While there is a lot to think about Covid19 it self and write, both of which I am doing or have done, I won’t be writing much about it in this post. Today it’s time to rue the time we were in New Orleans and going around the oldest restaurant streets, in a food tour. I have been cooking for many years now (but I don’t want to count),I am enough of an existentialist to be a gourmet cook. And I had never heard of Roux until September 2019. So, that means unlike researching every thing about modeling, vaccines, treatments, policies that are needed to combat Sars-CoV2, I don’t even know where to look for food knowledge, even if my foodie friends have tried to direct me to TV shows, but I have not been compelled. It is much nicer to go to a place they make food a divinity. NOLA is certainly one of those places. Roux is a french sauce that can be the base of any type of seafood, meat stew. It is basically equal parts oil (plain/white) and flour and constant stirring, because if one doesn’t, it will burn. People make large pots of it and store. Our cooking demonstrator had a way of measuring how long it takes: the number of wine glasses she has had. The lighter (white or blond) roux is for seafood chowders, soups and darker for meat gumbos. The darker one takes her 3-5 wine glasses.
Then she told us about holy trinity, the basis of creole food: Onion, Celery and Green Pepper. We met our food tour guide at Tujagues, the second oldest restaurant in the world, with the oldest bar in the US (brought over from France over 200 years ago).This restaurant can claim to have had a previous owner, Elizabeth, Kettenring Dutrey Begue (whose descendants combined two old restaurants)who invented Brunch at around 11, a second breakfast, to feed people who worked through very early morning at the french market. She told us creole just means a mixture of cultures, which Nola is: that of the German Catholics, the Africans (who brought with them, Okra and rice, now a staple in Louisiana cuisine), French of course and Spanish. And if this wasn’t enough of a mixture, a simpler mix is Cajun: developed by the French canadians who settled in the wilderness, which includes chilies from native americans. Cajun is boudin sausages for example, and gumbo is creole. During Prohibition, these old restaurants continued to serve alcohol under the covers or behind in one of their labyrinthine rooms, and even invented drinks like Grass Hopper. Antoine’s the oldest restaurant in America is also in the french quarter, I had the famous sazerac from their bar. The classy restaurants had serious owners who started the business, some decadent descendants like Germaine Wells who had so many Mardi gra ball outfits they made a museum, which understandably led to many hardships that they survived through donations by rich patrons. Sometimes the patrons may have been the mafia, like the Brossard’s, where we tastes croquetes. From Pralines, to muffalata and creole mustard, from Po boys, for the ‘poor boys’: which is a sandwich with french bread, even if it just has onions, it is still a Po Boy, but usually it is stuffed, to the hurricane, NOLA has invented food and drink for the masses. Even while catering to the elite, under resplendent chandeliers and upscale bars, the culture of NOLA is inclusion, creole and warm plus cajun and hot. As the city , as many in the country, fights off the virus, I hope everyone I met is safe. I regret forgetting their names, but their warmth has left a glow within.