Been a while since I hollered at y’all. But I have written a couple more pieces for The Takeout. The most recent is a handy guide to cheating at the Easter tradition of egg pocking. The second is, among other things, a definitive ranking of instant grit flavors. Go get you some.
Cara and I went down to Pueblo, Colorado, recently to eat sloppers. What’s a slopper? One of the best things to happen to a cheeseburger. Read about it here.
Hey yall, we’re a subset of peoples now!
According to Gothamist: “A new East Village eatery opening tonight wants to introduce the unique flavors of Acadian culture, a subset of Louisiana peoples with roots in French Canada.”
Awful lot of words to avoid saying, you know, Cajun. This is what happens when restaurant marketing people attack. I guess they have to change it up.
After all, pretty much every other attempt at Cajun in New York has failed — because they don’t do it right. And if you don’t call it Cajun, you might not get cranky-ass Cajuns showing up in your restaurant saying, “WTF IS THIS? RAW DEER MEAT? KEYAWWWWWW! MAWMAW NEVER MADE DAT, NO!”
Granted, this food is probably all going to be delicious. And you shouldn’t be a slave to the past if you’re trying to do something new.
So why not just serve it rather than market it? Oh, that’s right. It’s all about storytelling these days. And about faux authenticity. Even if the story is badly told. You know, like when you tell about the unique flavors of Acadian culture using Swiss Chard. But at least the restaurant has a picture of an oysterman!
And nice song selection Gothamist. Hard to tell if you don’t know the difference between Acadiana and Acadia, or are simply ignorant of the literally thousands of Cajun songs out there — some of them even Grammy winning. Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s both.
Hell, you could have at least used “I’m a King Bee” by Slim Harpo. He might not belong to the “subset of peoples,” but he was born and raised among them. (Oh, and the song is the same name as the restaurant.)
Okay. That is not at all what is going on Saturday at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. But it sounded like a good headline. (Also: Whatever it is, I’d lose.)
But Allison Robicelli, co-founder of Robicelli’s and co-author of Robicelli’s: A Love Story With Cupcakes, will be on a panel at the library on Saturday. And I will be on a panel as well. So please come out to Bay Ridge for the following event.
MEET THE WRITERS OF BAY RIDGE
Saturday, May 31, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
7223 Ridge Blvd. at 73rd St.
Brooklyn, NY 11209
So come on out. There will be something for literary people, foodie people, history buffs, literary foodies who like history, Brooklyn people and fans of free air conditioning. A little more information.
Featuring ALLISON ROBICELLI of Robicelli’s, RAWIA BISHARA of Tanoreen Restaurant, ALLISON KAVE of Butter & Scotch, SARAH ZORN, author of Brooklyn Chef’s Table, Authors KEN WHEATON and CARA ALWILL, The L Magazine Culture Editor HENRY STEWART, and Harper-Collins Executive Editor KRISTEN PETTIT. Moderated by Folio Literary Management’s MELISSA SARVER WHITE. With special guests Louis Coluccio Jr. from A.L.C. ITALIAN GROCERY, Katarzyna Ploszaj of Petit Oven and a surprise guest from Leske’s Bakery.
And afterwards, stick around and check out the neighborhood. Perhaps go to the Lockyard for some excellent hot dogs and great beer. Or get yourself some cupcakes. Or just go for a walk in one of Brooklyn’s best neighborhoods. (And if you’re a Bay Ridger reading this, leave suggestions in the comments!)
Now, am I from Bay Ridge? No. I’m from Louisiana. Do I live in Bay Ridge? Technically, no. But it has a Popeyes, Robicelli’s, a Century 21 not crawling with tourists, The Lockyard and all sorts of other things that make me wish I did. And I jog TO Bay Ridge from time to time. At any rate, hopefully no one will ask me any deeply rooted historical questions about the neighborhood.
After a trip to the MoMA and with Cara in need of a shrimp-poboy fix, we went to the Delta Grill in Manhattan. I’d been there before and wasn’t immediately offended. Cara had been there before and found the poboys passable.
The good news: They are passable. The shrimp are a little small and mushy, but they get the overall thing right. French bread, plenty of fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato, mayo (and pickles). If you’re from Louisiana and might snap and neck-stab someone and it’s months before the next trip home, this might get you through.
They also serve Abita. Also good.
