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Taste of Louisiana with Chef John Folse & Co.: Our Food Heritage
In this new series, world-renowned Cajun and Creole chef John Folse examines Louisiana’s culinary history and celebrates the French, English, Spanish, German, Italian, American Indian and African influences on Louisiana’s cuisine. Filmed before a live audience, the program combines music, history and of course, great cooking.
Distributed by: American Public Television (APT)
Martha Longman of Dulac, La. cooks Barbecued Shrimp Longman. Her brother, Brad, takes viewers on a tour of his seventy-five foot shrimp boat, named "Cool Change."
Native America: Poverty Point
At the time Ramses II was ruling Egypt, Moses was leading the Israelites from bondage and the Phoenicians were trading along the Mediterranean, Native Americans were thriving at Poverty Point in northeastern Louisiana. Jon Gibson, an expert on the Poverty Point settlement, introduces us to this unique civilization. David Griffing of Poverty Point explains how these early Americans were ingenious in their "hot rock" cooking and demonstrates how to prepare steamed fish. Donna Pierite performs Native American songs during the show.
Native America: Sportsman's Paradise
Before agriculture, hunting and fishing were the primary food sources for the Native American tribes of Louisiana. While they hunted deer, game birds and small animals, they also enjoyed a bountiful harvest of fish and shellfish. David Griffing, a Louisiana park ranger and Native American expert, gives us insight on our first Americans. Bertney Langley and his mother, Loris, of the Coushatta tribe, demonstrate how to make fry bread, a traditional Native American food. Hazel Dardar performs Native American songs during the show.
Native America: Native Plant Foods
The Lower Mississippi Valley provided over 250 natural herbs for the Native Americans. Kim Hollier and Dr. Charles M. Allen of the Louisiana State Arboretum in Ville Platte give us a firsthand look at these wild edibles. Dr. Alma Blanchard, a "traiteur," explains the art of this alternative medicine practice and even treats Chef Folse for an old injury. Hazel Dardar performs Native American songs during the show.
France: New World Exploration
The 17th century ushered in history's Era of Colonization. New places grew across the landscape: New Spain, New France, New England and New Scotland. But, exploration was tough business. Whoever controlled the new land also controlled the riches within it. Chef Folse introduces us to some of Louisiana's most famous, and infamous, pioneers. The boucherie, or hog killing, is one of the most celebrated events in Louisiana. Chef Folse visits with his brother Jerry, Buddy Bailey and Lucien "Troop" Perkins as they demonstrate how to make red boudin. Neil and Donna Wilkinson perform traditional music from the French colonial period.
France: Fort St. Jean Baptiste and the Colonial Frontier
Early settlers faced many hardships in taming Louisiana's wilderness. There were no formal communities or laws, food was scarce and there were very few women. Chef Folse visits with Rick Seale at Fort St. Jean Baptiste in Natchitoches about life on the Louisiana frontier. Then, Darren Vermillion demonstrates how to make corn and venison stew. Neil and Donna Wilkinson perform traditional music from the French colonial period.
France: The Ursulines
Chef Folse explores the contributions of Louisiana's unlikely pioneers: the missionaries, priests and nuns. Sister Joan Marie Aycock introduces us to a bit of Louisiana's early "morality" and the contributions of the Ursuline nuns. Chef Folse visits with Tommy Adkins as he demonstrates French bread making on the Louisiana frontier. Celeste Veillon and musicians from the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra perform religious pieces appropriate to Louisiana's French colonial period.
Cajun: Expulsion from Nova Scotia
Dr. Carl Brasseaux and Mary Anne Pecot de Boisblanc tell the tragic tale of Louisiana's Acadians or "Cajuns." Following intense hardship, expulsion from Nova Scotia, murder, and exploitation, the Acadians were welcomed to Louisiana's shores. Chef Folse joins Buddy Bailey and Lucien "Troop" Perkins at the annual Boucherie as they create andouille sausage, a Cajun delicacy. The Larry Miller band performs Cajun favorites.
Cajun: Louisiana's Cajuns
Join Dr. Carl Brasseaux, Brenda Trahan and Jane Bulliard as they explore the arrival of the first Acadians on Louisiana soil. Cracklins, a common Cajun snack, are made by Prince Davis, who also introduces us to the "Cadillac of cracklins." Johnette Downing entertains with fun Cajun songs, especially for kids.
