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Degas House offers dinner to celebrate Lafcadio Hearn


After a food and cooking-centric parade named in famed writer Lafcadio Hearn's honor — the Krewe of Lafcadio — rolled this Carnival, another local event in tribute to Hearn takes place at Degas House (2306 Esplanade Ave., 504-821-5009) at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 12. The historic house hosts its Dinner with Degas event focusing on Hearn's famous Lafcadio Hearn's Creole Cookbook. Hearn has been celebrated for his vivid portrayal of life in New Orleans in the late 19th century, evident in his cookbook as well as the seminal collection Inventing New Orleans. "Lafcadio got all of these recipes watching women cook in a boarding house," says Degas House event coordinator Cindy Denney. "It's really the spine of Creole cooking. Everything is indigenous to the region, and that's something that I really love about it. There's been this move away from fusion cuisine back to the basics, and it really doesn't get more basic than this.

"The book was originally published in 1885, and Degas was here right at this time. What he was eating here in this house, at that time, was the same Creole cuisine. It's wonderful and inspiring to really honor that."

Visiting chef Jacob Cureton interprets the cuisine rather than truly resurrecting it. For Cureton — who has cooked alongside New Orleans chefs such as Scott Boswell, Isaac Toups and Ryan Hughes — it's also a way of connecting with the city's past. "The Dinner With Degas has become a great way for me to get more involved with New Orleans history," Cureton says. "It's a creative outlet for talented, ambitious chefs looking for a little bit of a challenge. Each chef has a chance to showcase his or hers own unique background. I'm from Southern Alabama and it is reflected subtly in my cooking. This dinner is a great way to experience history and community in an interactive environment."

Dishes include "Queen Victoria's Favorite Green Pea Soup" made with peas, charred celery, mint, and spiced citrus-cured bacon, as well as "Mutton That Will Taste Like Venison," featuring braised leg of lamb with a potato cream puff, huckleberry-mushroom jus and pureed mustard greens. Dinner and absinthe cocktail is $78 per person. Guests may bring their own wine, and there is no corkage fee.

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