New Orleans: Cooking with Carville
February 14th, 2011
09:15 AM ET
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Laissez les bons temps rouler! Eatocracy is in New Orleans this week getting ready for the second edition of our Secret Supper. We'll be delving into the people, purveyors and places that make this such a significant food town, and hope you'll join in with your questions, memories, restaurant suggestions and general bonhomie.

Who better to kick off a conversation about New Orleans food than CNN's very own ragin' Cajun James Carville? The Democratic strategist and Louisiana native shares a home in New Orleans with his wife, Republican strategist and CNN political contributor Mary Matalin and has one heck of an eating life. We spoke with him last autumn (when his favorite seasonal sno-ball stand was open) about roux, restaurants, the importance of oyster provenance and the very best bite he's ever put in his mouth.

Eatocracy: As soon as people within CNN found out that we were launching a food blog, everyone came to me asking, “Have you spoken with James Carville yet?” You have a reputation for knowing what’s good.

James Carville: As a matter of fact I just left one of three Zagat 29-rated restaurants in the country – or so I’m told. [Editor's note – it has lowered from this rating in the 2007-2008 guide.] It’s the Hansen’s Sno-Bliz stand. I think that the French Laundry and some place in Chicago are the only other ones that have a 29. It was a satsuma sno-ball – my favorite flavor. It’s a Louisiana citrus that’s like a clementine.

E:: I hear a lot about the sno-ball stands in New Orleans. Why is that?

J.C.: The snow – that’s part of our culture. It gets a mite toasty down here sometimes in the summertime and we like to get a sno-ball.

E:: We took some questions for you on Twitter, and a Food & Wine editor wanted to know if it’s true that boudin will put hair on our chest?

J.C.: (laughs) I don’t know about that, but it’ll put joy in your mouth!

E:: Do you have a favorite producer?

J.C.: I eat more andouille. It’s a sugar cane cured pork sausage. It’s pretty available everywhere here. I get it from Langenstein’s, which is a small grocery store here in town, or at Cochon, which has got its own butcher shop attached to a really great restaurant in the warehouse district. It’s Donald Link’s place.

E:: Another Twitter question – how dark do you like your roux?

J.C.: My mother wrote a local cookbook that sold 35,000 copies. It’s an amazing book and she made it in a cast iron skillet and stirred it for about 25 minutes. She liked hers kind of a brown – tan almost. I heat my oil smoking hot and use a whisk. I like mine dark – maybe the color of ditchwater or even darker than that. Dark as ditchwater.

Some people will say that if you have a darker meat you want a lighter roux. People go on and on and on ad nauseum about that - what color roux is best with this or that. Those are the first words in every Louisiana recipe: "First you make a roux."

E:: Could you explain to people who might not know what that is?

J.C.: It's flour and a fat. Some people use butter, canola oil or Wesson oil. The trick is you've got to blend it in. You've got to properly stir it because if any part of it burns, it's done. You don't have to spend all your time starting a roux from scratch. Just get the oil as hot as you possibly can, pour in the flour and whisk like hell. It's dangerous if the stuff gets on you. It's not for the faint hearted. You need a sous-chef to help you sometimes.

E:: Does your wife ever sous for you?

J.C.: Sometimes. I like to do the stocks and the roux. You got roux and stock - you don't need anything else. You're there. Everything else is an add-on.

E:: Another Twitter question: "Can a Northerner make a good roux?"

J.C.: Why not? It's not rocket science; it's flour and oil. You might burn one the first time, but sure! You can buy it pre-fab, already made at the cooking store. I don't think it needs to be a big deal, but part of the fun is making it and having a beer or a glass of wine. It's not much fun to just get it already cooked and have it all going for you.

E:: Twitter also wanted to know: Okra or no in your gumbo?

J.C.: I like okra. I also use file as a thickener - it's ground sassafras. Seafood is my favorite gumbo. I had some for lunch just today at Manale's along with some oysters Bienville and Rockefeller, along with a nice shrimp salad, some onion rings and an Abita Amber. It's as good a lunch as you can have!

E:: After the oil spill, did you find that it was harder to come across some of these dishes?

J.C.: Casamento's had oysters from right there in Plaquemines and St. Bernard. And they were gooood. Some places had a harder time getting them and maybe got them from Florida, but those were good, too. An oyster knows it's in the Gulf. It doesn't know it's from Louisiana.

