The last cookbook I bought was in an IKEA somewhere in central Sweden about a decade ago. Köksskolan. A lovely and straightforward production with gorgeous photography. I have yet to make all the recipes in the book. I'm either lazy or enjoy the process of slowly devouring the book. Or, perhaps, am mysteriously satisfied by just gazing at wonderful food photography.
Either way, it was the first, and the last cookbook I purchased up until recently. Other cookbooks have entered the home- in the past year in a flurry, either as books gifted to me or that I gifted to others. Either way, the recipe shelf grows. Swedish Cakes & Cookies, What the Big Island Likes to Eat, Swedish Kitchen, Fresh Japanese.... The list will grow. And all these cookbooks will end up featured in this blog in someway, as culinary instruction manuals I learn from. The list will grow out of necessity for expanding the range of culinary taste, but of course, the point is also actually learning from these recipe manuals and not, as is my tendency, to gaze at publications with food arranged ever so beautifully and call it a day.
So, the first cookbook purchase made specifically for my own kitchen experiments in over a decade was a cookbook conspicuously devoid of any photography. The lack of photos is not so conspicuous when you learn that it was originally published in 1901, but it certainly was a conspicuous move on my part to be so attracted to a cookbook with absolutely no images.
The Picayune's Creole Cook Book hones in on that delicious and diverse style of cuisine that has emerged as a result of the merging of Spanish, African, native Choctaw and French flavors and techniques of cooking. Creole was, surprisingly, a somewhat foreign and familiar set of flavors to me, as I encountered it on my first visit to New Orleans recently. I swooned at every meal. I was won over. Not just by the offerings on the menu everywhere we went, but by the jovial and intimate atmosphere that seemed to be layered throughout this city that certainly knows how to eat.
I came upon The Picayune's Creole Cook Book at Kitchen Witch (French Quarter). I am what I would call an intuitive shopper. I am not big on browsing or window shopping. Bookstores are another story though. I know when I enter a bookstore that there is usually a treasure for my mind to be found and this was certainly the case at Kitchen Witch. In addition to the store's ambience (and resident dog's) which I was compelled to photograph, I knew that based on my introduction to the local Creole flavors, I could not go home without a cookbook. And this was the store to find it.
I knew I had met my match when I opened this book to read passages such as:
"Mushrooms constitute one of the greatest flavoring vegetables known to the scientific cuisinier...The Creoles, like the French, think it a crime to cook this vegetable in any form that would destroy its own peculiar flavor, or that which it is capable of imparting to the most ordinary dish."
(Introduction to Mushroom Section, pg 225 in The Picayune's Creole Cook Book)
Another cookbook sold!
Visit the Kitchen Witch website here.
And stay tuned for some Creole cooking.