Growing up in Louisiana I learned to cook at an early age. I remember helping with the crawfish boil at maybe 8 or 10 and frying shrimp and fish by myself at 14. I also had an atypical childhood for someone growing up in New Orleans in the 1970's.
My family raised chickens in our backyard and I didn't have store bought eggs until maybe 9 or 10-years old. We had a mirliton vine, chayote squash for those not from here, and it produced at least 200 pounds of mirlitons a year. Next to the mirliton vine was a fig tree, and behind the house was a pecan tree, and we harvested from both. Our neighbor across the street had a tree that produced bay leaves, and we would often get some from her when our supply ran low. In addition to the trees, we had a garden and grew carrots, green onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and an assortment of hot peppers.
Seafood was also an essential part of my upbringing. We had a boat and I remember going fishing almost every weekend from 5-years old until about 10-years old. We shrimped during the brown shrimp season and I liked it because I got to stay home from school on the opening day of the season to help. We would sell about 50-60% of the catch out in front of the house after we got home providing a much-needed supplement to the household income. We also caught out our own redfish, speckled trout, crabs, and occasionally crawfish.
I couldn't imagine at the time that all of these things would be trendy 40 years later and that those experiences were teaching me valuable life skills.
The first indication I had that I was at an advantage was in my 30's. In the years after Hurrican Katrina, I was involved in the local technology community. There was a Social Media Club, Net Squared (N2NO), and Nola YURP (Young Urban Professionals).
These organizations were full of mostly graduates of fancy east coast universities, and the meetings often took place at uber-trendy locations. The kind of places that come and go like a cool day in August in New Orleans.
I noticed that they always stayed after for dinner and when I followed them on social media, I saw that they were eating out almost every night. Apart from this being extremely expensive, it's also not very healthy.
Once I noticed this, I started seeing articles in publications about a generation of people that couldn't cook. In the grocery store, I saw packages of pre-cut and portioned ingredients for dishes like stew and gumbo; this was years before services like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. I didn't understand how one survives in life not knowing how to cook a meal.
After some reflection, I looked back at my upbringing and realized it was the start of my love affair with food. I owned 47 cookbooks by the time I was in my teens. When I was 16, I was attending cooking classes at Bella Luna, and at 19, I made Trout Almondine With Creole Meuniere Sauce. I applied twice and was accepted both times, to a culinary apprenticeship program at Delgado Community College (I never attended but it not because I didn't like food).
I will use this blog and the skills God has gifted me with in photography and writing to share my love of food, and most especially the kind found in South Louisiana.