cover image Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou

Mosquito Supper Club: Cajun Recipes from a Disappearing Bayou

Melissa M. Martin. Artisan, $35 (368p) ISBN 978-1-57965-847-2

Born and raised on the Louisiana bayou, restaurateur Martin shares the history, traditions, and customs surrounding Cajun cuisine and offers a tantalizing slew of classic dishes as cooked at her eatery in New Orleans, from which the title of the book is taken. Writing in elegant prose, Martin is less concerned with the still-life plating of entrées than she is with painting the landscape of her upbringing. “Water is our lifeline and our dark shadow,” she writes, reflecting a community dependent upon the fishing trade yet scarred by flooding and hurricanes. It’s no surprise then that the emphasis here is on seafood. Bottom-dwellers inhabit the opening chapters, with shrimp, crab, oysters, and crawfish each getting separate sections, though they also come together in clever ways: ground shrimp acts as the binder in Louisiana lump crab cakes and, conversely, crab-stuffed shrimp are dredged in an egg mixture containing mustard before being breaded in cornmeal and cayenne and fried. Gumbo is thoroughly examined and seven varieties are offered, including Maxine’s shrimp okra gumbo, borrowed from the author’s mother. Redfish and trout star in the fish chapter, then Martin moves to dry land with various salt pork options, okra side dishes, and, for dessert, beignets and blackberry dumplings. A sprinkling of heat and a lot of heart make this a must-have for any Cajun connoisseur. (Apr.)