Louisiana - The Pelican State
Updated: Aug 25, 2022
Other nicknames: The Bayou State, The Creole State, The Boot (my fave)
Two Truths and a Lie
Congress vehemently debated Louisiana's bid for statehood. One of the sticking points was whether the wealthy and influential free people of color in Louisiana would be eligible to vote. The House tried to leave that up to the state government, but the Senate insisted on whites-only suffrage before approving the new state constitution.
At 24 miles, the Manchac Swamp Bridge is the longest bridge in the United States. Worldwide, it is the longest that runs continuously over water. Alligators live underneath the concrete span and locals claim a werewolf named Rougarou haunts the structure.
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis said, “The bloodlines of all important modern American music can be traced to Congo Square.” People of color have gathered, drummed, and danced in this New Orleans park for the past 300 years.
The Recipe - Biscuit D’Espices
The French first colonized the port of New Orleans and spread up the Mississippi River in the 1600s. They named the land after Louis XIV, their Sun King. In 1769, France lost the Seven Years' War and ceded control of the territory to the Spanish government. Despite the new leadership, the French language and culture continued to dominate. Interestingly, the Spanish built most of the buildings within the French Quarter after a fire razed the original structures. Spain eventually returned the land to France but Napoleon sold it to the U.S. government almost immediately in 1803.
The formerly French citizens of Louisiana shocked the American newcomers with their Creole ways. Louisianans who enjoyed themselves on Sundays visiting cafes, dancing in the streets, and betting on horse races were particularly abhorrent to the Protestant newcomers. Violence erupted between the English-speaking and French-speaking citizens, and in 1836 the city of New Orleans was formally divided into Anglo and French districts for 15 years.
Eventually, the mores of the American South replaced the French ways – much to the dismay of the citizens of color. But those Cajun and Creole traditions are still remembered and honored to this day. Louisiana's music, culture, and food are unlike anywhere else in the nation. Gumbo, Jambalaya, and Beignets are some of the most famous dishes, but none of those are easily translated into a cookie recipe. I was stumped.
Luckily my sister took a trip to Louisiana to visit her in-laws. She returned with a bottle of Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup. For more than 100 years, farmers have brought their sugarcane to the town of Abbeville, Louisiana (Population 12,167) to be
milled into this sweet nectar. It has a rich aroma, similar to molasses but also reminds me of maple syrup. The Steen’s bottle includes a recipe for gingerbread cake which reminded me of a famous French recipe, Pain D’Espices, a rye bread sweetened with honey and heavily spiced.
I decided to make fancy gingerbread cookies, beautiful enough to be served in the French Quarter. I used all-purpose and rye flour to form the basis of my gingerbread dough. I sweetened the dough with Steen’s syrup and used generous amounts of cocoa, cinnamon, and ginger along with a touch of black pepper and star anise to flavor it. I was really excited to use a cookie mold for the first time. I love the beautiful rose design it created. When the cookies were still warm, I applied a simple glaze to highlight the design and preserve the cookie’s soft texture.
I love these cookies! They are so beautiful and were so much fun to make. I served them with a warm mug of cafe au-lait and sat on my porch on a warm, summer morning imagining I was down by the bayou. I will probably make a double batch next Christmas to hand out because they’re so delicious and beautiful.
Want to experience Louisiana for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
If air travel weren’t an utter mess right now, I would have made it to this state by now. I really want to visit New Orleans and revel in all the history, food, and music. For now, I’ll just turn on some zydeco and dance on my own. If you’re up for a bizarre read, check out “The Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole. It’s a really odd book set in this unique state.
Time for the whole truth
The Manchac Swamp Bridge is the second longest in the state, the nearby Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is longer.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)