The Literate Chef

Memories of NOLA

In General Articles on July 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Whenever I think of New Orleans, where I spent many a weekend pass while defending the Southern Coast of the United States from an invasion by the Viet Cong, I think of food. Of course, I also think of music, drinking and having fun with my Air Force buddies, but mostly I recall the exquisite meals at Brennan’s, Antoine’s, Galatoire’s and the dining room at the Royal Orleans Hotel, as well as beignets (think unfilled zeppole) at Café du Monde at 4:00 am.

I don’t know if those memories stem from the fact that any meal outside of the Keesler Air Force Base mess hall would be memorable, or from the fact that I was exposed to the cooking of a whole different region of the country; the French, Cajun, Creole influence and the use of spices and flavors theretofore unbeknownst to me.  Whatever the reason it was a great experience and helped to influence my culinary choices beyond those learned in my mother’s kitchen. I would be remiss to not also mention Mary Mahoney’s Old French House in Biloxi, which was our local respite from the uninspiring cuisine of the mess hall.

Rémoulade is one of those new tastes about which New Orleans taught me. Apparently, it was originally a French relish-type sauce that was adapted in the Creole fashion by adding a Louisiana Hot Sauce like Tabasco, or cayenne pepper to spice it up. There are innumerable recipes for it on-line, but the one I developed is easy to prepare, takes about 10 minutes, and can be made in advance, as long as it is refrigerated.

It goes particularly well with crab cakes, which I made a few weeks ago, after picking up some lump crab meat at Costco. These Crab Cakes were a big hit with the proportion of crab meat to breadcrumbs being limited to 1 pound of crab meat to 1.5 cups of breadcrumbs. Make them, enjoy them with a cold beer, listen to some Zydeco or Jazz, or watch Treme, and ask yourself “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?”

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