Mosquito Supper Club Cajun recipes from a disappearing Bayou

Melissa Martin

Book - 2020

"Every hour of the day, Louisiana loses a football field's worth of land to the Gulf. And so before her hometown disappears entirely, chef Melissa Martin wants to document the recipes, ingredients, and customs of the Cajun people. Cocoderie, Louisiana, may soon no longer be listed on maps, but the incredible traditions of the region should remain. In the same way Zora Neale Hurston documented and shared oral histories of the South before its keepers passed on, Martin will tell the stor...ies of her people. She has organized the book into 12 chapters highlighting the key ingredients of this cuisine-from shrimp and oysters to poultry and sugarcane-and the recipe and customs that surround each. The recipes are for accessible home-cooked meals that readers can make on a weeknight or for a celebration-with stories to be savored along with the food. Each chapter is punctuated with an essay explaining the context for the ingredient, whether it's picking and putting up blackberries each February to shrimping every August or celebrating Fat Tuesday with a king cake. This is a cookbook, but the underlying messages of heeding environmental warnings and highlighting the Cajun woman's authority in the kitchen showcase the book's compelling media hooks. Martin also documents the region's traditions, from the Blessing of the Boats at the beginning of every fishing season to Mardi Gras and the many dozens of ways to make a Cajun gumbo"--

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Subjects
Genres
Cookbooks
Published
New York : Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Co., Inc [2020]
Language
English
Physical Description
367 pages : color illustrations, color map ; 26 cm
Bibliography
Includes index.
ISBN
9781579658472
1579658474
Main Author
Melissa Martin (author)
Other Authors
Denny Culbert (photographer)
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Oysters
  • Crawfish
  • Gumbo
  • Poultry, meat, and rice
  • Fish
  • Salt pork and beans
  • Vegetables
  • Pantry
  • Sweets and breads.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Martin grew up on the bayou in Chauvin, Louisiana, a tiny fishing town that serves as an inspiration for the dishes that she creates in her New Orleans farm-to-table restaurant, Mosquito Supper Club. With over 100 recipes, including crab-stuffed shrimp, Maxine's chicken gumbo, and fried okra, Martin reflects on her childhood and offers readers a variety of meals from the area where she grew up. She also emphasizes the necessity for preserving the food of Southern Louisiana, especially as the state's coast is migrating due to rising tides, disappearing wetlands, and global warming. She explores the nuances between Cajun and Creole food and shares the origin of staples like gumbo and crawfish. The book's 12 chapters highlight the key ingredients of this cuisine, including oysters, crab, and salt pork and beans, as well as the customs that surround each of them. Illustrated throughout with gorgeous color photos and filled with family stories, this is as much a tribute to Martin's mother and grandmother as it is to her childhood home. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

