|A later edition. The first ones had a white|
spine, and ads in the back for long extinct
Gulf Coast Gourmet is a cookbook compiled by my late mother in the early 1960s. She, and a group of other talented women, put the book together as a fund raiser for the Foley Woman's Club.
My mother chased down cooks, chefs, local seafood producers and anyone else with a good recipe. She charmed, cajoled and convinced them to hand over the information. When I look at pictures of her then, at a youthful 40-years-old, I am sure the fact that she was a very pretty and petite woman melted the heart of more than one chef.
The illustrations are the original work of a very talented artist named Marion Dyer. These drawings are very clever, and adorn each section front.
The recipes are well thought out and simply presented. They have cautions, and the unforgettable sentence "do not substitute ingredients as results will not be the same."
The book has been in print for many, many years; but has the simple fault of assuming you know about Gulf seafood and really know how to cook.
To get the best out of the book, which has dishes that are favorites in this part of the world, you really have to know the "how" rather than just the "what" in the recipes.
When the book was published, cooking was something that interested the "gals" and included exciting dishes like "boil-in-a-bag" vegetables and instant mashed potatoes. The only ingredient that we treated with real reverence when I was a child was ---- seafood.
I became interested in cooking the summer before I went into the first grade. My mother's friend, and great cook, Flossie Michaelson, and she spent the summer testing the recipes. That settled it. I wanted to get in front of that stove. Several childhood kitchen fires, and a lot of years later, I am still cooking.
My children, especially my grown son James, have also taken up the craft. He learned to cook as impressed labor for holiday family meals. As a teenager, he learned that knowing how to cook was a valuable social skill. In college he commented, "All the girls just love it. If you can use a saute' pan, they think you're a Warlock."
My daughter Sarah will tell you that she does not cook, and then fix a meal for herself without drama or fuss.
My son and I will cook our way through the book. I will describe all I remember about how my mother cooked these dishes. For the many I never saw her cook, I'll tell how we cook them.
It is sad that COOKING, something as full of affection, home, skill, honesty and ... love, has been turned into a contest, put-down session and television event by the Food Network.
We like to cook. We love people. We will share what we have, and hope you like it. That's the spirit of this blog. Bon appetit.