Category Archives: Creole Cooking

A Way-Overdue Entry; Not Exactly 300 Years Ago

A Very Simplified Timeline of French Colonial Louisiana and a timely Springtime recipe from Volume 2 (in progress)

The 1718 Tri-Centennial is fast approaching, so I thought a quick overview of the French Louisiana timeline was in order. Be advised that while the dates and entries are as correct as I can make them – all fact-checked and verified as not fake. Within the entries, my tongue (as the saying goes) is planted firmly in my cheek. And included below is one of Tante Suzanne’s recipes for a springtime roast chicken.

1699 – March 3, Iberville and his kid brother, Bienville, with their expedition pass into what seems to be a river running fast into the Spanish Gulf. According to Iberville’s calculations it turns out to be none other than LaSalle’s Fleuve de St. Louis, what the locals call the Mississippi. The next day, March 4, Mardi Gras that year, a friendly local, probably a Bayougoula, show the brothers a portage from the river to a large lake that connects to the Spanish Gulf and the islands where their ships are moored.

1704 – The ship Pelican arrives at Mobile (then Louisiana’s capital) carrying a boatload of young ladies (NOT THE CASKET GIRLS, they came later) who are quickly married to the Canadian settlers of the new Louisiana colony. These are the new wives who just as quickly rebelled (while properly wearing their petticoats) against the oversupply of Indian maize and the undersupply o-f French wheat.

1714 – In December, the first settlement within the borders of present day Louisiana was founded at the Natchitoches villages along the Red River.

1718 – Beginning in March, Bienville and some 50 or so workers spend the spring clearing the palmetto/cypress at the portage to lay out a new capital city for French Louisiana.

1719 – A few shiploads of unwilling Africans from Senegambia arrive in the colony. They are settled across the river (nicknamed Algiers) from the new city, now named after the Duc d’Orleans.  The African ladies had managed to smuggle in some “gombo” seeds woven into their hair and this along with the heritage of rice farming in Senegambia, as well as their placement in and eventual dominance of colonial, antebellum, and Southern kitchens constituted a MAJOR influence on Creole and southern cuisine. Gombo, of course is the West African term for okra.

1727 – The Ursuline nuns arrive at New Orleans. One of their number, a young novice named Marie Madeleine Hachard, Sr. Stanilaus, has left us a number of letters describing life in the new city and colony including a most valuable catalogue of the food regularly consumed at the convent.

c. 1729 -30 – The Natchez War – the Natchez lose and effectively disappear from history. As a result of the Natchez uprising, The Company of the West, which had been ruling Louisiana since 1717,  finally gives up on the colony in 1732. The king re-appointed the long-suffering Bienville as governor, who upon his return mounted a campaign in 1736 against the new or rather ongoing threat of the Chickasaw (allied with the British).

1736. 1739, et. al. – The Chickasaw War – the Chickasaw stalemate the French and their Quapaw (aka Arkansas), Choctaw, and Illinois Confederation allies for years. From roughly 1735 through the British victory over the French in 1763, the country east of the Mississippi from the mouth of the  Arkansas river to the Ohio confluence was a see-saw struggle for influence between the Natives, the French, and the British.

1742 – Pierre de Riigaud Vaudreuil, Le Grand Marquis, becomes governor and sets the tone of New Orleans Creole “cul-tchah” until the middle of the 20th century. Under his regime, all the elements of Creole Cuisine were falling into place. The 2nd or Creole generation of French colonists were coming of age. The middle and upper classes were established, if not flourishing. Trade and food supply networks were in place between Upper Louisiana (the Illinois county), the settlements and plantations between Pointe Coupee and New Orleans (extending over to Mobile), Natchitoches and points west (into Spanish “New Mexico”), Pensacola and the Spanish Caribbean, as well as the French islands, etc. Homes, kitchens, taverns, hunters, gardens, fishermen, markets, and merchants all provided the resources for the fetes, dinner parties, Mardi Gras balls, and frivolities prompted by the presence and extra-governmental activities of Le Grand Marquis.

