A side. Creole cookbook

25 May

Perhaps because of our folkloric interests, the Picayune ‘s Creole Cookbook was the first cookbook George & I tried to cook from when we were first together and getting into food.

What an amazing, fascinating book for us to try and learn from! Because it was first printed in the early 1900s, as a way of preserving the original Louisiana cooking created largely by black slaves in plantation and city kitchens, the measurements were approximate and sometimes whole ingredients were omitted from the list, only to be presented in the description of how to cook the dish. There were no cooking temperatures except those approximate ones for a wood stove; and cooking times varied wildly. The first time we made a King Cake for Three Kings Day, it turned out the size of a small wading pool. But oh, what glorious recipes and what fabulous descriptions of a life long gone! We still have the cookbook and we still cook from it occasionally. I was reminded of this when reading the most recent Smithsonian magazine, about the proper way to make gumbo.

Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about–a recipe for a Dried Fruit Cake:

Note that the list of ingredients includes no flour! then the instructions tell you to “add the flour, which you will have sifted with the baking powder”!  We’ve just had to wing it on the amounts……

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