CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — Cajun, Louisiana books lead us into Lenten season

Published 7:12 am Monday, February 28, 2022

If you’re not craving chevrette, gumbo and a nice cold biere after reading “Splendor in the Salt Grass: A Celebration of Untold Stories in Cajun History,” then I don’t know what, cher.

Jim LaBove wrote and illustrated this book as part of what I call his Cotton’s Seafood series. With passion and detail, he tells about his experiences growing up Cajun and collecting seafood from Sabine Pass waters.

The family’s background comes out in stories such as “Henri and the Louisiana Black Bear.”

Questions on hoodoo? All the little boats that navigate our waters? The great barbecued crab debate? LaBove has stories. Look for all LaBove’s books and some of his very natural artwork at cottons-seafood.com.

You can wear his blue crab on a T-shirt. Now that will bring you some joie de vivre.

“Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana” –  Are you venturing out of the Great State of Texas into the Sportsman’s Paradise of Louisiana?

Consider reading up on the food, music and folktales in a book written by an author I have given a grand tour of Southeast Texas.

Cheré  Dastugue Coen can tell you about a gris gris, wrap you up in a romance and haunt your dreams. She’s a traveling writer and in “Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” she fills us in on places we may have just passed through.

Did you know Gonzales is the known as the Jambalaya Capital of the World?

Our near neighbor of Sulphur was once named the “richest 50 acres in the world.” In 1867 the mineral was discovered there and five men died trying to bring it to the surface.

I love the image of a flowering magnolia with floral “fallout” caught in a lower petal as a bee overs in a cup of cream-colored petal. An electric blue peacock of Jefferson Gardens’ Rip Van Winkle Gardens is on the next page, along moss-covered oaks of Avery Island. Coen’s book can be found on Amazon.

If I was the Queen of Spain in 1770, I’d be gifting church steeples left and right. St. Gabriel, La. got one. On the next page read about Carville’s leprosariam and Sorrento’s Acadian-Style Shotguns housing. A movie set is another page over in Houmas.

Mary Kay Charisma – They said Mary Kay was “thinking like a woman.” She went with it. Her pink empire inspired thousands of women to be proud of their contributions to their home and business world. A new book has a “wow” story on every page about her extraordinary personality from business sense to sharing caring moments with her workers and their families, taking chauffeurs to dinner and a passion for burgers.

“Fixing Food: An FDA Insider Unravels the Myths and the Solutions” – Food labels, lemonade stands, saturated fats… Richard A. Williams, Ph.D., has produced a book that reads like an angry crime novel.

The in-fighting that goes on behind closed government doors is enough to raise your blood pressure higher than a can of high-sodium soup. It should be simple. Tell consumers what’s in the can of food you are feeding your family. Then, make sure they understand what it all means.

“Say it Now! Say it Right!” – Situations from spinach in your teeth, how do you like my cooking/management/child rearing and the dreaded “does my butt look big” are covered with skill in Mary J. Nestor’s book, “Say it Now! Say it Right!”

Digestible short chapters will guide readers through job interviews, spats with friends and relationship bumps.

“How to Handle Tough or Tender Conversations” is the subtitle.

Tip: Sometimes saying it right begins with saying you have been wrong before. Lots of tips here and in the back you can make notes on how you have handled things in the past, how you can do better and the consequences of speaking up or not.

“The Art and Science of Drawing” – Author/artist Brent Eviston’s book offers guidance to “Learn to Observe, Analyze and Draw Any Subject.”

Ever glance at your teacup and get an urge to sketch it? That gourd on kitchen counter? Let’s draw it. Ready to make 100 circles? How about a bird?

You can do it, he says.

The Ever-Changing Line is my kind of project. Draw a line that continually changes in quality and character. Begin anywhere and turn the line into dots, squiggles, explosions and smudges. Change the pressure of your pencil and fill the page. Now you’ve got some inspiration for representational drawing. Keep your mind open, he advises.

Empty Calories of Words – Got writer’s block? Take a break. Listen to music. Exercise. Hey that’s good advice for anyone. Then there’s stay hungry and get feedback.

Why do all the food and diet exercises catch my eye in Steve Gamel’s book?

“Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion for the Written Word” is succinct, as he advises writers to be.

What’s your niche and who is your audience?

Remember to listen when people talk. Don’t make readers work to hard, get to the point and use fewer words. Get rid of those “empty calorie” words. For instance:

  • From “At all times,” to “Always”
  • From “In light of the fact that,” to “Because”
  • From “Have the ability to,” to “Can”
  • From “In order to” to “To”
  • From “On two separate occasions” to “Twice”

Sharing you Magic Dust?  – What’s your magic dust and how do you begin sprinkling it on others?

Charisma, resilience and character are bound to be some of the things in the best dust. The opening Mark Cuban story of positive on positive is a good example.

Author Mark J. Harris shares profiles of positive people he’s encountered in “Magic Dust: What Is It? Who Has It? How Do You Get It?”

I say, let’s all get dusty in 2022.

“Committed: Finding Love and Loyalty Through the Seven Archetypes” – Cook for yourself and make dishes that you – not others – love to eat.

If you’re not a good cook or you don’t like to cook, eat out by yourself. Ask for a table for one, put away your phone and dine with yourself. Savor and don’t rush. This is advice for a 30-day mind and spirit detox.

This book covers getting over hurt and righting one’s self when dealing with workaholics, introverts, narcissists, etc. Hey, we’re all something. But we should all love ourselves, authors Carmen Harra and Alexandra Harra write.

Darragh Doiron is a Southeast Texas area foodie craving a quiet time and a good book. darraghcastillo@icloud.com.