Sad news reaches Louisiana this month. Louis Quatorze is dead. Louisiana’s namesake is no more. The Sun King has set on the French Empire. Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, became regent in 1715 for his nephew, the future Louis XV. Philippe ruled France for the next eight years and gave his name to the capital city of the Louisiana colony. The Duke had little to do with the faraway colony, almost immediately granting it to Antoine Crozat and then in 1717 turning it over to John Law’s Mississippi Company, later called the Company of the West, and finally the Company of the Indies. Louisiana was thus a mercantile “for profit” colony until 1731 when it reverted back to the crown. It was largely the economic policies of these companies that led to the appearance and the reality of Louisiana as a generally neglected colony of France.
As my researches have shown, while this neglect had an important effect on the politics and economy of the colony, and while, at least in the official records, Louisiana always seems to be starving, it was, in fact, the settlers, the natives, and the slaves who really built the economy of the colony through their own labors with help provided by the vibrant activities of the unofficial smuggling trade and practices that formed the real foundation of French Louisiana and the cuisine that we still enjoy and celebrate today.
Don’t forget, the thesis propounded here may be found in the first volume of my work on French Colonial Culinary History, The Petticoat Rebellion, available on Amazon in print and Kindle as well as a free iBook at the iBookstore. The foundation of the ideas presented are listed in the Bibliography link found at the 1718 Project webpage – www. 1718neworleans.com
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