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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

Chef Paul

This weekend, while Atlanta is chock-full of margarita-fueled Cinco De Mayo celebrations and mint julep-sipping Kentucky Derby parties, I won’t be thinking about tequila and tacos or bourbon and hot brown. I’ll be dreaming of crawfish pie, file gumbo, and an absinthe-swirled Sazerac.

I’m gonna miss Jazz Fest again this year. And that means I’m really gonna miss New Orleans.

Once upon a time, I never missed Jazz Fest. I started going every year with a group of college friends from Florida. We’d hit I-10, detouring to search out oyster shacks and barbecue joints on the way. In New Orleans, we’d take over a few rooms in a cheap motel, knowing we wouldn’t sleep much, anyway. And we’d let the good times roll.

At Jazz Fest, I discovered the joys of James Booker, Allen Toussaint, Eddie Bo, the Meters, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey, Champion Jack Dupree, Ernie K-Doe, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Snooks Eaglin, Johnny Adams, Clifton Chenier, Boozoo Chavis, Canray Fontenot, D. L. Menard, Beausoleil and so many more. Sadly, I never got to see Professor Longhair.

But beyond the music, the food so captivated my imagination that I joked that I came to Jazz Fest to eat; the music was just a pleasant diversion.

In those days, much like the rest of the festival, the food was cheap, plentiful and real. Many of the booths scattered around the Fair Grounds Race Course infield featured mom-and-pop restaurants, churches, and social aid and pleasure clubs that served up delights like soft-shell crab, cochon de lait, crawfish Monica, and the famous oyster patty, crawfish sack and crawfish beignet combo.

I’m not bragging or complaining when I confess that the first cookbook I ever took on as a serious project was “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen,” published in 1984 at a price of $19.95.

I bought it because I wanted to figure out how to make some of the things I always looked forward to eating at Jazz Fest. And without knowing what I was doing, I learned a few pretty good techniques, like how to make a basic or rich stock, and stir up roux that ranged from light brown to black, while discovering the dangers of what Chef Paul called “Cajun napalm.”

I particularly remember trying Prudhomme’s Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo for the first time.

The recipe started with homemade chicken stock. And it called for cutting up a chicken to make fried chicken, which was delicious on its own. So why not stop there?

But then, you used some of the frying oil to make a roux, and finally boned and diced the fried chicken to stir in with vegetables and sausage and finish the gumbo.

It was fairly complicated and impressive stuff for someone with a basic repertoire of omelets, burgers and casseroles. And I often think about my reaction to what it took to make that gumbo when I’m confronted with the likes of a Thomas Keller recipe that requires four or five sub-recipes.

If you miss New Orleans, or want to learn how to make a roux, or just want to eat some crawfish and let the good times roll, there are couple of events coming up with a Louisiana flavor.

Watershed Executive Chef Joe Truex stirs the pot on May 8 at The Third Space, as he teaches the origins and the process of making roux and gumbo. $85. thethirdspaceatl.eventbrite.com

Scoutmob Hand-Picked has a new deal for a crawfish boil on May 18 at Serpas. $45. handpicked.scoutmob.com

31 comments Add your comment

Anton Chigurh

May 3rd, 2013
3:26 pm

I’ve been thinking about making some gumbo for several months. Time to do it. I usually do a rich brown roux.

DeeDee

May 3rd, 2013
3:41 pm

Love this Paul Prudhomme cookbook. We’ve used Louisianna Kitchen and Seasoned America so much that they are LITERALLY falling apart! My husband loves to cook out of these cookbooks…….long, detailed recipes. I’m the lovely assistant who chooses the tunes, makes the drinks and cleans up as he cooks! Love the Chicken and Andouille Sauasage Gumbo….might be good for this rainy weekend.

Baltisraul.......

May 3rd, 2013
6:32 pm

Anton, you are correct, gotta start w/ a good roux. But don’t leave the kitchen when making roux or you WILL have to start over.

DeeDee, I also have a Prudhomme cookbook. Kitchen would just not be right without the inventor of Cajon Cooking close at hand.

Dave

May 3rd, 2013
7:35 pm

ben

May 3rd, 2013
10:34 pm

miss seeing chef prudhomme cruising in the french quarter on his little rascal. he made eating sticks of butter like candy bars fashoinable. but seriously, i wish i was in new orleans. i can see it in my dreams.

Baltisraul.......

