Saturday, May 23, 2015

Louisiana Germans - The Forgotten Creoles

The more research I do on German immigrants to the south the more fascinating facts I find - for instance, some people don't think that German immigrants to Louisiana are "true Creoles." Some folks think that only Louisiana French, Spanish, Native Americans and Africans are worthy of being deemed Creole. To which I call bullshit. Germans came to Louisiana in 1721, preceding both the Spanish and the Cajuns, and founded the city of Des Allemands. Other German speakers from the Rhine Valley, Switzerland and Belgium also followed the same path to form the "German Coast", now the parishes of St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. James. The Louisianan Creole Germans founded farms that supplied food to New Orleans and the rest of the Louisiana Colony. Among German Creoles contributions to Louisiana Creole culture: Boudain. Andouille Sausage. Chicken & Sausage Gumbo. Sausage in Red Beans & Rice. Potato Salad with Gumbo. French Bread (baked by Louisiana German Creoles and sold in the French Market, hence the name). French Fried Potatoes (cooked by Louisiana German Creoles and sold in the French Market, hence the name). Creole Potato Chips. Creole Mustard (spicy brown mustard). And - accordions - which would forever change Cajun music and help inspire the creation of Creole Zydeco! All of those things the Germans brought to the Louisiana Colony - I can't imagine not having any of those today. Suggested reading: "The Settlement of the German Coast of Louisiana and the Creoles of German Descent" by John Hanno Deiler.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Also reading "Louisiana's Creole French People: Our Language, Food & Culture: 500 Years Of Culture" - says writer John LaFluer II: "This unique historic, but forgotten culture existed prior to the arrival of the Acadians, and its cultural and linguistic traditions resulted in Louisiana’s historic "Creole” culture. This multi-ethnic culture's food ways, language and social traditions were hijacked ... and then relabeled "Cajun" with no regard for the pre-existant and dominant history ..." - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/louisianas-creole-french-people-john-lafleur-ii/1119877510?ean=9783736820555

Facts vs Fiction - The Cajunization Of Creole Culture

Reading "Louisiana's French Creole Culinary & Linguistic Traditions - Facts vs Fiction Before and Since Cajunization" - says writer John LaFluer II: "For the last four decades, Louisiana has promoted its 500 year old French Colonial Creole culture as "Cajun" implying that this culture had its origin in Acadian Canada. Nothing could be farthest from the truth." - "Louisiana's historic multi-ethnic Creole culture would change to a weird stereotyping of only white French-speakers as "Cajun" and only black French-speakers as "Creole" - regardless of the facts of history, genealogy, geography and reality. Today, the meaning of "Cajun" has once again changed into something which seeks to encompass a so-called "regional identity" which again, ignores its own past and historical meaning." - http://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-john-lafleur-ii-brian-costelle-w-introduction-by-dr-ina-fandrich-louisiana-039-s-french-creole-culin/

Brent's Picks For The 20th Of May

Brent brings the best in new releases and personal picks to KBTV FOX 4's Southeast Texas Live starting at 3 p.m. today - with new music from Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dog - new movies including American Sniper and Hot Tub Time Machine 2 - new books by James Patterson, Neal Stephenson and more!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brent's Picks 4 May's Lucky 13

Bringing more new releases and personal picks for KBTV FOX 4'a "Southeast Texas Live" starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13 - with new music from Emmy Lou Harris & Rodney Crowell and the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack - and new books including Harry Potter Magical Places From The Films, The Gospel of Loki, Richard Rawlings of "Fast N' Loud" "Blood Sweat and Beers," Tom Brokaw's "Lucky Life Interrupted" and more!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Debut Novel Explores Texas Creole Culture

Bobby Booker of the Philadelphia Tribune has written a piece on Houston native Marcus J. Guillory’s debut novel, "Red Now and Laters" (Atria Books; $15) which explores the little-written-about Texas Creole culture. While (too) many people mistakenly think that only Cajuns populated Louisiana and moved west to Texas, the diverse Creole culture preceded the Cajuns by nearly a century. Guillory describes the new book as "a coming-of-age" tale, "that tells the story of several generations of southwestern Louisiana Creole men that have a gift — in Louisiana we call them ‘traiteur’; you may consider them faith healers — each of them has a gift and each one of them chooses to use the gift differently, starting from the 1830s through 1991. So, you get to see them coming of age, trying to negotiate the environment around them, the changing times and dealing with spirituality." Guillory has worked as a Los Angeles-based screenwriter and producer for more than a decade. He also recently teamed up with LA radio star Garth Trinidad (89.9 KCRW) for the spoken literature/house music mash-up "Lit House." His next project will the spoken literature album, "Postcards From Strangers" on house music artist's Osunlade’s Yoruba Records. Check out the full article at: http://www.phillytrib.com/lifestyle/a-debut-noval-explores-s-texan-creole-culture/article_7695de7b-1f7e-5836-be41-72fb999e0b44.html

Friday, May 8, 2015

German Creoles Represent

The German-Creoles contributed many things (including food and music) to Louisiana and Texas life, but rarely get any mention in discussions of regional culture. An interesting read on German-Creoles of Louisiana and Texas, called by some "the forgotten Creoles" - David Cheramie of MyNewOrleans.Com writes: "German speakers from the Rhine Valley, Switzerland and Belgium (formed) the (Louisiana) German Coast, now the parishes of St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and St. James. Without the produce supplied by their farms in the 1730s, New Orleans would probably have collapsed from famine. It is difficult to imagine that one could starve in Louisiana, but the threat was always there in the beginning. Despite several families who claim "Cajun" roots with names like Waguespack, Zaunbrecher, Schexnayder or Zeringue, we do not often take into account the importance of German immigration in our history and their contribution to our cultural gumbo." - For more check out his essay at: http://www.myneworleans.com/Acadiana-Profile/October-November-2014/The-Germans-Those-Forgotten-Creoles/

