Category Archives: Louisiana History

Popular History, Creative Non-Fiction, the Histoire; A Reflection (perhaps a rant)

I recently turned 66 (last Saturday, the 19th), and like most birthdays – especially ones that mark an “official” change in life, like reaching the full retirement age for my generation (according to Social Security)  – this past week has been a time of reflection.  Where have I been,? where am I going? what have I done? what is there left to do?

I thought today about 51 years ago (or was it a millennia or two ago) sitting in Nick Revon’s World History class as a sophomore at Aloysius and deciding then and there that I would be a Historian ! Then I thought about the ensuing 51 years during which I spent being an ALMOST Historian. You see, having a Bachelor’s and a Master’s does not make one an official anything. Even during my academic career as a teacher of historical content and actual History classes, having a Ph.D doesn’t even do it anymore (BTW, I never had enough money to get a Ph. D.). So, in my mind, perhaps paranoiac, perhaps self-defeating, I never achieved attaining the rank of  an official bona fide “Historian”. So upon retirement, 7 years before getting to full retirement age, I decided to write a history book. A book to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of my home town, the Queen City of the the South, New Orleans.

Thus I put on the mantle of Historian which (as followers of this blog know) has evolved into being a student and writer of Culinary History. As such, the 1718 Project has mostly morphed into The Petticoat Rebellion.

Noting the above, I have decided to proclaim in as official a manner as I can muster that this “Culinary History of French Colonial Louisiana”  enters the ocean of published books as a  – Popular History, sub-category Creative Non-Fiction and with the French connection – A Histoire.

To this end, I feel that I must – for my own peace of mind – substanitiate and justify my life’s work with the quotes of not one but two actual Professional Historians. The first is from none other than what was – if it still isn’t – required reading for all students of history in the last half of the 20th century; Mr. Edward Gibbon:

“The confusion of the times, and the scarcity of authentic memorials, oppose equal difficulties to the historian, who attempts to preserve a clear and unbroken thread of narration. Surrounded with imperfect fragments, always concise, often obscure, and sometimes contradictory, he is reduced to collect, to compare, and to conjecture: and though he ought never to place his conjectures in the rank of facts, yet the knowledge of human nature, and of the sure operation of its fierce and unrestrained passions, might, on some occasions, supply the want of historical materials.”

Edward Gibbon. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. opening paragraph, V. 1, Chapter 10.

The second quotation is from a modern, still practicing scholar from the University of Chicago, and a MacArthur Fellow, and an expert and published (official, by the way) author of a history of French Colonial Louisiana, Dr. Shannon Dawdy:

“… these memoires, letters, and travel accounts are “a useful kit of knowledge” called Histoire, a combination of both “story” and “history” histoires were often a mixed bag of natural and administrative history, astronomy, fashion and culinary critique, and good old fashioned storytelling in which the tall tales spun by the writer were at times self-serving aggrandizements, or worse, gross distortions of reality.”

Quoted in Greenwald, Erin M. Marc-Antoine Caillot and the Company of Indies in Louisiana. p. 5

And so, hopefully avoiding those “gross distortions of reality” I conclude my rant and set my sights on completion of Vol. 2 of The Petticoat Rebellion. Have also decided that since 2018 is virtually upon us, I will set up a New Age publication sequence, in which the second volume will be published digitally via this blog, or perhaps a distinct one for the book, and then followed by a print/Kindle version after the work is completed.

Thanks for bearing with me through this ranting and raving, but as the work moves forward here is the recipe for Riz-au-Lait (rice pudding) from the Ursuline chapter:

Rice Pudding/ Rice and Milk/ Riz au Lait 

3 cups cooked rice (equals 1 cup raw)
3 cups milk
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 T vanilla
1 t. Mace (or Nutmeg)

Boil the rice and the milk until the rice is mushy. Beat together the eggs and the sugar, add to the boiling rice and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until the egg mixture sets. While cooking add the vanilla and the mace (or nutmeg). Stir all together, let it simmer for a minute or two. Put into custard cups to cool.

If you wish to use cook the rice especially for the pudding, remember, one cup of uncooked rice boiled or steamed yields 3 cups of cooked rice. Overcook the rice until it turns into a mush similar in consistency to mashed potatoes. At this stage, begin adding the other ingredients.

