About the Cities of Super Bowl 2010: New Orleans

Saints Win(Brees & Favre) Photo by David J. Phillip AP

It is quite convenient for the Multi Cultural Cooking Network that the New Orléans Saints will be in the Big Super Bowl dance versus the Indianapolis Colts.  Why? New Orléans is legendary for food so it makes our jobs easier.  The list of foods of New Orléans are as long as the Menu items at Bubba Gump. – Crystal A. Johnson, MCCN Editor

Food History of New Orleans, A Very Multi Cultural Story

The Cajun and Creole foods of the city and south Louisiana are living examples of people adapting to their new surroundings and neighbors. Creoles are descendants of wealthy Europeans sent to establish New Orleans. Their taste tended to be richer with sauces and roux from the French, sausages from the Germans, spices and rice from the Spanish, and desserts and pastries from the Italians. These European descendants often intermarried or employed Africans from the West Indies or Africa who contributed spices, slow cooking methods, beans and rice, and the use of the tomato. Africans brought with them a vegetable used to thicken and flavor soups. We call this vegetable “okra,” but the Africans called it “gumbo,” giving the famous soup its thickness and name. Native Americans introduced the settlers to local vegetables and spices, including sassafras for file and bay leaf.  Read More:  The Food of New Orleans

Food History from the Institute for New Orleans History and Culture at Gywnedd Mercy College

Copeland’s Restaurants: A Taste of New Orleans

Good food is good food, whether it’s the “she-she pooh-pooh” quarter-sized portions or the “heavin’ up the eats with a shovel” variety. Nevertheless, it can get iffy when you go to chain restaurants, where the fish is bland and the pasta has no personality. Thankfully, this is not the case with Copeland’s of New Orleans.

Copeland’s is located in Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Florida and of course Louisiana. MCCN’s visit was to their Columbia, Maryland location. Centrally located near The Mall in Columbia, upon driving up to the restaurant you might think you’re about to enter a 1980’s pop club with the florescent lights beaming at optimal brightness, but hold on…entering the restaurant is a completely different story. The classic dark wood and dim surroundings are serene and cozy for a very comfortable dining experience.

Time to order…what to do? What to do? Let’s stall ’em by placing our appetizer order. “We’ll have an order of your Creole Calamari please! ” That’ll give us a few minutes to figure something out. Meanwhile, the hot buttered biscuits on the table seem to know each one of our names. And with each bite we remember more and more who they are…”Grandma how did you get in there?”

The calamari arrives and the tasting begins. “Uummh!” says one…”Uummh” goes another. All are pleased ! The calamari is seasoned, lightly dusted, crispy fried and served with Creole Remoulade Vinaigrette or marinara sauce. Both are good, but the Creole Remoulade has a spicy kick that should not be missed.

Three women – three orders, and two of them involve catfish. Plate #1 was the Crab -Stuffed Catfish Bordelaise, which was an 8 oz. fillet of catfish stuffed with crabmeat stuffing, seasoned and broiled then topped with garlic butter then served with Corn Macque Choux and steamed vegetables. Not your run of the mill combination of fish topped with crabmeat, these two complimented each other so well that eating them separately is an injustice. The portion was generous and the reception was pure satisfaction.

Plate #2 involved some nerves of steel…some adventurous eating on the partakers part. A discussion

eggplant, Copeland's Restaurant, Copeland's of New Orleans, angel hair pasta

Copeland's of New Orleans in Columbia, Maryland

had just taken place about eggplant. Sentiments of never really being satisfied with ordering eggplant or eating it in general. Somehow, some way, the partaker trudged past her own trepidation, probably letting herself be inspired by the picture on the menu, and ordered the Eggplant Pirogue.  Her faith would be rewarded with a very enthusiastic thumbs up for this flavorful dish. Also a healthy serving, this eggplant dish served over angel hair pasta is smothered in au gratin sauce with shrimp and crab claws.

Plate #3 is an order of Catfish Acadiana and boy did  those Cajuns really get it right! Golden fried catfish with creamy shrimp butter sauce.  It’s usually served with steamed vegetables and Copeland’s Red Hot Potatoes, but this partaker indulged herself with a double dose of starch – red beans and rice and the mashed sweet potatoes. The red beans and rice were standardly good, but the mashed sweet potatoes are buttery sweetness at its best. Yes, you will need a sweet tooth for this dish; It is something to write home about. Dear Mom: Next time you visit, we’re going to go to Copeland’s of New Orleans!

Article by Monica Johnson

A Brief History of Haitian Cuisine-A True Multi-cultural Experience (by Monica Johnson)

Freshly caught fish served on a leaf.

Freshly caught fish served on a leaf.

Looking for African influences in the Caribbean? Look no further than Haiti, where most of the population is of African descent. When the first Europeans came to settle in the land of the Arawak and Taino Indians, they brought oranges, limes, mangoes, rice, and sugar cane with them, but that’s not all they brought. They also brought African slaves and left them to work the sugar cane plantations.

“How did this come about?” you may ask. Well if you recall there was a man named Christopher Columbus who had a little something to do with the history of the Americas. Remember how Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492, well guess where else he landed? Quite the busy little beaver, the explorer discovered the already inhabited land and claimed it for Spain. Spain called it Santo Domingo, but Columbus named it La Isla Espanola (The Spanish Island later to be called Hispaniola).  By the year 1520, the native Indians were almost completely wiped out from the hard slave labor the Spanish imposed  upon them and the revolts of the people leading to executions by the Spaniards. Sadly the Taino’s have no tangible legacy in the form of an existing people in Haiti; therefore, Africans were shipped over to the island to work on the sugar cane plantations.

The Africans introduced okra, ackee (red and yellow fruit), pigeon peas, taro (edible root with a nutty flavor). By the year 1700, the French had taken control of Hispaniola and with the African slave labor still in place, they expanded their commerce to include coffee, cotton, and cocoa. Haiti went on to win their own independence in 1804 becoming the first African-American led republic in the New World.

Haiti, originally  named by Taino Indians for its high ground, shares  Hispaniola with their spanish-speaking neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Occupying just the western third part of the island, Haiti still remains highly influenced by the French in its language, culture, and food. French cheeses, breads, and desserts have been integrated into the Haitian lifestyle. Haiti’s cuisine is often considered French or Creole; however the Spanish, African, and French influence make for a smorgasbord of flavor and a truly historical and  multi-cultural experience.

The difference between Haitian and other Caribbean cuisine in a word: Peppery

Method of cooking: Often slow coked and wrapped in banana or plantains and leaves for several hours. An African method of cooking is still employed today, using coals and placing them in a hollowed-out area of the ground. The food is then placed atop the coals with the leaves covering it for ultimate slow cooking results.

Try this at home: In the mood for a Haitian creole specialty, click here for a recipe for Haitian griot (fried pork).

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