the following is an excerpt from a cookbook
put out by the New Orleans Times-Picayune.)
grand old cuisine sparkles more than ever
By Gene Bourg
Times-Picayune Restaurant Critic
South Louisiana Cooking is not only one of the country's
most popular cuisines, it's also one of the most
Menus in restaurants from New York to San Francisco (and
increasingly in New Orleans, too) would have us believe
that the pinnacle of Creole-Cajun cooking is something
blackened and peppered with jalapeno.
The facts are that, in the 200-year history of the
region's cooking, the high-heat frying process called
blackening has no historical or regional antecedents
prior to the early 1980s, and that ground cayenne pepper,
rather than flaked jalapeno, always has been the
strongest such spice used by traditional Creole and Cajun
Historically, the two cooking styles are fairly distinct,
although they overlap in many dishes.
Cajun cuisine in its purest form is the earthy and robust
creation of fishermen and farmers in the bayou country of
southwest Louisiana, which remains the only place you'll
find Cajun food that has not been refined and urbanized
for restaurant customers.
The work "Cajun" comes to us from
"Acadia," the name given a 17th century colony
of French settlers in southeastern Canada. In the
mid-18th century, thousands of Acadians were exiled and
found their way to Louisiana.
From the time they arrived here, Acadian cooks have
subsisted on all kinds of finfish from the Gulf of
Mexico, as well as crabs, shrimp, oysters and crawfish
from the state's vast and incredibly rich wetlands, pork
and poultry from their farms and wild ducks from the
marshes, all of them cooked with the hearty seasonings
they brought or found in abundance.
Creole food is more citified, often a shade more
delicate, in both preparation and presentation, with such
exceptions as remoulade, a cold sauce for shrimp or
crabmeat that bristles with cayenne, hot mustard or
horseradish. But Creole cooks just as often use the same
meats, seafoods and seasonings used in the bayou country,
and the fullness of the flavors are similar.
That's because both the rural Acadians and the
cosmopolitan Creoles drew inspiration not only from
France but also from Africa (where okra comes from),
Spain (a Louisiana jambalaya is a close cousin of a
Spanish paella) and the native Indians, who provided corn
and indigenous herbs.
Cajuns and Creoles have always had such easily available
herbs and spices as bay leaf, cayenne, sweet peppers,
parsley, scallions, onions and garlic. Some of those are
indispensable to the roux, a paste of flour cooked down
with lard or oil and green seasonings to become the base
for gumbos and stews.
Gumbos, in hundreds of combinations of meat, seafoods and
seasonings, are often thickened further with slices of
okra or, less frequently, the powder of ground sassafras,
For more than two centuries, south Louisiana cooks have
been absorbing and adapting whatever new ideas found
their way up the Mississippi River and through the
bayous. Much of this enrichment can be credited to the
emigrants from Italy, Germany, Yugoslavia and Ireland,
who came to the bustling port city of New Orleans in the
late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Almost from the beginning preserving the integrity of New
Orleans' remarkable cuisine was largely the
responsibility of legions of black cooks who worked in
the homes and restaurants of the city. In addition, they
are the people who originated some of the more economical
dishes that have solid places in the pantheon of New
Orleans cuisine - such delicacies as red beans and rice,
stuffed sweet peppers and Southern fried chicken.
Experienced eaters approaching south Louisiana cooking
for the first time are forewarned: Courses often do not
follow the same gradations of intensity and amount in a
classic European meal. Here, an appetizer can be sublet
and light, as in a bit of lump crabmeat with mayonnaise,
or it can be very spicy and heavy, as in a big bowl of
gumbo of seafood and andouille.
Meanwhile, restaurant chefs in south Louisiana are
continuing the longstanding practice of absorbing and
adapting, revising and inventing. It's what vitalizes and
enriches the basic Creole and Cajun styles.
Many staple ingredients in New Orleans' contemporary
restaurant kitchens are newcomers to the regional
cooking. Pasta, especially fettuccine, has become as
commonplace as rice, probably because pasta holds sauces
so well and is so compatible with seafood. Fresh mussels,
clams and dozens of fruits and vegetables that once were
impossible to find here are now accepted as they are in
other parts of the country.
And contemporary chefs are using a lighter touch with
fish and vegetables. Grilled Gulf fishes in light, herbal
butter sauces are immensely popular, and crisply done
vegetables are now tossed in seasoned butters more often
than they're cooked the old-fashioned way - soaked in
pork fat for as much as an hour.
So, a restaurant-goer's options in America's favorite
restaurant city are greater than ever.