E:: Who taught you to love food?

J.C.: That's like saying who taught you to love sex! It's part of our culture. When we came home from school, our mother would have a pot of gumbo on the stove. We've heat it up and that was some kind of a snack. My sisters and brothers and I always talk about how we remember that. Some people get a grilled cheese sandwich when they got home from school. We got lucky.

E:: Did more than one generation cook at a time in your house?

J.C.: Both of my grandmothers - my Daddy's mother was almost a professional cook. Really good and she grew up in New Orleans. My Mother's mother was a good cook, and my mother was a very, very, very good cook. But I'd used to love to go over to my father's mother's house and her red beans - oh my god! Just out of this world.

Red beans - now someone's come up with mushing them and making them all creamy. I like a red bean when a red bean has some integrity. My wife makes good red beans. Tom Fitzmorris, who is a food critic down here has a good red beans and rice recipe.. It's traditionally a Monday dish. You have the ham on Sunday and you use the hambone to make the red beans. A lot of restaurants have it as the Monday special. I like to go to the Bon Ton on a Monday.

E:: It sounds like you have an amazing eating life in New Orleans.

J.C.: We're very, very fortunate. We just have more restaurant significance now. Before the storm, there were 809 restaurants and today - I pay attention to this sort of thing because it's important - 1117. The difference between before and after the storm is that the food is getting a little more diverse. There's always been Creole-Italian and now some Italian-Italian restaurants have opened here. There's a tapas place that's come along, and this is a good steak town. They just cook it up in a different way - lather it up with butter.

E:: And you're lucky enough to have all those John Besh restaurants.

J.C.: He's a great guy. There are people who talk about how when August reopened for service, what a wonderful thing that was for the city. He's got a place - The American Sector - in the WWII museum and it's a great version of sort of '40s diner food. He's got an Italian restaurant Domenica that he opened with a kid from Israel who's spent two years over in Italy learning to make his own cured meat. Then there's Luke, which is Alsatian. There's a lot of diversity. August is the top of the line - one of the best restaurants in the city. He did a fish courtbouillon, like the sort of stuff you boil crawfish in - that's one of the best things I've ever tasted. We give his cookbook out as gifts.

E:: Is there a dish that your mother or grandmother made that you just can't do as well as they could?

J.C.: I can't make red beans like my grandmother, but really, I'm pretty proud of my gumbo. When I make it, it's a production. I like to put oyster liquor in the stock. That's tasty. To me, it's all about texture.

I tell you what - my mother made crawfish bisque, and it's the hardest thing to make, when you stuff the heads. I can't do that. It was out of this world. When they have it at Commander's it literally might be the best thing I've ever tasted anywhere. That place is a phenomenal restaurant, and they just feed so many people. It's not exactly the way my mother did it, but he gets this silky texture.

One of the things that really crosses people down here is when people say that the food in Louisiana is spicy. It is NOT. Not when it's properly done. It's seasoned, and it's not supposed to burn you. It is supposed to set off little explosions in your mouth.

My brother-in-law can fry fish like you wouldn't believe, like speckled trout. There's nothing better than fried fish. I don't know what it is - how he coats it - you know what I mean? Everyone just recognizes it. No one even tries. And I have another brother-in-law who make jambalaya, makes it in an old cast iron pot and a wood fire. Oooh.

E:: Are you the person your family calls on to make the gumbo?

J.C.: My family disses my cooking sometimes - but not bad. I have a guy who worked for me for five year and now works for the Mayor of New Orleans and we use to manage together pretty good, but I'll to disorganized to handle the gumbo by myself.

E:: Have you ever tried making Leah Chase's gumbo?

J.C.: Oh, that's gumbo z'herbes - vegetarian gumbo. No, I haven't but she's a really nice lady and she's done a lot for this community. She stayed in place after the storm and Obama even ate her gumbo!

E:: So, most importantly, when are you getting your own food show?

J.C.: Maybe one day I'll so something general culture, sports, food, music - just everything. Food is good for conversation. It's good for relationships. It's good for everything. And if it's good food, you don't have to eat as much of it.

The problem is that you've got too much processed food and too much bad food. If something tastes good, you don't need to sit there and eat all of it, like people do.

