I’m a collector of Creole & Cajun cookbooks, and I’ve been looking for a resonably priced copy of Marcelle Bienvenu’s
Who’s Your Mama, Are You Catholic, and Can You Make A Roux?
for sometime. There are some used copies out there, but good lord, they’re going for a pretty penny.
Good news! The book is back in print by Acadian House, repackaged into a nice hardcover, with all of the great photographs, recipes and memoirs contained in the original 1991 version, and going for $22.95.
I’m a person who wants more than just recipes when I buy a cookbook. Anyone can throw together some recipes in a book. I like some background, some history, in my cookbooks. I want to be taken away. Marcelle Bienvenu’s book doesn’t just give recipes, it tells a story, broken down into seasons, and the recipes, like the photographs, seem to capture a moment in time, which contributes to the story. Not to say that her recipes aren’t wonderful as well, because they are, I just appreciate the story behind them as much as the recipes. I really love the story of her first experience as a child, eating Soft-Shell crabs at a waterfront restaurant with her father. Being a new father, those kind of stories really put a smile on my face, and make me dream about sharing these kinds of moments with my little Anna. Good books evoke these kinds of emotions.
When I was reading this book last night, I experienced South Louisiana, and felt like part of the family. That is what good books do, and that is why this book is still in demand.
Marcelle Bienvenu is also the author of Stir the Pot: The History of Cajun Cuisine, and Cajun Cooking For Beginners, as well as co-authoring 4 of Emeril Lagasse’s books, including the best one, in my humble opinion: Louisiana Real & Rustic.
In addition, she also put together the Picayune’s Creole Cookbook (which I’ve referenced so many times on this site) and provided the side notes, which keep all of the fun historical recipe measurements and techniques in focus for the modern cook. Here is a link to her column at the Times-Picayune!
She also contributed to another of my absolute favorites, the Time-Life book American Cooking: Creole and Acadian which is out of print, and one of the best used books you can buy on Louisiana cooking.
…Needless to say, I’m a fan of her work, especially my new purchase. Highly recommended!