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My french thesis on LA cuisine is online.


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Lots of things have been happening with me, and I haven't logged in in a while. Anyway, since so many of y'all helped me with my research, I figured some of the French speakers out there might be interested in knowing that my thesis on the French and West African roots of New Orleans' cuisine is online. Standard citation rules apply. You can find it here:

http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-03232007-130307/

My committee has convinced me to write an English language book based on it. I am working up a proposal for the publisher now. I'll keep y'all posted.

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From the (English) abstract:

New Orleans’ cuisine and gastronomy as we know it today descends principally from French and West African cuisines, borrowing from a vast array of nations as it underwent various stages of creolization and culinary metamorphosis. Examining the food and foodways found in the restaurants, homes, and festivals of the city, this paper aims to trace the evolutionary process that transformed the dishes, practices, and ideas of the cuisines of francophone nations in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean into a cuisine often hailed as one of America’s finest.

Can you tell us a bit about which "food and foodways found in the restaurants, homes, and festivals of the city" you researched, and how you did so?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Well, at the end of the document I have an index of 60-some dishes, and additionally I talked about a couple dozen gastronomic ideas/practices. The dishes ranged from Oysters Rockefeller and Coffee with chicory (restaurant) to Daube Glacee and Crawfish Bisque (homes) to black-eyed peas and gumbo z'herbes (holiday food). Gastronomic traditions included things like brunch, reveillon dinners, and paqueing easter eggs before eating them. Egullet posters helped me not only find dishes to taste in restaurants (so I could have a better concept of the things I'd studied academically), but led me to important sources for the history of dishes like King Cake and Red Beans & Rice.

In terms of how, it was hard with so few academic texts on the subject. There have been a few articles on African contributions to Louisiana cuisine by authors such as Joseph Holloway and Sybil Kein, as well as non-academic texts by academics such as Jessica B Harris (thank you so much for what you've written), but the only text I'm aware of that is both academic and historic concerning the evolution of Louisiana cuisine is Brasseaux & Bienvenu's "Stir the Pot," and that's on Cajun food, not Creole. I used all sorts of non-traditional secondary sources: cookbooks (both old and new); articles in magazines like "Louisiana Cookin' " and "New Orleans Magazine"; journals from explorers like Robin and Pavie; personal memoirs, such as those from Robert Tallant and Eliza Ripley; personal correspondances with other academics, like historian Paul Hoffman; books on travel & tourism; as well as numerous online sources of all sorts. This wasn't really the type of paper that used primary sources, for the most part.

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Thanks for letting us know, cheese. I'll have to see how much French I can summon from my memory. And it's good to see the word "paque" in print. I've paqued eggs all my life (quite successfully, I might add) but never known how to spell it.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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Thanks! I will check it out!

Is it really about Louisiana cuisine or is it about New Orleans cuisine as suggested in the abstract? Did you research Acadiana too?

My original intent was to look at the whole of Louisiana, but it quickly became clear to me that that was an awful lot to research. I found the Creole stuff more interesting, with older documentation and more varied culinary traditions (including a culture of upscale restaurants that does not exist in traditional Cajun society). The racial, class-based, and ethnic interactions in New Orleans have shaped that cuisine in an entirely different way than the one-pot and reduction sauce ideals that absolutely dominate Cajun cuisine.

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Lots of things have been happening with me, and I haven't logged in in a while.  Anyway, since so many of y'all helped me with my research, I figured some of the French speakers out there might be interested in knowing that my thesis on the French and West African roots of New Orleans' cuisine is online.  Standard citation rules apply.  You can find it here: 

http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-03232007-130307/

My committee has convinced me to write an English language book based on it.  I am working up a proposal for the publisher now.  I'll keep y'all posted.

I appreciate you posting the link, but I have to admit it was quite a letdown. Kind of like the kid opening presents on Christmas morning and getting the toy he's been waiting for all year, only to find out that he can't use it because it takes an obscure battery not sold in this country. Yep, I can't read French.

Any chance you'll be working on a translated copy? (I know, I know, it was a thesis in French). But I was really interested in the topic and your research.

-Kevin

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Congrats on finishing your thesis and that your committee thinks you should you also translate it into English and turn it into a book! Is it written in French because it was completed for a graduate degree in French?

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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