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)…

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…

I’m a Coonass in Gotham, me.

When I moved to New York City from New Orleans in 1992 one of the first things I realized was that there are quite a few fellow Louisianans walking these streets, riding these subways, and having a blast, as I was. Turns out there were many first things I would need to realize – such…

Quintessentially Cajun: Rice & Gravy

Momma and Daddy once had a dinner date with Alice and Roy LeDoux, who had a farm a couple miles from our motel, down the road going to Church Point. Momma and Daddy made a point to eat out about once every other month, but for the LeDouxs, this was a rare occurrence. When she…

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…

The Maid turns 100!

My Eunice Junior and then Senior High School chum Marc Andrepont passed this excellent article on to me this morning, so I figured you’d want to be in the know as well (these things are important!) Interesting tidbits of history about my family’s favorite white bread. M © All Rights Reserved

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…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

Louisiana Butter Pecan Cake

Standing on her feet all day at Eliza’s Beauty Shop in Eunice, Momma never had time for magazine-reading, but she sure did subscribe to a lot of periodicals for the ladies who sat in her hydraulic chair. She got Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Women’s Day, McCall’s, Redbook, Reader’s Digest, and a few…

Canasta’s Trip to the Bayou

In 1939 in Montevideo, Uruguay, Segundo Santos and Alberto Serrato invented a rummy-like card game they named after the “baskets” of cards, or canastas the players would create along the way to winning. In the next decade the rules of the game evolved, modified by players all over South America. By the 1950s the resulting…

Mildred’s Biscuits

When she was in beauty school, and later, after she had opened her beauty shop on Vine Street in our home town of Eunice, Louisiana, Momma called on Mildred Williams quite often – to babysit us little ones, cook, clean, and do things that needed doing in the house. Some of us became so attached…