Reviewed by Stephanie Jane Carter
While much of the nation is breathing a sigh of relief that the holidays are over, there are no signs of the holidays stopping for several more months in Louisiana. The Saints play their first Super Bowl on February 7 and the “Who Dat Nation” has been twinkling black and gold. Along with this event, Mardi Gras parades are already rolling. Football and Mardi Gras make most of us thirsty for some Abita Beer. However, Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True ($34/Hardcover/184pp/9780615238647) is a cookbook that will make us hungry for it too.
Cooking Louisiana True features over 80 photographs by Jackson Hill, who currently has a photography exhibit at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Marcelle Bienvenu, cookbook author and food writer for the Times Picayune, tested the recipes. The result is a book that looks as good as the food in it tastes.
The book opens with a history of Abita Beer and of beer in New Orleans, nodding toward other renowned breweries like Jax, Falstaff, and Dixie. It offers helpful information such as how to enjoy beer, how to make it, and how to serve it. Perhaps the most fun part of this section is the beer flavor wheel and the color and bitterness comparison chart. It demonstrates what a lot of Americans have only begun to appreciate, that beer can be tasted and enjoyed much the same way wine is. Is the beer hoppy? Is it dry-hop, kettle-hop, or hop oil you are tasting? Is it sulfidic? What kind of sulfidic? Shrimp-like or burnt rubber?
The recipes in Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True were contributed by a variety of people, mostly professional chefs. The Turbodog Ice Cream is balanced in flavor and velvet in texture. Even though it is a beer ice cream recipe in a beer cookbook, the flavor is not aggressive in the beer flavor, offering strong hints of vanilla as well. Abita Beer-Battered Tempura Soft Shell Crabs offer a great opportunity to bridge food and beverage. There is hardly anything as satisfying as a cold beer and fried seafood. The book offers some surprising recipes, like New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Shortcakes with Abita Amber Cream. Also featured are the obligatory (and delightful) beer recipes, beer bread and mussels.
Ultimately, this is a great cookbook for anyone who loves Abita Beer, or well, good food.
The Southern Food and Beverage Museum has a limited number of autographed copies of Abita Beer: Cooking Louisiana True. Click here to visit the museum store…