1753 – 1763 – Louis Belcourt, Chevalier de Kerlerec. Although not officially the last governor of French Louisiana, he was effectively the man who closed out the French regime in Louisiana. As had become usual in Louisiana, there were dirty politics all around. Not a whole lot happened from the cultural  or culinary point of view.

1756-1763 – The French and Indian (aka The Seven Years) War.

1763 – France loses its North American empire, aka Louisiana and Canada.

Mid 60’s – our fictional cooks – Frere Gerard and Tante Suzanne pass on to the heavenly dining room, where they can eternally enjoy their creations of the original Creole Cuisine and never have to cook again (unless they want to).

1768 –  The Rebellion of 1768 was an unsuccessful attempt by Creole and German settlers around New Orleans, Louisiana to stop the handover of the French Louisiana Territory, as had been stipulated in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, to Spain in 1762.

1769 – The rebellion aimed to force the new Spanish Louisiana Governor Antonio de Ulloa to leave New Orleans and return to Spain. The rebels did indeed force Ulloa but his replacement Don Alejandro O’Reilly was able to crush the rebellion, execute five of its ringleaders and firmly establish Spanish law in the territory.

1777-1783 – Another Spanish governor of Louisiana deserves special note,  Bernardo de  Galvez. His major claim to fame in Louisiana history is his generalship in several victories over the British during the American Revolution. He was victorious against the British in campaigns at Manchac, Baton Rouge, and Natchez. He then recaptured Mobile and went on to capture Pensacola in an 1781 amphibious assault. The next year he captured the British port in the Bahamas. When the war ended, he was preparing to invade Jamaica. In modern times, he was one of the only eight people to be awarded American citizenship.

1803 – The Louisiana Purchase, Here come the Caintuks.

As volume 2 of the Petticoat Rebellion, a culinary history, progresses, I find that for several reasons – I hit a old-fashioned writer’s block in my story telling and historical chronicling. However, since the Petticoat Rebellion also contains a colonial cookbook of sorts, I have altered my focus to the heretofore neglected creating and testing of the recipes to be included therein. And so to mark the coming of what has turned out so far to be a marvelous spring in the New Orleans region here is one of Tante Suzanne’s springtime chickens.

Chicken Roast (w/ Rosemary) – olive oil, salt, pepper, sage, onion, peppers, 4 sprigs rosemary, sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 350°,

Coat a deep frying pan liberally with olive oil. Season of 5 to 6 pound chicken liberally with salt, pepper, and Sage. Roll chicken around in olive oil in the pan. Rub in the seasoning, add more if needed. With four freshly cut 8 inch sprigs of Rosemary, strip the leaves from one twig and rub on the back office the chicken. Roll the chicken over stripping the leaves the rosemary rub between the thighs of the chicken place in the twigs in the cavity of the chicken. Rub the remaining sprig of leaves completely over the chicken breast.chunk up one half of a small onion and one half of a medium bell pepper. Place the chunks in the cavity of the chicken with the Roseberry twigs salt-and-pepper as needed.

Place chicken in oven, raise temperature to 400° for 20 minutes, generously cover the chicken with sesame seeds, cover chicken, lower temperature to 300°, roast for 2 to 3 hours.

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Filed under 18th Century, Creole Cooking, Louisiana History, New Orleans Tercentennial, NEW ORLEANS TRI-CENTENNIAL 1718 TO 2018, Recipes

300 Years Ago: Starvation & Woe

The French colony of Louisiana has, for three hundred years, had the reputation of being poor, ill-managed, and essentially a failure as a colonial enterprise. This picture – of what would become one third of the United States, one of the biggest seaports in the world (New Orleans and New York continually trade back and forth the honor of the biggest port in North America), and the heart and soul of the greatest, some say the only truly unique, culinary tradition of America – Creole/Cajun cuisine of course – was locked into place 300 years ago in 1716. 

