Category Archives: NEW ORLEANS TRI-CENTENNIAL 1718 TO 2018

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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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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A Bohemian among the WASPs

At the turn of the century, my wife and I decided it was time to leave our beloved New Orleans and move to the country. The “country” surrounding New Orleans is either the River Parishes or “across the lake” – Pontchartrain, that is. Now the River Parishes lay between the river and the lakes or between the river and Bayou LaFourche. This essentially translates to swamp. having lived in a swamp all of my life, as New Orleans is on average 3 to 5 feet below sea level, I decided that “across the lake” was a better choice. Here there are actually rolling lands, which, with some imagination, can be regarded as hilly terrain. Between the towns can be found these small hills covered with hardwood and/or pine forests divided by dozens of steams, a few even amounting to rivers.

Culturally, the population here is a mixed bag. Also known as the Florida Parishes, “across the lake” was never part of the Louisiana Purchase. Rather, it was the western part of the Fourteenth Colony. From 1763 to 1783, it was part to the British colony of West Florida, acquired by Britain, as a result of the Seven Year’s or French & Indian War. West Florida’s major settlements, Pensacola, Mobile, and Baton Rouge were captured by America’s Spanish ally, Governor Bernardo de Gálvez of Spanish Louisiana, during the American Revolution. From 1783 through 1803, West Florida was a separate Spanish possession along with East Florida (today’s state). In 1803, when Spain gave Louisiana back to Napoleon, West Florida was not included. The upshot of all of this is that, except for a fringe along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, there wasn’t a Frenchman in sight. West Florida was primarily settled by anglophones (some fleeing from the newly independent American states). These White Anglo-Saxon Protestants cleared the land, built churches, primarily Baptist or Methodist, and established towns with names like Hammond, Franklinton, Folsom, Independence, Covington, etc. Some Indian town names were included, like Ponchatoula and Bogalusa.

The result of all of this is, once past today’s great east-west thoroughfare of Interstate -12, a traveler no longer finds himself in the South Louisiana of seafood, French Bread, jambalaya, Cajun music, Mardi Gras, gumbo, French and Cajun patois, Jazz clubs, The Times-Picayune, Catholic Churches every few blocks, roast beef or oyster po-boys, parades for every occasion. In other words, once north of Folsom, you are back in rural America, with all that entails.

As a writer and retired teacher, I now have a part-time retirement job as a gas station cashier. Once I told a customer, merci beaucoup, after he made his purchase. He didn’t know what I was talking about ! On another occasion, I made some oyster patties one year at Thanksgiving. I brought some to share with my co-workers. They had no idea what they were ! My wife brought up pain Perdue or lost bread one day in a culinary conversation at her job. her co-workers did not realize she was talking about what they call French Toast ! More than once, I have been asked – not where I went to school – but what church did I belong to ! I replied that I was heathen Catholic. And may the gods and goddesses forbid, that the WASPs I associate with ever find out that we follow the old religion. And let’s not even get into politics. Suffice it to say that I was one of the 230 voters in Washington parish who voted democratic (for Bernie Sanders) in the recent primary.

There are many other examples of this cultural divide a scant 30 miles north of New Orleans. maybe I will chronicle them further in future writings. But as Beth and I carve out a bohemian haven here among the WASPs, include us in your prayers and good hopes for the future of democratic and cultural diversity in America.

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Filed under Louisiana History, New Orleans Tercentennial, NEW ORLEANS TRI-CENTENNIAL 1718 TO 2018