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My New Orleans: The Cookbook - Review

200 of My Favorite Recipes & Stories from My Hometown

By John Besh
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2009)

My New Orleans: The Cookbook

More and more, cookbooks are going above and beyond the traditional format of a simple collection of recipes. Often, stories and anecdotes, along with fascinating imagery, accompany the lists of ingredients and instructions that explain each chef’s personal journey through the food they love to make, while teaching others how to do it, too. Such is the case with John Besh’s tome My New Orleans: The Cookbook, which features 200 recipes among personal stories of his childhood, family and friends, and an exploration of the unique food history of the city in which he grew up.

Don’t expect to find Besh’s recipes separated into the average “Appetizers,” “Entrées” and “Sides” or “Meat,” “Poultry” and “Vegetables” sections. My New Orleans: The Cookbook is a mixed bag of categories, from entire chapters dedicated to “Crawfish & Rice” and “Strawberries & Citrus” to others entitled “Mardi Gras” and “Shrimp Season.”

In its more than 350 pages, My New Orleans: The Cookbook includes recipes for traditional New Orleans dishes, such as seafood gumbo, crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, crab bisque, beignets, watermelon pickles and fried oysters, as well as Besh’s own contemporary dishes. In the “Shrimp Season” section, he provides original dishes, such as “Besh Barbecue Shrimp” and “Hot and Spicy Lemongrass Shrimp Soup,” while “The Urban Farm” contains vegetarian delights, such as “Cornmeal-Fried Okra” and “Silver Queen Corn, Orzo and Crab Macque Choux.”

From the mastermind behind culinary destinations such as Restaurant August, Lüke, Besh Steak and La Provence, one may expect to get a cookbook containing lists of complicated procedures and formulas, but quite the opposite is true. Along with his generous amounts of cooking advice, Besh has included mouthwatering photography and informative sidebars that highlight certain ingredients to aid the at-home chef in creating delicious, down-home dishes.

Get John Besh's My Family Table: A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking on


Reviewed by Cara Trump

Watch our exclusive video interview with John Besh about his cookbook.
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