Monday, September 10, 2007

Chef Aleks Martin inquires about the folk foods of North Louisiana: "We need to preserve what we can."

Caitlin, Aleks
Originally uploaded by trudeau
Writes former Shreveporter Aleks Martin, "I'm trying to find information about Poke (also Polk) salad (also sallet or salit [according to that nefarious wikipedia]) indigenous to NoLa and the Dirty South; especially in reference to Blanchard and its Polk Salad Festival. Over the years, I have lived in NOLA and traveled elsewhere but found my calling as a chef, or at least a safe keeper of taste, in th 504 area.

There is a real drive for preservation of the culture once known as not just Creole, but Louisiana as a whole in the coastal area. Please don't think me silly, but I know I need to introduce and reintroduce my peers to the flavors of North East Texas and the rest of the Eastern South (as so much as I grew up with it in the crossroads that is Shreveport) to these flavors to truly define the future of what we are calling "Contemporary Creole Cuisine".

Vacant celebrities like Emeril Lagasse and Anthony Bourdain can not and will not define the flavor profiles of my children and subsequent generations if there is a cohesive drive to understand and appreciate our flavorful heritage dating back before even the great Escoffier came into prominence.

I will end this rantish email just by asking you to pose a few questions to your class, especially those from even farther in Caddo Parish, to define their flavors and maybe give me your thoughts? In a world lacking of thought, we need to preserve what we can."

Aleks Martin

As you can see, Martin has a restless intelligence, deep curiosity and a sense of overarching the crap. I'm going to point him toward folklorist Susan Roach-Langford's writing on foodways in N La and would like to get a copy of Goodloe Stuck's Heritage Scrapbook of Northwest Louisiana. If you have an extra copy of Stuck's book - he also wrote the Annie McCune story in a book called Shreveport Madam - please email me.

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