Zydeco: Creole Music And Culture In Rural Louisiana

Spanish-Creole Influence On Italian-Creole Cooking

Writer Terry Thompson-Anderson devoted a chapter of her book, "Cajun/Creole Cooking" to Italian-Creole cuisine. Here's an excerpt on the Spanish-Creole influence found in Italian-Creole cooking: "Conversely, the Spanish roots of the Creole cuisine had a profound impact on Sicilian-American foods. An entire sub-cuisine evolved within the Creole cooking of New Orleans. Today some of New Orleans' finest restaurants are owned by descendants of these Creole-Italians. They serve excitingly different food that started out many years ago as robust Sicilian fare but that, through the years of Creole influence, developed its current piquant patina - due largely to the Spanish love of ground chilies. After you've eaten two or three bites and a warm, titillating glow has developed at the back of your throat, you realize that this is no ordinary spaghetti sauce!"

Italian-Creole Red Gravy

Writer Terry Thompson-Anderson devoted a chapter of her book, "Cajun/Creole Cooking" to Italian-Creole cuisine. Here's an excerpt on one of my most favorite things to cook, Italian-Creole Red Gravy: "The most unique feature of the cuisine is its tomato sauce, commonly referred to as "red gravy" or "tomato gravy." This rich sauce, used over meats and pasta, has dozens of variations from family to family. Some red gravies are based on a brown roux. Some contain eggplant. Others contain anchovies, whole boiled eggs, or meat. Two consistent threads in red gravy are the addition of sugar and the frying of tomato paste! When I learned the secret of frying tomato paste, everything I cooked for a week contained fried tomato paste! The procedure produces a specific taste without which you simply do not have authentic Creole-Italian tomato gravy. After the vegetables are sautéed in olive oil, tomato paste is added and, literally, fried before the liquids are added." - Coming up next, more on the Spanish influence on Italian-Creole cooking.

History of Creole Italian Cooking

It's no secret that two of my most favorite cooking styles are Italian-Creole and Sicilian-Creole, but I am still waiting for a cookbook devoted to them. To be honest, there's not a lot written about the history of the Sicilian immigrants who settled in Louisiana. InMamasKitchen.Com writes: "Once in bayou country, the food traditions they brought with them from Italy encountered established Creole cooking, and their adaptations formed a sub-cuisine" - which helps dispel the myth that Louisiana is solely "Cajun Country." Writer Terry Thompson-Anderson devoted a chapter of her book, Cajun-Creole Cooking to Creole-Italian dishes. Here are a few excerpts: "In the late 1800's, large numbers of immigrants from Sicily began to settle in South Louisiana. Many stayed in New Orleans to establish businesses. With the arrival of the Italians, a new dimension was added to Creole food. Like the many other earlier influences, Italian cuisine contributed subtle nuances of taste. From the Italians the Creoles cultivated a love of garlic." - "The most unique feature of the cuisine is its tomato sauce, commonly referred to as "red gravy" or "tomato gravy." - "Creole-Italians incorporate local fish and shellfish in their cooking with delicious results in dishes such as Crawfish Fettuccine, Crabmeat in Garlic-Cream Sauce, and many more." - Coming up next, more on Italian-Creole red gravy.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Don't Know Much About History - Texas Creole Zydeco Event Labeled Cajun By Local Museum

Roger Wood, author of the excellent book "Texas Zydeco," will be speaking today at a lecture entitled “Lone Star Lala: Texas and Zydeco Music” at 6:30 p.m. today at The McFaddin-Ward House, located at 1906 Calder Avenue at Third St. in Beaumont, Texas. Unfortunately, the local historical museum does not seem to know that Creole and Cajun are actually two different things - and Zydeco was created by Creoles, not Cajuns. Not letting historical fact stand in the way, the museum has promoted the event by describing Zydeco as "Cajun" even going so far as to promising "Cajun dishes" at the reception and hiring a local Cajun Music band (who say they play "Cajun Music The Cajun Way" on their website - and admit that they only play "a little Zydeco" on their Facebook page). When I pointed out to the museum via social media that Zydeco was in fact created by Creoles, not Cajuns - and the fact that Creoles and Cajuns are different cultures and Zydeco and Cajun Music are two different genres - the museum replied "Looks like we've all got a lot to learn tomorrow!" - (Facepalm) - I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. - (Update - the museum also responded that the Cajun Music band booked for the event is "aware that this is a zydeco lecture and have promised to bring plenty of zydeco flavor to their songs tonight.")

Brent's Picks - May 7 Crazy Pills Edition

Brent is back and feeling like he's taking crazy pills bringing the best in new releases and personal picks to KBTV FOX 4's Southeast Texas Live starting at 3 p.m. today - with new music including Mumford & Sons electric Wilder Mind and the second volume to Jon Favreau's diverse Chef soundtrack - new DVDs including Selma and Annie Lennox's Nostalgia tour - new books by James Patterson, Willie Nelson and more!