Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Food, Wine and Football with The Kingfish

By Doc Lawrence

“Jambalaya, a-crawfish pie the file' gumbo
'Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma chere amie-o
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-oh
Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.”
                              Jambalaya by Hank Williams

BATON ROUGE, LA-Tiger stadium was made famous by Huey Long. As Louisiana’s governor, the “Kingfish,” as he was popularly known, put his beloved LSU Tigers in the national limelight of college football. His determination succeeded and even included his own musical talents to an LSU fight song. Baton Rouge is the epicenter of tailgating in America. Whatever tailgating was, is or will become has a connection to the feast on gameday at LSU. Food before kickoff? Finding any better would be more challenging than a manned flight to Mars. Wines, beer, cocktails? A warm smile from a stranger is rewarded something refreshing.

Huey Long was assasinated in the nearby state capitol, but his LSU legacy is as alive today as generations ago and that extends well-beyond football, embracing the festive lifestyle embodied by tailgating.

Not since baby days have I enjoyed Ramos Gin Fizz or a properly mixed Sazerac. Both are staples just down the road in New Orleans, the city that gave birth to jazz and the cocktail. Baton Rouge is an extension of the culinary traditions of the Big Easy, although the city has its own variations.

Any other place in college football will have food served at tailgating that has a connection of some degree to local preferences. Dishes are commonly made with local products. Here at LSU the food is mufalletos, oyster po’ boys and those staples of Louisiana’s culinary heritage, etouffée, gumbo and jambalaya.

A Cajun dish, étouffée is a typically served with seafood or chicken over rice. The main ingredient of an étouffée is seafood such as crawfish, shrimp, or crabmeat. Gumbo, another great Louisiana favorite, is a tailgating staple throughout the South, and it is arguably the most famous of all foods here, as much of a cultural symbol of Louisiana as jazz and the fleur-de-lis.  On this day, the varieties were countless, but still adhered to the Cajun maxim that true gumbo must only contain those creatures that run, swim, crawl, or fly.

More than a classic song by Hank Williams, jambalaya originated in southern Louisiana and the name is said to be a derogation of French words. Many insist that it as a Louisiana interpretation of paella, the casserole from Spain. On this day it was vintage Louisiana-delicious-and fit seamlessly with wines from France, Spain and California. One group of partygoers-decked out in LSU purple and gold-served up a fabulous jambalaya and poured Albarino, a delightful white wine from Villa San-Julitte. With each bite and sip, the flavors and aromas became as one.

Another experience that reinforced my bias favoring Baton-Rouge tailgating was the regional
Grillards and Grits
favorite, hearty but elegant grillardes served with genuine grits. This red meat staple, with roots in France, demanded a red wine with a little backbone, more specifically Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Old World and New World found common ground on gameday in Dixie.

To memorialize the Baton Rouge experience and honor everything here rooted in joie de vivre, enjoy Chef Lara Lyn Carter’s recipes:

Mimi’s Bayou Oyster Stew
      Chef Lara Lyn Carter
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup finely chopped sautéed sweet onion
1 cup cooked diced potatoes
1 pint fresh oysters
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 quart of half and half

Melt butter over low heat. Add the oysters with the juice, salt and pepper to the butter. Cook on low until the oyster’s edges begin to curl. Add the half and half, potato and onion to the oysters and heat thoroughly but do not boil. Remove from the heat and serve hot.

Lemon Pound Cake
1 cup butter softened
3 cups sugar
½ cup canola oil
5 eggs at room temperature
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (2 tbsp. juice)
½ tsp. salt
Three 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Cream butter and add sugar oil and eggs one at a time. Add juice zest and salt. Mix in flour and milk slowly until blended well. Bake in a greased Bundt pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour 20 minutes.
                                        Langiappe: The Sazerac Cocktail

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