In those days Louisiana government was divided between two chief offices, those being governor and ordonnateur. The governor was primarily the military, legal, and political official, but the ordonnateur held the purse strings and was in charge of the economic development of the colony. In 1716, the ordonnateur was Marc-Antoine Hubert (pronounced oo-bear). Hubert arrived in Louisiana in late 1716 and immediately noted that the population took no interest in agriculture and lived essentially by trade with the Indians. As of 1716, hardly any Africans had been brought to Louisiana and the “peculiar institution” of slave-based plantation agriculture had yet to be established. The proprietor (Crozat) and his governor (LaMothe de Cadillac) continued the foolish quest for mineral resources instead of building up Louisiana’s true sources of wealth, an international trade infrastructure, agriculture, and the exploitation of the country’s vast natural resources of field, forest, and waterway. The development of these economies would be tapped as the French colony expanded in the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. But in 1716, Louisiana was indeed a picture of starvation and woe. 
Things began to change after the founding of New Orleans, although I do not think that it was BECAUSE New Orleans was established. As the colony grew through the first half of the century after 1718 the above mentioned tripartite economic forces (trade, agriculture, and natural (non-mineral) wealth) came more and more into play. New Orleans served as the focus for this cultural and economic growth. As Bienville’s “founding father” role came to it’s natural conclusion in the early 40’s and with the coming of Vaudreiul’s influential regime through the 40’s, New Orleans’ and Louisiana’s French culture came into full flower. Had it not been truncated so soon by the French defeat in the Seven Years or French and Indian War (1756-1763), Louisiana’s French culture may have blossomed into one as influential as Canada’s French heritage. In fact, despite of 1763, Louisiana’s Creole culture, nourished by Spain’s effective but not overpowering rule, is as influential as any heritage in the United States – perhaps even more-so.
The guiding light of the culinary history, The Petticoat Rebellion, is the idea that “They Had To Eat”. And even though it was true that “officially” there was much starvation and woe in the colony, as least early on; it was also true that one of the hallmarks of Creole cuisine, using what was (and is) available and making it into a truly marvelous experience, was a natural outcome of such a situation. Before 1718, and more extensively after, gardens were being grown behind most houses, chickens and pigs and native foods (venison, seafood, the three sisters) were regularly available, and even a few “habitations” or farms had been established. In fact, one of the anniversaries to be celebrated in 2016 is the first importation of rice into Louisiana in 1716. Who knows, perhaps in 1716, some French settler and an Indian friend sat down to the first pot of Red Beans and Rice along the Mississippi. (see page 29 of The Petticoat Rebellion for the recipe).
 

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Roast Buffalo on the Fourth of July

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine blogging about buffalo. So here goes nothing !!!!

This entry will be the first of many installments wherein recipes, meal planning, and cooking will take center stage. Volume Two of the Petticoat Rebellion; A French Colonial Culinary History has been in preparation for some time now. This 1718NewOrleans2018 blog is now the venue for the cooking and recipe information that will be included in the book. And what better day to begin than Independence Day, 2016, and what better dish to serve up on America’s birthday than a Buffalo Roast. For the past many years my family has usually served a roasted then smoked turkey. This year we decided on something different, but still uniquely American.

The context of the recipe and meal is the Natchitoches chapter of Volume Two. Natchitoches, in the words of one historian, “the most important frontier post in the Atlantic World” (of the 1700’s) was also the most western outpost of French Louisiana. Additionally, it was the point of contact between the Spanish and French empires in North America. Natchitoches was the channel – as the eighteenth century progressed – through which flowed much of Louisiana’s livestock trade. Although technically illegal, Spanish cattle and horses, and Native American “wild cattle” or American Bison came into the colonial economy. Thus to showcase this chapter of Louisiana’s culinary development . . .

Acquire a buffalo roast of your choice (we chose an eye of round roast), about 2 or 3 pounds will feed a family of four. Prep for roasting as you would any beef or pork roast.

Tricentennial Method:

Prepare a traditional Louisiana mirepoix or Holy Trinity plus Pope =
One medium bell pepper
One medium onion
1 or 2 stalks of celery
+ 3 or 4 toes of garlic (i.e. The Pope)
Finely chop the vegetables

Into a large iron pot (with cover), coat the bottom with olive oil, and sauté the mirepoix until soft, add some beef stock and slowly warm it all up.

