Throughout most of the twentieth century, there were more Sicilians living in the New Orleans area than anywhere else in the world except for Sicily! Many Sicilian food traditions are still proudly observed here, including the meatless food altars erected in homes and churches on March 19 to honor St. Joseph. Every visitor to the altars leaves with a gift bag complete with holy card, lucky fava bean, and several homemade cookies.
Theresa Alberti and her husband (and chief assistant) Al were sunny additions to the market for many years. Her brightly packaged baked goods were as delicious as they were beautiful. Unfortunately, the Chalmette residents lost everything, including their health, in Hurricane Katrina, and they never returned to the market. These two sweet…
Our Philippine friends, the Pampos, were regular Saturday Market vendors who brought us a bounty of fresh herbs and greens from their family plot in Algiers, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. Lemongrass, cilantro, parsley, and green onions—the familiar and the exotic could all be found in their market booth. Mr. and Mrs. Pampo were forced to relocate to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina severely damaged their home and garden, but we hope to see our friends at market again one day. In the meantime, we honor them with this spicy entrée.
An unusual taste for New Orleanians, bitter melon is found in many other tropical locations—China, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Columbia, Panama—where it is often more valued for its medicinal powers. First introduced to our market by our Philippine friends, the Pampos, bitter melon is a garden staple in the Vietnamese community of New Orleans East.
So typical of Chef Susan Spicer, to take a New Orleans tradition and transform it into the unusual with special ingredients or new techniques. This favorite New Orleans sandwich was invented in the early 1900s when Sicilian workers combined antipasto ingredients on round, seeded Italian bread called a muffuletta loaf (which gave the sandwich its name), creating a quick meal that could be eaten on the go. The usual muffuletta combines Genoa salami, Cappicola ham, and provolone cheese with a rich, oily olive salad. Susan’s version includes fresh tuna wrapped in paper-thin prosciutto for a new take on an old favorite. Toss Susan’s olive salad with fresh greens for a wonderful, instant Italian salad.
On New Orleans restaurant menus, paneed usually refers to a thin veal cutlet that has been breaded and pan-fried, much like a Wiener Schnitzel. Chef Tom Weaver, a south Louisiana native, served this delicious rendition featuring salty local oysters during his eight-year tenure as executive chef of Christian’s Restaurant in Mid City. He also delighted market shoppers with the crunchy treats during a Saturday Market demo.
Here, market shopper and board member Bruce Gallassero shares a recipe from his mom, Shirley Vorenkamp. Shirley, a native of Breaux Bridge, created this city version of the dish, so divinely rich that it could also pass for the Creole dish Crawfish Cardinale.
In 1998, Dickie Brennan was the first of the Brennan family to open a steak-centric restaurant, serving prime beef alongside New Orleans classics such as turtle soup. Since 2000, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse has been recognized as one of the top ten steak houses in the country, and even the Wall Street Journal has acknowledged it as THE place to reserve a “power table” to close an important business deal.
In this recipe, the “Louisiana lobster”—crawfish—makes an appearance to give a whole new meaning to the traditional surf-and-turf meal.
Devoted market shopper (and vegetarian) Dave Cash shared his special red beans recipe with us. Even vegetarian New Orleanians MUST eat red beans and rice on Mondays! Dave’s unusual increments of measure and eloquent descriptions are included intact, and I have suggested appropriate additions for meat lovers.
Patti Constantin is the secret weapon in the arsenal of many an Uptown hostess. Patti is renowned for her fresh, delicious flavors presented in innovative ways. Her close friendship with CCFM vendors guarantees Patti the finest of every season’s harvest. In her typical New Orleanian way, Patti refers to the precious oyster liquor in this recipe as “holy water.” It’s just that sacred to us in our culturally Catholic kitchens! Patti created this beautifully presented appetizer during a Valentine’s Day cooking demonstration at the market. She guarantees it to be an aphrodisiac because everyone knows what they say about the power of oysters!
For seventeen years, Chef Richard Hughes has delighted locals and visitors alike in the elegant dining rooms of the Pelican Club. From the very start, his menu has featured local products in international culinary creations with a strong emphasis on Asian elements. The panko bread crumbs add an unparalleled crunch to these unusual crawfish and shrimp cakes.
Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.
The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.