This is also one of those dishes wherein you can let your imagination run wild. For instance instead of or in addition to:

… mace and/or nutmeg, use cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, allspice, etc.

… add small fruits like raisins, currants, chopped apples, mashed bananas, chopped orange peel, strawberries, blueberries, etc.

… top with cinnamon sugar, cane syrup, (only Yankees 😁use maple syrup), cocoa, instant coffee, etc.

ENJOY and keep on reading!

 

 

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

300 Years Ago: Summer, 1717. 

Jean Michiele de L’Epinay
Birthdate: circa 1665 (56)
Birthplace: Fougères, Brittany, France
Death: January 3, 1721 (52-60) Martinique
Occupation: Governor of French territory of Louisiana

Managed by: Joel Scott Cognevich, Last Updated: February 3, 2015

“Through patronage of comte de Toulouse, head of the Conseil de la Marine, Jean Michiele de L’Epinay secured appointment as governor of Louisiana on March 16, 1716. On October 21, 1716, while awaiting departure he was awarded the Cross of St. Louis. Left France in December 1716, he reached Mobile March 9, 1717, and immediately took over his duties as governor. During his short term in office he met with almost constant wrangling among various royal officials. Because of this, following the transfer of the colony’s trading rights to the Company of the West in late 1717 he was recalled on February 9, 1718. Shortly before leaving Mobile for France he was notified of his nomination as governor of Grenada. Before accepting his new position he was forced to defend himself against charges of corruption and malfeasance in office. Exonerated of all charges he sailed from France May 18, 1720, for Grenada, reaching there on June 28, 1720. Died, January 3, 1721, while visiting the governor of the French West Indies in Martinique. B.C. Sources: Marcel Giraud, Histoire de la Louisiane française, II (1958), III (1966); Emile Lauvrière, Histoire de Louisiane française (1940); Dictionary of Canadian Biography, II (1969).”

https://www.geni.com/people/Jean-de-L-Epinay/6000000010492638218
(accessed 8/5/2017)

Summary and paraphrases from Giraud, Vol. II, Chap. XII:

After Louis XIV’s death, the regency passed to his brother. Louisiana was still under the proprietorship of Crozat. Realizing that his business venture wasn’t going anywhere. Crozat began to extricate himself from the deal. In 1716, Cadillac was relieved as governor which left Bienville’s “boots on the ground” in Louisiana. In 1717, the new appointee of the Regency, Jean Michiele de L’Epinay, arrived to take over. Beinville was once again shoved aside, given the Cross of Chevalier de St. Louis and made Lieutenant de Roi (military commander ) to keep him quiet. Lepinay was destined to stay just a year in Louisiana, but Beinville became his chief local opponent despite his honors. The irony here is that while Beinville was an acknowledged master at handling Indian Affairs, Lepinay was quite the opposite. In fairness, the policy of the colonial authorities in Paris was to provide “constantly repeated distributions of gifts” and “kind actions toward” the Natives to guarantee their support. Unfortunately the Council never came through with any resources for Lepinay to effect such a policy. The new governor’s failures to treat with the Natives, whether through the policies of the council or through his own attitudes, resulted in a marked decline of relations between the Natives and the French. Fortunately, for the colonists, the long established connections between the colonists and the Natives, especially among the coastal tribes and the Natives along the lower Mississippi were able to outlast the temporary incompetence of the new governor.

“Louisiana” Natives according to Giraud; {Paraphrase}

In and around Mobile (the capital in 1717) were the Chaktaux or Chatot, and the Apalachee. On the rivers feeding Mobile Bay, were the Tawasa, the Mobilians, Taensa, Toome (aka Tohomé). Between Mobile and the Mississippi (what New Orleanians call the Gulf Coast) lived the Pascagoula, the Capina, the Biloxi, and the Colapissa (whose “hunting grounds” were from the Pearl River west covering today’s Northshore. In and around today’s New Orleans lived the Tawasa (aka Chawasha), the Biloxi, and the Washa. In the “River Parishes” were the Tchoupitoulas, Bayougoula, and the Houma. Further north, up to the Red River were the Tunica. All of these groups got along well with the colonists It was those further north, in those areas of no-man’s land between French and British influence, that the Natives were put off by the actions (or rather the inactions) of Lepinay and/or the Parisian politicians. These groups included the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, the Natchez, the Alabamas, and the Creeks. These nations had traded with both the French of Louisiana and the British of South Carolina all through this period. Some like the Choctaw and the Natchez mostly favored the French. The Creeks and Alabamas mostly sided with the English. The Chickasaw mostly played both ends against the middle, remaining neutral and benefiting from the traders of the moment.

