Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cajun Antique: 1971 Time Life Cookbook.

Our local library was having a massive used book sale this past week, so I had to hit it up...thousands of books for a dollar each? Count me in.

My prize of the day was this:

A 1971 Time Life Acadian & Creole Cookbook. I have several of the books in this series (Germany, Classic French, Austria, Southern, etc.---yes, I collect cookbooks. It's a little quirk.) but didn't know this one existed.

The thing I love about old cookbooks is that they're typically filled with things that no human being under the age of 35 would eat...lovely things like aspics and "salads" that step out so far beyond green, chicken, or tuna salads that they could fall off the edge of the horizon. My friend found a Betty Crocker "Meat Cook Book" that showed some sort of casserole that actually had a crust make of hotdogs:

Oh Betty....what have you DONE????
(the fact that my friend is a vegetarian made it all the more gruesome.)

But as I sat at home flipping through the pages of that Acadian/Creole cookbook, I saw only one or two items that aren't still commonplace in Southern Louisiana (one of those things being stuffed ponce, which might ACTUALLY still be somewhat common at boucheries, or a party built around a hog roast where dishes are made from EVERY part of the pig):

But the majority of the gorgeous full page photos, while a bit dated, still show the dishes which DEFINE Louisiana cooking, even 40 years after the publishing of this book, because they were around for a couple hundred years BEFORE the cookbook ever came about.

And the lovely thing about these Time Life books is that they're 50% cookbook, 50% cultural history lesson, this one in particular written by a New Orleans native, and his love for the food of his state jumps out from the pages at you.

"Cafe brulot and its counterpart cafe diable...seem to fuse one's taste buds so that one's tongue retains the meal's bouquet for the rest of the evening. In my friend's kitchen, I too had a taste of cafe brulot after dinner. It melted the bright edges of my vision until the guests who rose from the table and passed through the distant doorway dissolved into dream figures that floated and finally faded."

Aside from recipes, there's a whole chapter on the traditions of Mardi Gras:

Not to mention detailed instructions on exactly how to peel a crawfish:

I'm itching to cook something from this book, but can't decide---so I'm letting you, my few but fabulous readers, vote!

So...what shall it be?

Eggs Hussarde? (Had this at Brennan's for brunch once and fell in love...)


Traditional bread pudding?


One of these stuffed beauties? (alas, I can only do the chicken-stuffed tomatoes or the ham-stuffed eggplant...the other (top right) is shrimp-stuffed mirliton, and I can't get mirlitons here in Missouri....but I could possibly switch those around a bit & do a shrimp-stuffed eggplant.)

There are MANY other recipes in the book I'd like to try, but we'll start with one of these three.

Leave your vote in the comments section!!!

PS--Saving this page for Mardi Gras 2012...

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