When people call you “the queen of…”, there are expectations.
There are lots of self-proclaimed experts running around today, tooting their own horn. Saying you’re an expert is easy. Proving it, is another matter.
Lena Richard, is a true expert using anyone’s yard stick. From the time she open her cooking school in 1937, up until the time of her death in 1950, Lena reigned as the undisputed Queen of Creole Cooking.
Her simply titled, New Orleans Cookbook, is still an timeless guide to the cuisine, techniques and food culture of one the country most delicious regions. Written back in 1940, this classic is a throw back to a time when molecular gastronomy might have been a condition that would send you to see a doctor rather than a culinary style. This book is the “anti Modernist Cuisine. 139 pages of cooking ease and not a drop of liquid nitrogen in sight.
Born and raised in Louisiana, Lena was not only known for her simple, yet elegant dishes, but, for being a trailblazer too. From 1947 to 1949 she appeared on New Orleans TV in her own cooking show. No big deal today. But, back in the 1940’s, in the south, it was a huge deal. She ran and operated four separate restaurants during her life. In Lena’s places blacks and whites sat side by side. Like I said, a trailblazer.
Chapters in this little gem of a cookbook run the gamut from compotes to pastries to stuffings and everything else a southern cook could want to serve their family or guests. The chapter on, Uses for Leftovers (a full five paragraphs long), perfectly sums up the simplicity of the time.
If you are a lover of New Orleans cuisine or history this is a cookbook that deserves a special place in your collection. Thankfully, it’s still available for all to savor.