Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours: Recipes from New Orleans that Louis Armstrong Loved by Christopher Blake is a pamphlet size booklet with about 40 recipes that include versions of red beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo, po’boys, and more.
During a trip to New Orleans one time, my wife and I strolled over to see Lafayette Cemetary No. 1 and Commander’s Palace restaurant in the Garden District. We took the streetcar over from the French Quarter and walked around for a bit looking at the homes and architecture of the neighborhood and eventually found ourselves at the Garden District Book Shop.
I could have spent the day there looking over the books. I could have also spent our entire vacation budget on books, as well. I bought a few, I remember, including this small cookbook by Christopher Blake.
The cookbook was published by the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in 2008 and contains recipes that are “a collection of favorite recipes, which are not necessarily original recipes” of Louis Armstrong. Of course, there’s a red beans and rice recipe, and recipes for the po’boy, old fashioned grillades, seafood gumbo, chicken gumbo, dirty rice, Christopher Blake’s jambalaya, cornbread dressing, white beans and ham hocks, frog legs a la creole, Louisiana caviar, Chartres Street trout, fried chicken, shrimp remoulade, some desserts, some cocktails, and more.
The recipes don’t contain ingredients that are extremely hard to find – you should be able to find what you need at your local grocery store. Blake wrote easy directions to follow and offers some hints and variations to complete the meal. Overall, it’s a nice booklet of New Orleans recipes. I have cooked a few recipes from it, namely the red beans and rice one and it came out great. My only wish for the book was that it had more on Louis Armstrong. It lacks anything on him. Too bad there wasn’t a quick blurb on each recipe that states why that particular one was a favorite of his. I get that none of the actual recipes were probably from Armstrong or his collection, but why it was included in the booklet would have been a nice touch.
If you collect cookbooks from this region like myself, Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours: Recipes from New Orleans that Louis Armstrong Loved by Christopher Blake would be a nice addition to your shelf!
If you ever get the chance to roam through the Garden District, do it. Head over to Commander’s Palace and take a walk through Lafayette Cemetery. It had rained the night before we spent the day there so the cemetery was partially flooded which only added to the creepiness of the place. We also came across a tour guide explaining the history of the cemetery along with some of the crypts, but we missed the start of it – though we did somewhat linger around trying to listen. However, if you do make it there in time, I’d suggest joining the guide.
You can find the Garden District Book Shop at 2727 Prytania Street. If you need to contact them, you can reach the shop at (504) 895-2266 or at www.gardendistrictbookshop.com. You can usually find a great event going there if you check the website.
To get to the area from the French Quarter, head over to the St. Charles streetcar and get off at the Washington Street stop; then walk a block down towards the river and you’ll find the book shop. Another block or so and you’ll come across Commander’s Palace and the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
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Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.