CHAPTER 5 –FIRE AND JAMBALAYA
In 1762, in a secret treaty between cousins of the House of Bourbon, Louis XIV of France ceded Louisiana - the entire central portion of North America - to Carlos III of Spain.
Spanish Governors with the fleur de lis prominently displayed on their coats of arms arrived to find a population that had eeked out an existence without much assistance from The Crown. Not appreciating new regal authority, the colonists rebelled and claimed independence. Spain eventually exerted its control, but after two hard-fought generations in an unforgiving, hurricane-prone, diseased, swampy backwater, the survivalist native Creole population was averse to change. Ultimately, Spanish bureaucrats did more “blending”than controlling.
Culturally, however, Spanish influence became important in music, architecture and food. Brass bands and African drumbeats would be foundational to jazz. Fires during the late 18th century created the necessity to rebuild the original “French Quarter”into a Spanish Caribbean town of substance. The master plan called for a “fire-proof”city with built-in carriage ways that led to patios. To avoid fires in the main house, food preparation was done in back slave quarters by African cooks. Under the direction of Spanish senoras, paella - with a pinch of this and some local fare - emerged as jambalaya. A new dish was brought to a table already set with the fleur de lis.