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300 Years Ago: Writer’s Block & Meat Pies

A few weeks back, while working on the chapter about “hunting as a food source”, I found myself stumped, stymied, shut down, – blocked as it were. I couldn’t think of any way forward with the story. Luckily, with several more chapters in the bullpen as well as dozens of recipes to get on paper (metaphorically of course), I turned my attention to those tasks. 
The chapter on Natchitoches was completed some months back, but I only had some recipe ideas in mind, no actual cooking had occurred. Natchitoches, of course, was the first permanent French settlement within the current borders of the modern state of Louisiana. The story of its founding, its Natives, and the very colorful character of its founder, Louis Jucherau de St. Denis is one of the more entertaining stories among colonial Louisiana’s many colorful tales. During his adventures in Spanish Tejas, he met, loved, and married the “most beautiful woman in New Spain” Emmanuela, the daughter of the commandant of the Rio Grande province. Spanish reaction to his adventures, marriage, and natural diplomatic abilities prompted them to check out (vigorously) the new French settlement he had established on the Red River. This in turn led to the establishment of the Spanish post of Los Adaes, a few miles west of Natchitoches itself. Officially, the Los Adaes post was there to check the French expansion into Spanish territory. Unofficially it became the connection between Spanish “New Mexico” and French Louisiana. Through this connection ran an active and vital and totally illegal trade channel between the two colonies. It was here that (New) Spanish culinary culture entered Louisiana early in its history, primarily in the form of cattle and horses. And lest we forget, during the eighteenth century, cattle could be of the domesticated variety (longhorns) as well as the “wild” cattle (aka buffalo or bison) mentioned in so many of the colonial records of Louisiana.
Although there are no records (that I know of) of the origin of the famous Natchitoches Meat Pie, it is within the realm of high probability that the beautiful and talented Emmanuela knew how to put an empanada together. Through her or her New Spanish kitchens this meat pie entered the culinary culture of Creole Louisiana. Stretching our imagination a bit, and cheating just a little (we used store bought pie shells instead of making our own), here is the recipe for the Spanish meat pies using buffalo instead of beef and some other original ingredients.

Buffalo Meat Pies

1 tbsp + 1 tsp. lard

1 bunch of green onions 

1 stalk of celery

1 bell pepper

1 medium head of garlic

1 large onion

1 lb. finely ground buffalo meat (ground beef may be substituted)

1 lb. finely ground pork

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup beef stock

Salt, cayenne, red pepper to taste

Chop all the vegetables as finely as possible. Sauté in the tbsp. of lard. Push the veggies to the edge of your pan, add the tsp. of lard, and fry-off the buffalo until it browns. Push the buffalo to the pan edges and repeat the fry-off with the pork. No need to add more lard. After the pork browns, mix everything together in the pan, season with the salt and peppers, and cook for several minutes until well mixed and browned nicely. There should be no chunks of meat left. Remove from heat and let the meat mixture cool a bit. Add the flour and the 1/2 cup of beef stock. Use a potato masher or a dough cutter tool to thoroughly mix and grind the mixture. When done, the mixture should be moist and hold together in a ball.

If you are experienced at making pie dough from scratch, prepare enough dough for a large pie. If not, purchase pre-made pie dough that comes in a roll.

Roll out the pie dough and cut into discs about 5 inches in diameter. Fill half of each disc to about 1/2 inch from the edge and stop in the center. Do not overfill or stack the meat mixture too high. Fold the dough over forming a half-moon shape, then crimp the edges together with a fork. 

Deep fry for 4 to 5 minutes until golden brown.
In the Natchitoches chapter of the upcoming volume 2 of the “Petticoat Rebellion”, Emanuella brings this recipe to New Orleans when she visits her friends the Marignys for the wedding of Antoine de Marigny and Francoise deLisle in the1740s. Whether or not this really happened is irrelevant as this is “histoire”, the historical “fiction” part of the work. The Tricentennial Memo (the historical notes here) deal with the actual founding of Natchitoches and St. Denis’ actual activities in New Spain and the Red River valley. 

Stay tuned, more of this to come.

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Not Exactly 300 Years Ago: A Way-Overdue Entry Second Printing

A Very Simplified Timeline of French Colonial Louisiana 

 and a timely Springtime recipe from Volume 2 (in progress)

{This second posting is here because the first had to be removed from Facebook due to an error preventing it from being posted properly.}
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 of 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 a 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 Rosemary 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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Primum est Edare

PRIMUM EST EDARE, DIENDI PHILOSOPHARII
EATING COMES BEFORE PHILOSOPHY

August, 2016. 65 years of age.

This month, eating is covered. Clothing and shelter as well ~ barring any unforeseen major catastrophes.

As I drove “down south” today to the Northshore of New Orleans, I was thinking about where had the joy gone?; the “joie de vivre” of a happy 42 year marriage, of the ‘golden years’ spread out before me. Well, as it turns out the joy hasn’t gone anywhere. I just could not see clearly enough. An overriding concern as I drove south was what had happened to my spirituality, my sense of place in the universe. What DO I believe in? Who am I? What am I? Is there a point to anything?

So now, “Philosopharii”.

Another old saw states that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. during the course of this day, among the grocery shopping, the bookish errands of disposing old books, and seeking for some clue as to my existence, three weirdly odd and assorted volumes found their way into my possession. A philosophy professor writing in the “popular” style on the topic of learning how to die thereby learning how to live. A religious studies professor writing on the spirituality and mysticism of the Jesuit biologist/paleontolgist Teilhard de Chardin occasioned by his encounters with Eastern religions. And a historian’s account of the “moral character” of America’s founding fathers.