Explanation of French terms used in cooking
In preparing the Creole Cook Book the Picayune has sought
to overcome the great difficulty that the majority of
people outside Louisiana experience in understanding
French terms, as applied to various dishes and orders of
service. Discussions have been going on in all parts of
the country of late as to the desirability of abolishing
all French terms on bills of fare, one celebrated
newspaper declaring: "What is the use of calling a
dish the 'Canard Canvasback,' when there is no French
name for the famous Canvasback Duck?"
All this is very amusing down here in Louisiana, where
the Canvasback Duck has always been known as the Canard
de Cheval. And so with other dishes. The use of French,
however, continues in bills of fare prepared for all
distinguished banquets, etc., critics to the contrary
notwithstanding, and will continue, because the French
order of service is the one accepted the world over, in
all state and official gatherings, and the pretty touch
given to a dish called by a French name is one the ladies
especially will be slow to give up. An air of distinction
is conferred upon even a homely dish by calling it by its
French name, and, as remarked above, all criticisms
against the practice will not do away with the usage.
The Picayune has sought to overcome the difficulty
experienced by those who are not acquainted with the
French language and French terms in cooking by giving
with each recipe not only the correct English name of the
dish, but the French one also. It now proposes to further
assist housekeepers and caterers generally by giving the
definitions of a few additional French terms used in
cooking and serving dishes:
Assaissonnement: A seasoning; a salad
Assaissonnement Aromatique: An aromatic
seasoning, such as parsley, cheuril, etc.
Aspic: This is a meat jelly or savory
for cold dishes. Boned Turkey Galantine, Calf's Foot
Jelly, Cold Tongue, Cold Daube, are all termed En Aspic.
Au Gratin: All baked or roasted dishes
that are prepared with crumbs grated and sprinkled over
are called Au Gratin
Bouchees: A bouchee indicates a
mouthful, and is from the French bouche, the mouth. It is
applied in cooking to all very thin, small patties or
cakes, as Bouchees dhuitres, Bouchees a la Reine, etc.
Bonne Bouche: A good mouthful.
Baba: A peculiar Creole sweet cake, made
of yeast, flour, milk and eggs.
Bisque: A soup made of shell fish. It is
red in color, such as Crawfish Bisque, the shells of
which are boiled and mashed and pounded and strained and
added to the soup stock. A Lobster Bisque may be prepared
after the same manner as the Crawfish Bisque in latitudes
where lobster may be obtained fresh. The bisque then
becomes a Bisque dhomard.
Bisque decrevisse: A Crawfish Bisque or
Blanchair: To blanch. To blanch an
article set it on the fire till it boils, and then plunge
in cold water. This rule applies to vegetables, poultry,
nuts, almonds, etc. The skin is thus removed and the
article is blanched. Blanching also means simply to
scald, such as blanching oysters.
Bouillon: A Bouillon is a clear soup,
much stronger than broth, and yet not quite so strong as
Boudins: A form of sausage.
Boulettes: A small ball of meat, fish,
etc., hashed and formed in balls and fried.
Bouillabaisse: A famous French-Creole
way of cooking fish, the French using the Sturgeon and
Perch, the Creoles the Redfish and Red Snapper. The fish
is cooked to the point where it begins to boil; then you
must stop on the instant. Hence the word Bouillabaisse
from Bouillir, to boil, and Baisse, to stop.
Braise: To smother. All meats, fish,
vegetables, etc., cooked in a closely covered stewpan, so
as to retain not only their own flavor, but those of all
other ingredients entering into the dish, are termed
Braise, or a la Braise.
Brioche: This is our delightful Creole
breakfast cake made of slightly sweetened egg and milk,
batter and yeast set to rise over night, and formed into
Brioche, or cake, with a central cake for a head, and the
other cakes arranged, to the number of six or eight
around, and sprinkled with sugar.
Canapes: On toast. Anything served on
toast is called sur Canapes.
Caneton (masculine) Canette (feminine):
Canneton: Meat stuffed and rolled up;
Charcuterie: The term for all sausage.
Civet: A stew made of hare and so called
because of the flavor of chives (cives) that enters into
Consomme: A clear soup that has been
boiled down to almost a jelly-broth, and which is very
Consomme Dore: A gilded or golden yellow
A la Creme: With cream, as Sauce a la
Creme a la Glace: Ice Cream.
Coup de Milieu: A middle drink or course
served in the middle of the meal, just before the roast,
as Ponche a la Cardinale, Roman Punch, Sorbet a la
Crapaud: A toad; bullfrog.
A la Crapaudine: Crapaudine means like
toadstool, or stone, as Pigeons a la Crapaudine, which
means pigeons cooked and dressed to resemble little
toadstools or frogs on a stone.
Courtbouillon: A fish stew, generally
made of Redfish.
