Maque Choux

This is a Cajun dish as far as I can tell. As I remember it, the dish was either introduced to the French settlers in the bayou by the Native American tribes in the area or the dish was a synthesis of ingredients the settlers had on hand. I had never had it until this year and it is wonderful! There is a lot of black pepper used in this dish (my doing) so feel free to reduce the amount if you find that amount intimidating.

Maque Choux

8 ears fresh corn, husked and silked (or 7 cups frozen)
6 strips bacon
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon creole seasoning or Cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt

First, prepare the corn by holding each ear of corn firmly with the bottom end placed on a cutting board or in a large bowl to keep the kernels from splattering. With a sharp knife, cut straight down the cob, cutting off only 2 or 3 rows at a time until all kernels are removed. Then, using the back of the knife blade, scrape down the cob to remove the corn “milk.” Add this milk to the corn kernels in a large bowl. Repeat procedure with each of the remaining ears of corn. Set aside.

Then in a stockpot, cook the bacon until crisp. Save bacon strips for another use—like peanut butter and bacon sandwiches! Leave bacon fat in bottom of stockpot. Cook onions and the red and green bell peppers in the bacon fat until soft — about 5-10 minutes. Add corn kernels and corn milk, spices, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the corn from sticking. Cover the pot, lower the heat, and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

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You just don’t get it

I gave more money to New Orleans charities than I have to any other individual cause in my life. I didn’t do it so the people down there could continue to have parades.

Blog post here. I have little of value to say about Richman’s post, anything civil that is. But thank you for that lesson in civility Mr. Richman. I’m sure the people of New Orleans will now think you are the exemplar of decorum.

Favorite comment in response?

Alan, much like a dog that’s been fixed, you don’t get it.

Ashley… I love you, man.

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The City That Fell In Love With Itself AKA Don’t Mess With My Toot-Toot!

I created this blog as a way to carry out my grandmother’s memory—a woman with a 200+ year legacy in South-East Louisiana and a woman of Creole descent. I hadn’t intended to ever project my opinion into this blog, but a writer so venomous and so needlessly mean-spirited has written a piece on the state of New Orleans that I felt compelled to join in the chorus of protest. I won’t say how cheap and easy and un-intellectual it is to write horrible things about a people when they are down. I’m also not going to touch Mr. Richman’s hateful treatment of the city of New Orleans in his article, other folks have done a remarkable job of smacking his ass back.

Oddly enough, Alan Richman over at GQ seems to have the impression that Creole folks are imaginary and:

Supposedly, Creoles can be found in and around New Orleans. I have never met one and suspect they are a faerie folk, like leprechauns, rather than an indigenous race. The myth is that once, long ago, Creoles existed. Certainly there was a Creole cuisine, a fancified amalgamation of French (mainly), Spanish (just a little), Italian (even less), and African-Caribbean (unavoidable). The African-Caribbean influence was the kind of fortuitous culinary accident that occurs when the swells eating the food don’t come from the same background as the workers cooking the food.

Creole (capitalCthankyouverymuch) is not a race, but the word “amalgam” is pretty accurate. As quoted from Wikipedia:

Some writers from other parts of the United States have mistakenly assumed the term Creole to refer only to people of mixed racial descent, but this is not the traditional Louisiana usage.

Mr. Richman states that:

It was never the best idea, building a subterranean city on a defenseless coastline. Residents could have responded to that miscalculation in any number of conscientious ways, but they chose endless revelry. New Orleans fell in love with itself and acted accordingly, becoming a festival of narcissism, indolence, and corruption. Tragedy could not have come to a place more incapable of dealing with it.

No one who is from New Orleans is blind to its huge and massive failings—the nepotism, the corruption, the scandals—wait I WAS talking about New Orleans, right? The previous statement would only come from a fool who doesn’t get it. And you don’t get it Mr. Richman. I’m sorry that you had to grow up in boring-vanilla-Applebee’s-no flavor-gotnosoul land, but don’t point you finger at us saying WE’RE the narcissists. Pardon the hell out of us if we’re gregarious and lively. Pardon us if we welcome all new cultures to our neck of the woods as if they were the best thing since Leidenheimer’s french bread—just ask the Vietnamese. There’s a town just down the highway known as Baton Rouge for folks like you, sir. Besides, people live in New Orleans because they live there. How obtuse does one have to be to not get that?

Part of my family came from the Canary Islands and settled in Plaquemines Parish in the late 1700’s and settled at Pointe-a-la-Hache. The Surnames on that side are Melerine, Belmonte, Rodriguez, Molero, Ragas, Masson, LaBouisse, Chartier, Delery and LaFrance. Part of my family settled in the German Coast and they are also considered Creoles (or Cajun depending upon who you ask). The Surnames are Scheib, Doescher and Balck (it’s really spelled that way). None of these may be important people, they may not have been powerful people, but what they did do was bring whatever culture they learned and “mixed it up.” New Orleans is nothing if not varied and diverse. I’m proud of my multi-cultural background—damn proud! I grew up hearing that I was Creole, my entire family called each other Creole and the way they cooked was Creole. To them, it is a way of designating themselves as apart from or removed from the mainstream Anglo culture of the United States, much the same way Latino families do. The Louisiana Creole culture is a unique, vast, diverse collection of several cultures from across the globe all meeting at one region over a long period of time—like a slow cooked, and very flavorful, stew.
Granted Mr. Richman never met me or my large family, but if he were to do so, he’d meet Creoles who’d give him a few bon mots. Pardon my French.

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Crab Boil Mashed Potatoes

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, I thought it was time to start posting à propos recipes. The following is inspired by the potatoes served before your meal at Deanie’s in Metairie. For folks not “in the know”—when it comes time to throw a seafood boil, it is customary to add corn and potatoes to the water along with the seafood and seafood boil mix to serve alongside the crabs, shrimp and crawfish. At Deanie’s, they serve these delicious potatoes as a substitute for bread before your meal arrives. By using the following method to boil your potatoes for mashing, you will give just enough zing to your mashed potatoes for some real soul.

Just my humble opinion, but Yukon Gold potatoes are the best for mashing, but some people prefer red skinned. Use appropriate mashing potatoes.

Crab Boil Mashed Potatoes

For the water:
1 package (3 oz.) Dry Crab Boil
4 quarts of water
4 tablespoons salt
1 quartered lemon
cayenne pepper to taste

3 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 teaspoon salt
8 Tbsp heavy cream
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp milk
Salt and Pepper

A potato ricer, food mill or masher

Put potatoes into a large pot of crab boil water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until done – a fork can easily be poked through them.

Warm cream and melt butter, together, either in microwave or in a pan on the stove. Drain water from potatoes. Use ricer, mill or masher to mash potatoes into a separate bowl. Add cream and melted butter mixture. Use a strong spoon to beat further, adding milk to achieve the consistency you desire. (Do not over-beat or your potatoes will get gluey.) Salt and pepper to taste. You may add creole seasoning to taste at the end if you desire.

Serves 8.

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