There’s a new Creole cultural cookbook available…well, not so new. it was first published in 2009. It’s by Carolyn Shelton, self-described Entrepreneur/Etiquette Consultant, Restauranteur/Chef Consultant and Cookbook author. In the acknowledgement to her book Carolyn says “I would sincerely like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to the many Zydeco and Blues artists past and present, especially to Amedee Ardoin who set the standard for both music styles and Clifton Chenier who is known as the father of Zydeco. I thank the many artists who participated in this project. Many of whom were just as excited as I in putting together these stories and recipes for Louisiana memories, Sweet Dough Pies, Zydeco Green Beans, Gumbo and more.”
Carolyn, who was born and spent several years in Lafayette, Louisiana and grew up in Frenchtown, Texas, learned most of her culinary skills from her Creole family—her mother, Angelina Zeno and her grandmothers. She has compiled a book of Creole folk cooking that is more than recipes. She gives us special recipes of noted Zydeco and blues artists along with short biographies of the artists. It’s a wonderful compilation of food and music…signatures of south Louisiana.
Ms. Shelton compiled Zydeco Blues and Gumbo as a tribute to the southwest Louisiana food culture and what she sees as its gradual loss over time. In the Forward by Herman Fuselier, a writer and broadcaster living in Opelousas, he acknowledges that Carolyn wants to make sure the loss of such family jewels comes to an end. Fuselier recounts how, when his 84-year-old mother Matteal Giron Fuselier died all of the old Creole recipes were buried with her. As Fuselier says, in southwest Louisiana, so much Creole food, music, language and history has been lost, abused and claimed by other cultures, simply because they weren’t written down.
Many ancestors couldn’t read or write and were punished for even trying. Teachers paddled them for speaking French, instilling the hollow notion that life would be better if they just blended in. He goes further to say, some things we just assumed would always be around, only to realize one day they were gone. Carolyn’s book remembers those roots and traditions while carrying them into the future with respect and pride.
Ms. Shelton gives us a Lagniappe treat at the end of the book that includes Angelina’s Zydeco Okra Cookbook of stocks, soups, stews and fish and a few pages on champagne, etiquette and entertainment tips. This book is a joy to read.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to an organization that helps with artists’ medical and funeral expenses.
Carolyn Shelton can be reached at email@example.com .