Ghost Stories and Tall Tales of the American South

Cajun Recipes and Marie Jolie Story Background

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We’ll let storyteller J.J. Reneaux tell us how she came up with her story Marie Jolie, plus share some recipes:

“This is my all time favorite story. I heard the skeleton of the tale from my grandmother. The interpretation is my own, however, a combination of personal experiences and the stories passed down by several generations of grandmothers and aunts.

As a young woman, I worked for an oil seismograph crew along stretches of the Mississippi River. Sometimes when the sun was just coming up on the levee and fog lay like a shroud over the water, I thought I could hear Marie in the distance calling ol’ Grandmaman Alligator. Even though I knew it was only my imagination, I’d get a shiver down my spine, and I’d just have to look over my shoulder to make sure ol’ M’su Diable wasn’t behind me!

All of (my) stories derive from my life and experience. I heard most of them firsthand from family, neighbors, and friends in Louisiana and Southeast Texas. They were related in many different places on as many different occasions : fishing trips, fish frys, neighborhoodfais-dodos school playgrounds, holiday gatherings, the old ladies’ café au lait-sippin’ hen parties. Others I collected over the years from Cajun friends and acquaintances, not only in Louisiana but across the country as well, in the most varied of locations – airports, dances, nursing homes, schools. Young people usually told the stories in English, spicing them with a smattering of Cajun French. Older raconteurs often spoke in their beloved Cajun French, occasionally in Black French.

Like any good raconteur, I have told the tales for true as I heard them, but added personal touches, twists, and turns as the stories grew to be a natural part of my own life. For me, these tales are not museum pieces whose time was and is no more. They are alive and vigorous, brimming with joie de vivre – the zest for life that is the essence of Cajun culture.

Thus each of (my) stories contains a part of me – the beliefs, experiences, and people who have shaped my life. I share these tales with love and pride. It is my hope that readers and listeners will discover the beauty and spirit of the Cajun people and – perhaps more importantly – of their own lives as well.”

CAJUN RECIPES

J.J.’s Grateful Bread Pudding with Bourbon Street Sauce. Kings Cake is the traditional Mardi Gras treat, but here’s a recipe that great anytime of the year.

Ingredients for Grateful Bread Pudding:

Bourbon St.Sauce, about 4 cups day-old French bread cut in cubes, 2/3 cup sugar, 3 egg, a rounded 3/4 cup of packed dark brown sugar, 1 stick of melted butter, 2 cups evaporated milk, 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp. of vanilla, 1/3 cup bourbon, 1/2 cup raisins, 1 tsp. of grated nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 2 tbs of sugar, 1 tbs butter

To make J.J.’s Grateful Bread Pudding:

Oven: Preheat to 325 degrees. Lightly toast bread crumbs. Mix eggs and brown sugar. Add milk, vanilla and spices. Stir in bread crumbs and raisins. Cover and put in icebox for an hour. Coat a baking dish (about a 2 qt. size) with butter. Sprinkle it with 1 tsp of sugar. Melt butter on low heat. Take off the frothy part and cook until butter turns a light brown. (Don’t burn it!) Put butter in bowl to cool. Put bread mixture in baking dish. Drizzle butter over top and sprinkle with 1 tbs of sugar. Bake for about 40-45 min. until the knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Then bake at 425 for about 8-10 minutes to puff up and brown the top. Serve right away with Bourbon Street Sauce.

To make Bourbon St. Sauce:

Mix sugar and egg up well. Add melted butter. Cook in a double boiler over simmering water and stir until sugar melts and sauce thickens. Remove from burner and add lemon juice, nutmeg and bourbon. Serve over bread pudding.

Or, you can make Baptist Bourbon St. Sauce:

Same as above, except use vanilla instead of bourbon.

Short on time? Try my HOT COLD Ice Cream. It’s quick, hot and sweet like Marie Jolie!

J.J.’s Hot Cold Ice Cream:

Two scoops good quality French Vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle lightly (careful, cher!) with red cayenne pepper. Take a bit and let the party begin!

CAJUN LINKS

Would you like to learn more about the Cajun and Creole cultures? Then check out these sites:

The Gumbo Pages – Chuck Taggart, native New Orleanian and roots music programmer at KRCW in Santa Monica, CA has put together a fabulous site. It’s a “musical, culinary and cultural information source about New Orleans and Acadiana (or “Cajun country”). ” Well worth a visit.

New Orleans’ Home Page – Planning a trip to New Orleans? You may want to check out this online version of New Orleans’ main paper, The Times-Picayune.


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