Today is National Peach Melba Day, even though peaches are totally out of season. Of course, a few years ago, when all of these national days of were established, nobody cared about seasonality because everyone was so fascinated with the way everything was available all the time at the grocery store. Times change, though. We’re all about the seasonal and local now…and much less about old-fashioned desserts like the peach Melba (which was created by Escoffier in the 1890s to honor the Australian singer Dame Nellie Melba). So maybe it’s good that it has its own day, just to remind us.
Speaking of the Olde Guard, today is also the anniversary of the birth of Pierre Franey (1921). Franey was part of the wave of French chefs who came to New York too cook at the French pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair, then stayed on to great success in following years. He was the chef of Le Pavillon, but was probably more famous for his collaboration with NYT restaurant critic Craig Claiborne on the column, “The 60 Minute Gourmet” and his work with Jacques Pepin creating the menus for Howard Johnsons.
So today, to celebrate, how about some classics? This Franey recipe for pasta with clams is as simple and sounds as fresh as anything you’d find on a menu today, but it’s also got that one hallmark of an old school French recipe: “1 cup (or more) heavy cream.” And for dessert, peach Melba, of course. Forget seasonality, just for today.