OP: Mme. Begue's Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery
Harmanson, 1937. Paperback. Good Plus. Fourth edition.
Bavarian-born Elizabeth Kettenring Dutrey Bégué (1831–1906), better known as Madame Bégué, had garnered national acclaim as a cook and restaurateur by the end of the 19th century. Her New Orleans restaurant, simply known as Bégué’s, offered only one meal—a hearty, multi-course second breakfast served at 11am.
The business model was built around the local laborers who began their day in the predawn hours and were hungry by midmorning. What was a smart and practical choice quickly caught on with tourists, and Bégué’s became a popular destination to see and be seen.
In 1900, Kettenring published a bilingual (French and English) collection of recipes. Those original books are now quite scarce and rarely seen. However, in 1937, long after Madame’s death, the restaurant reissued her recipes in a slim paperback, which we offer here, to be sold as a souvenir. It remained in print until 1958.
Madame Bégué’s recipes from the original cookbook conclude on page 28, after which is a section of “Other Famous New Orleans Recipes,” contributed by Victor Béro of Victor’s (now Galatoire’s) and another on “Oysters and Fish Dishes of Distinction.”
All the recipes are in prose, calling for no measurements, temperatures, or cook time, only intuition and taste. You’ll spot the likes of turtle soup, crayfish bisque, snails in wine sauce, mutton feet à la Créole, oyster gumbo filé, chess pie, and the dish for which the restaurant was the most famous, livers à la Bégué.
Our copy is a stated fourth edition, bearing no other date than 1937, in Good condition, clean inside, though showing discoloration and creasing to the covers. The fore edge has suffered what is likely nibbling from a small critter, but the damage does not impinge upon any text.