May 4th, 2013
7:55 am

DeeDee…..my P.P. cookbook is called Louisiana Tastes. Buy it for your husband for Fathers Day.

PapaDoc

May 4th, 2013
10:14 am

I know what it means. Try to go at least once a year, particularly to Galatoires. Have mercy. I love the Prud. cookbook but have fallen in love with John Besh’s two cookbooks. Also need to catch his PBS show at 11:30, following John Folse’s show, if they are not raising money, preempting my religion. Thanks for the article. Maybe gumbo today.

janet

May 4th, 2013
6:42 pm

So if you can’t get there right now, take a trip up Ga 400, exit 7a to Roswell and head West for 10 mins to Grimes Bridge Rd. Turn right and in the corner is Adele’s Authentic Cajun Experience. Absolutely delicious with some of the best service in town.
And no I don’t work for or own this place. It’s just a great place to eat.

ExChef

May 4th, 2013
8:31 pm

In that same PP cookbook there is a recipe for “sticky chicken” that is delicious. It calls for deep frying the pieces of chicken at 250 or 300 degrees (from what I recall) then the chicken is smothered in a very flavorful sauce and baked. I’m going to have to make it again soon; it’s been years since I’ve had it.

art

May 4th, 2013
10:01 pm

Was just in NOLA last month… Love the food and have the cookbook as well. The wife and her family are Cajun so needless to say, there’s some good gumbo in this house… “I gar-on-tee!”

Fred ™

May 5th, 2013
3:10 pm

I haven’t found a decent cajun place in Atlanta since I got here 20 years ago. As to an $85 class on how to make roux? REALLY? Just damn. I made gumbo this weekend. REAL gumbo, not the crap like you would get at any place here. A $45 crawfish boil? Who wants to bet that is spiced with yankee OLD BAY and not anything resembling New Orleans? You can get live craw fish from Southern Seafood, or Boudreauxs Cafe Acadiana in Duluth for around 4 bucks a lb (or less) and boil them yourself using REAL cajun spice that costs less the 2 bucks. These places remind me of Marlowe’s so called “po’boy” which is made on CUBAN BREAD!!!!!!!!!!!! How the hell is THAT a po’ boy?

Fred ™

May 5th, 2013
3:12 pm

Oh, and the BEST “cajun” food is in Baton Rouge……….. just saying. But then I only grew up in Cajun country, what do I know?

Fred ™

May 5th, 2013
3:14 pm

For those of you NOT getting paid to hawk an over priced cooking demo, here is two ways to make roux, one traditional and the other NOT so traditional lol. Both are prety good.

http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2009/03/easy-dark-oven-roux.html

janet

May 5th, 2013
4:05 pm

Fred- give Adele’s a try . I think you will be surprised and happy. Chef Marc is from New Orleans and brings his crawfish, shrimp etc fresh from NOLA several times a week. Prices are reasonable and service and ambience just great.

btownsend

May 5th, 2013
6:29 pm

Hey all,

Thanks for all the comments. I even enjoyed the cross ones!

I hoped the take-away would how much love and respect I have Louisiana food, music and culture.

My notes at the end were meant to inform not influence anyone to spend money. I’d also note that while they have become fine dining chefs with impressive resumes, both Truex and Serpas are Louisiana natives who have worked in New Orleans and really know how to cook the food of that region.

I agree about Boudreauxs. I wrote about going there a few years ago, and I need to get back soon (see link below). Thanks for the reminder!

Cheers,

Bob

http://www.accessatlanta.com/news/entertainment/dining/boudreauxs-cajun-market-and-cafe/nQ3Hf/

berry steve

May 5th, 2013
7:10 pm

Fred…you are so right. $85.00 to learn how to mix a fat with flour. If you need that class your money is better spent on 3-4 good cookbooks and a little time on the internet.

FM Fats

May 5th, 2013
7:19 pm

Bob, you have good taste in music, which doesn’t surprise me given your good taste in beer.. Johnny Adams was amazing, wasn’t he? I had the pleasure of seeing him at Rock ‘n’ Bowl backed by Henry Butler. Oh my.

berry steve

May 5th, 2013
7:21 pm

Fred…..Old Bay is from a Missouri company, hardly a Yankee product. If there is a better product I would be sure to try it but Old Bay is not a bad spice mix and has been in my home for 40 yrs with no complaints.