E:: What's the last meal that you had that made you cry– maybe brought a tear to your eye?

J.C.: When I got the raw oysters at Casamento's. It was such a treat, because I thought after the spill, I was never going to get to have another one in my life. It was really moving - that's one of my favorite joints. That and Bozo's are my two favorite places.

E:: I don't think I've ever spoken with someone from New Orleans who didn't have these strong feelings about food. What is that link that you have?

J.C.: Every other place in the country, when people talk about their quality of life - you've got this much park space and this low a crime rate, the climate is this and the healthcare is that. You put it in a computer and total it up and this is the best place to live.

To be blunt, I don't care one whit about the quality of life. I care about the way of life. If I have my way of life, then I have a quality of life. Food is essential to our way of life. If it's not about that food, then it's not about a way of life.

So you get this "poached, fused tower of this" - I don't want to eat that! That's just not what I'm about. If I have my way of life, I go to Manale's and get my Oysters Bienville, then I go by Hansen's and I go see Ashley and get me a satsuma sno-ball. I'm living the way I want to live.

In another place, you take up all your Zagat scores, you add them and you determine how good the food is. By the way, within ten minutes of my house, not counting the Central Business District or the French Quarter, I have something like - I counted for the fun of it - 15 or 16 Zagat 25 or better restaurants. If it's not good, it's not going to stay around, but I want my kind of food.



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soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. Karpacz

    I’m impressed, I have to say. Really not often do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you've hit the nail on the head. Your idea is excellent; the issue is one thing that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very completely happy that I stumbled across this in my search for one thing referring to this.

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    November 6, 2013 at 3:25 am |
  2. Susan

    I love James Carville!

    April 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  3. Ex_Pat_Orleanian

    I love Carville and I love New Orleans. He's a great ambassador for NOLA because he's just like my nutty uncle, not despite it.

    I really enjoy reading and hearing about my favorite restaurants and the unmatched quality of our fresh seafood. However, non-New Orleanians may think there must only be a handful of food nuts like Carville when in fact the vast majority of us would have answered these questions in the same way with the same passion.

    Most non-locals have a hard time imagining how culturally different New Orleans is compared to any other city in the US. Hansen's Sno-Bliz may be an excellent example, where the lowly neighborhood sno-ball stand is elevated to high art. Over 70 years of single family operation, all syrups and flavorings made in house, a hand made one of kind ice shaving machine and usually a one to two hour wait on the hotter summer afternoons, for a SNO-BALL! The 29 in Zagat is earned, this is the French Laundry of sno-ball stands. Only in New Orleans.

    Tom Fitzmorris, cited above, is another one – only in New Orleans would a critic have a daily radio show, three hours in length, devoted exclusively to restaurants, cooking and all things food and drink. There's nothing like it anywhere else in the country and he's been on the air non-stop for over 30 years, probably one of the longest running radio shows in the US. Carville's count of restaurants pre and post storm come from Tom. The above interview was in the fall and the restaurant count was 1117 – as of today it's at 1148. See Tom's website at http://www.nomenu.com for all the delicious details.

    But what struck me most was Carville's comparison of "quality of life" to lifestyle. I'm NOLA born and bred, but spent a good part of my 20s in Houston and now, later in life, find myself in Southern California. On paper my quality of life is excellent – low crime, great streets, a house that doesn't need air conditioning, great public schools. But I live 1500 feet from the Pacific and can't find good fresh seafood to save my life. Live music? Forget it. A single location restaurant with a creative chef and kitchen, well those are few and far between. Carnival? Jazz Fest? The computer calculated "quality of life" may be excellent but the lifestyle math going on in my heart isn't so great. I miss a lot. Just like when I was evacuated, all it takes is Tom Wait's singing "I Wish I Was in New Orleans" to make me cry.

    February 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  4. jm

    CARVILLE _ Don't use those Zagats numbers – they gave KFC best chicken in the US. They have lost all credibility as a meaningful measure of quality.

    February 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  5. dnsmith

    "These are the first words in every Louisiana recipe: "First you make a roux."" WRONG ANSWER! First you kill, catch or grow your ingredients. THEN you make a roux.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  6. oh for crying out loud

    that survey is cringe-worthy. "heck yeah, cajun style"?! NEW ORLEANS FOOD IS CREOLE! NOT CAJUN! if you're going to do this special write-up on new orleans cooking you have GOT to get the basic info straight.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      It's a reference to an episode of 30 Rock in which James Carville was giving the characters advice on how to work things out "Cajun Style!"

