Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Where Y’Eat: A Louisiana Recipe to Endure With Cast Iron Cooking, Ironclad Heart

Ian McNulty
Crawfish etouffee cooks on the stovetop in New Orleans.

In Louisiana, we know our food has a narrative power in addition to its nourishing one, because it flows through families and is tied to place. It’s never more potent than when everything else has been kicked away. Many of us learned this on the long road back from Hurricane Katrina.

Today, our food can be the story that connects hard times with better times, and times ahead. We are all writing a new chapter in that story right now.

The coronavirus fight has taken away so much. But it has given us time.

Always escaping us, time is now piling up. We can use it to pass things on.

Break out the old cookbooks, the ones with the dog-eared pages and stains, the ones where 40 years ago your mother-in-law crossed out “margarine” and penciled in “butter.”

Open the boxes and folders of handwritten recipes. Decode them for the digital generation, add the stories you know about them.

Transmit this knowledge, and burnish it with the intensity of these hard times. It will be an heirloom to celebrate in better days, when the travails of 2020 are family stories.

Passing down our passion for food is faith in the future and an investment in the good times we will all have long after these hard times are done.

It's time to haul out the black pot and skillet, those ancestral vessels passed through family, tough as any tank and in service twice as long. They’re an example too.

In Louisiana, we know the best kind of tough is not hard edged but open armed and lionhearted. We know toughness is the same thing as generous fortitude, the strength to endure together, which is precisely what this bizarre fight demands. We all have to wait this out. While we wait, we can thicken the roux that binds us.

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.

👋 Looks like you could use more news. Sign up for our newsletters.

* indicates required
New Orleans Public Radio News
New Orleans Public Radio Info