Picayune's Creole Cook Book
Author: Anonymous. According to Rien Fertel who has done extensive research on the cookbook, Marie Louise Points, a writer and reporter who wrote for The Picayune and some Catholic publications, was the author of the book. He says, "She came from a white, French-Creole family in New Orleans; her ancestors were from Virginia and around the Gulf Coast." Fertel also believes the cookbook was published because of Eliza Jane Nicholson, who, in 1876, became the first female publisher of a metropolitan newspaper. Although Nicholson died before the first cookbook was published, Fertel says she deserves some of the credit for it. "She feminized the paper and marketed it more toward women readers," Fertel said. She added society coverage and a kitchen column called Household Hints. That column first appeared in late 1882, 18 years before the cookbook, and Fertel suspects many recipes there found their way into the cookbook.
Publisher/Date: Kessington  A facsimile reprint of the original (c. 1901 c. 1906)
Format/Condition: Gently used hardcover book in Very Good condition: a couple of spots on white of cover. Binding good; textblock strong; pages clean and unmarked. 432 pages. Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
Description: Classic collection of Creole recipes. A facsimile reprint of the original.
New Orleans Creole cookery melds a fantastic array of influences: Spanish spices, tropical fruits from Africa, native Choctaw Indian gumbos, and most of all, a panoply of French styles. Assembled at the turn of the 20th century by a Crescent City newspaper, The Picayune, the original cookbook was compiled to preserve for posterity the secrets of Creole cookery and to insure a Creole heritage for future generations. As the old Creole cooks were passing on at the end of the 1800s, The "Picayune" newspaper published the definitive collection of Creole recipes, passed down from generation to generation, and since referred to by Creole chefs at home and in the finest restaurants in New Orleans.
This cookbook is one of America's most valuable regional cookbooks and it brings all the zest and authenticity of the Louisiana Creole kitchen to your mind and fingertips. The Picayune's Creole Cook Book is the "bible" of Louisiana cooks and a delight to gourmets everywhere.
The cookbook is overflowing with timeless Creole recipes from fine soups and gumbos to seafoods, Creole Coffee, Creole breads, Lenten soups, all manner of meats, Louisiana rice, gumbos and jambalayas, cakes and pastries, Creole candies, wine, drinks with alcohol and drinks without, pickling and canning, and much more.
In my research about this classic cookbook, I read an article about Rien Fertel, who was a doctoral candidate in history at Tulane University in 2011. He was writing his dissertation on Creole literature, and he had been studying The Picayune Creole Cook Book since 2006. According to Pertel the first edition was published in 1900 in very limited quanities which cleared up the common misconception that the first edition was in 1901. Fertel, who owned all the editions, compared the forewords and introductions, which were rewritten for each new edition. He noted that they reflect changes in society and culture in America, the South and New Orleans. "Over time, through different editions, the cookbook gives more credit, and less credit, and again more credit to women," Fertel said. Similarly, the recipes were credited to African-American cooks, and then to professional cooks, and then back to African-American cooks. I find it interesting that even with giving credit to the men, the cover of the book and the frontispiece illustration portrayed the African-American Cook.
According to Fertel, in the first four editions, between 1900 and 1910, the introductions state that African-American women who were "the help" were disappearing from white households, and white women had to reclaim their kitchens; they had no other choice. The 1916 fifth edition is "totally regenderized," Fertel said. "That's when credit is given to professional chefs and men, businessmen who were restaurant owners, and talks about recipes being handed down from father to son. In the sixth and seventh editions, it says recipes are handed down from mother to daughter, and women are back in the picture." He also states that between 1900 and 1936, 440 recipes were added, bringing the book's total to more than 2,000.