CHAPTER 15 – RECIPES [AGAINST] DISASTER
During a recent interview with Leah Chase, the city’s most famous Creole chef, she said that in Creole society, the women did most of the cooking. She insinuated-with a conspiratorial smile-that, perhaps, the best way to deal with a man is through his stomach- whether she wanted to get to his heart or not.
Heartburn aside, a culture can be defined by its cuisine. Some believe that Louisiana’s cuisine is the only truly indigenous fare in the United States. The combination of Native American elements (sassafras leaves that make up the filé in gumbo, for instance); the creation of French confections by using local brown sugar and pecans for pralines; okra seeds brought by the West Africans in their hair, cooked by the enslaved: pastas and sauces from Sicilian Italians; and the fusion seafood dishes from the more recent Vietnamese immigrants create a unique cuisine which Chef John Folse refers to as “the bounty of several continents.”
Food and spirits continue to be essential elements of Gulf Coast culture. Crawfish are boiled in big pots, some of which bear a logo that incorporates the fleur de lis. Restaurants use the symbol in their signs, on their plates, utensils and on the menus. The food itself is often named for the fleur.
Patisseries and pastry shops prided themselves in creating unique delicacies for the palates of the "Gilded Age." Bakers placed fleurs de lis on petits four and sugar cookies. Today beignets, cupcakes and king cakes often bear the royal stamp.