How to cook a jackass

Gqrichman_1
I don’t actually have a recipe, but I’m sure the fabled Creole cooks in New Orleans will be happy to come up with one, specifically to cook that Platonic-Ideal-of-the-specie Alan Richman.

If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, get yourself over to GQ and read how Richman rips New Orleans, um, a new one.  And when you’re back here I’m sure you’ll get in line to have a go at him yourself. 

Brandishing generalizations and stereotypes –the city’s occupants are no more than cooks and crooks (and leprechauns, apparently) whose idea of morning exercise regimen consists of stumbling out of bars- Richman’s column reveals little about the city but exposes a great deal more of his own ignorance

In a piece that’s somehow supposed to be about food, Richman managed to rub salt into the all too fresh wound that Katrina inflicted on the town, calling New Orleans a city that ‘fell in love with itself" and "[a] festival of narcissism, indolence, and corruption."

Revelry?  Narcissism?  Indolence?  Perhaps Alan Richman forgot that the magazine he wrote
for was hardly Harper’s but GQ, the current cover of which purports to
show readers "how to look like a champ in winter."  This is the magazine whose idea of solitude in the wild
is a weekend spent in the exclusive boutique hotels on the Caribbean
island paradise Vieques.  Not that I have a problem with luxuriating in
boutique hotels or boys who look like a champ (in any season), mind you.  I’m just wondering what was that old saying about stones and people in glasshouses?

That Alan Richman disliked the food in New Orleans bothers me not at all.  I’m not a fan of obsequious flattery.  It’s chacun son gôut
and all that.  But that he chose this unfortunate time to mercilessly
attack a city that’s simply trying to rise up from the ruins -yes, with
the help of tourism and its renown local cuisine- is ill timed and
mean-spirited, at best. 

Geez, man, go pick on Vegas or something.

As for cooking a jackass, no, I don’t have a recipe for it.  But I’m sure some little old ladies cree-yole cooks in New Orleans would be more than happy to teach me how.

P.S. Robert at Appetites got even more poetic. (via AH)

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  • http://profile.typekey.com/CharlesFrith/ Charles Frith

    I’m sure he’s doing a ‘heck of a good job’ talking to rich folk who care little about New Orleans. I understand that people who were erroneously jailed in the run up to Katrina are still incarcerated, as not only are there no administrative records, but also all the forensic evidence was bagged up in the ‘prone to flooding’ basement where it was subsequently contaminated. Not that justice is high on the moral radar for a great deal of U.S. citizens.

  • http://www.coffeepot.wordpress.com coffeepot

    What a bunch of …
    I love New O

  • Mondira

    That article is incredibly ignorant. Richman is a bigot in addition to being an ass.

  • http://www.albioncooks.blogspot.com Catherine

    I love your writing style, Pim!

  • http://www.donrockwell.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=957&view=findpost&p=50341 Jake Parrott

    I’ve listed as my “URL” a writeup of a New Orleans trip I did a couple months ago. Just go. Please.

  • Hmm

    Sounds curiously like a Steve Plotnicki article.

  • Aline

    The article is just fine. Just because a city has a huuricane disaster, it does not mean it knows how to cook good food. Good restaurants in NO were few before the disaster and I cannot imagine there could be more now. It is a city of heavy drinking and perhaps everything tastes great when one is inebriated.
    I must say that it is refreshing to read someone’s unbiased opinion.
    Aline Gromski

  • http://www.appetites.us Robert

    No Aline, it’s not just fine. If he’d simply shared his opinions about the food, that’d be one thing. The article is riddled with factual errors and blithering idiocy. That you seemed to enjoy it says more about you than the article. Cheers.
    Thanks for the hat tip Pim.
    Robert

  • Aline

    Robert, what about factual errors? Where did Richman make factual mistakes? Description of a fat-dripping sandwich colored red and brown is reasonably objective. Unless there was no fat dripping. I too recall a lot of greasy and fried food, spiced heavily to conceal the poor taste of ingredients.
    The only good ingredient I recall in NOLA was crabmeat and a couple of kinds of Gulf fish. Given that I actually do not like crabmeat (find it tasteless), there was nothing exciting in NO for me to eat. I visited many times for family reasons and I am in agreement with the article as far as NOLA before Katrina. I haven’t been back since but how could such nasty food be better now???
    Aline

  • http://www.ciachef.edu/admissions/spotlight/spotlight.asp?iSpotID=437 Greg Kuzia-Carmel

