Whenever I find myself chatting with an outsider to Louisiana, the topics of Louisiana music and LSU sports tend to make an appearance (though I know nothing of the latter). But—inevitably—every conversation turns toward Louisiana cuisine. Sample questions from the outsider include: Are jambalaya and étouffée really as spicy as they say? and Are crawfish worth the effort? … perhaps something like Do you honestly enjoy food that makes you eyes water and nose run? (The response to all the above is Yes!)
This month, I want to drop the first in a group of themed mixes that will only get livelier and more specific in the months to come. Like my other Louisiana mixes, this one highlights locations around the state and slightly beyond. Champion Jack Dupree, Dave Bartholomew, and Professor Longhair usher in that familiar New Orleans sound with clanging percussion, rolling piano, and the boastful cries of R&B masters in tunes about shrimp, crawfish, and chitlins.
Follow that up with more modern New Orleans narratives by Kermit Ruffins, accompanied by a crowd of candy-obsessed kids, and Cyril Neville rattling off a list of Crescent City cuisine that he deems comparable to his girl’s love.
Outsiders like Mike Sanchez, blues titan B.B. King, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Amru Sani sing about the shufflin’ parties that showcase the best of Louisiana cooking, as well as the inevitable weight gain caused by the spicy temptations.
To close the set, Ohioan pop singer Teresa Brewer delivers an upbeat version of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” that will knock your socks off.
I hope that this mix encapsulates, to some degree at least, the universal fascination with Louisiana food, providing a soundtrack for one of the most beloved pieces of the Louisiana puzzle.
Crawfish — Mike Sanchez
Fatback Louisiana, USA — Tennessee Ernie Ford
Shrimp and Gumbo — Dave Bartholomew
Tabasco — Amru Sani & Enoch Light
Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner — Kermit Ruffins
New Orleans Cookin’ — Cyril Neville
Crawfish Fiesta — Professor Longhair
Saturday Night Fish Fry — B.B. King
Cooking Catfish — Roy Perkins
Chittlins & Rice — Champion Jack Dupree
Alligator Meat — Joe Swift & Johnny Otis Band
Jambalaya — Teresa Brewer
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