Mark N

May 6th, 2013
8:44 am

Bob, don’t worry, I had a soft-shelled po boy for you at this year’s fest!

Ned Ludd

May 6th, 2013
8:59 am

Old Bay is still from Maryland. named after The Old Bay Line, a train in the area around 1900. may be owned by McCormick now but still a product of Chesapeke Bay—Not Missouri.

diamond-e

May 6th, 2013
10:52 am

Use to help some fellows up in swannee do some charity work for Annendale Center.These guys would come straight fron LA.and cook up some favorites using the giant pots and pounds not cups of ingredients.The cooks affair on friday night however had the best food,crawfish boil,didn’t even bother taking the sticker off the garlic

F

May 6th, 2013
10:57 am

What about Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning?

[...] Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? [...]

berry steve

May 6th, 2013
12:45 pm

Ned Ludd….thanks for the history. Chesapeake Bay would still not qualify as a Yankee spice. If it is good enough for Mid-Atlantic seaood it is good enough for me. Louisana does not have a corner on great seafood by any stretch.

F…..I also keep close Tony Chacere’s spice close by at all times. If you like a milder spice this is a good one to have in your pantry.

HotlantaHobo

May 6th, 2013
10:26 pm

Was in N.O. on Thursday and returned to my old neighborhood joint Mandina’s which was as good as ever, barely changed even though nearly destroyed in Katrina. And a few blocks away on Carrollton devoured some gelato at Angelo Brocato’s.

Now why is it neigh impossible for a creole restaurant to succeed in this town? Why is this beloved southern cuisine so unpopular here? And why do the versions served here seldom even resemble the real thing? This is a city just 500 miles away by car not 2000!

And Tory McPhail of Commander’s Palace just won the James Beard regional award. I was there for the fabulous lunch not too long ago and I realized that food isn’t crazy enough for Atlanta….it wasn’t contrived, it wasn’t made of oddball ingredients, and the staff was gracious and professional not condescending.

Oh well, I do love Delta.

Baltisraul

May 7th, 2013
6:49 am

HotlantaHobo…….do you have a favorite creole or cajun resturant it Atl?

HotlantaHobo

May 7th, 2013
8:43 am

Baltisraul….this is the problem, the most authentic creole/Cajun places aren’t here: they’re in Douglasville (Gumbeaux’s) and Acworth (Henry’s). When they do open in the city they fail or morph into something else. think Parish. Think Emeril’s only failure. The Brennan family gave up here decades ago.

We can have an Asian restaurant every few hundred feet or a bar food place or a bad Tex-Mex imitator but I keep missin’ New Orleans places.

Louisiana cooking is a seafood-based cuisine but in Atlanta seafood is either sushi or in stir-fries. Seafood is simply not a part of the local culinary tradition so there are no local seafood dishes or interest in preparing them. I know we’re not on the ocean, but neither is Paris or Lyon and seafood abounds in those places. And trucks and trains have run from the coasts to here for over a century.

Baltisraual........

May 7th, 2013
6:38 pm

I would rather have a good creole/cajun place every few hundered feet. Let most of the Asian resturants go to the outlying burbs and cities. We really don’t need that many taste alike resturants.

Ned Ludd

May 7th, 2013
7:51 pm

By far the best meals I have had were in small off the grid places NOT in New Orleans, but in the general vicinity. Emphasis on taste, not decor. While certainly not dirty, they would have a difficult time meeting the sometimes asinine rules required to operate in Atlanta. Generally offered whatever they had caught or bought fresh that morning. Once again, tough to do in ATL. By far the most impressive part was that they knew what they were doing, had been doing it all of their lives and were proud of it and proud to serve it. Were not concerned with inventing the entre’ de jour that would get them on the front page or offering some obtuse appetizer that gets them on Todays Famous Chef and a spot on Oprah. When someone with that work effort and those fresh ingredients opens a spot here, I will be first in line.

Ned Ludd

May 7th, 2013
8:30 pm

Wow —Don’t mean to sound anti-fine dining—-had a birthday at Commanders Palace and loved it—Took some co-workers to Brennans—magnifique! Takes all kinds—Lets not beef about what Atlanta does not have, lets be proud of who does this classic southern cuisine
well. It is what we are. Kudos to Colonade and Mary Macs!

Baltisraual....

May 9th, 2013
9:10 am

Ned Ludd…..Soooooooooo right on Mary Mac’s & Colonade. It’s ours and we should be proud!