Spain was one of the first countries to explore the New World and was responsible for Louisiana's system of laws, the architecture of the "French" quarter and the food markets of New Orleans. Dr. Paul E. Hoffman introduces us to early Spanish Louisiana. Chef Folse along with Tee Wayne Abshire and Ricky Breaux demonstrate how to make jambalaya, one of Louisiana's most common dishes, which was inspired by Spanish paella. Neil and Donna Wilkinson perform traditional music from the Spanish colonial period.
Fort Los Adaes
In the 1700s, the Spanish border was just six miles from the French fort at Natchitoches. Fort Los Adaes became a Spanish stronghold, greatly influencing the culture and cuisine of northwest Louisiana. Ray Berthelot and Corneil Cox explore this intriguing Spanish story. Chef Folse visits Marie Roque, a Creole from Cane River, for a lesson in traditional meat pie making. Neil and Donna Wilkinson perform traditional music from the Spanish colonial period.
Hurricane Katrina focused attention on Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish, home of the resilient, proud and hopeful Islenos descendants. Dorothy Benge introduces us to these wonderful people and the unique heritage of these Canary Islanders. Chef Folse visits Rhonda Gautier in Natchitoches, La. as she prepares the tamale, a great food contribution of the Spanish. Neil and Donna Wilkinson perform traditional music from the Spanish colonial period.
African Slavery In Louisiana
While the Africans contributed to the agriculture of the state, they certainly left their mark on the cuisine of Louisiana as well. Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, an authority on the African-American experience, introduces us to these ingenious culinarians by tracing their heritage from Africa to the cane fields, cotton patches and kitchens of South Louisiana. Chef Folse joins Chef Don Mastroni and Pearlie Jefferson at the Old Coffee Pot in New Orleans to make rice, or "calla" cakes, a favorite snack of New Orleanians. Judy Whitney Davis performs fabulous "spirituals" or "corn ditties."
Foods of Africa
Foods such as yams, red beans, rice, melons, okra and eggplant are indigenous to West Africa, the ancestral homeland of most of Louisiana's African-Americans. Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall and Professor Eileen Julian give audiences an insight on the roots of much of Louisiana's African-American cuisine. Chef Leah Chase gives Chef Folse a lesson on making Gumbo Des Herbes, a traditional Holy Thursday dish. Judy Whitney Davis entertains the audience with "songs from the big house and songs from the field."
Louisiana is home to many famous African-Americans. Tiwanna Simpson introduces us to "King" Oliver, Mahalia Jackson, Fats Domino and Louis Armstrong. In West Africa, chicken was a festive dish served to honored guests. Ann Green and Chef Folse make Guinea Hen Gumbo, a prized entree for the Sunday dinner table in Louisiana. Eric Baskin performs pieces immortalized by famous African-Americans.
German Immigration in the 1700s
John Law, a Scottish financier, lured Germans to Louisiana with a propaganda campaign entitled "The Magnificent Country of Louisiana." When the Germans finally arrived after suffering grueling circumstances, they became fabulous farmers and saved the city of New Orleans from famine... twice. Glenn Falgoust enlightens us with the story of Louisiana's German ancestors. Chef Folse visits Henryk Orlik, a German beer maker, at his Heiner Brau brewery in Covington, La. for a quick lesson in beer making. Julie Council and band members perform traditional German music.
The German Coast
The first Germans to arrive in Louisiana settled in the River Parishes on the outskirts of New Orleans. Glenn Falgoust shares the story of what has come to be known in Louisiana as the German Coast. Like many other cultures, the Germans celebrated the boucherie, or hog butchering. Chef Folse joins his brothers and a few good friends to celebrate this tradition. Bob Cheney, a one-man-show, plays traditional German songs on his accordion.
The Germans of New Orleans, Minden and Robert's Cove
Germans immigrated to Louisiana in three waves, settling in various areas of the state. Frieda Arwe, Susie Lester and Josie Thevis guide us through their respective German communities in New Orleans, Minden and Robert's Cove. Sauerkraut making, shredding and salting cabbages in large barrels, was common among German Coast descendents. Chef Folse joins Frieda Arwe to make a batch of this traditional dish. Bob Cheney, a one-man-show, plays traditional German songs on his accordion.
Though France and Spain are known for their Louisiana colonization efforts, the English had a significant impact as well, especially in the Florida parishes. Libby Dart, a historian from St. Francisville, shares the story of Louisiana's English heritage. Jane Dunn, a forager, gives Chef Folse a lesson on wild edibles and cooks up a delicious omelet. Dudley Smith and Smithfield Fair perform delightful pieces representative of the British influence in Louisiana.