A comparison beween Giraud’s research and the Penicault’s journal (including 1717) are noticeably the same.

Louisiana Natives: Frem Penicault’s Journal*:

Chactos, Taouschas, Apalaches, Tinsas, Mobiliens, Tomez, Gen des Fourches (forks of the Alabama and Tombigbee, not Bayou La Fourche). Chactas, Pascagoulas, Passacolas, Capinans, Colapissas, Bayougoulas, Oumas, Tonicas, Chaouachas, Natchez, Chicachas, Nassitoches, Yatachez, Alibamons, Canapouces.

In 1715, many of the “northern” nations staged an uprising against the British which drew in the French to a limited degree. Such a situation could have been of great advantage to the French. Between the departure of Cadillac and the arrival of Lepinay, however, the administration was in more than it’s usual turmoil.

Life continues, however,  and one chronicler, M. Penicault makes some interesting entries in his journal. In 1717 we can read about:

  • In an unabashed entry, shortly after Lepinay’s arrival, he sent a ship to Vera Cruz to sell a load of trade goods from France. The ship, Le Dudlot (probably Dudlow or Ludlow), landed some distance from Vera Cruz at a place called Villa Rica, sold the shipload at a tidy profit, and returned to Mobile. This entry is phrased in such an offhand way that it testifies to the NORMALITY of such trade (i.e. smuggling) between the colonies of different empires around the Gulf.  Within a few days after its return to Mobile, Le Dudlot, sailed away to France taking Cadillac and his staff back home. Over the next month or so, Lepinay had a fort built on Dauphine Island to secure the harbor. While it was under construction, an English ship stopped over at Mobile, and along with the usual illegal trade, took away several British men and women (Carolinians) who had been prisoners there since the 1715 Indian rebellion.
  • In August of 1717, a storm (most probably a hurricane) closed the port at Dauphine Island. The administration then decided to move the capital and the roadstead to Isle aux Vaisseaux – aka Ship Island. A town was built on the back bay a Biloxi, called New Biloxi, and the government moved there. Old Biloxi across the bay eventually evolved into Ocean Springs (due to the presence of some fresh water springs in the area).
  • In a testament to the quality of colonial journals, Penicault places an entry at the end of 1717 that most historians today note as happening in March of 1718. Think you can guess what its about? Seems a ship called La Dauphine arrives at Ship Island, loaded with workmen (salt smugglers) and carpenters. They were immediately employed to build houses, barracks, and warehouses at New Biloxi/Ship Island. In the vague time period called “the beginning of winter”, many of these workers went with Bienville to “a place quite suitable for a settlement on the bank of the Missicipy thirty leagues above” the mouth of the river. *

And so fellow revelers, we can pick the start of the Tri-Centennial celebrations any time during the upcoming winter. Party like its 2017-2018 !!!!!

* McWilliams, Richebourg Gaillard, Ed. Fleur de Lys and Calumet: Being the Penicaut Narrative of french Adventure in Louisiana .  Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1953, renewed 1981.  p. 208

 

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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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300 Years Ago, 1717: We Got Cows!

Momentous changes were in store for Louisiana in 1717-1718. The old Crozat monopoly was done for and the new Company of the West began to get things done. For the next decade, the Company would run the colony. Although the new company’s rule was not always a panacea, the population continued to grow during the 1720’s and more and more of the Louisiana territory came under French control.

In 1717 the new shape of the colony began to take on more and more focus. Over the next several months, arrangements were being made to recruit Germans (really Alsatians and Lorrainer’s) for Louisiana. On a more somber note, the slave trade was ramping up for transport from West Africa to Louisiana. But these things were planned not actuated for many months. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Meanwhile from two more or less reliable sources, we learn . . .

