This page is dedicated to the Food of New Orleans, also referred to as Creole | Cajun Cuisine and to celebrate the Food of Mardi Gras Day, also known as Fat Tuesday.
What is Creole | Cajun Cuisine?
The history and food culture surrounding New Orleans and the state of Louisiana area is thick from the French landing in the Gulf of Mexico and traveling to Canada. French Cuisine, Culture, and the Language mixed with Locals | Natives along with European and African, Caribbean or Hispanic descent. This is the beginning of that is called Creole, a blend of these different cultures. These different ethnic mixes created a different twist on food, along with the native ingredients and those brought from Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America. Dishes like Jambalaya, Gumbo, Shrimp Creole, Shrimp & Grits, Fried Catfish, Po’ Boy Sandwiches, Beignets, Étouffée, Red Beans & Rice, Blackened Protein (seafood, fish, chicken and other meats), crafted sausages like Boudin and Andouille, Crawfish or Shrimp Boils, King Cake and so many more recipes and traditional foods are served year-round.
One chef that I had the privilege of meeting many years ago, early in my culinary career was Paul Prudhomme. He owned K-Paul, a Creole | Cajun restaurant, chef at Commanders Palace (an institutional restaurant), and author of many amazing cookbooks (Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, The Prudhomme Family Cookbook: Old-Time Louisiana Recipes by the Eleven Prudhomme Brothers and Sisters and Chef Paul Prudhomme, Louisiana Cajun Magic Cookbook, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Tastes: Exciting Flavors from the State that Cooks, Fiery Foods That I Love, just to name a few) that highlight many recipes and food traditions based on the food of Mardi Gras and New Orleans. As the influence of different cultures and local ingredients meld into unique flavors, the use of spices, the techniques on incorporating the French elegance with the rustic and homey comfort, discussing the history | culture | techniques behind these recipes was instrumental in my culinary journey. Chef Paul was a wealth of knowledge, sharing his passions, his experiences, his love of food and tradition. Paul inspired me, from the visit we shared to the cookbooks he wrote and the traditional recipes he shared. I look back on that conversation and smile, his words and perspective helped guide me and my taste to what it is today.
In honor of Paul Prudhomme, I created this menu, showcasing his recipes with my Beer Cuisine and Cooking with Beer twist on Creole | Cajun cuisine. I cooked this feast at Burning Man back in 2014, shortly after his departure from this world.
Creole | Cajun isn’t just about the recipes, cooking techniques, and food, it’s also a way of life. As these different cultures intertwined, so did the music. Zydeco and Jazz add beats and a tempo that carries through with the communal nature of feasting and sharing.
If you are a huge fan of Creole | Cajun cuisine, consider buying spices from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s spice company Magic Seasoning Blends, if your spice cabinet isn’t fully stocked with all the individual spices.
When is Mardi Gras?
Each year, the Mardi Gras celebration begins as a way of excess. When is Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras ends with Fat Tuesday. This falls the day before Ash Wednesday or the first day of Catholic Lent. Lent becomes a 6-week sacrifice or penitence before Easter Sunday, where a person will give up or obtain food products.
Here are a few of my recipes, that can be used to celebrate Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras or help inspire a Creole | Cajun feast!