    I do not mean to name drop, but the day this magazine came out, I bought a copy of it in an airport as I was flying back from New Orleans to New York (purely coincidental and ironic). It just so happened John Besh from restaurant August was on that flight, and he was one of the few things Richman managed not to lay into, in fact he lauded him with praise. Besh, however, was completely appalled by the manner in which Richman had addressed his [Beshs] fellow Chefs, and to ad insult to injury in a city that was and still is reeling from Katrina. I thought the article was horseshit, if you’ll pardon my french. I ate at a bunch of the restaurants mentioned in the article and had very great experiences just the weekend I was down there. I don’t think its fair for Richman to label New Orleans a city full of “cooks and crooks”. The city certainly is having its share of difficulties, but who wouldn’t. On that note, I think Richman looses an err of credibility. I enjoyed but did not agree with his article about Chicago from a few months prior. I think he has an agenda and nobody is safe from his objectivity.
    but i digress.
    greg k-c

  • http://www.appetites.us Robert

    If you’ve both been to New Orleans, and read the article and still didn’t see the factual errors, then I don’t imagine I’ll convince you.
    Let me give you a few examples. He said that Creoles are “fairie folk.” He cannot distinguish between cornstarch and a dark roux. He decided he was served something other than trout based on the size of the fillet without looking into the kind of trout (Speckled) we get from the Gulf of Mexico. He criticized that same trout as tasting “fried” when he ordered trout meuniere amandine. He called the French quarter full of “characterless housing.” He said that Cajun food was “brought down from Canada.”
    I’m not going to mention the multitude of snide remarks about how drunken and corrupt we are down here, those are obviously hyperbole, and it’s not fair to characterize them as “errors.”
    If you don’t like the food in New Orleans, that’s fine. That’s your opinion and there’s no reason for anyone to argue with you about it. It’d be like trying to convince me that my favorite color, blue, is ugly. It’s the sheer sloppiness and laziness of his “reporting” that’s causing the uproar.
    Having said that, if you find crabmeat tasteless, I can see why you don’t like New Orleans. There’s a lot more to New Orleans than the classic “Creole cuisine” of course, but given your sentiments, I’m not going to invite you down to find out for yourself. Good luck to you, and apologies to Pim for hijacking these comments. I’ll refrain from further blathering.

  • http://ashleymorris.typepad.com ashley

    “Supposedly Creoles can be found in and around New Orleans. I have never met one and suspect they are a fairie folk, like leprechauns, rather than an indigenous race.” This after he spoke with Leah Chase, the most famous Creole chef in the world.
    Smacks of racism, no?

  • http://www.adrianmoore.blogspot.com adrian

    Everyone has an agenda anyway, especially in the food world. Like a few months ago when two restaurants from the same owner got the coveted stars in the Figaroscope here in France. No waves were made because almost noone (outside of the restaurant owner’s circle, that is) actually knew he owned both places. Besides the restaurant reviewer…..

  • DKH

    I don’t see what’s so outrageous about writing that Cajun food was “brought down from Canada.” As I understand it, the Acadians were French émigrés who moved in large numbers to Louisiana after the Great Expulsion from Canada. N’est-ce pas?

  • http://ptipois.canalblog.com Ptipois

    Cajuns were originally from Canada, not Cajun food. Use your brains.

  • April McGreger

    French pioneers settled present day Nova Scotia in 1605, 15 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymoth Rock. They were eventually deported by the British in 1755. They first settled near St. James Parish, LA in 1756 or perhaps as early as 1755. By 1780′s there were nearly a thousand Acadians, who had fled from the unwelcoming New England colonies and the West Indies, living in south Lousiana. In 1785 the Spanish government of LA welcomed 1600 more who had gathered in France since 1763.
    That being said Cajun cuisine can probably best be described as country French evolved around abundant indigenous ingredients harvested from Louisiana’s swamps, prairies, bayous, and streams. These rustic, mainly one-pot dishes can usually be found simmering in large cast iron pots and served over white rice. It’s hardly Canadian in origin, but then again I’m no Dean of Food Journalism.