Jean Baptiste Bernard de Le Harpe: Summary of his chronicles of 1717:

March, 1717. Two royal vessels arrived at Dauphine Island carrying the new ?transition? government as Crozat’s regime ended and the Company of the West took over Louisiana. Within a few weeks,{towards the end of the month} one of the ships, the Ludlow, was sent to Havana to buy cattle for the colony. They purchased 60 cows, but loose lips sink cows, and the Spanish governor found out about the purchase and removed 45 cows from the ship, leaving the colony with only 15.

August, 1717. “a commercial company was formed in France and named the Company of the West” Also under the August entry: “. . . The colony numbered 700 people and about 400 head of cattle . . .”

From Giraud’s History of French Louisiana, Vol. 2, p. 122.

The new Company of the West “decided that the ships should pick up some cattle at Havana,a scheme that was to come to nothing.”

Here, once again, from the standard academic history and a primary source, testimony is provided that even though times were tough early on for Louisiana, these 700 Europeans did indeed have some food sources. Better than one head of beef cattle per every two colonists provided milk and beef on an on-going basis. and while the French settlers have achieved fame as being lazy and not interested in agriculture, most everybody had a garden and access to the rich bounty of the vast forests (game, nuts, and fruits) and endless waterways of south Louisiana. After all, these 700 people “had to eat” something.

SNEAK PREVIEW: 1717-18 SET UP OF THE TRICENTENNIAL:

{{{{{{Throughout the autumn of 1717, the company began to get organized and at the end of the year, ships sailed to Louisiana and arrived in February of 1718 with what was the kickoff of whole new era for the colony – To Wit:

• The ships landed a fourth company of infantry.
• M. de Boisbriant arrived, commissioned as royal lieutenant of the colony.
• Governor L’Epinay was recalled and Bienville was commissioned a Commandant General (aka governor) of Louisiana.
• M. Hubert was named named director general (the money guy) of Louisiana.
• 60 French immigrants arrived.
• An abortive expedition to St. Joseph’s bay in Florida was attempted but ended in failure.
• Bienville began to scope out “a suitable spot on the banks of the Mississippi” to build a new capital, then sent a group of 50 or so laborers to clear the land where the Bayou St. John portage met the river – 😉 and you’ll never guess what happened then :-0 }}}}}

But these events are really the part of the opening blog entry for next year.

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Culinary History, Xmas Chapter, 1st Draft

As many of my readers may already know, this blog is spinoff of “The 1718 Project”. Today I am trying something new. To date, (since 2010), the main energies of the project have been channelled into the production of a Culinary History of French Colonial Louisiana. The preceding entries have included some recipes and/or other mentions or inclusions from The Petticoat Rebellion (the book’s title), But now I have decided to present a finished chapter, albeit the first draft, (the full recipes will appear in the final published text) to see if it garners any reaction.If you care to, please leave your comments, or e-mail me, and/or visit the project website at http://1718neworleans.com. I would appreciate any and all feedback.

And don’t fret, my 300 Years Ago columns will continue.

PRC Chapter 11:  Suzanne Cooks for Christmas

The wheel of the year has turned once more, and Noël is fast approaching. This is easily my most favorite time of the year. Here in Louisiana, the weather is almost perfect throughout this season. It isn’t as warm as when I was a little girl in the islands, nor as cold, Icy, and snowy as the people from France often describe Noël in their homeland. The pleasant weather, cold enough to brace the blood, but not so cold as to slow down the business and commerce of the city, only serves to create a prosperous and vibrant holiday season.

By now, I have been here long enough to establish the Marigny’s household kitchen and garden as a well run operation. So its only with a glad heart that I sit down at the beginning of December to plan the Christmas season. The first step, of course, is to set the menu. Not just the menu for the main meal, but also all the accompaniments for before and after, as well as foods and treats to keep around the house throughout the festive season. This plan will serve to structure the shopping and food gathering for the next several weeks.

