Great Depression Bouillie au Lait

In our house in Eunice, Louisiana, in the 1960s and ’70s, bouillie au lait (milk custard) was a comfort food. We pronounced it “B-yo-ly,” and sometimes ate it for breakfast or as an after-school snack. In Momma’s childhood home in Ville Platte during the Great Depression, bouillie au lait was survival food. It was affordable for poor families like theirs because it required only three … Continue reading Great Depression Bouillie au Lait

Simple & Satisfying: Sautéed Cabbage With Sausage

Having grown up with lots of people always around, all the time (my parents had nine children) – in a food-crazy state like Louisiana, it seems there also always was a correlating abundance of sustenance at our house. Ten-gallon stock-pots filled with gumbo were the norm. We had a 16-cup rice-cooker going nonstop, it seemed, to keep up with the steady supply of rice we … Continue reading Simple & Satisfying: Sautéed Cabbage With Sausage

Meatball Fricassee

Everybody knows about gumbo. It’s the quintessential Louisiana dish. And for all kinds of good reasons. It’s served in homes and restaurants all over the Bayou State (and in many other states – which tend to muck it up with unorthodox methods so as not to scare away their loyal customers). Gumbo is what most often comes to mind when outsiders think of Louisiana food. … Continue reading Meatball Fricassee

Rouxvana: Eliza Mae’s Seafood Gumbo

Today the temperature dropped quickly here in Manhattan, and I hear that the Coonasses down home in Louisiana are also experiencing a cold snap. Which can only mean one thing for them and me: Gumbo. So today I’m channeling all those fine Coonasses down there to write this blog post on Eliza Mae’s (my long-departed momma’s) Seafood Gumbo. I think seafood gumbo was Momma’s best dish … Continue reading Rouxvana: Eliza Mae’s Seafood Gumbo

Cakeover: Josephine Gonzales Andrews’ Church Lady Cajun Cake

This isn’t really a “Cakeover” story per se (where I take a vintage recipe from the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s and update it). No, this recipe is the original, as submitted to me by my old home-state friend (and peer reviewer* for my upcoming book) Valerie Andrews. Valerie was reminded of this recipe from her grandmother Josephine, when she read my post on Watergate Cake … Continue reading Cakeover: Josephine Gonzales Andrews’ Church Lady Cajun Cake

How’s this for a book jacket blurb?

In April, when I converted my old newsletter (Parenthetically Speaking) into this blog, I announced that the University Press of Mississippi (UPM) will be publishing my memoir next year. At the time, the title of my book was “The Canasta Summers – Memoirs of a Cajun Boy.” This was the only title I’ve ever considered for this book because the story covers a period of … Continue reading How’s this for a book jacket blurb?

A Toast to Toast!

If you know me, you already know about my love affair with toast. This romance started for me as a child in Louisiana. We had toast, not so much for breakfast – although occasionally it was part of breakfast (or it became French Toast) – but instead for after-school snacking, accompanied by coffee-milk (a glass half-filled with coffee and the other half milk). We usually … Continue reading A Toast to Toast!

What’s in Your Closet?

At Christmastime and birthdays, Gilda had a knack for picking the best games for her presents. If someone else had, by sheer luck, asked for a game that turned out to be amazing, she found a way to acquire it. Accordingly, she wound up as the proprietor of Monopoly, Masterpiece, The Thing Machine, Freight Factory, and several other popular children’s distractions of the era – … Continue reading What’s in Your Closet?

Ortense & DeJean

It’s cher, y’all, not ‘sha’.

Even though French is the language associated with Louisiana’s Cajuns, many modern-day Cajuns (myself included) did not fully learn the language until they were exposed to it formally in junior high and/or high school. For me, it was in “Madame” Connie Larson’s French classes at Eunice High School where I finally learned how to read and write enough French to feel a meaningful connection to … Continue reading It’s cher, y’all, not ‘sha’.

Daddy’s Paper Bag Fries

Like most Cajun men, Daddy cooked. If I had to guess, I’d say barbecuing was his favorite way to demonstrate that. He never fired up his pit (a re-purposed 55-gallon oil drum) without planning to cook at least two meats, and most often, three or four: chicken, pork chops, steaks, andouille sausage were the most common, but he also did venison (after lots of marinating) … Continue reading Daddy’s Paper Bag Fries