“Tujague’s Cookbook: Creole Recipes and Lore in the New Orleans Grand Tradition” by Poppy Tooker, Pelican Publishing Co., $34.95, 191 pages, hardcover
As anyone who has heard Poppy Tooker on her weekly radio show, “Louisiana Eats!,” knows, the native of New Orleans is passionate about saving Louisiana’s food traditions. Now, the cooking teacher and writer has turned her attention to Tujague’s Restaurant, the second-oldest restaurant in New Orleans and the home of America’s oldest stand-up bar.
She recounts the restaurant’s history in her latest book, “Tujague’s Cookbook: Creole Recipes and Lore in the New Orleans Grand Tradition.”
Guillaume and Marie Abadie Tujague established their restaurant in 1856 at 811 Decatur St., a few doors down from the famed Bégué’s Exchange, its closest competitor. When Madame Bégué died in 1906, her restaurant was taken over by her daughter and son-in-law. In 1914, Jean-Dominic Castet, an employee at Bégué’s, and Philip Guichet Sr., who had purchased Tujague’s shortly before Guillaume Tujague died in 1912, went into a business partnership to buy Bégué’s. They moved Tujague’s into the Bégué’s location.
Tooker opens her book with the story of how Tujague’s was almost closed in 2013 when its proprietor, Steven Latter, died unexpectedly and his brother and co-owner, Stanford Latter, planned to sell the property. She recounts how preservationists and residents rallied behind efforts to save the restaurant. Shortly after, Stanford Latter decided to enter into a long-term lease agreement with his nephew, Mark Latter.
The younger Latter then began a much-needed facelift for the restaurant, Tooker writes, and also updated the menu. However, the menu still includes the two dishes that built Tujague’s reputation — a spicy rémoulade sauce for cold shrimp and beef brisket boiled with vegetables and served with a horseradish sauce. Recipes for both dishes are in Tooker’s book, along with another longtime favorite, the garlicky Chicken Bonne Femme.
The cookbook’s first chapter offers recipes for cocktails still served in the bar. Next come recipes for “The Butcher’s Breakfast,” in the tradition of Bégué’s and Tujague’s original owners; appetizers and salads; gumbos, bisques and soups; main courses; side dishes; and desserts.
Among the recipes are Whiskey Punch, Eggs Sardou, Madame Bégué’s Stuffed Eggs, Creole Cream Cheese Pie, Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab Ravigote, Crawfish Florentine, Seafood Stuffed Eggplant and Tujague’s Pecan Pie.
The book is illustrated with numerous black-and-white photos from Tujague’s private collection, along with color photographs of completed dishes by New Orleans photographer Sam Hanna.
Tooker takes the reader on a historical culinary tour from the 1850s to the present with “Tujague’s Cookbook,” which will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed a meal or a drink there.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.