The Delta Queen Cookbook: The History and Recipes of the Legendary Steamboat by Cynthia LeJeune Nobles

51kvGDFbV7L._SX218_BO1204203200_QL40_.jpg Author Cynthia LeJeune Nobles
Isbn 9780807145371
File size 36MB
Year 2012
Pages 296
Language English
File format PDF
Category cookbooks


The Delta Queen Cookbook The Delta Queen with American flags (From the collection of The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County) ii  The Delta Queen Cookbook Cynthia LeJeune Nobles The Delta Queen Cookbook The History and Recipes of the Legendary Steamboat Louisia na State Univer sit y Pr e ss     Baton Roug e Published by Louisiana State University Press Copyright © 2012 by Louisiana State University Press All rights reserved Manufactured in Canada First printing Designer:  Barbara Neely Bourgoyne Typefaces:  Arno Pro and Myriad Pro, display; Whitman, text Printer and binder:  Friesens Corporation Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are by the author. “Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice” @1995 Pay The Band Music Music & Lyrics by Rich Campbell All rights reserved. Used by permission. (recorded by Cadillac Moon on Plug Me In, SNV Records) Recipes for Banana Pudding, Meringue, Southern Praline Pecan Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, and Unbaked Pie Crusts (9-inch) were first published in The Soul of Southern Cooking (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989), by Kathy Starr, and are reproduced by permission of the University Press of Mississippi. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Nobles, Cynthia LeJeune, 1954– The Delta Queen cookbook : the history and recipes of the legendary steamboat / Cynthia LeJeune Nobles. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. isbn 978-0-8071-4537-1 (pbk. : alk. paper) — isbn 978-0-8071-4538-8 (pdf) — isbn 978-0-8071-4539-5 (epub) — ISBN 978-0-8071-4540-1 (mobi) 1. Cooking, American—Southern style. 2. Cooking—Mississippi River Region. 3. Delta Queen (Steamboat) I. Title. TX715.2.S68N63 2012 641.5975—dc23 2011051512 The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources.  ∞ For Howard Special Thanks to Terry G. Newkirk, CEC, AAC Red Beans and Rice, recipe on page 99 vi  The Delta Queen Cookbook Down in New Orleans you can go for a ride Up the Mississippi, muddy and wide Big red paddle wheel will cruise you along Louisiana cookin’ will never steer you wrong Delta Queen shines in the moonlight Creole chef cure your appetite, serve up Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice Music and lyrics by Rich Campbell; recorded by Cadillac Moon Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice Blackened redfish, crawfish so nice Jambalaya, fill your plate twice Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice Creole maids keep the boys blood pumpin’ Steamboat pilots got the ladies’ hearts thumpin’ The band kicks in, and then there ain’t no excuse Your hips start shakin’ and your limbs all come loose Delta Queen shines in the moonlight Creole chef cure your appetite, serve up Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice Blackened redfish, crawfish so nice Jambalaya, fill your plate twice Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice Under the Hill at Natchez you’ll be throwin’ down Laughing and singing, good times all around There ain’t no party like it from Miami to Nome You’ll promise yourself you’re never going home Delta Queen shines in the moonlight Creole chef cure your appetite, serve up Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice Blackened redfish, crawfish so nice Jambalaya, fill your plate twice Filé Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice Buttermilk Pancakes, recipe on page 51 foreword by Captain Clarke C. “Doc” Hawley  xi Introduction  1 1 The California Connection The First Years of Service  9 Contents 2 Mess Hall Days The Queen Joins the Navy  30 3 Hello Cincinnati A New Home in America’s Heartland  44 4 At Home with the Greenes  58 5 “Play Your Music”  75 6 The Frenzied Seventies Peril, Promotions, and a New Sister  90 7 Decking Out for a President The Carter Family’s Trip  104 8 Sailing Out of the Twentieth Century  118 9 Saved Again, a Couple of Times  146 10 Themes and Traditions  158 11 Passing Time aboard the Queen  200 12 The Cookhouse  214 13 Mimosas, Beer, and Ghosts  233 14 The End?  243 Coda  263 acknowledgments  265 references  269 general index  273 recipe index  279   ix Oyster Po-Boy, recipe on page 96 Foreword what kind of food was served to steamboat passengers? Where was it prepared, and how was it cooked? Were the meals as glamorous as legend claims? Cynthia Nobles answers these questions by drawing on her research about the history, cuisine, and recipes of the best-known American overnight boat of the twentieth century, the iconic Delta Queen. In the formative years of steamboat passenger service on the Mississippi River (the 1820s through 1830s), the boats were still primitive