Slow food advocate and author Poppy Tooker revives the work of one of New Orleans' first famous chefs in Mme. Begue's Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery (Pelican). The cookbook was first published in 1900 and has been out of print since 1937. Tooker's new edition will shed light on the legendary Madame Begue and make her recipes more accessible to contemporary home cooks.
Madame Be- gue came to New Orleans in 1853 as Elizabeth Kettenring. She opened Dutrey's coffee shop in 1863 with her first husband Louis Dutreuil, a French Market butcher. When Dutreuil died, she married bartender Hippolyte Begue, and they renamed the French Quarter restaurant Begue's. The restaurant's popularity and her fame rose dramatically during the 1884 Cotton Exhibition, which brought an influx of tourists to New Orleans.
"At that time she became the No. 1 tourist attraction in this city," Tooker says. "[Visitors] could actually see her in her kitchen at her coal-burning stove surrounded by her copper pots."
Begue's served an elaborate "second breakfast," which evolved into New Orleans' brunch tradition. The menu included classic dishes such as shrimp jambalaya, crawfish bisque and Creole gumbo. In the book, Tooker's updated recipes appear alongside Begue's original recipes.
Tooker says Begue's recipes are "some of the purest records of the original Creole cuisine that put New Orleans on the map." — BRAD RHINES