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Tom Fitzmorris

Tune in to "The Food Show" for fun talk about restaurants, recipes, reviews and more!

Weekdays on 3WL 1350am Noon-3pm
Saturdays on WWL Noon-3pm
Email: Tom@nomenu.com

Posts from July 2014


Tom: How do I eat out without ballooning out?
Eating Out Without Ballooning OutQ. I need to lose a few pounds, and know I should concentrate on eating chicken, fish, etc. However, I’m a little concerned about the sauces that come with most of these dishes. What are some sauces to avoid, and which ones are relatively “safe?” Or should I just accept the fact that when I eat out I’m in trouble?

A. It’s interesting to me that this question used to be asked much more often than it is now. We are clearly not getting any thinner, but maybe losing weight isn’t cool anymore. Or perhaps allergic reactions to seemingly everything have taken over. But the following still deserves consideration.

I must start by admitting that I an not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist, and that those professionals should be consulted if you want to have a long-term, well-informed program in dieting.

That said, I start by saying that you don’t need to give up on dining out. You just have to know what you’re eating, and which items can do the most potential damage. Ask questions and ask for low-fat dishes. Any good restaurant can honor that request.

Or do what I do: order whatever you feel like eating, and only eat half of what they serve you. The biggest problem with eating in restaurants is that out is that most of them serve too much food, and use sauces that pack the maximum flavor. Which often means cream, butter, and other delicious carriers of flavor.

The matter of savory (as opposed to sweet) sauces is a simple one, if you’re trying to eat light. Just look for and avoid fat. Sauces made from butter (meuniere, buerre blanc, hollandaise, roux-based sauces), cream (lots of those, but all pretty obvious), drippings (pan gravies) or olive oil (New Orleans-style bordelaise) are the high ones, and to be avoided if you want to lighten up.

Those without fat are usually okay. They include most sauces dominated by tomatoes, demi-glace, stocks, wine, or herbs. Most of these have a little butter or olive oil in them, but not enough to worry about. Nothing else in them carries large caloric loads.

But I still come back to an incontrovertible fact: you can eat almost anything you want, as long as you don’t eat it all the time or in enormous quantities.

This post originally appeared on Tom's website, NOMenu.com
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Locations: New Orleans




 
Tom: Today is Seafood Poor Boy (And Loaf) Day
July 16 In EatingIn New Orleans, it’s Seafood Poor Boy (And Loaf) Day. The seminal seafood poor boy is the oyster loaf. Fried oysters, buttered French bread, a few shots of hot sauce, pickles. . . perfection.

Variations abound. Almost any other seafood that can be fried finds its way onto French bread. Shrimp poor boys are almost as popular as oyster. (The price hike in oysters from the oil spill may have even made shrimp sammiches more popular.) Catfish has all but replaced speckled trout on poor boys. Soft-shell crabs present a unique poor boy experience, as you start off eating legs and claws, work into the body, and end up with legs and claws at the end.

A rare and wonderful variation on the seafood sandwich is the seafood “boat.” It starts with an unsliced loaf of regular white bread, with the top cut off and the inside hollowed. After being toasted and buttered, it’s filled with oysters, shrimp, or catfish, or all three. Chad’s Bistro in Metairie and Morton’s in Madisonville are the only restaurants I know make boats these days. Casamento’s uses the same bread, but cuts it differently to make their oyster and shrimp loaves.

Of this there is no question: a seafood loaf made with freshly-fried, crisp seafood on fresh and toasted bread is one of the greatest pleasures of the neighborhood New Orleans cafes and seafood houses.

Deft Dining Rule #655

Any poor boy shop that puts fewer than a dozen and a half oysters on an oysters loaf is not worthy of selling the sandwich.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Tuna, Pennsylvania is right up against the New York state line in the western part of the state, seventy-five miles south of Buffalo. It takes its name from the Tunungwant Creek, which runs along its western side. Locals have long shortened the original Native American name to Tuna Creek. It’s a tributary of the Allegheny River, taking Tuna’s water down to New Orleans by way of the Ohio. It hardly needs to be said that no tuna fish will be found in it. The Tuna Valley has been farmed by Americans since at least the 1830s. The restaurants are all about two miles south in the town of Bradford. Order the tuna salad sandwich at the Farm Family Restaurant.

