Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Try Slow-Cooked Spoon Bread, Julie Kay's version of an old friend's recipe.

It was 40 years ago when we moved to Baton Rouge as a young couple just starting out. It wasn’t long before we realized how important food was to the culture here.

We connected with other young couples who also hailed from parts near and far, and we began a monthly dinner group.

The memories flooded in as I heard of the passing of one of our original members who had moved away many years ago. She was, simply put, a natural cook. Each month, for several years, we had themed dinners, anything from Mediterranean to sharing recipes from our home states.

We learned about Louisiana cuisine together, and we shared birthday parties for our growing families.

They were good times, bolstered by good food. Those times made me more open to trying new things and appreciating different flavors. I remembered her spoon bread because, at the time, I had no idea there was such a thing. I do not have her recipe, but played around with variations and a faded memory to recreate my version.

So, here’s to good food, good friends and irreplaceable memories.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at