“There is no such thing as coincidence”, the love of life is fond of saying. A philosophy book on the end of life. A study in spirituality occasioned by a leading theologian’s real life encounter with comparative religions. A history book on American moral character as Hillary politics her way to a historical presidency and goofy Trump states openly that he wants to physically beat up his competition. De universe sure do work in mysterious ways – or does it?

Stay with this blog and see how these readings turn out.

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300 years ago: September 1st, 1715. Death of Louis XIV

Sad news reaches Louisiana this month. Louis Quatorze is dead. Louisiana’s namesake is no more. The Sun King has set on the French Empire. Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, became regent in 1715 for his nephew, the future Louis XV. Philippe ruled France for the next eight years and gave his name to the capital city of the Louisiana colony. The Duke had little to do with the faraway colony, almost immediately granting it to Antoine Crozat and then in 1717 turning it over to John Law’s Mississippi Company, later called the Company of the West, and finally the Company of the Indies. Louisiana was thus a mercantile “for profit” colony until 1731 when it reverted back to the crown. It was largely the economic policies of these companies that led to the appearance and the reality of Louisiana as a generally neglected colony of France.

louis-xiv-of-france

As my researches have shown, while this neglect had an important effect on the politics and economy of the colony, and while, at least in the official records, Louisiana always seems to be starving, it was, in fact, the settlers, the natives, and the slaves who really built the economy of the colony through their own labors with help provided by the vibrant activities of the unofficial smuggling trade and practices that formed the real foundation of French Louisiana and the cuisine that we still enjoy and celebrate today.

Don’t forget, the thesis propounded here may be found in the first volume of my work on French Colonial Culinary History, The Petticoat Rebellion, available on Amazon in print and Kindle as well as a free iBook at the iBookstore. The foundation of the ideas presented are listed in the Bibliography link found at the 1718 Project webpage – www. 1718neworleans.com

Stay tuned to this Facebook page for these Tricentennial moments marking notable events that occurred 300 years ago. And don’t forget the website and Facebook page are designed for collaboration. Let me know what you think.

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ANNOUNCEMENT-ANNOUNCEMENT-ANNOUNCEMENT

The updated and corrected version of The Petticoat Rebellion is now available at the Amazon Kindle store !!!

Bookcover v. 1.5

Also available in print from amazon.com, and the iBookstore (FREE) as well as the main website http://1718neworleans.com  and self.guntenberg.com (FREE).

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Oklahoma City April 23, 2015

A most American city. And later today, a most American festival. As I reflect on this city, several things strike me. This is definitely the most American city that I have ever visited. It has NO history. This place was Indian Territory until the 20th century. After stealing all of the Native American land, culture, and (almost) identity, the USA took away their last refuge. A refuge that the same government had given them 70 years before. It opened the area to white settlement in 1889 and finally took the whole place as a state in 1907. Anyway, this very recent state became American with the 20th century. I also read somewhere that the population of Oklahoma City is 90% white and 8% black. There are over 1 million folk in Oklahoma City and there hasn’t been a shooting or murder here since we arrived last weekend.
Now this week there is a festival here-an art festival. It takes place in a park near our hotel. It is not called a park, but a garden (in the middle of the downtown business District) and what a beautiful garden it is! There are a lot of people at the festival, lots of noise, lots of beautiful art, lots of music. In this garden is an amphitheater to rival the classical amphitheaters of the Mediterranean. There is a huge pond next to the theater at the bottom of what I take to be an excavation between two natural hills. Around the pond are waterfalls, walkways, gardens (of course), benches, etc. Which make it a very people-friendly place.
Despite all of the beauty and convenience the place is also a bit too sanitized. A bit too nice. A bit too American. As with the Native Americans, the Oklahomans have tamed the garden, the forests, the ponds, the very plants themselves. It is beautiful – beautiful in the likeness of the “Enlightenment” Gardens of Versailles, etc. it is not very natural at all. So, am I making a value judgment here? Probably so. Does safety and convenience trump earthy, gritty, attractive, but a bit dangerous? In my heart of hearts I am afraid I would have to choose safety over danger. Although, I would like to believe that the French Quarter is better than Bricktown, more real, as it were, I have chosen to live in a rural countryside near New Orleans rather than New Orleans itself. So, what does that say about me? Am I, in the end, a Creole or a Kaintuck !?!?

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Blogging into the Void: Seeking Feedback

This blog and http://1718neworleans.com/ are here to provide Tricentennial forums for our community.

Beyond this Blog, I need feedback from the New Orleans community, so . . .

What is the creole myth? It could be that enigmatic inquiry-why is New Orleans such a tourist draw? What is the character of New Orleans?

The Food, er, the Cuisine.
The Big Easy.
Laissez le bon temps roullez.
?Bad? Politics arising from such an attitude.
The Parades
Bourbon Street = alcohol, sex,
The City that Care Forgot
A freedom, perhaps found nowhere else.
The Coffee.
The Garden District.

Je ne sais quo

So my job is to look back on the facts, the legends, the myth. And find out where it comes from. Where do I start?

I need to open it up and talk to people-here on the North Shore. To see what’s it all about. These issues need to be discussed in connection with the on-going 1718 Project. I would like to meet with any interested parties to discuss these issues. I propose meeting at St. John’s Coffeehouse (downtown Covington) on an appointed date and time to engage input into this fundamental issue. Any takers?

 

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