Stumbled upon a great story on CNN’s Eatocracy page the other day entitled, “New Orleans: The food that got them through,” and I just had to share.
The article paints a colorful picture of how food is the glue that keeps New Orleanians forging ahead in spite of all that has befallen the Crescent City in the past five and a half years. Richard McCarthy, executive director of the organization that oversees the local farmers market offers up this quote: “If you’re stuck in an elevator here, you could make conversation with anyone about one of the three F’s: food, fishing and football.”
But food always comes first.
The article nicely articulates the food fusion that is Creole cooking, with its origins in French, Spanish, African, and Indian, among other cuisines. The wonderful and unique traditions that build toward Fat Tuesday, such as the King Cake, are highlighted.
Radio host, culinary activist and cooking teacher Poppy Tooker talks about how the city’s food fixation “transcends gender and race.” Tooker notes that 300 new eateries have sprung up in New Orleans post-Katrina, and how many of them coexist shoulder-to-shoulder with world-renowned restaurants that have been cooking up Cajun or Creole cuisine for more than a century. Tooker calls these grand dames such as Arnaud’s and Antoine’s “living food museums.”
It was the New Orleans remarkable locals and their devotion to the city’s perfectly preserved food culture that helped them survive in the wake of the great flood, and it is what is helping them persevere through the calamity of last summer’s oil spill and its aftermath.
After Katrina “we had to fight like hell to defend our traditions,” said McCarthy, “and chefs and cooks showed extraordinary creativity. Juggling tradition and innovation—that’s the story now,” he says.
But the Big Easy faces a difficult future, especially those in the fishing industry. Kate Brandhurst tries to reassure buyers that her seafood is tested more vigorously than any seafood ever has. Yet out of the 80 vendors she supplies outside the region, only two are still buying.
But Poppy Tooker’s buying. She demonstrates her faith by purchasing several pounds to make an etouffee for that afternoon.
Read the full story. I think you’ll be as inspired by these folks as I was.