LOVE TO WANDER
The New Orleans School of Cooking was a great place to spend a morning here. The cooking in the Deep South is way different from the rest of the USA. It is Creole - a veritable melting pot of all the nationalities that coalesced in this part of the world (Portugeuse, Spanish, French, Italian) and made it what it is today. Nothing goes to waste - it is "rooter to tooter" as the expression goes - i.e. - everything on the hog is used except it's squeak. Recipes from Europe were adapted to make the most of what grew naturally here. Great cooks came up with inventive recipes to make the most of what they had and enjoyed cooking and eating together. The spice is nice - but fairly gentle - you don't have to take a dare to eat it - you can just chill out and enjoy it. The cooking is as much fun as the music here.. There are no rules really - quantities are defined as TT - to taste. You just do what you feel and cook from the heart, as the mood takes you. The vibe is fun and relaxed and you can really see why it is called The Big Easy.
We rounded the day off with a visit to Preservation Hall (www.preservationhall.com). This is traditional jazz music at it's very best. Advance booking is essential. There is only one rule really - make sure the band don't have more fun than you do - and they had a LOT of fun! Highly recommended - be sure to book a hands on class rather than a demonstration class though.
Learning the lingo:
GBD - Golden Brown and Delicious
RTG - Ready to Go
Bananas Foster - Bananas flambéed in rum and brown sugar, served with ice cream. This was one of the dishes we made at the New Orleans School of Cooking - a highly recommended experience. The whole morning was fun, but chucking the cinnamon into the flames was the best bit - it crackled and flared like a firework. I can still smell it now! Not one to try in my own kitchen I think - but definitely one for the BBQ.
What's the difference between Creole and Cajun cooking? Very little really - Cajun is just the country version of Creole - a bit less refined, but all the same principles.
Wish I had packed:
Teabags and a kettle - you just cannot get a decent cup of tea here and coffee - however good - does not always do it for me
Souvenir I'm buying when I get back home:
Paul Prudhome's Louisiana Kitchen. The spice is the key to the unique taste of creole cooking and this book lists all the ingredients for you so you can create your one version of "Joe's Mix" back home.
Souvenir I wished I had bought:
One of the paintings from the stands in Jackson Square - cool representations of saxophone players. I didn't even get a photo in the end - Grrr!