- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Beau Bayou Pub Co; First Edition edition (October 1, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0935619003
- ISBN-13: 978-0935619003
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cajun Cuisine: Authentic Cajun Recipes from Louisiana's Bayou Country Hardcover – October 1, 1985
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The magic and mystique behind Lousiana's Cajun (or Acadian) cuisine are completely revealed in this collection of recipes from the heart of Cajun Country: the bayous of southern Lousiana. In her introduction to Cajun Cuisine, third-generation Acadian Marie Louise Comeaux Manuel writes, "Acadian (Cajun) Cuisine is a recipe in itself. For ingredients, take the classical French cuisine, combine it with Spanish classical cuisine, blend well, take herbs and spices from France and Spain and sometimes couple with seasoning learned from the Choctaws and Chickasaws. Then be sure to add the ingenuity, the creativity and the keen taste of the refugee Acadians.... Now, add the exotic taste and magic seasoning of the African cook. Voila! This is Acadian cuisine."
The differences between Cajun and Creole cuisines are explained (the Creole cuisine of New Orleans is fattier and more highly seasoned), then the home cook is treated to more than 200 recipes, from breakfast to dessert, designed to bring forth the bayou.Favorites such as fried okra and Maque Choux are represented, as well as 11 different gumbos (even one with squirrel!) and seven recipes for Jambalaya. There's a recipe for Alligator Stew, plus two ways to prepare frog legs, and the book closes with a generous dessert section, which naturally includes Pecan Pralines and Tarte á la Bouillie, a classic Cajun custard pie. The recipes are simple and straightforward and have clearly been tested in homes for the past couple of centuries--no processors or microwaves need apply; all you need is a sharp knife and a big iron pan. Put some Zydeco music on the stereo, fry up some oysters, and let the good times roll!
About the Author
W. Thomas Angers, is a Lafayette Louisiana author, publisher and attorney. He first became interested in cajun cuisine when he worked for his familys magazine, Acadiana Profile Magazine, a regional magazine about Louisianas' cajun country. It is there that he first became acquainted with the writings of Marie Louise Comeaux Maunuel, director emeritus of the School of Home Economics at the then University of Southwestern Louisiana, situated in the heart of cajun country. Her article on the origins and nature and component parts of cajun cooking is the most scholarly and informed on the subject. Mrs. Comeaux-Manuel became a consultant on the production of the book and the article became a component of the book.
Mr. Angers published this book in respone to a perception that so many were seeking to know and understand what comprises authentic cajun cuisine and to fulfill that need.
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Most foodies know that there is a `Cajun' and a `Creole' cuisine, which seem to coexist in and around Louisiana, centered in New Orleans. The problem is that I suspect few food enthusiasts who have not studied the matter can make a clear statement of the difference between the two. It seems as if the classic dishes of the area such as gumbo and jambalaya, as well as a foundation in French cooking techniques are claimed by both heritages.
According to the `Oxford Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink', the two cuisines are very similar, and the main distinctions that source can make between the two is that `Creole' is an urban cuisine originating with the earliest Spanish settlers from the 17th century and that `Cajun' (from Arcadian), is a rural cuisine deriving from the French émigrés from Nova Scotia in the late 18th century, after being kicked out by the English following the French and Indian Wars (That little opening act for the American Revolution). And, while both cuisines claim gumbo and jambalaya, etouffee and its principle ingredient, crawfish, seems to be distinctly `Cajun'. A second culinary difference is the greater extent of French influence from Arcadia, a purely French colony. This influence can be seen in the fact that Cajun cooking values balanced, but varied seasoning. It's `signature' cooking technique is braising, which is straight out of the French provincial cooking playbook. This is ironic because `Cajun' cuisine is often associated with very spicy foods; however, much of this `heat' was probably added a scant 25 years ago by the famous Paul Prudhomme of New Orleans, who, I believe, virtually invented the `blackened' cooking technique, most famous with `blackened catfish'.
But getting back to this book, my initially cool impression made by the somewhat pretentious introduction was redeemed when I started looking at the recipes. All the recipes are written in a very economical style, with crisp ingredients lists and matter of fact descriptions of procedure. The writing is not the minimalist sparse writing of Elizabeth David in `A Book of Mediterranean Food', but it has few if any `trucs', tips, hints, sidebars, or other accroutremonts of modern cookbook writing. And, it has none of the scholarly observations on origins or variations also found in Ms. David's works. For an experienced cook, this may be a very good thing. It means we have `just the facts, ma'm'. So, an experieced cook can be on their way to reproducing the dishes and fill in the extras where needed. One place a modern cook will especially wish to fill in is in replacing `oleo' with either real butter or a less saturated vegetable oil. In the mid-1980's, we had not heard all the dangers of trans-fats, commonly found in common margerine (oleomargerine).
One advantage of the sparse recipe writing style is that the slim 222 page book can contain a very healthy number of recipes, probably numbering close to 250, if you include the supplementary recipes for dressings, sauces, and condiments. And, this healthy number of recipes seems to cover the full range of `Cajun' specialities. The very best thing is that those classic dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and etouffee are represented by several variations. From there, it goes all the way from fried oysters to boudon to beignets. I did find some famous preparations missing, such as coffee with chicory, `poor boy' sandwiches, and `mouffelata' (sic) sandwiches, but as none of these are `cooked' dishes, I'll not feel cheated.
One thing I like about a cookbook with a lot of recipes for dressings and sauces and condiments is that it adds a great source of information on which one can improvise (See Sally Schneider's new `the improvisational cook'). This book is the perfect source for making a few dishes, then striking out on your own in making `Cajun' style dishes without having to resort to Monsieur Prudhomme or Monsieur Lagasse.
The book was very nicely organized and will stand up to some serious stints in the kitchen. I was also very happy to see tables of contents with all recipes listed at the beginning of each chapter. This is something all cookbooks (other than the monster references) should have. The ony annoyance is that the recipes were not printed in the order they appeared in the table of contents. I have no clue why they were different.
But, for a very reasonable list price, we have here an excellent source of basic, authentic `Cajun' recipes with all the essentials and none of the frills.
Very simple recipes. These are as old as 50 years. Use handy ingredients and taste great.
Would recommend it to anyone wanting to replicate the older, simpler ways of Cajun cooking.