a≠airs that served as floating dormitories with limited amenities and communal toilets. The galleys (or cookhouses, as they were called then) were cramped and often in dank, unlighted hulls. The fare was basic and generally poor, on a par with meals served at the typical boardinghouse of the time. And it is said that passengers sometimes had to help provision their boat by hunting along the riverbanks. A British traveler named Mrs. Frances Trollope details the table etiquette (or lack of it) found on steamboats of this period in her Domestic Manners of the Americans (1832): “The total want of all the usual courtesies of the table, the voracious rapidity with which the viands were seized and devoured; . . . the frightful manner of feeding with their knives, till the whole blade seemed to enter the mouth; and the still more frightful manner of cleaning the teeth afterward with a pocket knife . . . the dinner hour was to be any thing rather than an hour of enjoyment.” Food service had changed dramatically by the mid-1800s when steamboat captains, who were often the boats’ owners, got the message that “groaning boards,” gargantuan bu≠ets, attracted passengers. By the time grand meals were the trend, boats were larger and faster, and they featured private rooms and dining tables—no more communal   xi table. The increased space on the boats allowed for chickens, cows, and pigs to be carried on board and butchered in spaces unseen by passengers. (The last butcher shop on an inland riverboat was carried on the Delta Queen until 1968, as was the last bakery.) It was di∞cult to keep fruits and vegetables fresh on nineteenth-century steamboats, so those needs were met by purchasing fresh produce at freight and passenger stops at towns, farms, and plantations. The Delta Queen continued this practice through 1968, and bought melons, fruit, and vegetables at U.S. government locks, where lock personnel often maintained on-site gardens. This abundant dining was a companion to overall sumptuous accommodations. In 1883, in his immortal Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain wrote, “The steamboats were finer than anything on shore. Compared with superior dwelling-houses and first-class hotels in the [Mississippi] Valley, they were indubitably magnificent, they were palaces.” It was my good fortune to work on board the Delta Queen when she was still operated by the Greene family. Until the late 1960s, these icons of Cincinnati steamboating were well known for keeping their old retainers on board as long as possible. I was also lucky to work with outstanding cooks such as George Peters and Charley Clay, the latter a veteran of the famous Lee Line out of Memphis, as well as waiters Claude Fry, Mack David, and Mose Englin, who hailed from the Tom Greene, Chris Greene, and Queen City. I could not hear enough about their adventures, and I could not eat enough of their good food. Serving variously as mate, pilot, and master, I was from 1965 to 1968 general manager under the tutelage of Letha C. Greene, president of Greene Line Steamers, and all the while doubling in brass as co-captain of their only boat, the Delta Queen. After I retired from the New Orleans excursion steamer Natchez in 1991, my wanderlust sent me back upriver to pilot or command the Delta Queen and her progeny, Mississippi Queen and American Queen. In these pages, Cynthia Nobles has thoroughly captured the gastronomic essence of the legendary Delta Queen when the boat was both the grand old lady and the bestknown vessel on the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Nobles’s research is, to me, quite amazing, even going back to the Delta Queen’s U.S. Navy service in San Francisco harbor during World War II. All this brought back memories, some of which made me realize that a chance to repeat my life’s work would be welcomed with no hesitation and few changes. captain clarke c. “doc” hawley New Orleans, 2009 xii  foreword The Delta Queen Cookbook This page intentionally left blank Introduction for most years from 1927 through 2008, the fabled stern-wheel steamboat Delta Queen paddled up and down America’s inland waters as a luxury hotel that delighted passengers with unparalleled views, snug accommodations, rousing entertainment, and hearty, down-home food. The Queen’s historical enchantment—it was, after all, the world’s longest-running authentic overnight wooden steamer—was the main draw. But most passengers also looked forward to sitting down to whatever was cooking in the galley (or cookhouse, as the kitchen was called on early riverboats). And whether it was fried chicken, creole gumbo, simple pancakes, or a complex crawfish en croûte, the Delta Queen’s food almost always received high marks. Sometimes, of course, experiments with food trends fell flat, and the magic of sailing on a legend made the occasional tough cut of beef seem tender. But many dishes were stellar and could have easily stood up to what was served on the swankiest ocean