OP: The Picayune's Creole Cook Book
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Random House, 1987. Hardcover. Fine in Fine jacket.
Originally published by the New Orleans newspaper in 1900, The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book was instrumental in establishing a record of Creole home cooking. Despite a tone deaf introduction lamenting the loss of antebellum “bandana and tignon”-clad “mammies,” as depicted on the frontispiece of the early editions, there was a very real concern over losing knowledge as formerly enslaved cooks were dying of old age.
Originally printed with a two column format and small type, an enormous number of recipes and menus filled the 400-odd pages. Exact measurements and itemized ingredient lists are employed. Opinionated commentary often accompanies the recipes, offering a deep cultural perspective, though sometimes also betraying a nostalgia for an Old South that was not so quaint as imagined.
Chapter subjects include the likes of Creole coffee, soups, sauces, meat, game, seafood, eggs, and dairy. Salads, grains, and vegetables receive thorough attention, as well, a proud nod to the region’s agricultural bounty. Of course Louisiana rice merits its own section separate from other cereal grains. Here you will find the expected pilafs, jambalayas, pilous, and calas, in addition to some surprises—rice waffles, rice meringue, and rice dumplings (an elaborate preparation consisting of cinnamon sugar-stuffed apples coated with milk-boiled, thickened rice).
We note ten variations on gumbo and a three column description of the king cake tradition preceding its recipe. Syrups, beverages, preserves, candies, and all varieties of baked goods are covered, in addition to suggested menus, notes on produce seasonality, and tips for housekeepers.
The multitude and breadth of recipes and remarks is a treat. We have had a hard time putting it down. Thoroughly engaging for anyone interested in historical cookery.
We offer here a 1987 reprint of the second edition in Fine condition, including the jacket. The type has been enlarged and the two column format abandoned for this edition, bringing it to over 600 pages.