Saturday, September 18, 2010


On Friday, Grandpère and I attended the grand opening and ribbon-cutting of the reconstructed plantation kitchen at the historic Edward Douglas White House a few miles up Bayou Lafourche from Thibodaux.

The national Historic Landmark, situated on the banks of scenic Bayou Lafourche near Thibodaux, Louisiana, was the residence of two of Louisiana' s foremost political figures, Edward Douglas White, who was governor from 1835 to 1839, and his son, Edward Douglass White, who was appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1894 and served as chief justice from 1910 to 1921.

Historians date the construction of the plantation home anywhere from the late eighteenth century to the 1830's due to the evidence of contrasting architectural features found within the house. The house more prominently represents the Creole-style cottage design that was popular in south Louisiana prior to the Civil war, but was transformed into a Greek Revival house in the 1840's, reflecting the impact of Anglo-American culture on the Acadian Bayou landscape in the mid 1800s.

The kitchens of the plantation houses were usually situated in separate buildings to keep the heat of the kitchen out of the house and to protect the house in the event of a kitchen fire. Below is the newly reconstructed kitchen.


The hearth of the kitchen where the food was cooked.


David, Ray, and Danny Weimer, pictured below, constructed the kitchen. That's Papa Ray with his sons on either side.

Twenty-six years ago, Ray and his two brothers, Mike and Ronnie, built our house. David worked on the house during the summer when he was 15 years old. Danny was only about 8 years old, so he maybe got to help pick up trash, but that's about all. Maybe his dad even gave him a few bucks for his work.

Chef John Folse, pictured below, and his staff cooked our meal in the kitchen hearth as in days of old.

Chef John Folse is the owner and executive chef of his Louisiana based corporations. His Lafitte's Landing Restaurant in Donaldsonville is recognized as one of the finest restaurants in and around New Orleans. White Oak Plantation, in Baton Rouge, houses his catering and events management company, "Voila!" Louisiana's Premier Products, his cook and chill plant in New Orleans, manufactures soups, sauces, entrees and meats for food service and retail establishments across the country. Chef Folse is the author of numerous books and publications available in bookstores nationally.

John is respected around the world as an authority on Cajun and Creole cuisine and culture. He hosts his own national television cooking show on PBS.

Chef Folse again and someone you may recognize standing at the preparation table. No, I did not help prepare the meal, but I was so bold as to ask for a photo with the chef, which I said would be viewed all around the world.

Chef Folse shared with us from his vast knowledge the history of Cajun cooking. The influences on what we know today as Cajun cooking are varied and are derived from seven main groups, which I list from memory: French, Spanish, German, Acadian, Native American, African, and Caribbean.

Our meal is pictured below.

The dishes included:

Grilled Cornish game hen


A mess of greens

Corn maque choux

Corn bread

Mixed green salad

All of the dishes were delicious - altogether an excellent meal.

We dined in tents set up under the oaks. The weather was warmish, but large fans strategically placed outside the tents circulated air so that we were not uncomfortable.

Grandpère standing next to one of the old oak trees on the property.


A large branch of the same oak tree.


The recipe for a mess of greens or voodoo greens is below. Back in the olden days, folks had to use everything that was edible, not just carrots, but carrot tops, not just turnips, but turnip tops, etc. The mess of greens prepared with Chef Folse's recipe was quite tasty.

Click on the recipe for the larger view.


  1. OK, I'm hungry now! :-p

    I love those old hearths, w/ the swing-arms for the cast-iron kettles . . . but I've never eaten from one before.

    [Mimi, have you ever seen that Mark Twain piece, wherein he lists ALL the things he wants to eat, when he arrives back in America? Makes me drool! Google sez: it's from A Tramp Abroad, Ch. XLIX, here. Scroll a little over half way down the page...

    Oh, and there's a new book about it! Maybe you could read it, Mimi, and report back? (I think it'd be up your alley. Or better yet, down your gullet! :-D)]

  2. My Mom met John Folse years ago. She actually had her recipe for bean soup chosen and he published it in his cook book - "Something old, Something New" I think it's called. Years later they called a few times and wanted to tape a segment in her kitchen making the soup for his show! My Mom wasn't one for attention and declined. I wish she would have done it.

  3. Sounds like you had a great time. I love trying out different kinds of food. The mess of greens looks like it would be yummy.

  4. Nice shack. I clicked through to Lafitte's Landing Restaurant but he hasn't got the menu online, which is a shame because I love reading menus. It looks fairly upmarket though. You do look like you're having fun in that pic with him, Mimi.

  5. JCF, I'll check out your links when I have time, luv. How about if you read the book and report back? I'll post your review here at WB.

    Melanie, your mom should have gone along. She might have been famous.

    DP, round these parts the E. D. White house is a cottage, or, as Cathy says, a shack, or a hovel. Take your choice.

    Actually, "cottage' is an architectural term used to describe a certain type of structure common to this area.

    Sorry, Cathy, no menus. I posted the mess of greens recipe especially for you and for anyone else who is interested.

  6. That voodoo greens recipe looks delicious. Do you know what, Mimi, I've just remembered I've got a Creole cookbook tucked away on my bookshelves, this one:

  7. I've got a book on New Orleans restaurants as well. I wonder if Chef Folse's is in it.

  8. Cathy, have you tried recipes from the Creole cookbook?

    Creole and Cajun cooking are different, but each has influenced the other. Many of the wealthy planters with homes and plantations in the country in Cajun areas, also had residences in New Orleans.

    My grandmother was a superb Creole cook, and I've lived in the Cajun area for 40 years, so I know the similarities and differences of the two styles of cooking.

    Chef Folse does not yet have a restaurant in New Orleans, but he plans a joint venture for a restaurant there which will open next year.

  9. I actually added a sentence to my last comment saying "I know Cajun and Creole cooking aren't the same thang", then I took it off because you had referred to both in your post above anyway and it seemed a bit redundant. I haven't tried any of the recipes from the book as yet. I've also got this book of recipes from the South:

    I have not made anything from that book either! I must do so.

  10. I see that the Lee brothers are from Charleston, SC. When my sister and I visited several years, ago, we had very good food there, along with food that seemed kind of bland.

  11. I have the feeling that cookbook aims to cover the whole of the American South in its reach. Whether the Lee Brothers are any good or not, I don't know. They managed to get a UK edition of their book, which suggests the publisher thought they were. Not that that means anything :-)

  12. Grandmere Mimi,
    I was there too and LOVED those incredibly delicious Voodoo Greens. Was search9ing for the recipe when I came across your blog. Thanks!
    Arthur in New Orleans

  13. Yes, thank you for the Voodoo Greens recipe from me too, Mimi - I shall try it as soon as I get the chance.

  14. Hi Arthur. Welcome to my humble blog. Wasn't the food delicious? And the greens!

    I visited your blog, and I like it. I'm honored to see that I'm on your blogroll. I wish we'd had a chance to meet and chat on Friday. As you may know, I'm a native of New Orleans, and I still love the old girl, passionately, and I still miss her.

    Thanks for visiting and leaving a word. If not for my gourmet cook friend, Cathy, I may not have posted the recipe. I'm glad you'll find it useful.

    And you, too, Cathy.

  15. Mimi, it was incredibly generous of you to allow that man to pose with you. I bet he'll become famous now. Maybe he'll even get written up in Huffington Post.

  16. Lisa, it's incredibly generous of you to say that. I'm going to Chef Folse's web site to give him a link to this post which make him famous. ;-)


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