liners. The most remarkable thing about the Delta Queen’s food, however, is that it was served over the span of eighty-two years. This record of longevity would be amazing even for land-based restaurants. Instead, it was accomplished in a moving galley that was stiflingly small, and one that did not have access to needed ingredients at a moment’s notice. As with steamboats of old, it was not uncommon for a Delta Queen cook to slip ashore and try to find needed supplies. But in spite of this logistical challenge, the Orleans Room, the boat’s only dining room, served meals promptly. Soups were hot and salads were well chilled. Linens were starched, servers were in uniform, and after the advent of the computer, most meals were accompanied by printed menus. On each trip, menus changed daily, and deciding what went on them involved input from many sources. The overall vision of what was served was always molded by the   1 paddleboat’s owner. From the sophisticated California Transportation Company to the unyielding U.S. Navy, and from the folksy Greene family to the string of trendy corporations that followed, the home o∞ce always set the template for the food’s style. Galley details and actual menu creation fell on the shoulders of chief stewards in the early years, and later these duties went to corporate or executive chefs. Another huge influence on the Delta Queen’s food story was her passengers, with an extraordinary number of them repeaters. While other inland riverboats have average repeats between 25 and 30 percent, at times the Delta Queen enjoyed an astonishing 70 percent in returning passengers. This rate sometimes reached 100 percent, with many who had taken twenty-five, fifty, or even more than one hundred trips. A typical passenger list would include the occasional honeymooners, middle-aged professionals, and families with children. But the overwhelming majority belonged in a category that Letha C. Greene, a former owner of the boat and author of Long Live the Delta Queen (1973), describes as mostly “past the halfway mark of life or even into advanced age.” Surprisingly, most of this “well-seasoned” group hailed from the West Coast, Florida, and the Northeast, not from towns along the Mississippi River. Not surprisingly, they expected top-notch service and food. They certainly could a≠ord it, and they were not shy about letting a waiter, chef, or maître d’ know if the galley had failed. The boat, like the cookhouse, was small—only 285 feet long and 58 feet wide—and held just 174 overnight passengers in 88 staterooms, her size downright minuscule compared with today’s mega–cruise ships. But despite her compact size, the Delta Queen entertained presidents, movie stars, and jazz-era tycoons. She bobbed along the Pacific and Gulf coasts on a historic trip from Sacramento, California, to New Orleans through the Panama Canal. She then spent the biggest part of her life sailing the Western Rivers System, a water highway made up of the unforgiving Mississippi River and the Ohio and Missouri rivers and their tributaries. Through it all, the Delta Queen’s cuisine intertwined with the cultures of the ports she visited and the nationwide culinary fads that came and went, this blending of regional foods a throwback to the exciting time when America was clamoring for rides on “fire boats,” the first form of mechanical travel. American passenger steamboats almost always o≠ered food service. But before you have steamboat cuisine, you must first have a steamboat. Early attempts at steamboats date back to at least sixteenth-century Spain, with significant advances made in eighteenth-century France. In the United States, most grade-schoolers learn that the “father of steam navigation” was Robert Fulton. However, the first U.S. patent for a steamboat actually went to Isaac Briggs and William Longstreet of Savannah, Georgia, on February 1, 1788, some nineteen years before the introduction of Fulton’s Clermont. Also preceding Fulton, Robert John Fitch and James Rumsey had battled it out for yet another U.S. pat2  The Delta Queen Cookbook ent for a steamboat (Fitch won it in 1791). Fulton is celebrated because his Clermont was the first commercially successful passenger steamboat, having made a 150-mile trip with passengers from New York City to Albany, New York, on August 17, 1807. Fueled by dry pine wood and an engine made in England, the Clermont pu≠ed along at five miles per hour (inland rivers use mph, not knots). More than a nifty new way to travel, however, this trip was significant in that it triggered an all-out transportation revolution. Faster transportation meant a faster way to get perishable food from one place to another, and in this respect, the Clermont deserves tremendous culinary recognition. Fortunately, the Clermont also left a hint of how its cookhouse managed meals. This circa 1807 newspaper advertisement lays down rules for onboard dining on the boat’s Hudson River route: All the passengers are to