For anyone who loves Cajun food or is interested in American cooking or wants to discover a distinct and engaging new female voice—or just wants to make the very best duck gumbo, shrimp jambalaya, she-crab soup, crawfish étouffée, smothered chicken, fried okra, oyster bisque, and sweet potato pie—comes Mosquito Supper Club.
Named after her restaurant in New Orleans, chef Melissa M. Martin’s debut cookbook shares her inspired and reverent interpretations of the traditional Cajun recipes she grew up eating on the Louisiana bayou, with a generous helping of stories about her community and its cooking. Every hour, Louisiana loses a football field’s worth of land to the Gulf of Mexico. Too soon, Martin’s hometown of Chauvin will be gone, along with the way of life it sustained. Before it disappears, Martin wants to document and share the recipes, ingredients, and customs of the Cajun people.
Illustrated throughout with dazzling color photographs of food and place, the book is divided into chapters by ingredient—from shrimp and oysters to poultry, rice, and sugarcane. Each begins with an essay explaining the ingredient and its context, including traditions like putting up blackberries each February, shrimping every August, and the many ways to make an authentic Cajun gumbo. Martin is a gifted cook who brings a female perspective to a world we’ve only heard about from men. The stories she tells come straight from her own life, and yet in this age of climate change and erasure of local cultures, they feel universal, moving, and urgent.
“ Mosquito Supper Club is more than a cookbook. It’s like a manual in how to be a Cajun. Step-by-step photos show how to make a roux, shuck an oyster or peel a crawfish. . . . In the book, Martin documents not just a kitchen, but a whole culture.”
—USA Today Network
“A love letter to Cajun culture. . . . The heart of the book gives way to utter beauty. Denny Culbert’s sweeping photos of bayous and fertile farmland will make you ache to travel. . . . Though recipes like crab jambalaya and crawfish étouffée thrum with their specific sense of place, [Melissa Martin’s] smothered chicken and seasonal treats like blackberry dumplings translate so well they could be Californian.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Each recipe and chapter is enfolded with stories, practical advice, and the lore of the bayous. . . . A book that will stand as a record for decades to come.”
“A celebration of contemporary New Orleans, a timeless glossary of Cajun cookery, and a careful, practical guide to gathering seasonal ingredients and preparing dishes from duck gumbo to pecan pie. . . . Since Martin’s restaurant is essentially a home kitchen, her recipes are easily adapted to the home cook.”
—Eater, Best New Cookbooks: Spring 2020
“ Mosquito Supper Club . . . is here to try to prevent the region’s Cajun cooking from slowly disappearing. Martin’s as much of a teacher as she is a cook; there’s barely a recipe in here that doesn’t have an extra paragraph of information on ingredient sourcing, prepping, and serving.”
—Epicurious, The 55 Books We Want to Cook From Now
“Martin shares what makes Cajun cookery so special and why it’s worth preserving. Dive into dishes like shrimp jambalaya, she-crab soup, crawfish étouffée—and don’t miss the sweet potato pie for dessert.”
“Rejoice in the photographer Denny Culbert’s evocative images and the chef Melissa M. Martin’s poetic storytelling. . . . [A] stunner of a cookbook.”
—Garden & Gun
“Evocative essays and painterly photographs of shrimping by moonlight and sugarcane-harvesting bring deeper meaning to dishes like Pillowcase Cookies and the delicious one I tried for Smothered Shrimp and Eggplant. Ingredients are simple and techniques straightforward.”
“Recipes, including seven kinds of gumbo, tell an evocative story of the Cajun way of life.”
“Martin shares the history, traditions, and customs surrounding Cajun cuisine and offers a tantalizing slew of classic dishes. . . . Writing in elegant prose, Martin is less concerned with the still-life plating of entrées than she is with painting the landscape of her upbringing.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“An inspiring choice for readers and cooks interested in authentic Louisiana cooking beyond Bourbon Street.”
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