      February 16, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • dnsmith

      Absolutely! There is Creole (New Orleans style) and there is Cajun style. I prefer the Cajun style. All you Creole buffs can keep your okra out of my gumbo.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  7. JoAnne

    Love to see a show with New Orleans style cooking it is part of my heritage let's cook

    February 15, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  8. Louisianais

    If you're going to post that stupid saying in French, at least spell it correctly. For once and for all people, it's LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER. Yes, that's LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULER. The "bons" has an "s" because it's preceded by a plural article!!!! Quit applying English phonetic spellings to French and furthering the stereotype that Louisiana French is illiterate and substandard.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
  9. da funkee 1

    Hell, even Popeye's chicken tastes better in NOLA! I remember eating some of the best food in the world there. Actually that's all I can remember. I was only sober when I ate. Btw...I Like JC and hid wife. Play each other well. I'm just suprised they made it work all this time. They share much love and mutual respect. We could all learn something from that.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  10. Mensaboy

    When James Carville is not talking politics he can be quite entertaining. Oh hell, he is entertaining talking politics as long as you don't believe what he says.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  11. Ruth Gonzalez

    I love that Mr. Carville mentioned Bozo's. Best fried shrimp po'boys ever, except my Grandmama loved the oyster po'boy better. I don't get how any of you could not like a man that is so enthusiastic about eating. I've never even heard of him before reading this today. The man loves life. Y'all just need to go on down to New Orleans and spend some time eating great food. That will mellow you right out.

    And a roux is nothing like regular gravy.

    February 14, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  12. Nola29

    Elsewhere, people eat to live...in New Orleans, we live to eat. New Orleans culture is a vibrant melange of ethnicities and cultures that have mixed in our great gumbo into a culture that is purely New Orleans. This city's vast array of restaurants are unmatched in this country. We have restaurants that are literally hundreds of years old. The distinction must be made though. New Orleans's primary influence is Creole cuisine. Creole cuisine is the origin of great dishes such as gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, crawfish etoufee, the list goes on and on. Cajun food is prevalent in the city with restaurants such as Cochon. However, Creole cuisine dominates the New Orleans culinary landscape. New Orleans is a city like no other, and it is our culture that puts the city in the ranks of the immortal cities of Rome and Paris. I'd encourage people to put aside their pre-conceived notions of the city, and visit the city with an open mind and an empty stomach.

    February 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  13. Mark E.

    IT's all good James...Manale's, Bozo's Commander's, Central G., Parkview Bakery, yeh you right!

    February 14, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  14. Longtimegone

    Is "Mother's" still open? It's been 30 years and I remember the Po-boys like it was yesterday.

    February 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  15. Chuck

    James has always been one of my favorite people because of his honesty. You can imagine the shock of learning his love of cooking and good food. Can't you just taste his gumbo. By the way has anyone ever seen the 'takeoff' of him on SNL. Right on the money. He is the best!

    February 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  16. Kathy Silverberg

    James is marvelous, New Orleans (really, Carville)-speak and all. He turly captures the flavor of New Orleans cooking (the pun intended!). For an ex-pat Louisianan, it doesn't get any better than this.

    February 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  17. foodisgood

    2 restaurants in NYC rated a 29 for food by zagat: Sasabune and Le Bernardin. C'MON!!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  18. EmSeeDubayou

    Which is creepier – James Carville or Bill Hader impersonating James Carville?

    February 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  19. ijreilly

    I had a similar childhood experience. My brother and I would come home from school everyday and try and guess what mom was cooking just by the smell that was flooding the street. Always a gumbo, bisque, or other delicious concoction. My first semester at college away from home was a rough transistion.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  20. brianburns77

    come try Olde Tyme Grocery in Lafayette. Best shrimp po-boy in Louisiana. Also, yes, being raised in New Orleans and living in Lafayette now, Lafayette's food overall is much better and more "Cajun" if you will.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Top O The Mornin'

      Haha! I used to work at Old Tyme Grocery back in 1990. Thanks for that memory!