Once the menu is decided and along with the necessary shopping, it is also time now to begin decorating the house for the Yuletide gatherings and festivities. As long as there has been a France, Gallic homes, villages, and towns were hung all about with evergreens gathered from the local forests. People liked to mark these long dark nights with reminders of the greener times to come as the year turns and the days begin once again to lengthen with their local firs, pines, and other green and growing things. Here in Louisiana, the vegetation never really dies off and the pines, oaks, and evergreen shrubs happily give up their branches to decorate our homes. The ancient custom of the Yule Log burning throughout the long Christmas nights is also, for many, a fond memory of the Old Country. Our Rhenish (German) neighbors from upriver even have a custom from their old homes of bringing a whole tree, a smaller one of course, into the house and decorating it with colored ribbons, little keepsakes, and even some candles. These folks from the Rhine valley also had a wonderful custom of lighting bonfires along their rivers and waterways to light up the long solstice nights and some even say it marks the way for St. Nicholas or Pere Noel to pass over and bless their homes and settlements. These also help to light their families’ way to Midnight Mass, after all, this is the “main event” of the Christmas celebrations,

After the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, all the shopping and decorating would come to purpose as the festivities and feasting commenced and proceeded through the morning meal and throughout the day. Now to begin, I think for the meal after Mass this year we will have:

Baked Glace’ Bananas,
Eggs, scrambled and deviled
Grits & Grillades
Daube Glace’  >>>> Rump Roast, Veal Rump, Pig’s Feet, Salt meat, onions, turnips, garlic, Bay Leaf, Lard, Sherry, Thyme, parsley, Salt, pepper, cayenne

(Note) Suzanne’s post-Midnight Mass Creole breakfast, which was mirrored throughout the colonial creole homes in New Orleans and beyond, later evolved (in Ante-Bellum days) into the Creole Reveillon.
As the great feast day wears on, the celebrations consist of general revelry/and playing pranks, songs, dancing, parades, parties, carol singing, etc. (Today, 2017, we call this goofing- off). Here in New Orleans, a curious custom has also evolved. To beautify and somewhat humanize the new city as it was (and is) being built up, the city fathers decided to plant the streets with orange trees (easily obtained from my home islands). As a consequence, during the Yuletide season, we have oranges all over the place. As such oranges have become an essential part of the New Orleans Christmas scene. Needless to say, orange cakes, orange jam, and stewed oranges are part of the Yule menu. Good children, even in the poorest homes, can usually find an orange or two among their gifts from Pere Noel.

But for me and my kitchen, the climax of every Christmas season is the Christmas dinner. Usually, the Marigny family ( extended to include aunts and uncles, cousins from the country, and other close friends and relatives from around town). The meal is traditionally the sit-down meal with all the trimmings. However, every family had its own traditions, and it may become a day-long buffet, or a picnic in the courtyard (weather permitting). This year, I am cooking my:

Creole Christmas Feast

Brandy Candied Pecans, Brown Sugar Nut Clusters,
Pecans, Walnuts, Brandy, Brown sugar

Oyster Dressing: The Trinity, Garlic, Oil, Bread Crumbs, a pit. or qt. of Oysters

Trout Meuniere: Butter, Flour, Lemon, Parsley, salt-pepper

Chicken Espagnole: Chicken, the Trinity, Garlic, Seasoned flour, bacon grease, ½ cup flour, qt. of chicken stock, salt-pepper-bay leaves- sugar

Orange Cake >>>>>Flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, OJ

Wine, Coffee, Lemonade, and apres diner, brandy, coffee, tobacco pipes, and fine conversation.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
HISTORICAL ADDENDA
A Note on French Catholicism

Recently a quote I encountered reading about the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef sets the perfect tone for a consideration of French Catholicism; “He was a good Catholic without thinking much about it.” Never has there been a better or more succinct description of French and/or Louisiana Catholicism.

As France, and the rest of Europe, emerged from the Catholic Middle Ages, society was rocked by the tidal wave of Luther’s Reformation. This is not the place to mark all the horrors, injustice, and tragedy of this ridiculous situation when Christians slaughtered each other because they went to the wrong church. It was little different in the European colonies. In North America, vast distances between the Protestant English, Catholic French and Spanish, and pagan Native Americans minimized this silliness, but it was never far from the surface. Besides, simple survival often trumped philosophical differences. Here in Louisiana, this cultural aspect of life was defined by French reaction to the ground shaking social changes rocking Europe during these centuries. The virtual theocracy of Richelieu’s reign during the 1600’s and the legacy of Marazin’s influence and the “divine’ kingship of Louis XIV’s long rule produced a curious riff on tradition Catholicism known as Gallicanism.