The distinction between Cajun and Creole cuisines is profound; all too often the two are elided into a "New Orleans" experience. Martin respects both, but she was born and bred a Cajun. She opened the Mosquito Supper Club when she returned to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina forced her to move away for several years. Martin chronicles a way of life and a way of cooking that are imperiled by climate change. She places Cajun cuisine in a multicultural context that is intrinsically linked to nature and the seasons. As befits a chef raised by an oyster fisherman, the recipes are heavy on seafood, though there are plenty of vegetable, poultry, and dessert offerings. Dishes such as crab jambalaya, shrimp stew, and oyster spaghetti are packed with shellfish; home cooks may have to budget wisely to do them justice. All the recipes are appetizing, and completed by vivid photography. Note, however, that there are few offerings for vegetarians. VERDICT An inspiring choice for readers and cooks interested in authentic, rustic Louisiana cooking beyond Bourbon Street.—Devon Thomas, Chelsea, MI Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Born and raised on the Louisiana bayou, restaurateur Martin shares the history, traditions, and customs surrounding Cajun cuisine and offers a tantalizing slew of classic dishes as cooked at her eatery in New Orleans, from which the title of the book is taken. Writing in elegant prose, Martin is less concerned with the still-life plating of entrées than she is with painting the landscape of her upbringing. "Water is our lifeline and our dark shadow," she writes, reflecting a community dependent upon the fishing trade yet scarred by flooding and hurricanes. It's no surprise then that the emphasis here is on seafood. Bottom-dwellers inhabit the opening chapters, with shrimp, crab, oysters, and crawfish each getting separate sections, though they also come together in clever ways: ground shrimp acts as the binder in Louisiana lump crab cakes and, conversely, crab-stuffed shrimp are dredged in an egg mixture containing mustard before being breaded in cornmeal and cayenne and fried. Gumbo is thoroughly examined and seven varieties are offered, including Maxine's shrimp okra gumbo, borrowed from the author's mother. Redfish and trout star in the fish chapter, then Martin moves to dry land with various salt pork options, okra side dishes, and, for dessert, beignets and blackberry dumplings. A sprinkling of heat and a lot of heart make this a must-have for any Cajun connoisseur. (Apr.) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An up-and-coming Cajun culinary master infuses local culinary customs and evocative stories into a collection of recipes from her rapidly disappearing homeland that utilize such regional staples as blackberries, shrimp, oysters and sugarcane. 30,000 first printing. Illustrations. Tour. Index.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Every hour of the day, Louisiana loses a football field's worth of land to the Gulf. And so before her hometown disappears entirely, chef Melissa Martin wants to document the recipes, ingredients, and customs of the Cajun people. Cocoderie, Louisiana, may soon no longer be listed on maps, but the incredible traditions of the region should remain. In the same way Zora Neale Hurston documented and shared oral histories of the South before its keepers passed on, Martin will tell the stories of her people. She has organized the book into 12 chapters highlighting the key ingredients of this cuisine-from shrimp and oysters to poultry and sugarcane-and the recipe and customs that surround each. The recipes are for accessible home-cooked meals that readers can make on a weeknight or for a celebration-with stories to be savored along with the food. Each chapter is punctuated with an essay explaining the context for the ingredient, whether it's picking and putting up blackberries each February to shrimping every August or celebrating Fat Tuesday with a king cake. This is a cookbook, but the underlying messages of heeding environmental warnings and highlighting the Cajun woman's authority in the kitchen showcase the book's compelling media hooks. Martin also documents the region's traditions, from the Blessing of the Boats at the beginning of every fishing season to Mardi Gras and the many dozens of ways to make a Cajun gumbo"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Winner, IACP Book of the YearWinner, IACP Best American CookbookAn NPR Best Book of the Year A Saveur, Washington Post, and Garden & Gun Best Cookbook of the Year A Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Eater, Epicurious, and The Splendid Table Best New CookbookA Forbes Best New Cookbook for Travelers: Holiday Gift Guide 2021Long-Listed for The Art of Eating Prize for Best Food Book of 2021“Sometimes you find a restaurant cookbook that pulls you out of your cooking rut without frustrating you with miles long ingredient lists and tricky techniques. Mosquito Supper Club is one such book. . . . In a quarantine pinch, boxed broth, frozen shrimp, rice, beans, and spices will go far when cooking from this book.”  —Epicurious, The 10 Restaurant Cookbooks to Buy Now “Martin shares the history, traditions, and customs surrounding Cajun cuisine and offers a tantalizing slew of classic dishes.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review For anyone who loves Cajun food or is interested in American cooking or wants to discover a distinct and engaging new female voice—or just wants to make the very best duck gumbo, shrimp jambalaya, she-crab soup, crawfish étouffée, smothered chicken, fried okra, oyster bisque, and sweet potato pie—comes Mosquito Supper Club.   Named after her restaurant in New Orleans, chef Melissa M. Martin’s debut cookbook shares her inspired and reverent interpretations of the traditional Cajun recipes she grew up eating on the Louisiana bayou, with a generous helping of stories about her community and its cooking. Every hour, Louisiana loses a football field’s worth of land to the Gulf of Mexico. Too soon, Martin’s hometown of Chauvin will be gone, along with the way of life it sustained. Before it disappears, Martin wants to document and share the recipes, ingredients, and customs of the Cajun people.   Illustrated throughout with dazzling color photographs of food and place, the book is divided into chapters by ingredient—from shrimp and oysters to poultry, rice, and sugarcane. Each begins with an essay explaining the ingredient and its context, including traditions like putting up blackberries each February, shrimping every August, and the many ways to make an authentic Cajun gumbo. Martin is a gifted cook who brings a female perspective to a world we’ve only heard about from men. The stories she tells come straight from her own life, and yet in this age of climate change and erasure of local cultures, they feel universal, moving, and urgent.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A female Cajun chef and a fresh voice in the culinary world shares the unique and compelling recipes, customs, and stories of her homeland'a disappearing land in the Louisiana bayou'to capture this way of life and its food before it is lost to the gulf forever.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

An NPR Best Book of the Year A Saveur, Washington Post, and Garden & Gun Best Cookbook of the Year   A Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Eater, Epicurious, and The Splendid Table Best New CookbookLong-Listed for The Art of Eating Prize for Best Food Book of 2021'sometimes you find a restaurant cookbook that pulls you out of your cooking rut without frustrating you with miles long ingredient lists and tricky techniques. Mosquito Supper Club is one such book. . . . In a quarantine pinch, boxed broth, frozen shrimp, rice, beans, and spices will go far when cooking from this book.'  'Epicurious, The 10 Restaurant Cookbooks to Buy Now 'martin shares the history, traditions, and customs surrounding Cajun cuisine and offers a tantalizing slew of classic dishes.' 'Publishers Weekly, starred review For anyone who loves Cajun food or is interested in American cooking or wants to discover a distinct and engaging new female voice'or just wants to make the very best duck gumbo, shrimp jambalaya, she-crab soup, crawfish étouffée, smothered chicken, fried okra, oyster bisque, and sweet potato pie'comes Mosquito Supper Club.   Named after her restaurant in New Orleans, chef Melissa M. Martin's debut cookbook shares her inspired and reverent interpretations of the traditional Cajun recipes she grew up eating on the Louisiana bayou, with a generous helping of stories about her community and its cooking. Every hour, Louisiana loses a football field's worth of land to the Gulf of Mexico. Too soon, Martin's hometown of Chauvin will be gone, along with the way of life it sustained. Before it disappears, Martin wants to document and share the recipes, ingredients, and customs of the Cajun people.   Illustrated throughout with dazzling color photographs of food and place, the book is divided into chapters by ingredient'from shrimp and oysters to poultry, rice, and sugarcane. Each begins with an essay explaining the ingredient and its context, including traditions like putting up blackberries each February, shrimping every August, and the many ways to make an authentic Cajun gumbo. Martin is a gifted cook who brings a female perspective to a world we've only heard about from men. The stories she tells come straight from her own life, and yet in this age of climate change and erasure of local cultures, they feel universal, moving, and urgent.