July 13th is the birthday of Paul Prudhomme, the New Orleans based chef who opened the legendary restaurant K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in 1979. K-Paul’s became famous for its renditions of the distinctive Cajun cuisine of Louisiana. Many argue that Cajun cooking along with Louisiana Creole is a truly American cuisine (as opposed to being a type of regional cooking) with a body of classic and unique dishes and techniques. Gumbo, jambalaya, maque choux, and “blackened” fish are some of the typical dishes you will find at K-Pauls and other restaurants all over Louisiana.
First up is Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen which features all the Cajun classics beloved by all who crave this cuisine. Or you might try The 100 Greatest Cajun Recipes by Jude W. Theriot for a comprehensive take on some of the core Cajun dishes.
Perhaps you’d like to explore Creole cooking. Thought of by many as more suave and urbane than Cajun, Creole certainly has its passionate adherents and is very well represented in the “Old Guard” of New Orleans restaurants which include Commander’s Palace and Arnaud’s. Check out Arnaud’s Restaurant Cookbook by Kit Wohl or Commander’s Kitchen by Ti Adelaide Martin and Jackie Shannon.
A new addition to the canon of Cajun cookbooks, and one that I like a lot, is Donald Link’s Real Cajun: rustic home cooking from Donald Link’s Louisiana. Link is the chef/owner of Cochon and Herbsaint restaurants in New Orleans and his book is definitely the real thing. Well-written and lavishly illustrated, it is, I must warn you, a bit pork-centric. All told it’s a fine overview of a fascinating native cuisine.
So…Laissez les bons temps rouler! Not to mention Bon appetit!