call for chicken or capon (castrated rooster).
But it's a bit difficult to celebrate this dish in the metro today. I could find only one local restaurant serving coq au vin. And it's not even a French restaurant!
The tradition of creating a St. Joseph's table arrived in Kansas City over a century ago, with the arrival of immigrants from Sicily. The custom had begun years earlier in Sicily, after a devastating famine had ended -- according to legend -- when villagers prayed for the intercession of the saint. After that, a feast of thanksgiving was prepared on the feast of St. Joseph to celebrate the answered prayers.
Several area churches in the metro will host St. Joseph's tables tomorrow (and, for a few, on Saturday as well) that are open to the public. Many of the events offer meals and the sale of baked goods.
I know many people -- in fact, I'm one of them -- who have no interest in eating corned beef and cabbage any other day of the year except St. Patrick's Day, when this traditional "boiled dinner" suddenly has a fresh allure. I feel guilty admitting this now, but I wouldn't even eat my own mother's corned beef and cabbage as a kid. (She liked any cooking that involved just tossing stuff into a pot.)
The best local advice I could get on the best corned beef and cabbage in town, I decided, was author and publicity maven Pat O'Neill, author of From the Bottom Up: The Story of the Irish in Kansas City.
One of America's favorite snack foods, the potato chip, will officially turn 158 years old this summer on August 24 -- the anniversary of the date when George Crum, the chef at a resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, became frustrated by a customer (reportedly millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt) who kept sending back his french-fried potatoes for being "too soggy," so he cut up a spud into paper-thin slices, fried them until they were hard and crunchy, and sent them out to the table.
The customer loved them, and the "chips" became Crum's signature dish.
The season of Lent, a time for fasting and purification, is approaching more quickly than your excuses to avoid it. And the chaos of Mardi Gras is coming with it.
Yes, there are people who wait until the very, very last second to decide whether to go out to eat on Valentine's Day. These procrastinators are often the sad people who wind up celebrating the romantic holiday eating hot dogs in the parking lot at QuikTrip. I know, I'm one of them!
But there are restaurants that still have a few Monday-night reservations open. Or, in the case of Beth Barden's Succotash, she waited until the very, very last minute to decide to be open!
Oh, somewhere in this favored land, a sesame seed shines bright
The bagels are boiling somewhere, and somewhere schmear is light
Somewhere brunch is happening, and somewhere children cheer
But there is no joy in KC, for bagels and lox are not here.
The downside of the Valentine's Day holiday falling on a Monday evening is that after a night of dining and drinking champagne -- and whatever else follows that behavior -- you'll have to stumble into work the following day, maybe a little worse for wear.
Another potential negative is that Valentine's is, traditionally, the night that everyone goes out to eat, including folks who may not go to a restaurant the other 364 nights of the year. It can be a very busy night.
|It's all about happy endings, right?|
One of my tables was occupied by a particularly attractive couple who came into the dining room late, already well-lubricated and radiating hostility to each other. I was terrified that someone might get hit with the wine bottle, including me.
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