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Wednesday, 25 July 2012 17:05

Cooking With Cajun Women: Recipes & Remembrances From South Louisiana Kitchens

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Cooking With Cajun Women: Recipes & Remembrances From South Louisiana Kitchens

by Nicole Denée

 

Fontenot Hippocrene Books, October, 2002

ISBN 978-0781809320

Hard cover, 330 pages. $24.95

 cooking-with-cajun-women

Cooking with Cajun Women is a wonderful book. I am extremely proud of my Cajun background; our food is becoming recognized around the country in a very positive light, as it should be. This cookbook gives a short history of our plight and background which is so necessary to the reader’s understanding of the evolution of our kitchen.

I am also a graduate of the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL). The author of this cookbook is one of many people associated with ULL who is working hard to promote and preserve our heritage. Food is always the window to a group of people, in this case hot and spicy food!

The Cajun people are descendents of French immigrants originally from the northwestern part of France. They left their home country due to political and religious pressures. They are European in all senses of the word and French as much as French can be. The recipes that are in this cookbook accurately show this French/European thinking. You will find that certain dishes are given different interpretations. For example, recipes for etouffe or gumbo are similar, but different for each individual who prepares them. This to me is one of the exciting and interesting things about our Cajun kitchen.

I especially enjoy the quotes that accompany the recipes. They give an insight to the person and show the color of our way of life. The tight knit family unit is still alive and well in South Louisiana. I will never forget our family’s mandatory Sunday dinner at grandma’s house on the farm. I was not especially receptive to this mandatory family get together, but I can tell you now that I would give anything to sit at that wonderful oak table and enjoy the magnificent meal that this old and wonderful woman could put together. Grandpa was no slouch in the kitchen, either. In fact, he could prepare Cajun food as well as his wife and he was very responsible for teaching me to cook.

Cooking with Cajun Women tends to let the reader feel that the women were more responsible for the meals than the men. Well, this not entirely correct. The Cajun men that I grew up with certainly could cook and did quite well. Cajun men are more into cooking today than ever before and certainly share the duties in the kitchen and are proud of their fixins!

The depiction of the Cajun has often suffered in accuracy, but this cookbook does a great job of helping folks understand and appreciate what we have in South Louisiana. You will enjoy this book. These words were common to hear while around our Cajun tables, “manger, manger, manger”(eat, eat, eat).

 

--Reviewer Lanny Kilchrist has resided in Sacramento, California, since he was assigned to teaching duties at Mather AFB at the conclusion of an Air Force career which included 210 combat missions in a B-52. After completing a master’s degree in glass art at California State University Sacramento, he founded L K Enterprises, a company which manufactures computerized temperature controllers for glass.

Lanny recommends readers visit the Cajun land of Louisiana to experience the wonderful food and hospitality firsthand, but cautions that a trip in the spring or fall will avoid also experiencing the summer’s very hot, sticky, and humid climate.