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Wednesday, September 07, 2005 

De Bonnes Choses a Manger

that's Cajun for "good things to eat"

New Orleans maybe the most damaged, but there were other parts of Louisiana that suffered the wrath of that Wicked Witch, Katrina. Houma, in the the Terrebonne Parish, or bayou country, didn't get slammed. It got hit, but more like a black eye than a complete body slam.

I have a sweet little spiral bound book, De Bonnes Choses a Manger that I picked up somewhere awhile ago. With woodcut illustrations of swamp and spanish moss encrusted oaks it is filled with old time recipes, you know the ones where the submitters' names are inscribed underneath the title of the dish. Glancing through you see some typical French/Louisiana names....Mrs. W.E. Thibodoux, Mrs. Rufus McIlhenny, Mrs. S.J. Burguieres, Mrs. Ralph Buisson and Mrs. Aurestile Pellegrin it brings to the reader a sense of community, a sense of history, a sense of pride and a little lagniappe of southern charm. Things that no hurricane can ever truly take away.

The little cookbook was originally published in 1964 by St. Matthew's Guild in Houma, LA. I can't access the churches' website...who knows when we can, but looking at a walking tour site or video tour of Houma, it looks delightful...a little bit of real americana with a little tabasco sauce thrown in for good measure.

Peanuts and Popcorn Balls

1 pint Louisiana syrup (may we suggest Steen's) (cane syrup)
3 quarts popped corn
2 tablespoons butter
1 quart roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon hot water

Cook syrup, vinegar and butter to hard-ball stage. Remove to back of stove, add soda dissolved in water. Pour syrup over popcorn and peanuts, stirring until each kernel is well coated. Mold into balls. Note: you can add food coloring to the syrup to get different colors.

I found your blog while doing research for a friend. I am listing her mother's cookbook collection on Amazon. This book was included in the collection and since no other book like it was listed on Amazon I got to make the listing page. I was impressed with the charm of this little book and was at a loss as to how to described the lovely illustrations and the caring detail that obviously went into this locally made volume. I have seen many. There is an extensive 3 page Table of Contents at the end of the book, of all places! I am glad I read your description after I made the page as I may have been tempted to borrow some of your observations. You express my thoughts very well. This is more than a cookbook. It is a remarkable time capsule of a community that has undergone more change than most.

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