Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Miss Lucy is a Louisiana institution, like the powdered sugar on your shoes at Café du Monde and the century-simmered LSU/Ole Miss rivalry. She was raised in the good ole Cajun Cookin’ tradition, with homage paid to the Kitchen Trinity in every dish save that Strawberry Thing.

She’s a petite woman, looking much like a cross between Diane Keeton and Loretta Lynn, and quite attractive behind those 80’s glasses, which she pushes up almost as often as she stirs a pot. And stir, she does!!! I’m USED to Southern Cookin’ and except for the great wonderment at all the carbs and grease, the only thing which perturbs me about her cooking is the way she shows off her wonderful non-stick cookware, then drowns out her dialogue with loud, metal-utensil skritches and scrapes of the pot through every recipe.

I used to watch her on RFD TV, somewhere between the cattle auctions and the HeeHaw re-runs, and stepping into her kitchen, across the counter from those pots and pans redolent of simmering peppers and onions and seafood and lots of seasonings, is a step into another kind of cuisine entirely. She is so welcoming and homey, you’re time-transported to childhood and feel as if you’re sitting there watching your favorite aunt cook supper for the family---you wanna get up and start setting the table and pouring the tea.

I cook with butter; my many recipes involving Philly caused me to be christened Goddess of Lily-Gilding on a very well-known cooking website, and Heaven help me---I’ve put a can of Campbell’s Cream Of into more casseroles and gravies than you can shake a spoon at, but Oh, My!!!

The constitution of those dishes on her dashing red stove must be that of wall-spackle; by the third ingredient, that big spoon just stands there upright until she returns with yet another richly-thick item to add.

I’ve looked up her Crawfish Etouffee recipe, and the one online is not QUITE the recipe I watched her make one cold evening several years ago (before we got this new-fangled TV system which looks DOWN on country matters like the folks in 5-7-9 look at me). That pot grew and grew, from the two sticks of melted oleo to saute the peppers and onions, and start the “light roux” with some flour, to the can of Campbell’s, the blocks of Philly (scritch becoming scrape as she tried to incorporate all that paste) and then the seasonings and a coupla pounds of picked-out crawfish tails.

And she’s no wilting lily, herself---she goes out to those big metal buildings on the ponds--- those gifts to the local economy and lots of rural families; she walks in where those ladies are picking that meat, puts on her own apron and hairnet, and sits right down. You can tell a cook who knows her ingredients---and knows where they come from. She’d no more quail at dressing game or gutting a fish than she would at putting on those waist-waders and manning the nets.

I like her; I wish I could still get her program---I’ve poked fun and shown her to the family and we’ve laughed at all the folderol, but good cookin’ comes out of that kitchen, and that’s what counts. And if you broke your leg, she’d be at your door with a 9x13 of Shrimp and Cornbread Dressin’ before the plaster cast had set.

I’d love to taste some of the food which comes from her cheery red kitchen; I know it would taste good. And rich. And spicy. I’ve just wondered if maybe instead of headin’ down there to try, it might save time to just throw some creamcheese, Campbell’s and a pound of butter in the blender, and just mainline the calories.

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