Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fixin' Up a Supper with New Inspiration

Yesterday, a package arrived in the mail from my mom. She's always sending me such lovely and thoughtful gifts. I opened it up to find a cookbook inside to add to my growing collection. A Streetcar Named Delicious by Todd-Michael St. Pierre focuses on the food of New Orleans from the Cajun and Creole cooking traditions.

If you don't know the difference, Cajuns are the simple folk who worked as farmers and hunters in the remote bayou country. Their cooking uses basic ingredients and is mildly flavored and is similar to Provincial European cuisine. In fact, a couple of posts back I gave a recipe for stuffed peppers that I thought of as being quite Cajun, and one of Dan's Romanian friends told me how similar it was to a recipe that she and her mom make! Creoles, on the other hand, dwelled in the great city of New Orleans. Their food is full of exotic seasonings and spices and has a marked African influence. This is what people are usually talking about when they think of Cajun food. The book includes a little of both and some that are in between. I'm always homesick for food from Louisiana, so it has been lots of fun to read, and it will give me plenty of ideas for meal planning over the coming months.

I really like the personal feel of the book. Many of the recipes come from the author's friends, family, and acquaintances. Some are even from strangers like the Orpheus Crab Cake recipe from "a real nice guy on Poetry Street." From start to finish, they read almost like a narrative, and you find yourself wanting to know all of the background stories about how the recipes were obtained. For example, I'd love to meet Narcissa DeVillier aka Our Lady of Perpetual Parties, who gave the recipe for Narcissa's Napoleons. You can just see Todd-Michael partying it up with folks all over the city with entries like the Who Dat Roast Beef Po-Boy, named for the Saints, and Endymion Shrimp Scampi, named for a Mardi Gras Krewe that organizes a fabulous parade every year.

This cookbook makes it easy to find just what you're in the mood to fix for supper (we say "fix" when we mean "cook" in NOLA). It's organized into sections: Commencements Delicieux or starters, What It Means to Miss New Orleans or classic NOLA dishes, Plats Lateraux or sides, Splendiferous Seafood, Le Boucherie or meats, Desirable Desserts, and Louisiana Lagniappe Libations. The ingredients called for in the recipes are for the most part readily available even up here in the frozen North, and the step-by-step instructions are simple, clearly written, and easy to follow. You'll even find little poems interspersed throughout the book that are also written by the author. Best of all, my copy is inscribed to me and personally autographed by Todd-Michael! I'm looking forward to all of the delicious things that will come out of it and the enjoyment I will have in preparing them. THANKS MOM!

1 comment:

  1. The book is available on
    Yours came straight from the author. So glad you are enjoying it.