Crawfish boudin paella chased with a gin-filé cocktail and followed by a Creole cream cheese snoball? What’s your most creative use of the ingredients featured in Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey? Compete in this fun 4th of July contest and you could win a free, signed copy of the book and a complimentary package of hand-harvested bay leaves, so essential in Louisiana cooking.
I’ve found my long lost culinary twin.
Blogger Genêt Hogan, who has the vibrant and heartwarming New Orleans-centric blog, Raised on a Roux, and I spoke recently on the phone after discovering each other online. Genêt left her native Crescent City for Atlanta about 20 years ago, where she’s been ever since. At about the same time, this Georgia native moved to Louisiana, where I’ve been ever since. Genêt has been keeping the traditions of the Bayou State alive in her home kitchen and she’s actively documenting them on her blog. It’s so versed in what’s going on New Orleans, you hardly know she’s been in Atlanta all these years. We had a great time exchanging notes about the power of food in defining who you are and how you live.
Here’s another in my series of interviews with Louisiana expatriates.
Earlier this month, the LSU Houston Alumni Association held an event that speaks volumes about the long arm of Louisiana’s culinary culture. The group met at the Firehouse Saloon to savor 3,100 pounds of boiled crawfish provided by the Boil House at what has become a major fundraiser for LSU. It’s the chapter’s biggest gathering of the year, says President Lisa Bunch, a Slidell native (BS, Psychology) who moved to Houston for work in 1998.
With about 650 members, LSU Houston is one of the most active alumni chapters across the country. As part of my interview series with Louisiana expats, I checked in with Lisa about the Bayou State’s gravitational pull — a theme in my book, Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey. We talked about what it means when members of Tiger Nation get together to carry out the rituals of home, whether it’s to watch a game or belly up to a pile of crawfish.
It’s étouffée season up in here!
After a cold and wet spring 2015 in South Louisiana, crawfish are now in great supply, and are on the table in many forms. I love to spot those familiar one-pound packages of tail meat sitting in jumbles of ice in local grocery stores. Impossible to resist, because they’re only around this time of year. Time to get your étouffée on.
My étouffée recipe, which I include at the end of the crawfish chapter in Hungry for Louisiana, is super decadent not because it calls for over-the-top amounts of butter, but because it uses double the amount of crawfish tails than most. I know, indulgent. But so good. Sooo good! And it’s really pretty quick to prepare, making it weeknight-worthy for busy families. This week, we 5 nearly polished off an entire recipe with just a little leftover. And that brings me to this post…what better way to use up a small amount of something yummy than to stuff it inside a wonton.
After a long, wet and dreary winter, crawfish season is officially here. Like many of you in the Bayou State, we boiled some this past weekend after the Baton Rouge “Wearing of the Green” St. Patrick’s Day parade, and while they were on the small side, they were a welcome sight. Coupled with that awesome weather, the taste of succulent, spicy tails tasted like spring in Louisiana, and few things taste better than that.
So excited! My book, Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey (LSU Press) is out this month. You can find it on Amazon or in regional book stores, including large chains and local independents. It’s also in some gift shops and culinary stores, like Red Stick Spice Co. in Baton Rouge.
This was so much fun to work on. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. The book includes an intro that explores how Louisiana’s food culture was local before local was cool and how there are few places in the world with such intact culinary traditions. Each subsequent chapter peers into a different food or ingredient from the state’s culinary tableau. Discover the quirks and traditions behind crawfish, jambalaya, Creole cream cheese, snoballs, filé, blood boudin, Zwolle tamales and oysters. Meet some of the people who produce these famed eats. This is breezy food writing with a few recipes at the end of each chapter.
What Ashley Hansen of Hansen’s Sno-Bliz did when her grandfather’s famed snoball machine was on the fritz…
Why the northeast Louisiana town of Zwolle has a deep and meaningful tradition of tamale-making that is nothing like the Mississippi Delta’s…
Exactly what makes a pot of jambalaya achieve blue ribbon excellence at the annual Jambalaya Festival in Gonzales, Jambalaya Capital of the World…
And lots more.
Please keep coming back to this site for updates, additional material, photos and more recipes.
Thanks for your interest!