Edible Dictionary

olive salad, n. – A mixture of crushed, chopped, or whole olives with celery,cauliflower, carrots, roasted peppers, garlic, oregano, basil, and olive oil. There’s a good deal of variation in the vegetables and how finely they’re chopped. The mixture is allowed to marinate for days or even weeks before it’s eaten. The principal employment of olive salad is as a dressing on the muffuletta sandwich, a New Orleans Italian specialty. It’s also used to top Italian-style salads.

Speed Eating

The first parking meters in America were installed on this date in 1935, of all places, Oklahoma City. They cost a nickel for an hour, but it was the middle of the Depression (and the Dust Bowl, too.) I wonder how many meals were rushed to ruin by the threat of a parking meter about to run out of coin. I use parking meters a lot, and was very pleased when the ones on New Orleans streets began accepting credit cards. But I still carry a small cache of dollar coins for the older meters.

Annals Of Cookbooks

Today is the anniversary of the first appearance on the Web of Amazon.com, in 1995. Now the web site is a major force to be reckoned with in the sales of books. Finding cookbooks on Amazon is incomparably easy. I like the fact that they rank books by sales within many categories.

Music To Eat Turkey By

Today in 1967, Arlo Guthrie first performed Alice’s Restaurant, his twenty-minute-long song/comedy routine at the Newport Folk Festival. Alice’s Restaurant was a real place, and still exists. In the recorded version of the song, Guthrie talks about eating two “Thanksgiving dinners that can’t be beat.”

Food Entrepreneurs

Today is the birthday of Orville Redenbacher, in 1907. He lived to be 88; he died of a heart attack while taking a whirlpool bath. Although his name and face became synonymous with branded, high-end popcorn, he was a real person–a real agronomist, in fact, working with actual grain and fields and production equipment before he rolled out his popcorn in 1976. I had him as a guest on my radio show in 1979; he was exactly like the guy you saw on TV. Although he’s gone, ConAgra Foods (which owns the brand now) has brought his digitized image back to life.

Food Namesakes

Dancer and actor Ginger Rogers was born today in 1911. . . General Amos Fries was appointed the first chemical warfare head of the U.S. Army, which has since sworn off such things, today in 1920. . . Hollywood movie producer Jude Tucker was born today in 1989. “Tucker” is Australian slang for “food.” That’s his middle name; his real last name is Fitzmorris. I am his father. Jude’s spending his birthday morning in a meeting at Paramount about a new movie.

Words To Eat By

“Do one thing and do it better than anyone.”–Orville Redenbacher, born today in 1907.

Words To Drink By

“Everyone who drinks is not a poet. Some of us drink because we’re not poets.”–Dudley Moore, in the movie Arthur.

This post originally appeared on Tom's website, NOMenu.com
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Tom: Crawfish season is over
Crawfish Season Is OverQ. I went to the seafood joint where I usually buy boiled crawfish, and I was shocked when he told me there were no more crawfish for this year. Is there a crawfish shortage? Was it because of the oil spill?

A. No, the season for crawfish is counterintuitive. The rough start and finish are Thanksgiving Day until the Fourth of July. But that would be in a good year. More often, the first crawfish of the year either have scrawny tails (in December) or aren’t there at all (until as late as early March). The peak of the season is Jazz Festival time–April and May. In the summer, they get themselves ready for parenthood, with the shells getting hard and all the fat going into spawning needs. This happens suddenly, usually in mid to late June. Crawfish tail meat continues to be available from the picking plants, which have a lot of mudbugs until the dropoff in the hot season. After that, it’s all frozen.

The good news in this is that when the crawfish return in the early spring, we miss them so much that it’s cause for celebration. More than if we had them all the time.

As for the oil spill, it didn’t affect crawfish. They live exclusively in fresh water environments, which were never touched by the oil.

This post originally appeared on Tom's website, NOMenu.com
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