One of the most extravagant houses in the Old South was Rosedown Plantation in West Feliciana Parish. Mary Thompson, the great-, great-granddaughter of the builders of this home, gives us a glimpse of a lifestyle that is now "gone with the wind." The English are notorious for mixing their liquor with sweets. Anne Butler, a seventh generation owner of Butler-Greenwood Plantation, and her cousin Bob, indulge Chef Folse's taste buds with Whiskey Cake. Dudley Smith and Smithfield Fair perform delightful pieces representative of the British influence in Louisiana.
The Battle of New Orleans
Although the American colonies declared themselves independent of Great Britain in 1776, true liberty was not achieved until 1783. But war raged again and Great Britain hoped to capture the mouth of the Mississippi River. Aly Baltrus visits with us about the Battle of New Orleans, and the victory that changed the course of American history. Chef Folse joins John Seago of Pontchartrain Vineyards in Covington, La. as they poach pears in his famous "Port of New Orleans." Rosemary John entertains with the bagpipe, an instrument played by the British during the Battle of New Orleans.
Italian Immigration to America
Oppression, religious freedom, heavy taxes and deplorable working conditions brought many immigrants to the New World. The Italians were no different. Disappointed and betrayed by their government, many Sicilians emigrated from the harbor of Palermo to the port of New Orleans. Joe Maselli enlightens audiences with the story of Louisiana's Italian immigrants and their culinary contributions. One of the great food contributions of the Italians was the muffaletto. Chef Folse visits with Norma Jean Webb, of Nor-Joe Import Co. in New Orleans, as they prepare this world-famous sandwich. Bobby Lonero and the New Orleans Express entertain the audience with traditional Italian favorites.
The Italians came to America with very few possessions, but it was not long before they were "making good" in Louisiana. Joe Maselli introduces us to these Italian truck farmers, citrus importers, grocers, restaurateurs and ultimately, entrepreneurs of Louisiana's food industry. Chef Folse joins Phyllis Fresina, of Fresina's Pasta Company, as she demonstrates how to make a simple, authentic Italian dish. Bobby Lonero and the New Orleans Express entertain the audience with traditional Italian favorites.
St. Joseph's Day Altars
Not only did the Italians bring a tremendous work ethic to Louisiana, they came with a love of family and an incredible faith. The St. Joseph Day altars are a true testament to their strong beliefs. Margo Battaglia Clement and Margaret Teeter introduce audiences to this continuing Sicilian and South Louisiana tradition. Chef Folse visits with Sandra Scalise Juneau as she prepares a fresh batch of her fabulous cuccidatta, or fig-filled cookies. Bobby Lonero and the New Orleans Express entertain the audience with traditional Italian favorites.
New Orleans' Creoles
"Creole" is a word in evolution. Chef Folse considers all of our native people Creole, a mixture of the fabulous cultures that make up the Bayou State. The New Orleans Creoles were the aristocracy, the society folks of the early city. Jan Bradford of the Hermann-Grima House introduces us to these fascinating people. Because Louisianians are known both for their love of food and love of drinking, it is fitting that Kerri McCaffety, author of The Obituary Cocktail, helps Chef Folse make a batch of ratifia. Members of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra play pieces representing the Creole period of early Louisiana.
The Creoles of Cane River
Once a forgotten people, the Creoles of Cane River have preserved their culture through faith, tradition and an incredible family unit. The family unit is as strong today as it was when their ancestors, Marie Therese Coincoin and Claude Thomas Metoyer, were alive. Terrell Delphin and his daughter Daphne enlighten us with the story of their unique heritage just outside of Natchitoches, La. Chef Folse joins Lillie Delphin as she prepares baked cushaw, a favorite Creole dish. Willis Prudhomme entertains the Creoles of Cane River with traditional Zydeco music.
Chef Folse celebrates a traditional German Christmas with Glenn Falgoust, Frieda Arwe and Josie Thevis as they share stories of German contributions to the cultural fabric of Louisiana. Even St. Nicholas joins in the kitchen fun. Frieda Arwe of the German-American Cultural Center in Gretna teaches Chef Folse to make a traditional German drink, Gluehwein. Julie Council and band members perform traditional German Christmas music.
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