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For the Non-New Orleans Resident
on September 25, 2000
Emeril's New Orleans Cooking
Without question, Emeril has his fans and his critics. Many people love his showmanship, his style and his flare when presenting whatever he's cooking. Others find him, well, less desirable, perhaps overrated and a hack when it comes to food preparations. So when this book came out, I saw it both hailed and panned. But...the panning came a little heavier than usual. Which prompted me to pick it up and see for myself.
Without a doubt this is an Emeril book. It has his style and panache all over it. But, the complaint from his critics was that the recipes were hacks and rip-offs from Good New Orleans recipes and regional cooks. With that, I took the liberty of contacting some friends in the local New Orleans area.
Reviews from there were as mixed as the critic's reviews. Either they liked Emeril or they didn't. He was either a cooking wizard or a short order hack. But when I asked about the recipes that were in the book, none could disagree that the basis, the core elements of the recipes were not New Orleans originals.
People seem to forget that there is no "copyright" to regional cooking, nor style, flavor or means. The recipes in Emeril's book are core. And so, the recipes are from some of the areas located around New Orleans and their residents. Which, honestly, make it a legit New Orleans cookbook. And with the amount of styles, people cultures and areas in, around or at New Orleans, you would be having volumes of recipes from there.
This book has but a sampling of what can be found in New Orleans. Those people not living in the area will find this book, enjoyable, informative and loaded with good recipes. Those from the New Orleans area might find this book lacking and superficial at best.
I don't find this particular Emeril book as good as his others, but a good resources for those who like to try new things, and are causal cooks.