Posts Tagged ‘Kelsey Parris’

Editor’s Letter

September 21, 2010

It is with great excitement that I announce the death of this version of SoFAB Monthly.  The end of the SoFAB Monthly marks the birth of our new online magazine, OKRA.  The monthly newsletter has communicated museum news, exhibits, new artifacts, and events since we opened in 2008 (and actually before that).  That information, as well as information on the development of OKRA, will now be included in our weekly email blasts, edited by Kelsey Parris.  Recipes from the newsletter will be moved to OKRA, along with the new columns and articles that we are developing for it.  We hope you enjoy this change and we look forward to hearing your ideas, suggestions, and whatever else you have to say regarding both publications.

I am also excited that our Words in Food Symposium is upon us.  Liz Williams, our director, has done an outstanding job bringing this event together.  On October 1-3, 2010, James Carville, Jessica Harris, Todd Price, Elizabeth Pearce, and many more will present and sit on panels that explore the effects of disasters like the oil spill and the culinary exchanges that occur in these regions.  Attendance is limited, so there are plenty of opportunities to talk with speakers and others.  Additionally, an anonymous donor has made several scholarships available.  If you are interested in one of those, contact Liz Wiliams at 504-569-0405.  I’ll be there and I hope to see you.


Stephanie Jane Carter


New Orleans con sabor Latino

September 20, 2010

by Kelsey Parris

Edgar Sierras' Plaintains Foster. Photo by Natalie Root Photography

New Orleans has always been a city that thrived on new people and cultures, absorbing the different traditions and foods and integrating them into the city’s own culture. La Louisiane was never a homogenous community, and its ability to accept different ethnicities and adapt to the land was key to its survival. French, Acadians, Germans, Spanish, Native Americans, and Africans were among those people who had to work together to create livable settlements. Food collaboration was an important part of making ends meet, and settlers learned how to produce and use native foods while introducing their own techniques and flavors, thus creating the cuisine of Louisiana Cajuns and Creole. Over the years, later immigrant populations brought their own cuisines, and some larger groups such as the Sicilians and Vietnamese were able to retain their culinary identity while adapting to the local styles and products.

Historically, New Orleans and Louisiana have been closely tied to Spain, Mexico, and Latin American countries.  Even though Spain ruled the Louisiana territory from 1763 until 1803, Spanish speaking influences never seemed to be able to penetrate the dominant French culture.  There are interesting exceptions to that rule, though, as the Isleños of Saint Bernard Parish show. Groups of Spanish Canary Islanders arrived in 1778 as part of the Spanish government’s plan to protect the city of New Orleans from hostile invasion from the British. It was thought that by settling sympathetic people in vulnerable areas, the threatened invasion of the English from the Eastern territory could be halted.

Although this invasion never quite came to pass, the Isleños settled throughout Louisiana, with a pretty serious concentration in St. Bernard Parish. Since it was a fairly insular community, a dialect of Spanish was spoken, and foods such as paella, empanadillos, flan, and candies, as well as a love of fresh fish and game were passed through the generations. Caldo is one example: a soup that is a traditional Canary Island staple, made with tons of fresh vegetables, beans, pork, and carefully guarded family recipes. The Isleños Museum in Chalmette chronicles the lives of this group, and also holds an annual festival, Los Isleños Fiesta, that celebrates the culture of the community. Spanish and Latin American immigrants must have appreciated the existence of the Spanish cultural community and it gradually expanded and crept into the city of New Orleans.

In 2005, a new threat was realized, and this time the British had nothing to do with it. New Orleans and Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and the area was again dependent on immigrant populations to help rebuild and repopulate the city and strengthen the culture that made it special. Latin Americans from Mexico, Honduras, and other Central American countries recognized the need for labor and the potential for good and steady income, and settled in New Orleans to man the rebuilding efforts.

Suddenly a great need for authentic Latin American food arose with this new influx of workers and their families. As the population settled in, the stores and restaurants that sprang up, stocking food supplies and brand names that the immigrants were familiar with, are usually owned and operated by native Spanish speakers who want to reach out and create a sense of community. Shelves overflow with peppers and tortillas, tamale wrappers and corn cakes. Thanks to the higher demand for food on the go, the food truck phenomenon has finally arrived in New Orleans through the now ubiquitous taco trucks.

Adolfo Garcia's LA Drum with Crabmeat Catacones and Avocado Remoulade. Photo by natalie Root Photography

In SoFAB’s newest exhibit, New Orleans con sabor Latino, photographer Natalie Root and curator Zella Llerena have gone through the city and the surrounding areas, finding people with Latin American ties, whether it be ancestral, like Isleños Mike and Donna, first generation, like Chef Adolfo Garcia, or recent arrivals to the city. Through their research, they have found through preparing their traditional food while incorporating elements of Louisiana’s foods, a new cuisine is evolving. Some home cooks add okra to their dishes, others use grits. In professional kitchens, chefs have brought flavors of their homes to the menu while weaving them into the bounty of Louisiana produce and seafood.

This is a cultural shift that seems like it will slowly integrate itself into the food and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, and it is important to recognize the changes that are taking place, and to give credit to those who are helping to make it happen. In the same way that Sicilians and Vietnamese have gradually introduced their foods and communities through stores and restaurants to become part of the fabric of the region’s culture, Latin Americans are poised to settle in.

