From Coast to Coast: The Cuisine of Summer

From sea to shining sea, coast to coast, the hallmark summer celebration of freedom revolves around good times and great food.  The saltwater, freshwater and farm-raised cuisine of summer varies from coast to coast, but it is fried, boiled, steamed, blackened, poached, baked grilled and barbecued with this is how we do it love.  I love a good game of connect the food to the corresponding city and/or state.  When you think about it, food is the claim to fame of many cities and states.  Dedicated foodies travel coast to coast highways in search of gastronomy glory.  All gourmet restaurants, neighborhood cafes, seafood markets, crab shacks, beachside bungalows and river restaurants are open game.  Leave no oyster unshucked, no shrimp unpeeled, no stone crab unturned.

food-cities

I can’t tell you how many times I have begun a what’s for dinner conversation with the words, “I wish I had the recipe for insert memorable dish here we had when we were in insert memorable destination here.”

Gulf-CoastA misconception about Gulf Coast seafood dishes is that they are swimming in grease or hot sauce or both.  Granted, the key ingredient featured in many Gulf Coast region seafood dishes and recipes has been swimming at one time or another, but the measure of flavor, spice and heat varies from region to region.   I don’t need a map to tell me what part of the Gulf Coast I’m in-  just point me in the direction of the kitchen (indoor or outdoor) and the in-house spice cabinet.  The pot and the spice potions tell the tales.  Get it?

pascals-manale-restaurantPascal’s Manale via Explore New Orleans

Barbecue speaks the universal language of fire it up, throw it on and c’est si bon! I became a seafood barbecue believer the first time I tasted barbecued shrimp at Pascal’s Manale Restaurant in New Orleans.  You can’t talk the cuisine of summer without talking barbecue, and BBQ naturally brings the conversation around to potato salad.  I have not tasted this Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce  Potato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Recipe from Food & Wine, but the words barbecue and bacon have my attention.

potato saladPotato Salad with Bacon and Barbecue Sauce Recipe via Food & Wine

Boiling shrimp and crawfish is a way of life down Southern states of the Gulf Coast way.  I’m totally convinced the throw it all in one pot principle of shrimp and crawfish boiling sparked the crock pot revolution.

When Dave the Builder was working in the corporate world, we were active in the office supper club.  This group took a crawfish boil to new flavor heights, but the real deliciousness was surprisingly found in the “sides” that went into the pot.

crawfish-time-paintingCrawfish Time by Dianne Parks

Here’s what made the pot:

crawfish

whole yellow onions

garlic bulbs

lemons

celery stalks

whole carrots

link sausage

red potatoes

corn on the cob

cabbage

Let me tell you, the crawfish were tasty, but the vegetables were the hit of the night!  Our hostess whipped up a couple of skillets of hot cornbread and the crowd went wild.

Food for thought, people!

I found a great article, Crawfish Boil 101,  from NOLA.com that offers expert advice for the perfect boil.

catfish_cinnamon_chipotle1-710x1065Baked Cinnamon Chipotle Catfish with Sweet Pepper Slaw

Caught in freshwater or farm-raised, coasters love catfish.  Catfish is exactly what it is- a mild, delicious classic comfort food.  I’ve had catfish broiled, blackened, baked, poached, grilled, barbecued and stuffed. Given my plate of preference, I’ll have mine fried crisp with a side scoop of coleslaw, flour battered french fries, two lemon wedges and a couple of green onions.

classic-fried-catfish-lClassic Fried Catfish with Hushpuppies and Tartar Sauce

In the next Coast to Coast installment we’ll be going from Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the seafood is terrific!

Love your style!

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