In Early Modern times (1500 – 1800), an ongoing conflict between church and state centered around the appointment of local or regional leaders (e.g. Bishops). The Catholic Church (for better or worse) since the fall of Rome had been the only recognizable form of authority throughout much of Europe. as a result the local bishop in a given region was usually a political as well as a spiritual leader. The Reformation in the 1500’s threw a wrench into this ancient system. Additionally, as Kings and nobility grew in political power, conflict about these episcopal appointments grew more VIOLENT. In France, the 1600’s saw the apex of this episcopal power under the reigns of Richelieu and then Marazin. When Marazin passed on, young Louis XIV shifted his authority to the throne. As part of this general move away from this Roman (papal) influence, a theological movement known as Gallicanism began to take form. But let us let the online Britannica explain in clearer terms than your poor author.

“The most notable champion of parliamentary Gallicanism was the jurist Pierre Pithou, who published his Les Libertés de l’église gallicane in 1594. This book, together with several commentaries on it, was condemned by Rome but continued to be influential well into the 19th century.
The best expression of theological Gallicanism was found in the Four Gallican Articles, approved by the assembly of the clergy of France in 1682. This declaration stated: (1) the pope has supreme spiritual but no secular power; (2) the pope is subject to ecumenical councils; (3) the pope must accept as inviolable immemorial customs of the French Church—e.g., the right of secular rulers to appoint bishops or use revenues of vacant bishoprics; (4) papal infallibility in doctrinal matters presupposes confirmation by the total church. Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet drafted the declaration in Latin and defended it in a conciliatory preamble. Though the articles were condemned at Rome by Alexander VIII in 1690 and were revoked in France by Louis XIV in 1693, they remained the typical expression of Gallicanism.”

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/224387/Gallicanism
More details can be found in the Wikipedia article at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallicanism
In far away, isolated Louisiana, these factors produced an easy-going, common sense approach to religious matters. Most folks did not ponder the philosophical niceties of the Gallican interpretation of their faith. They were too busy trying to stay alive. Besides the Pope, and the King for that matter, were literally thousands of miles away, and even priests were few and far between. It was, to the Catholics of Louisiana, enough to be “a good Catholic without thinking much about it.” Thence, it not a quirk, that customs like Midnight Mass, Mardi Gras, All Saint’s Day, and Catholic schools have anchored themselves along the French Gulf Coast and have become hallmarks of our “Catholic” culture.

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300 Years Ago – 1717:

Crozat, Cadillac, et.al. FINALLY go away! After five years of attempting to turn the sow’s ear of Louisiana into a silk purse and relieving the Crown of France from the expenses of running a colony, Antoine Croat gave up his monopoly over trade, supply, garrisoning, and managing Louisiana* so he could line his pockets with all that gold and silver, and all those jewels and mineral resources lying around in and on the bayous, rivers, lakes, and Native villages of the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri watersheds. These guys never really got it, did they?

So, instead of building the infrastructure for a potential trading empire or developing the agricultural production of this vast territory, they wasted their time trying to find the mountains of precious metals that the Spanish had stumbled on in New Spain and Peru.Meanwhile the settlers and soldiers in Louisiana twisted in the wind. Here is the origin of colonial Louisiana’s reputation as a place of “starvation and woe”.

In August of 1717, the Regent accepted Crozat’s resignation.** Although Louisiana had to survive another monopoly (John Law and then after his disgrace (aka the Mississippi Bubble), his Company of the Indies), things did indeed began to change (New Orleans, the settlers of the German Coast, Africans (enslaved & free), the Capuchin mission and the Church of St. Louis, etc. And although many in France didn’t quite know what was going on, Louisiana’s population, production, culture and trade continued to grow throughout the ensuing four decades. By 1750, the cities, towns, plantations, and trading posts of French Louisiana were well established and thriving.

