Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seasoned America
The thesis of SEASONED AMERICA is that “American food is Cajun food. But it’s also German food, French food, Jewish, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Cuban, Irish, Native American, and so much more,” and Prudhomme states his book’s purpose is to “cross American cultures to create emotion in food.” He writes, “For instance, ground chile peppers are standard seasoning for Southwestern cooking, but if you add them—with restraint—to a more subtle dish from, say the Midwest, you can have a sensational new taste experience.”
According to Prudhomme, it’s creativity that counts; tradition is fine, but cooks afraid to experiment with recipes can’t expect to prepare “food that has the mystery of the past, the knowledge of the present, and enough emotion and excitement to carry us into the future.”
SEASONED AMERICA’S sensible organization starts with two chapters on Prudhomme’s own tips and techniques and includes recipe sections titled “Bed and Breakfast,” “Appetizers and Nibbles,” “Soups and Stews,” “Main Dishes and Crowd Pleasers,” “Salads and Dressings,” “Side Dishes and Noshes,” and “Sweets and More Sweets.” Within each section, recipes with similar ingredients, such as chicken or seafood, congregate, but their exotically different preparation and flavor approaches create banquets of dining possibilities. For example, poultry choices range from Chicken Florentine, a West Coast blend of chicken, spices, and spinach, to Vermont Common Cracker Chicken with Cracker Custard Sauce, a hearty New England dish. Down-Home Coconut-Pecan Candy Bar Cake is a sweet tooth’s fantasy, and Blackberry Buckle drowned in a pool of heavy cream constitutes fare for rich reading, much less eating.
Prudhomme’s recipes tend toward a plethora of ingredients, especially spices, but his clear instructions result in appetizers, entrees, and delectable edibles for any occasion that reward in appearance as well as in taste.