      February 15, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  21. Curious Blue

    The big question is, 'how has he avoided killing that obnoxious wife of his'? Or, more directly, why did he marry that scary woman in the first place? Can you imagine waking up next to her every morning? Yeeewww.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • EmSeeDubayou

      You're calling "his wife" obnoxious – you must be a liberal democrat. And I'll bet he wouldn't appreciate your thoughts much.

      February 14, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  22. Flyboy

    SHO in NYC is 29 rated in Zagat

    February 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  23. Cody

    I highly recommend visiting Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro on Veterans Blvd. Try the crawfish ravioli...it's to die for. And as for dessert, any of their cheesecake selections are amazing!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Queen of Everything

      I second the Copeland's recommendation!

      February 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Schmoo

      Oh come on. There is NEVER any reason to eat at a chain restaurant in this city, much less Copeland's.

      February 15, 2011 at 4:25 am |
      • Top O The Mornin'

        Amen to that Schmoo!!!

        February 15, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  24. Kelly

    It is really interesting reading all your post's for those of us Actually living this life everyday. Mr. Carville and his family are part of the landscape of Louisiana and as DrFood said he is like your crazy uncle, sometimes you may not understand him but you have to love him. In regards to the food. People head straight to New Orleans because that is what out of state people hear about all the time and along with the parties and Mardi Gras it's just great advertising BUT if you want TRUE Cajun food you want to go where it all began. You want to go where the food is STILL made like the original French Canadians and where there ancesters STILL live in the Bayou's and still get around by Boat and where there is still French spoken to the kids and in the homes. Come south to Houma, and Dulac and Larose. Lafayette is a nice place to visit and so is everyone else above New Iberia but you are heading North and to those of us where the food is genuine and true those are northerners (Yankees haha). Come on down the doors always open and the Community Coffee is always on the stove!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  25. John Myshrall

    Love ya James, but having to listen to you rant at election time is enough. I can't imagine you having your own show.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  26. HeyWhoburnedMyRoux?

    LOL people are so mean. I'm sure his food is great. Also, a roux is French and ppl all over the world use it. Is there something special about the roux they make in New Orleans? I usually make a roux to make macaroni and cheese. I think you make a roux before making bechamel, too. I'm glad he loves his city. As a dark-complected black person, I don't have any intention of ever going there(or Haiti, either), but I hear the food's good. I've made gumbo before, but I do something like a "sofrito" not a roux. You know, onion/tomato/garlic etc fried up and then adding the other ingredients. Granted, I didn't use a recipe either, but it tasted fine.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  27. RCBinTN

    Our problem is we live too far north but want real NO cooking. The differences are: authentic red beans you can't get in Tennessee, lack of real andouille sausage, and of course the fresh seafood coming out of the Gulf. The dishes just aren't quite as good using frozen seafood.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  28. DrFood

    You really can't stay mad at Carville. He's like your favorite crazy uncle. :)

    This article is well recieved. I'll be heading to NOLA in June, and I fully intend to indulge.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  29. djp

    It's sno-bliz, not blitz. Click on the link and you'll see.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  30. Walker

    James is spot on when he said "One of the things that really crosses people down here is when people say that the food in Louisiana is spicy. It is NOT." My wife is Cajun and we eat and make a lot of Cajun food but all my buddies from CA or OR are always frightened and think HOT. Cajun food is spicy – flavorful not spicy – hot. You want hot, you add the tabasco yourself. Otherwise it is just layers of flavor and all so good.
    Think I'm going to make some red beand and rice tonight!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  31. Lib in the mountains of NC

    Great mind,obvious sense of humor (look who he's married to – they're such fun to watch in interviews), and evidently knows a lot about food.
    If he/they can't be part of the family and entertain us at family gatherings, then I guess a TV show is the next best thing. Definitely would watch it!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  32. Saustain

    Carville's mothers cookbook is the best cajun cookbook I've ever used. Mine is dog-eared and stained and held together with duct tape. You can dislike James' politics, but you can't help but love his mama's cooking.

    February 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  33. Edward

    I apprenticed for Cajuns in Iowa at their restaurant for two years, and what Mr. Carville has said is exactly how they taught me. I am a northerner, and I can make a roux. Also James Carville is awesome.

    February 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  34. Bill Duke

    Did that food turn him into the ugliest man alive?

