Her ad is a fixture in Gambit's back pages, and if you're anything like me, you're intrigued by her sultry invitation to decadence: the smoldering gaze, the red bustier, the whisk dripping with batter. What exactly does cooking with a cougar entail? I sat down with Rosemary Donnelly, the cougar herself, to find out.


How did you become New Orleans' most prominent cougar?

I don't know about prominent, but I may be New Orleans' only published cougar.

So Cooking with a Cougar is a cookbook, not a service? Because I had visions of this sexy, scantily clad cougar coming over and making me omelets.

A lot of people think that because they don't understand the concept behind it. I would say it's an adult cookbook, but when you say that, it sounds like a porn thing. It's for couples, definitely, but you can cook the recipes by yourself.

The "Do Me In Caeser Vegetable Dip" and the "Fiesta Foreplay Soup" sound tasty.

The recipes are all very good. They're a mixture of my own that I've had in the family for a long time and other people's recipes. I've tried them all. I have 100 cookbooks up here, but none of them are anything like what I've done. This book is very eclectic.

How and when did you become a cougar?

I've been a registered nurse for 41 years. I work in the operating room, and (in 2009) several people asked who I was dating. He was about 55, and I'm 62. The same day I was called a cougar, I went home and on Animal Planet there was a story on cougars. I thought, "There's something to this." A woman cougar comes out of a cave after having her cubs. The male is gone and she is out there fending for herself. The cougar story is also about older women and younger men in our culture. We don't call the men anything. However, they have given a name to us: the cougar.

Have you always preferred younger men?

I don't have a history of dating younger men. If they are attractive with a lot of intelligence, then I really don't care how old they are.

So what does being a cougar mean to you?

It doesn't have to do with younger men. You are a woman and you've made it, and that's what being a cougar is all about. After Hurricane Katrina and divorce, I turned my depression into a cookbook. The story of the book is about how women can draw from their experiences in the past and put it to a positive effect for the future. And that is what I did. A lot of us do that.

So how can a woman become a cougar?

You've got to make yourself that way. Your friends will help you, but for the most part, you've got to have that inner strength. The ability within yourself to make a decision is the force that catapults you in another direction. It is the honest-to-God truth. You have to make that decision. (It's) just like stopping smoking no matter how much Chantix you take or straitjackets you go into. You've got to make that decision, and you can change your life.

Rosemary Donnelly signs copies of Cooking With A Cougar from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tonight at The Creole Grille & Bar (5241 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Metairie, 889-7992). Snacks like mini-cheesecakes, cookies, quiches and sandwiches will be served.