“So here, in such context, we have an assemblage of classic and nouveau New Orleans cuisine. Some might innocently call it a cookbook. And if used in careful, Presbyterian moderation, it can be considered no worse than that. If you love New Orleans, if you love food, if you savor the great banquet of life, you could—once a week, perhaps—pull it down from a shelf and wallow in some joy. And then you could replace it on that shelf, perhaps a higher one, and leave it be for a fortnight or two. No problem.”
-David Simon, Preface of Treme.
This is one of the many delicious reasons I love cookbooks in general. They can sit for months unattended, just waiting to submerge you in adventure, comfort or Epicurean euphoria.
Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans is born of the HBO series of the same name, is more than a fan fiction collection of recipes. It’s more than a coffee table book. It’s more than a last minute souvenir at the studio’s gift shop. It is, like the preface boasts, a place to wallow in some joy.
It’s a beautifully-written, serious and irreverent book filled with a history, stories, and oh yes, recipes, from some of the world’s greatest culinary powerhouses and the actors who play them on TV.
With a tentative non-creole hand, I attempted some of the recipes. The Bacon-Wrapped Pork Loin with Smothered Greens, Butternut Squash and Cane Syrup Jus, the Black Beans and Rum a la Austin Leslie, and the Bayona’s Café au Lait Pots de Crème. So far my Louisiana passport hasn’t been revoked, so I consider this success. I’d place the degree of difficulty at around the intermediate mark, but then I don’t think there’s an expectation to replicate and master every dish after a single attempt. It’s a guidebook to taste and feel your way along a culinary journey that is distinctly New Orleans.
So if you’re looking around for a holiday gift idea, or just want to throw a Treme-themed party to say au revoir in the show’s final season, they’ve written a book on the subject.
And you should cook it.