    February 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Pretty is as pretty does@Bill Dufus

      Nope but you don't look much better.

      http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.annecarlini.com/images/exclusive/interviews/INT-BillD1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.annecarlini.com/ex_interviews.php%3Fid%3D809&h=311&w=250&sz=46&tbnid=MLsoU6issm8DKM:&tbnh=117&tbnw=94&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbill%2Bduke&zoom=1&q=bill+duke&hl=en&usg=__tEdzEBp5qU64bjhHI4SHRv_Lzu0=&sa=X&ei=LIdZTb7SHYK88ga_7Z3fBg&sqi=2&ved=0CEAQ9QEwBA

      February 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  35. JOEL

    I don't like or dislike Jim Carville.

    But what makes him an authority on cooking?

    C'mon, how about you use experts or chefs rather than 'celebrity' big mouths.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  36. Texas Tom

    Ed Whitaker for President....

    February 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
  37. Dan

    Does Thomas still work at Pascale's Manale? No one is better at shuckin oysters and telling great stories to those smart enough to listen.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  38. becca

    Carville is a political strategies and very great during the Clinton admin.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  39. Jerry

    Who give a cr@p what Carville thinks about anything?

    February 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  40. g sperling

    We live for food here in New Orleans. We share our recipes and our foodie culture with the world.
    Oh, and there's history in every meal. And if you take it to another level, there's food passion and of course,humor.
    Check out this New Orleans foodie lover site..www.wearablevegetables.com

    February 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  41. D. Diogonese

    Mr. Carville is right on target about our local food. You really have to work at it to find a bad meal - or bad cup of coffee - in the New Orleans metro area. You can swing an alligator by the tail and hit 4 world-class chefs without really trying. We call that assault with a foodie weapon. And if all those Yankees that live north of I-10 doubt Carville or Diogonese, then ya'll just come on down and prove us wrong. Gumbo Ya Ya, dance in the streets and Spring is here, baby!

    February 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  42. lancon454

    If you ever find yourself in New Orleans then check out some of the great places like Cafe Maspero, Cafe Du Monde, Central grocery, Brennan's, Commanders Palace, Court of Two Sisters, Dicky Brennan's, Port of Call, Original French Market Cafe, Galatoire's, and all of John Besh's places. The list goes on and on, but this is just a few that I eat at every time I go home.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  43. fishcough

    Well, thanks James, as always, for a being a good ambassador for the city, but I couldn't even get past the first paragraph. Hansen's isn't open yet. Probably not until after Mardi Gras. So, unless this article is a old...

    February 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  44. NOLA Princess

    Hey–did he just say he came from Hansen's? Is Hansen's open? I would walk through fire for one of Ashley's cream of nectar snowballs right now.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Drew Brees

      It ain't open, dog.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Athene

      The official word from Ashley is "when the weather warms up. Hopefully soon after Mardi Gras."

      February 15, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  45. Garthe Kindler

    What's all this BS about the mystery of "roux?" Fancy name for a staple of Appalachian cooking for a hundred years or more. So if areas of Appalachia qualify as "Northern," this flour/fat concoction has been part of its northern food for a long time. And in the Appalachian areas with severe poverty, any browned "gravy" mixture of flour with fat (usually from bacon) poured on biscuits was sometimes the only thing on the table for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Rusty Freedom

      While similar, a Roux IS a different animal than plain gravy. Southern Gravy is never cooked long enough to qualify as a Roux (it would be waaay too bitter), and gravy is thinned with milk – never done with a Roux. No mystery, but a bit of technique.

      February 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
      • lancon454

        So true, I made a roux the other day and it took 30min to get it correct. Oil, flower and some Tony's. Yummy!

        February 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
      • KLee

        Very true, Rusty. What many Southerners call "white gravy," my Cajun family calls "Milk Gravy!" We cook a roux MUCH darker than milk gravy and we don't add milk. Just flour and oil. Even my milk gravy is much darker than white "country" gravy that's put on biscuits. I didn't even know about white gravy until I went to college in Texas. And even today I still don't care for the stuff. So it IS very different.

        February 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  46. Lisa

    I love James Carville! He embodies what a true New Orleanian is. We are so fortunate to live in a city that has such a diverse and historic culture. The food is AWESOME!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • lancon454

      Lisa you are very correct about the food in New Orleans, with world class seafood and a great culture it is a great city!