Rub the buffalo roast with an herbal rub of your choice.

Place the roast fat side up into the pot, cover, and put it into an extremely slow oven (280 to 300 degrees) OR an electric slow cooker for several
( 3 or 4) hours.

When the roast it done, for the gravy move the pot to the stove and remove the roast, set aside to rest. The sauce is now essentially a beefy vegetable stew. Add some more stock and cooking flour, bring to a boil, season to taste (salt, pepper, Creole seasoning, etc.) and let boil for 15 to 30 minutes. If desired, slice the roast and add the meat to the gravy.

Serve with potatoes or rice, green beans, and hot bread.

Colonial Method:

Much stays the same, except the cooking. In place of an oven or slow cooker, the Native or colonial cook would be at a fire – either enclosed in a large fireplace or outdoors in a fire pit. The iron pot containing the meat and vegetables would be placed among the hot coals at first for a half-hour to an hour, then moved to a cooler area at the edge of the coals for the remaining several hours. If the inside fireplace had the luxury of an built in brick oven, the pot would have been placed there much like in our modern ovens.

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Petticoat Rebellion Book Signings

Tomorrow night, Thursday, 11/6, Beth and I will be at the Madisonville Library – 6:00 pm – doing a presentation on, offering food samples from, and signing print copies of The Petticoat Rebellion. If you can join us, it would be great.

Followups will be held at the Slidell library on Saturday 11/8 at 10:30 am, and at the Franklinton and Bogalusa libraries on December 8th and 9th (Mon. & Tues.) More info on the December signings later . . .

 

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Self-Printed 3.0 by Catherine Ryan Howard

Having been doing social media now for three or four years, this is the first time that I have an real understanding of what social media can be. Since my work was in the early stages of composition, I have been following Ms. Catherine Ryan Howard through her blog and some of her other writings. Now I have an opportunity to help Ms. Howard spread the news about the new third edition of one of the most valuable books that I have used during the opening stages of what I hope to be a long and fruitful career. So now, without further ado (drumroll please)…

Splash Badge

As part of this SPLASH process, which I assume is meant to splash news about her new book all over the Internet, participants got the opportunity to ask Ms. Howard a question. This facet of the program has the pleasant result of disseminating useful information along with notification of her latest efforts. I hope my readers find my question and her response helpful in their endeavours*, to wit…

Q. What are your thoughts and recommendations on managing time as a new author dealing with revising, editing and formatting your self-published book while trying to spend some creative time composing your current or next work?

A: To be honest my two primary tasks would be different to what you’ve outlined above. I don’t think you are constantly revising, editing and formatting your published book. That should all be done once, within say a 3 month period, and then the book gets published and that’s the end of that. I wouldn’t be writing a new one while that’s going on because it demands time and your full concentration.

I would say what you’re trying to balance is promoting your published books and writing a new one and the only way to do that is to divide up your time. When I was doing this full-time, I did new work in the morning and social media stuff in the afternoon. Now that I’m back studying, I have two days for my self-publishing/writing stuff, and I do new writing on one of them and everything else on the other one. There’s basically no getting away from the fact that you have to do both, because you can abandon neither. I like to keep them separate – different times, different days, different computers even! – because there’s no point trying to write 1000 new words and keep an eye on Twitter at the same time. Divide and conquer, Jerry – that’s my advice!

So there you have it, very useful information, A extremely well-done book on this whole process of self-publishing – or self printing – which is fast becoming the art of writing in the 21st-century. I hope my readers might find it interesting and useful. Best wishes to you in all your endeavors**. Meanwhile, back to work on The Petticoat Rebellion.

* Since she’s Irish, I figured I’d splurge and use the British spelling. Of course, this brings up the whole British/Irish situation, so maybe we better forget it.

