Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, Morrow, 1984
My hardcover copy of Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen is dog-eared, food-stained and some of the pages are coming out of the binding. It is inscribed, “From Robert and Katy, 1984,” and it is still a “top shelf” cookbook in my kitchen library.
I prize it because the recipes have a zing to them and it contains the best meatloaf recipe of all time. Chef Paul calls it Cajun Meat Loaf. I call it K-Paul Meatloaf.
That’s just by way of introduction. His “saucy” foods – Creoles, Gumbos, Jambalayas – are spicy devils, but in no way fiery; even my wife-of-tender-palate likes them. His Basic Cooked Rice and Dirty Rice make a good bed for sopping up the juices.
His recipes seem intimidating at first – long lists of ingredients and long descriptions of methods. I made little go-by cards to put up over the stove. Once I dutifully did my mies en place I learned they had a drib of this and a drab of that, and the preparation had a rhythm to it. Not so hard after all.
I had the good fortune to eat at K Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans when I was there on business on a balmy night in the late 80’s. I was about 20th in a long line – they don’t do reservations – and noticed that some people in line had drinks – hey, it’s New Orleans. Just as I was about to go to a nearby bar for my own drink, a woman came down the line asking, “any singles.” I quickly volunteered and was seated with a dentist, his wife and son from San Diego. I don’t remember what I had after the Dirty Martini and before the Sweet Potato Pecan Pie, but the experience is etched in my brain.
When BUTTER was BAD, Chef Paul wrote a book called Fork in the Road. His name on the cover caused me to buy the book straightaway. Can Chef Paul really do “healthy low fat?” I guess he did it, but all the taste went away. After one meal, I banished that book from my library.
I went on using Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen two or three times a year – OK, more times just for the meatloaf – moderation is the key.
Dang all, I’m hungry!