      February 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  47. rla

    New Orleans has some GREAT seafood and wonderful restaurants. I know, I was born there. But for real Cajun, skip the Big Easy and head 100 miles due west to Lafayette in the heart of the real Cajun Country. Then you'll learn what Cajun is truly all about...family, friends, food, and the music. Visit New Orleans for a taste but enjoy the full flavor in Lafayette.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Roy

      So true rla!!!

      February 14, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • lancon454

      Amen on that! My family is from this area and this is where the real Cajun food is. Most people that are not from the area get this confused. If you want Cajun food, then go to the Acadiana's, but if you want Creole food, then go to New Orleans. Sure they have some so called Cajun food in New Orleans, but the real deal is not in New Orleans.

      February 14, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • KLee

      AGREED! Go to the Lafayette area to find real Cajun food. New Orleans has always been, and will always be, a Creole city at heart. Thirty years ago, "Cajun" was a dirty word in New Orleans and "Creole" was everything! The real Cajun people still speak Cajun French – you will NOT hear that on the streets or porches of New Orleans! Only in the Lafayette area.

      February 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
      • Nola29

        Be fair to New Orleans. We have 7 french immersion schools which is the most in America. Also, I speak french as a primary language and I know lots of people who speak french. Cajun french has sadly declined in the Lafayette region. However, I hope that it makes a resurgence. In New Orleans the Charter school system has enabled hundreds of students to have exposure to French culture.

        February 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
      • SDC

        French immersion is not the same as Cajun French...

        February 15, 2011 at 7:42 am |
    • Dee

      Amen! And 'Ragin Cajun' is a term typically used in regard to people from around that area (Lafayette, LA), not New Orleans! As a matter of fact, the UL (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, formerly USL) football team is the RAGIN CAJUNS – get it straight, CNN!

      February 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • rla

      Nola2, I was more than fair to my home town New Orleans in my commentary. What would you have one say that could be fairer? It has great food but Cajun is Lafayette and Acadiana. Creole is New Orleans. I didn't "knock" New Orleans at all and invited people to go there and taste what it offers, but the Cajun culture IS alive and well in Lafayette and that includes cuisine, family and language. If my comments were deemed unfair to New Orleans, then the Big Easy needs to take a deep breath and take it easy! One CAN explain Cajun and New Orleans without being labeled unfair.

      February 16, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  48. Truth

    Given what I have heard him say about his politics, I think he should stay in the kitchen and leave the punditry to his wife...

    February 14, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Frank

      Mr. Truth?, This isn't about politics. Get over it. Mr. and Mrs. Carville don't care. Take off that silly hat with those stupid tea bags and act like an adult who knows what today's topic is about.

      February 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        Carville is an idiot hick. He accidentally said the word "TeaBaggers" in a live interview once and the chick (wife?) he was with just busted out laughing. He got all annoyed with her. Funny stuff.

        February 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
      • Jerv@Frank and Truth

        "The Democratic strategist and Louisiana native shares a home in New Orleans with his wife, Republican strategist and CNN political contributor Mary Matalin and has one heck of an eating life." Straight out of this piece. Truth's statement is relevant.

        February 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
      • SDC

        If you knew anything about Cajuns, you'd know it wasn't an accident. Sarcasm is genetic.

        February 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
  49. William

    Somebody send Skeletor to a frickin speech therapist.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • lancon454

      If you are talking about James Carville then you are being a little unfair. I am from Louisiana and sure I do not talk like this, it is because the younger generations have lost some of the slang, but I am Cajun and know why he talks the way he does. This is like asking someone from New York to change the way they talk. Every area of this country you go people speak with some slag or another. And if you think this man is dumb because of the way he talks then you are crazy. This man is a great mind in the political arena.
      Laissez les bon temps rouler!

      February 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
      • William

        I have no problem with dialectic speech. The biggest issue with Carville is he is very mush-mouthed and never finishes a statement or thought, and giggles as though he thinks he said something funny.

        February 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Joe in Colorado

      Just to clarify, the ground sassafras is "Filé", not "File".

      February 14, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
      • Kyle

        Thank you! I was confused. I read that sentence three times. I'll look up "filé" now.

        February 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      LOL @ Skeletor reference.

      February 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
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