Hearn’s “La Cuisine Creole,” was published in 1885.
The image we have today of New Orleans as beautiful and mysterious, dangerous and decaying, is due in large part to Lafcadio Hearn. Hearn, born in Greece and schooled in England, moved to New Orleans from Ohio in 1877. He was a journalist who worked for the Daily City Item and the Times-Democrat newspapers. Hearn eventually began writing about New Orleans for national magazines including “Harpers’ Weekly” and “Cosmopolitan.”
Through his writing, Hearn “virtually invented the notion of Louisiana, more specifically New Orleans, as idea and symbol,” writes S. Fredrick Starr who, edited a collection of Hearn’s writings, “Inventing New Orleans,” published in 2001.
Hearn wrote about Creoles, voodoo, ghosts, the city’s food, crime, corruption, mosquitoes and weather.
“Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes...but it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio,” he wrote in a letter to a friend in Ohio.
Hearn wrote books about local culture too, including, “La Cuisine Creole,” a cookbook; “Gombo Zhebes,” a collection of Creole proverbs; and a short novel, “Chita, A Memory of Last Island.”
Hearn left New Orleans in 1888 and eventually moved to Japan, where he became revered and beloved by the Japanese for his portrayal of their country and culture.