Courtbouillon a la Creole: A stew of
Redfish, to which Wine is added.
Croutons: Crusts of bread, cut like dice
or in any fancy shape, and toasted or fried in butter.
Croustades: Pieces of bread larger than
Croutons toasted or fried in butter or shortening, and
used to serve minces or meats upon.
Dindonneau: A turkey chick.
Dariole: A custard pie.
Diable: The devil.
A la Diable: According to the devil.
Generally applied to hot, fiery preparations of meats,
Eau de Vie: Brandy or Whiskey. Eau de
Vie properly means "water of life."
Entree: A side dish, served before or
between courses, at dinner.
Entremet: A small by-dish. Entremets are
sweet or otherwise.
Entremet Sucre: A sweet by-dish. Sweet
entremets are generally served towards the close of the
meal, just after the roasts.
Flan: A custard.
Fondue: To melt. Generally applied to a
light preparation of melted cheese, such as Welsh
Fondant: Sugar boiled and beaten to a
Granits: Aromatized fruit waters.
Hors d'oeuvre: A by-dish; an outwork, a
digression. Under this term are classed all dishes that
are regarded simply as accessories to a meal, and
designed to excite the appetite, but not to sate it. It
is undoubtedly because they are placed on the table
outside or apart from other dishes that they have been so
A la Jardiniere: According to the
Matelote: A rich fish stew, made with
Mayonnaise: A rich salad dressing, made
with eggs, oil, vinegar, etc., and served with chicken,
shrimp, fish salad generally.
Meringue: The whites of eggs beaten to a
stiff froth with sugar.
Meringuee: Covered with a meringue.
Marinade: A rich liquor of spices,
vingegar or wine, etc., in which beef or fish are steeped
for several hours before cooking.
A la Mode: After a mode or fashion, as
Beef a la Mode - Daube.
Mironton: Cold boiled meat, hashed and
warmed over, and served in various ways.
A la Neige: Snowy, like snow.
Pate: A batter; a pie dough.
Pates: Small pies or patties of oysters,
meats, fruits, etc.
Panache: Mottled, variegated. As Creme
Panachee, or Variegated Ice Cream.
Poulet: A chicken.
A la Poulette: As a chicken; for
instance, a Sauce a la Poulette always has eggs giving
the distinctive name a la Poulette.
Praline: A distinctive Creole sugar cake
made of cocoanut and sugar or pecans and sugar.
Pralinee: Sugared, or sugar-coated.
Piquante: A sauce of piquant flavor,
vinegar or acid predominating, and highly seasoned with
A la Plaque: A Plaque is a flat baking
pan or griddle. Articles baked in it are called a la
Plaque, as Pan Bread, or Pain a la Plaque.
Quenelles: Meat, liver, fish or potatoes
chopped and highly seasoned and rolled into balls or
Roulettes and boiled and served as a garnish.
Ragout: A rich stew of meat or poultry,
generally made with vegetables, such as mushrooms, green
peas, truffles, potatoes, etc.
Ratafia: A kind of Liqueur or Wine
Remoulade: A dressing for salads,
somewhat like the Mayonnaise, but differing in this, that
the eggs are all hard-boiled and rubbed in a mortar with
mustard, vinegar, powdered spice, minced garlic, etc.
Releves: A side dish; a term applied
when it is desired to serve another dish beside an
Rissoles: Minced meat or fish, rolled in
thin pastry and fried.
Roux (pronounced "Rue"): A
mixture of flour and butter, or flour and lard, used as a
foundation for sauces or as a foundation for stews,
Roti: A roast.
Saute: To smother and toss meats, fowl,
vegetables, etc., over low heat in butter or fat.
Savarin: A wine cake.
Salmis: A rich stew of venison, duck or
other game, cut up and dressed, generally with wine.
Salmigondis: A hotch-potch of game, such
as venison, etc.
Saucissons de Lyons: Bologna Sausage.
Salade d'anchois: Anchovy Salad.
Souffle: An omelette, pudding or
custard, thoroughly beaten and whipped up until it
becomes so light that when cooked it must be eaten
immediately, or else it will fall.
Talmouse: A cheese cake.
Tartelette: A small tart.
danchois: Anchovy Tartines; circles of brown
bread, spread with anchovy paste, yolks and whites of
hard-boiled eggs, chopped fine, also chopped pickles, all
arranged in alternate rows.
Timbale: A pie cooked in a mold. In
Macaroni en Timbale the macaroni is cooked in the cheese
Vinaigrette: A sauce or salad dressing,
made of salt and pepper, vinegar predominating.
Vol-au-Vent: A chicken, meat, fish or
game pie, baked in a light puff paste, and served as an
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