By the way, Cadillac (c. 1714, 1715) did find some rich lead mines in what is today Missouri. So Louisiana had plenty of ammunition, not too many soldiers, but lots of ammo.

* January, 1717; Memoire de Crozat (? Requesting the Regent to relieve him of running Louisiana?)
** Multiple documentation in the colonial and naval archives of France.

This “resignation” info was summarized from Giraud, V. 2; pp. 66 & 67.

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A Kansas City Interlude

Last week I had the opportunity to be in Kansas City, and devoted some time to researching Louisiana’s colonial presence in “the heartland” during the 18th century. Even before there was a Louisiana, the French presence at the mouth of the Arkansas was well established by LaSalle and Tonty (more on this in the future). And by 1716 (300 years ago), Upper Louisiana aka the Illinois Country aka the western end of New France had several active settlements. But it is the Missouri Valley, believed in 1716 to be the passage west to the Pacific, that is being considered today. A century before Lewis & Clark, the explorers of Louisiana were making their way up the great river to the Rockies. Even earlier, throughout the 17th century, the coureurs des bois (runners of the woods) from New France were trapping and trading the furs that formed the basis of much of the wealth which provided the Bourbon North American empire with its raison d’etre. There is a myth in Louisiana history that these coureurs des bois were the romantic nomads of Upper Louisiana who finally settled the mid Mississippi valley and became the economic basis of river trade through the mid 18th century. But the truth is, by the heyday of French Louisiana, the coureurs des bois were already fading into history. New France and Louisiana began to exert more control over the lucrative fur trade by licensing the formerly free trappers. Almost simultaneously with the establishment of New Orleans the coureurs were steadily being replaced by voyageurs (often the same individuals carrying official licenses). Regardless of what we moderns call these folks, the fur trade continued well into the twentieth century as an essential part of the Louisiana and New Orleans economies.One such individual who lived through these changes and went on to be rightly called the Discoverer of the Missouri Valley was Etienne V. De Bourgmont.
Like many European explorers in this timeframe, De Bourgmont travelled up the Missouri looking for the northwest passage to the Pacific. He lived among the Missouri Indians near the mouth of the Grand River from 1712-1719. (Dictionary of Missouri Biography, p. 108) Working under the aegis of the governor of New France and out of New Orleans under Bienville himself, he travelled up the Missouri to the Yellowstone and provided the data to DeLisle in New Orleans to create the first reasonably accurate map of the region. Later traveling back to France he wrote his journal and “opened the eyes of the Europeans to a new world within the New World: the 433,000 fertile square miles of the Missouri River basin, twice as large as France, and readily accessible via navigable rivers. ” (p. 109 DOMB)

Later, during Louisiana’s Spanish period, Bourgmont was followed into the Missouri valley by James Mackay and John Thomas Evans. Their travels provided much of the more contemporary information that Lewis and Clark used on the opening stages of their expedition. They made it to Three Forks, Montana but were forced to turn around due to resistance from the Sioux.One fun fact we can draw from their expedition was that Evans, a Welshman, was searching for descendants of a medieval legend which told of Welshmen arriving in North America in the 12th century. There were tales of an Indian group up the Missouri who exhibited Welsh racial coloring, and whose language contained words and sounds akin to Welsh. Sadly though, Evans found no evidence of this on the wide Missouri.

More info on all of this may be found in:

Frank Norall. Etienne V. De Bourgmont. (1988, U. Of Nebraska Press, Lincoln.) ISBN: 0803233167

Wood, W. Raymond. Prologue to Lewis & Clark. (Norman, OK: U. Of Oklahoma Press,2003.) ISBN 0806134917

And a very good website at:
http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/lewis_clark_il/htmls/il_country_exp/preps/legend_madoc.html

Finally, I must note a sad fact about all of this European activity in the Missouri Valley. The Mandan Indians, the first significant nation up the river and the trading partners to all of the above mentioned explorers, had disappeared from the West by 1840 due to the European diseases that followed the explorers upstream. Of course, more description and info can be found in George Caitlin’s book, the great painter and chronicler of the Western Indians before “manifest destiny” brought about its terrible effects.

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Filed under 1716, Louisiana History, New Orleans Tercentennial