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New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories Hardcover – February 1, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this dry but informative tour of 14 New Orleans classics, written by locals, readers will find familiar dishes like gumbo, red beans and rice and Oysters Rockefeller, but also surprising local staples such as Turtle Soup and Creole Cream Cheese. Unfortunately, too many writers miss the perfect opportunities to wax rhapsodic over a storied dish and its place in a rarified U.S. culture, struggling to round up everyone who ever had a hand in a given recipe. The result, too often, is a list-like recitation of names and dates. Michael Mizell-Nelson's story of the po-boy sandwich, for example, reads like a legal deposition, and Cynthia LeJeune Nobles's plodding, academic approach to gumbo is enough to make readers fall asleep in their soup bowls. In her defense, Nobles rewards readers with three winning gumbo recipes; those hungry for Oysters Rockefeller or a po-boy will have to find their own, as there's no recipes included for either. The city itself is also notably absent; somehow, the book manages to excise all the mystery and excitement from the capital of the Gothic South. While it should settle some arguments over who invented what, armchair tourists who'd like a taste of the city should check contributor Sara Roahen's far superior Gumbo Tales.
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From the Publisher

New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories provides essays on the unparalleled recognition New Orleans has achieved as the Mecca of mealtime. Devoting each chapter to a signature cocktail, appetizer, sandwich, main course, staple, or dessert, contributors from the New Orleans Culinary Collective plate up the essence of the Big Easy through its number one export: great cooking. This book views the city's cuisine as a whole, forgetting none of its flavorful ethnic influences--French, African American, German, Italian, Spanish, and more.

In servings of such well-recognized foods as shrimp remoulade, Creole tomato salad, turtle soup, and bread pudding, contributors explore a broad range of issues. Essays consider the history of refrigeration and ice in the city, famous restaurants, cooking schools, and the differences between Cajun and Creole cuisines. Biographical sketches of New Orleans's luminaries-- including Mary Land, Corinne Dunbar, and Lena Richard--give personality to the stories. Recipes for each dish or beverage, drawn from historical cookbooks and contemporary chefs, complete the package.

New Orleans Cuisine shows how ingredients, ethnicities, cooks, chefs, and consumers all converged over time to make the city a culinary capital.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604731273
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604731279
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #762,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Kelly J. Wilson on July 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Naw'lins and it's great cuisine history and this book explores and let's someone learn about it.

New Orleans is the true American "Foodie" city and has more highly rated restaurants then probably any other city in the United States. This book let's you have a peek into that history.
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Format: Hardcover
Seven authors, and edited by Susan Tucker (Tulane prof), with a lengthy learned forward by Frederick Starr (Johns Hopkins prof). It answers, slowly, methodically, sometimes almost soberly, how the seemingly unexplainable miracle that is New Orleans cuisine has come about.

Yes, we already know some of the reasons why NOLA cuisine stands out among every other city. Yes, it was more diverse culturally than any other American city for centuries. Yes, it is a place that, more so than any other American city, has valued creativity over productivity and profit. Yes, it is unique in ALL ts cultural expression (from it music to its traffic rules to names to its architecture to its vocabulary etc.). Yes, it has an essential ingredient to great eating that all other American cities lack in comparison -- time (willing to 'waste' time making a dish, willing to enjoy a meal over 2, 3, 4 hours and not worry about getting back to business). We can list out the ways the stars lined up to make NOLA cuisine special. And yet the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. So HOW?

These essays show you historically where the bodies are buried. And in one sense it sort of detracts. Like my sacramentology and alot of other things I ENJOY the mystery. Dissect it all and it grants greater understanding by robing it of its magic. For the same reason, I hate 'making of' videos about my favorite films. So I hesitate to share this book.

And yet my curiosity longs to be satisfied. This book, dry as it can be in some places and so careful not to overstate, is nevertheless testimony to the hand of God at work in a special way in New Orleans. The story is inherently so lovely it will shake you up, and knock you down low. And frankly, it still leaves some mystery.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of those academic books but I liked it for a number of reasons. First, reading it reminded me of a story told by a friend in a nearby northern gulf coast Creole city that preceded New Orleans by a few years. She and her husband whose offices were downtown in the heart of the city, liked to take breakfast at a historic hotel, a fixture of the cities traditions. A famous New York journalist was in town covering an event had been seated at an adjacent table for several days and they noticed his annoyance when the waitress would serve him a dish of grits each day with his order. On the third morning he was a bit crankier than usual and when she set down the dish of grits he exclaimed not to kindly why did she keep bringing him grits when he tells her not to! The waitress calmly finished pouring fresh coffee and setting out fresh rolls before replying, "Honey, it's just a law, you don't have to eat them, but I'm going to serve them because that's how we do it here".

All in all, without total immersion, the "Big Easy" will always remain undefined to the casual visitor. "New Orleans Cuisine," on the other hand, can provide entertaining and significant clues for those who would like to gain insights to the evolution of its food culture and how that fits into the "big gestalt."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lovely book. I thought it would contain a few of the recipes as well as the history of them. Guess I just misread. It was given as a gift and was well received.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book with historical context, stories and recipes! I love hearing the history behind culture and foods. This is a good, easy read. Highly recommend it.
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