** Ah, good ole America! We can misspell anythang.

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IT’S FINALLY DONE . . . Self-Printing and Self-Editing, Part VI

Well, IT’S FINALLY DONE!  (BTW, its never done) But Beth and I’s book, The Petticoat Rebellion: A Culinary History of French Louisiana is now available IN PRINT from Amazon.com. Just search for Laiche or The Petticoat Rebellion and it will take you right to it (the print version is listed at $8.99).

As stated above, it’s never really done. But we have at least reached a milestone. and since this blog now has the added dimension of being a chronicle of the self printed and self edited work that is writing books in the 21st-century; it seems that there should be a few comments here on this process. First of all, for me anyway, it was not really difficult to understand the process but it was incredibly hard work to follow the process. Two of the largest issues were waiting on CreateSpace and iTunes Connect to process the pages contained in the book. Other than the waiting, there were a few issues with the illustrations(specifically in CreateSpace). Another significant issue was the formatting. and the formatting, and the formatting. Such is the digital aspect of self-publishing and self editing.

Although volume 1 is virtually finished, I am sure that my readers(If any) will point out the typos, the grammatical errors, and any other goofiness that appears in their copy of volume 1. Already in discussing the proof copy with some friends we have already found two errors which will be corrected for the next release, Version 1.4, that is sure to follow (whenever).

But now it’s time to turn my attention back to volume 2.

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Self-Publishing and Self-Editing, Part V

Summer is over. It has been one heckuva summer too! it’s time for a few updates to the 1718 Project. Let’s begin with the actual”writing”. Three chapters have been written for volume 2, namely, a chapter on Gov. Vaudreuil’s regime in the 1740s, the backstory chapter about Tante Suzanne and her mother’s heritage from West Africa to San Domingue, to the original capital of Louisiana, Mobile. Finally, a very short chapter on Gerard and Suzanne’s take on coffee, chocolate, and wine. But you will have to wait for these chapters when volume 2 is posted.

Much of the time this summer has been spent on the title of this blog entry. I’ve uploaded volume 1.1 to CreateSpace, it is now in revision and more self-editing. Making no promises, I hope to upload volume 1.2 by the end of October, and have it ready for download as an e-book and also available in a print version. In other news, and with a bit of excitement, Beth and I will be presenting an author’s night at the local library at the beginning of November. The two sessions will be on Thursday November 6, and on Saturday, November 8. In character as Frere Gerard and Tante Suzanne, we will introduce the 1718 Project, The Petticoat Rebellion, and some recipes. The presentation will be enhanced by some actual food.

Here is a recipe that we came up with in the late summer. We made it from scratch, I don’t know if it’s very original. The more I research the history of food in the 18th century and then put that research into practice creating recipes that would have likely been used by our story tellers, Frere Gerard and Tante Suzanne, the more I get this feeling that originality is very hard to achieve. Most of Creole cooking is not rooted in its originality but rather in its variations. After all, there are only 4 or 5 meat choices, somewhat more vegetable choices, combined with 5 or 6 grains, and then enhanced with numerous spices and herbs. In any event, our Orange and Ginger Chicken (which follows) turned out to be a pretty fantastic meal. Hope you enjoy.

Tante Suzanne has come up with a new recipe using only ingredients and spices available in New Orleans in the mid-18th century.

Begin with the juice of four fresh oranges at least 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, ground or crystallized. Sauté the holy trinity and the pope ( onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic *) in a bit of olive oil for 10 or 15 minutes, chunk up several pieces of boneless chicken (dark or white, as you prefer) add to the sautéed vegetables with about a cup of stock. Let that simmer for about a half hour, Add orange juice, Some pulp, and the ginger, stir well and let that cook at least for a half hour. Cooking time can vary but I wouldn’t go over a total of 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Serve over rice with a nice salad or side –. baby carrots make a nice choice.

* Quantity of each depends on amount of servings desired. For a family of four or five, Tante Suzanne uses one each medium onion and bell pepper, two or three stalks of celery, and five to six cloves (toes) of garlic. Reduce or enlarge the quantity according to your needs. The same idea goes for the amount of chicken.

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