We left New Orleans with a copy of John Kennedy Toole’s a Confederacy of Dunces in our digital back pocket. We were inspired to read the comedic, novel depicting Ignatius J. Reilly’s exploits because of Cynthia LeJeune Nobles’ cookbook of the same name. The Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook is a series of dishes inspired by 1960’s New Orleans and Ignatius’ favorite foods. The research that went into this book is incredible. I’m not sure which one I suggest you read first. Maybe read them both and cook simultaneously for a real immersive trip.
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Books seem useless these days. The content on the other hand is invaluable. Sometimes great content can’t be found with a Google search and New Orleans: The Underground Guide is one such unicorn. Packed with hidden gems, secret places and local flavor, Michael Patrick Welch outlines the food but takes it much farther. With music and art at its core this guide book will keep you far from the French Quarter disaster and get you deep into places that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
You might know chef Ripert from his acclaimed and record holding, New York City restaurant Le Bernardin. You might know him from cameos on No Reservations with his pal Tony Bourdain. You might know his as the charming french guy with the piercing blue eyes who picked up your wind blown umbrella while struggling down 51st Street. I know him as the guy who loved my mom’s chicken cacciatore recipe after I told him the contents of the mini sandwich I served him during a Michelin awards ceremony. And, you may not know him at all. In either case, his memoir, 32 Yolks, will fix that. Starting at the beginning and ending sometime around now, follow Chef Ripert’s ups and downs in and out of the kitchen. Truly avec Eric.
From destruction comes the new. There’s lots of ways to say that, some more poetic than others. There’s even more ways to see that. Hurricane Katrina was heavy on the former before even a trace of the later was anywhere in sight. During the aftermath, rebuilding and rebirthing, The Times-Picayune became a post-hurricane swapping spot for recipes that were washed away. Marcelle Bienvenu decided to take 250 of these salvaged gems and create Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found. Not only does this book champion one of the greatest cuisines on the planet but it chronicles one of the most devastating events to hit the United States through the stories of the recipes creators.
If there’s one book you load up on your kindle before landing in the Crescent City make it Eat Dat. It’s been a long, long time since we saw a food guide as comprehensive as this. It makes sure all the famous restaurants are included while rounding out the 250 spot hit list with places locals might haven’t even heard of. Things are changing quickly in New Orleans. Hopefully Michael Murphy will keep the book as updated as possible. For now, be sure to pick up a copy when you’re prepping your JazzFest bag.
Questlove has lots of jobs as he self confesses in an article I was recently reading about the musician turned, Tonight Show band leader turned writer (amongst 15 other jobs). His long running, highly acclaimed, Food Salons have always been on our radar as grandfathers of the underground supperclub movement. Appearances on Bourdain’s show and a journey into a fried chicken joint restaurant proves that of his 15+ jobs food sits close to the center. With Something to Food About, Questlove explores the very thing that drove us to use the kitchen for our art, creativity. Through the interviews of 10 chefs he explores how cooking fuels creativity and relates to their world vision. In his own words. ” Food is fuel. Food is culture. Food is history. And food is food for thought.” On the heals of the incredible Netflix series a Chef’s Table, this exploration of food as a vehicle to express creativity gets even more love. This time ?uestlove.