  • Aline

    Once again you demonstrated your lack of education and knowledge. You had NO IDEA that Acadian was derived from Canada. I pointed it out to you first to dispute Robert’s arguments. You chose not to publish my comment – fine, your site, your right. But talk about intellectual honesty! You are at the bottom of the feeding chain, do you realize it?
    I will not read your site again. It bores me. Opinionated is one thing, uneducated is another.
    Aline

  • Pim

    Madame Gromskia,
    You’re pushing it. All your comments are published. But, for the record, I don’t *have to* let everyone say anything on my site. The blog is called Chez Pim. The day the name is changed to Chez Tout Le Monde then you can argue with me.
    Oy!
    Pim
    P.S. Robert, never mind hijacking the comment. Take it away. ;-)

  • DKH

    Ptipois,
    Thank you so much for your advice to use my brains. How silly of me to think that Cajun food would be associated with the Cajuns.
    April,
    Thanks for your explanation. Works for me!

  • http://animamundi.typepad.com/ Marco

    Mr. Richman and GQ have made a huge mistake. They should have the integrity to admit it. This man is also the Dean of Journalism at the French Culinary Institute. His writing ability is also mediocre, not to mention factually pitiful.

  • http://ptipois.canalblog.com Ptipois

    Well, DKH, if you want more, no problem.
    The fact that Cajuns came originally from Canada does not mean that what is called “Cajun food” in Louisiana is originally Canadian. When I write “use your brains” I invite you to think of the reasons why Cajuns had to leave Nova Scotia in the first place, and particularly the agricultural situation that predated their departure to Louisiana. It doesn’t take much thinking. While you’re at it, just compare the climate and geographic conditions of Nova Scotia and Louisiana. Then you can try and study how Cajun food appeared and evolved in Louisiana, based on which factors, etc. Then you may see a difference – which I pointed out – between the origins of a population of settlers and the origins of its cooking. Then you may find out why they no longer needed to make “soupe à l’ombre” or “soupe à n’importe quoi”, or pass a single bone from family to family to flavor soup, and why pre-exodus (Northern) Acadian food and post-exodus (Southern) Cajun food have very little in common. You’re welcome.

  • April McGreger

    Ptipois, DHK, etc.,
    You are right that the climate of Nova Scotia (Acadia) and Louisiana are very different, but Nova Scotia Acadian cooking and Louisiana Cajun cooking are actually more alike than different. Wild game, fish, nuts, fruits, and berries were all plentiful in both places. The soil was rich and fertile and both cultures were farmers. In Acadia, food was prepared in large iron pots over and open hearth and continues in Lousiana where it was met with rice that grew well in the swamps there. The Native Americans of Acadia taught them to make maple sugar and syrup, which they traded in for cane syrup in South Lousiana. The dishes enjoyed by the Acadians in Nova Scotia gave way very simply to today’s Cajun cooking. Boiled lobster and lobster chowder became boiled crawfish and crawfish bisque. Clam pie became oyster pie. Pumpkin pie became sweet potato pie. The fish of the Atlantic were substituted for the fish of the Gulf. I think the real point here is that this food culture did not originate in Canada. The Acadians learned a lot about living off the land from the Native Americans and this was a huge influence on their cuisine. They also learned from the English, New Englanders, Scottish, African, French Creole, Spanish, Italian, German, and other people that they encountered on their journey as well as in Louisiana. Also, not only is Cajun cuisine not purely Acadian or even French, but neither are the Cajun people. Through over 200 years of intermarriage and people of various cultures being absorbed into the Cajun community, there are now people of neither French nor Acadian ancestry who identify as Cajuns.

  • Barry

    Just to add ny 2-bits, the Acadians were French colonists from the Canadian Maritime Provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, Gaspé, in Québec, and parts of the American state of Maine. They were deported by the British in the Great Upheaval of 1755 because they had no use for French people on newly conquored British lands – the spoils of war with France. So they packed the lot of them up and dropped them all along the eastern seaboard to dispose (or dispossess) of their problem. Those that were “dumped” in Louisanna found a new start and survived off the local environment. Yes, they did substitute ingredients they knew for the indigenous foods of the region but these were not taught them by Native Americans but First Nations People of Canada. (Sorry but they don’t like to be called Native Americans in Canada) The French Canadians (Acadians) that settled in Louisanna became known as Cajuns (a slur of the word Canadians). The classic French ‘taste for flavor’ was added to by the Spanish colonists who also held and lost that part of North America to the French up until the Louisanna Purchase.
    Adieu
    p.s. my uncle was of Acadian descent whose family made its way back to Canada after the Great Upheaval.

  • Terry Pineau

    I am an Acadian living in what was once Acadia. Cajun food is nothing like Acadian food,it was developed by the Cajuns using the resources which were at hand.

  • Concerned PEislander

    Please, the family of Terry Pineau who made a comment on this site on Decembr 18th is missing from PEI and his family would like him to contact them and let them know he is all right.