More reading…

Gambit’s article on Latin American Food stores:

Slate’s article post-K about influx of Latin American workers:

Rio Mar’s site and mission statement:

John Folse’s Caldo

Prep Time: 2 Hours
Yields: 8 Servings


1 pound white beans
1 pound diced ham
1 pound pickled meat or smoked sausage
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup minced garlic

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 gallon cold water
1 (15-ounce) can string beans
2 (15-ounce) cans mustard greens
2 (15-ounce) cans spinach
1 (15-ounce) can corn
1 (15-ounce) can peas
1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes
1 (15-ounce) can yellow squash
1 (15-ounce) can new potatoes
1 and 1/2 heads shredded cabbage2 ears corn
salt and black pepper to taste
Louisiana hot sauce to taste


In a 12-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ham and pickled meat and sauté until golden brown. Stir in onions, celery, bell peppers and minced garlic. Saute 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add white beans, tomato sauce and water. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and continue to cook 1 hour or until beans are tender. Blend in all canned vegetables along with cabbage and fresh corn. Continue to cook over medium heat approximately 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Additional water may be added to retain consistency during cooking. Serve as a soup over steamed white rice.

Recipe from

Event Spotlight: Drink Well Do Good

April 1, 2010

by Kelsey Parris

The International Society of Africans in Wine (ISAW) is a non-profit organization devoted to creating equal opportunities for blacks in the wine industry of South Africa. There is a major discrepancy between the number of blacks employed in South African vineyards and the number of black-owned vineyards, and ISAW is trying to change those numbers.

Currently, over ninety percent of the 300,000 viticulture employees are black, but there are only two vineyards owned by black families. The plan of the ISAW is to raise funds to establish a viticulture training school at M’Hudi winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa that would allow the workers to learn to run their own wineries. The ISAW would then invest and support black-owned wine businesses, and through the foundation would encourage the participation of blacks in the South African economy.

Stephen Satterfield, the founder of the organization, is determined to find common ground and equality through the business of wine. South African wines are becoming more and more popular internationally, and Satterfield sees this as the time to “commit to improving the quality of life for those who’ve worked to produce it.” In order to drum up support and awareness of the organization and the mission to help South Africans, Satterfield has organized a 16 city tour that goes throughout the United States, makes its way up to Vancouver before ending, appropriately, in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Drink Well, Do Good Tour is our chance to help make the viticulture training grounds a reality for Satterfield and the ISAW. We at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum are excited and honored to host the launch party for the 2010 tour on Sunday, April 4, from 4 to 7 PM. Not only will there be an incredible amount of South African wine to sample and enjoy, but there will also be a selection of delicious food, with a Southern soul spread from Dooky Chase, a West African platter from Bennachin’s, and decadent bread pudding from the Court of Two Sisters.

Don’t forget to go out the night before the party to see Kora Konnection, a wonderful New Orleans-based band that blends the best of West African Mandinka music with the playfulness of New Orleans Jazz improv. Their show is guaranteed to get you in the right frame of mind to support African ventures.

Tickets for both the launch party and the Kora Konnection show are available at, and all proceeds from the events go towards the ISAW Foundation for the development of a viticultural training center on the M’hudi Estate in South Africa. Go to for more information on the Foundation. We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

New Exhibit: Acadian to Cajun, Forced Migration to Commercialization

February 1, 2010

by Kelsey Parris

The Acadian to Cajun Exhibit will open April 30th at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.  It will explore the history of the Acadians from the point of The Great Expulsion of 1755-1763 from Nova Scotia, Canada to those that settled in Louisiana and eventually became Cajun.  The exhibit explores the history of the Acadian diet and agricultural life to cross-cultural cooking that developed Cajun cuisine and the later commercialization of Cajun food culture in the 20th century.

Louisiana is known for its food, its culture, and the resilient spirit of its residents. Cajuns are an integral part of all of these perceptions of the state; they are a people with a long, troubled history who have created a unique way of life. Their story begins on the far-east coast of Canada, in what is known now as Nova Scotia, where a group of French explorers and fur traders made their home in the New World at the beginning of the 17th century.

It was a struggle for the settlers to adapt to the harsh climate-many died or fled the territory. The survivors, with the help of Native Americans, eventually carved out a life and dealt with the world politics that gave Britain and Scotland a claim to the territory. When France reclaimed the area, they sent more settlers, supplies, and women to cement their claim in the 1630s. With their extraordinary resilience and adaptability, Acadians would be able to solve and survive a wide variety of problems, the least of which being what to eat for dinner.

Many of the settlers had been peasants in France, and the sudden introduction of meat, free for the killing, and the abundance of land was quite revolutionary for them. Their age old cooking methods, however, did not change dramatically in response. The French tradition involved two cauldrons, which would be used for long, slow cooking and boiling, and a deep cast-iron in which to fry or bake. Unfortunately, they did not fully appreciate or seek the art of creating flavor, and their dishes were reported to be “neither delicate in flavor, wholesome, nor appetizing” by French historian Paul Lacroix.

In the late eighteenth century, the Acadians were forced out of their homeland by the land hungry British, and by and large managed to find their way down to the one territory that would take them and provide a suitable living: La Louisiane. The climate was completely different, yet the Acadians learned to adapt and they began to make it work for them. Without ready access to flour or a climate suitable for the growing of wheat, they learned to grow maize from the Native American tribes around them and use cornmeal instead. They still boiled their meat, but now seafood such as shrimp and redfish and catfish were easily accessible, which added a whole new dimension to their diets. New fruits and vegetables, the introduction of rice, and the multitude of spices that became available all added their own flavor. As the territory became increasingly populated with colonists from France, Spain, the Caribbean, and America, the foods of the Acadians changed and adapted new techniques and flavors.

The new environment, the different foods available to them, and the multitude of cultural influences from other settlers in the state of Louisiana all contributed to the creation of the unique Cajun cuisine, as we know it today.