Now, the hushpuppies. Not sure what was going on there. Maybe they use beignet dough? Corn-flour instead of corn-meal? They weren’t sad and awful like those at Brooklyn Fish Camp, but they were … weirdly sweet, almost like a dessert. (If you want hush puppies, go to Van Horn in Brooklyn).
Before the poboys, I ordered a cup of seafood gumbo. How should I put this? It was an abomination before the lord.
Tomato based. Not a hint of roux that I could see. Okra seeds in evidence, but oddly no actual okra? It didn’t taste awful, but it wasn’t gumbo. Further, there seemed to be a general lack of “giving a shit.” The celery had been cut into chunks about the size of my palm. Pro-tip guys: Your chopped vegetables shouldn’t be bigger than the seafood.
Would I go back. Eh. Probably. If I were in the neighborhood and wanted a poboy.
Yall make a pass to da Housing Works Bookstore in New York City on June 5 if yall wanna listen at me talk about some Cajun Cliches and Louisiana Stereotypes.
It’s part of the Adult Education Series. The evening’s theme is “Unmasking Cliche.” I’m one of four people presenting mini lectures on various topics. And while I’m famous right here on this blog, the other three people are better known in the wider world.
We got Ruben Bolling, creator of Tom the Dancing Bug, talking about comic strips. And there’s Timothy Burke of Deadspin.com talking about motivational secrets. And also author Annia Ceizadlo, who will be talking about the secret history of Islamic wine (which sounds awesome)>
A brief description of what I’ll be hollering about.
Ken Wheaton: We Don’t All Ride Gators
New Orleans is not in Cajun country and not all Louisianans are Cajuns — despite what reality TV would have you believe. While all Louisianans talk and eat funny, they don’t all talk and eat funny the same. Wheaton explores the differences.
The event will be hosted by friend and New York native and New Orleans Saints fan (yeah, weird, I know), Charles Star.
If any of my Louisiana readers have suggestions for cliches and stereotypes to discuss, drop ’em in the comments.
This weekend, I went over to my former roommate’s home to try to teach him to make Red Beans and Rice. Why? Because it’s tasty, cheap and one of the easier things to cook. Even better, this is one dish that you don’t need all sorts of fancy Cajun ingredients. (That said, replacing or supplementing the ham with smoked pork Cajun sausage will make the dish taste better.) Recipe after the jump.
I don’t make a lot of desserts. Baking, for the most part, is too precise for my style of cooking. Perhaps one day when I move into an apartment with a kitchen that has ample counter space and … ah, who am I kidding. All that measuring and math isn’t for me. Until recently, my best attempt at dessert was “pudding pie” (mix up some instant pudding, slap it in a pre-made pie shell and cover with Cool Whip–now that’s good eats!).
Anyway, I’ve learned how to make Bread Pudding, something I don’t think I ever ate until I was well beyond 25. I’m still futzing with this recipe, which I’ve cobbled together from a few sources.
In the comments on the gumbo recipe, Caro asked about crawfish. Crawfish is almost always the first thing to come up in a discussion with non-Cajuns about Cajun food — unless it’s Thanksgiving, when the talk turns to Turduckens or Deep-fried turkey.
Let me say first that Crawfish Etouffee has little to do with crawfish boils–in which people stand around in the backyard drinking beer and getting their hands messy cracking those little buggers open and eating all the tail meat. Unless you have an outdoor space, the proper equipment and access to live crawfish, you can just forget about boiled crawfish. It’s only good fresh. And though you can get live crawfish delivered in season (generally February through June), it’s ridiculously expensive. And take it from someone who boiled crawfish in a New York City apartment — just don’t. The horrible ditch-water smell will be with you for weeks and stray cats will come from miles around to investigate. At any rate, if you want the great taste of crawfish, go with etouffee. (Ay — too — fay)
I’m the sort who makes vast pronouncements about Cajun cooking. As I am from Opelousas, Louisiana, and most people outside of Louisiana think a Cajun is either a) a mythical being, b) Emeril or c) Adam Sandler in “The Water Boy,” I’m not exactly shy about telling most people they don’t know what they’re talking about and they likely haven’t had Cajun food. The sad reality is that in most places, Popeye’s red beans and rice is the closest thing to authentic you’ll find (and it’s actually pretty good). After an exchange about gumbo on Twitter, I figured I’d quit mocking people for not knowing any better and provide you with a roadmap to true gumbo bliss.