Contrary to popular belief, I did not learn everything I know about cooking from my mom. However, what I did learn were these fundamental truths: eat local, cook it yourself, nobody can make a roux like someone from south Louisiana, and no distance is too great to drive for the best and most authentic ingredients.
Maxim from my mom: A tomato sauce in Louisiana is not a real tomato sauce if it does not have Creole tomatoes from St Bernard parish. Do not believe what you see advertised as “Creole” in the grocery store. When it is Creole tomato season, this is what you do—get in the car and drive yourself down river to the parish. There you will find authentic Creole tomatoes. No journey is too long, no distance too great.
My mom, or Gran as family and friends call her, is 87 and no longer drives on the interstate. But when she is seeking the perfect French bread, pickled meat, hogs head cheese, or daube glace, she will find a way to cross town to get the real thing.
I have favorite recipes and memories from my mom, Alice Walker Toca.
My birthday dinners were always composed of my favorite comfort foods: red beans and rice with breaded or paneed veal or fried chicken and stuffed bell peppers. Weird combination, I know, but these birthday traditions make up some of my best memories. No one could make my favorites like mom.
When most of our family and friends think of my mom they think seafood gumbo, stewed chicken, lemon meringue pie and caramel cup custard. What do you think of when you remember warm childhood memories in the kitchen or at the table with family?
I love hand me down recipes with character and history that have withstood the test of time and discriminating palates.
A call to action: let’s honor our moms and grandmothers on May 10 for Mother’s Day. Send photos and stories of your favorite food memories or hand me down recipes.
I wonder what I will be remembered for and what recipes my family and friends will pass down from me?
Walker always asks for my chicken and sausage gumbo, and Maggie loves grits and grillades or anything with a dark and rich roux based gravy.
Send your family treasures and traditions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share with our Foodies and Friends in the special Mother’s Day May edition of the magazine and online. Sneak peek…check out the recipe for my Mom’s caramel cup custard!