pay at the rate of $1.00 for every twenty miles, and half a dollar for every meal they may take . . . Passengers will breakfast before they come aboard . . . Dinner will be served up exactly at 1 o’clock; tea, with meats, which is also supper, at 8 o’clock in the evening; and breakfast at 9 o’clock in the morning. No one has a claim on the steward for victuals at any other time. The era of the Mississippi steamboat began when another Fulton-influenced design, the New Orleans, left Pittsburgh in the fall of 1811 and smoked its way down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to its namesake city, arriving in January 1812. The captain on this first Mississippi River steamboat trip was Nicholas Roosevelt, great-granduncle of President Theodore Roosevelt. He was accompanied by his pregnant wife, Lydia; the couple’s young daughter, Rose; and their pet Newfoundland, Tiger. Among the crew were a cook, a waiter, and two servants. At a stop in Louisville, Kentucky, Lydia gave birth to a son, Henry. We also know that while in Louisville, the Roosevelts hosted a dinner for new friends aboard the New Orleans at tables in the forward cabin. Unfortunately, we do not know what was on that early dinner party menu. Improvements to those first boats came fast as inventors tackled problems associated with maneuvering both deep and shallow water, on unruly rivers. Sunken trees and boat wrecks, known as snags, were particularly dangerous. Henry Shreve, a Pennsylvania flatboatman, receives the most credit for making the snag problem less hazardous. In 1816, Shreve’s Washington wowed the steamboat world with its shallow flat bottom and a widened and lengthened deck. The engine sat on a main deck topped by another deck, and everything was crowned with a pilot’s cabin—the design closely associated with today’s vision of tiered steamboats. Another huge improvement came in 1816 when the Chancellor Livingston started using coal. By 1824, fifteen steamboats were sailing on U.S. inland waters, and it was introduction  3 at this time that America started utilizing this cost-e≠ective way of shipping produce and goods. This new form of transportation o≠ered so much promise that New York governor DeWitt Clinton convinced the public to fund the Erie Canal, an artery that in 1825 became the most important trade route between the American West and Atlantic seaports. The reliability of steamers along this convenient waterway spurred the growth of agriculture in New York and Pennsylvania, a development that drastically lowered food prices, with the cost of staples such as flour dropping by as much as 75 percent. The first steamer in the American West was the Beaver, a side-wheeler that chugged along the Columbia River in 1835. The discovery of gold in 1848 stimulated the use of steamboats in California, with miners and their supplies winding their way up the Sacramento River to goldfields. Like those in California, early Western Rivers System steamers were mostly packets, boats with regular schedules that carried mail, commodities, and passengers. Sharing few of the frills with the likes of the Delta Queen, these boats were instrumental in streamlining inland immigration, including the horrific forced resettling of Native American populations. For westbound settlers, the steamboat meant that scouts did not have to risk ambush by traveling over unfamiliar terrain; now whole families were able to reach their destinations together. But while much safer, a trip on an early steamboat did not guarantee arrival in good health. These early journeys usually involved nights sleeping with livestock on cramped decks. Disease was rampant, fires were a constant threat, and boilers exploded regularly. To accommodate these recurrent tragedies, steamboats carried ample supplies of co∞ns. Even with Shreve’s improved design, early steamboats had an average life span of just five years. This grim statistic improved when safer tubular boilers were introduced in 1830. In 1840, Isaac Newton (the New York steamboat magnate, not the Sir Isaac of gravity fame) introduced a new fuel, anthracite coal, which cut fuel expenses in half. Newton is also credited with popularizing the “floating palace” when he lengthened two of his boats by sixty feet each—the Isaac Newton to 338 feet and the New World to a colossal 385 feet. In addition, he constructed double tiers of staterooms, introduced gas-lighted grand saloons, and surrounded the ships with galleries—all of which planted a seed for the change to luxury travel. But even though steamboats were getting more glamorous and did not explode as often, they were still vulnerable to snags. In 1842, engineer James Eads became wealthy after inventing a submersible diving bell that allowed him to safely salvage steamboat accidents. Around 1849, steamboating was in its heyday, its popularity aided by a surge of settlers attracted to the opening of the Minnesota Territory and vast swaths of untouched farmland. Farther south, cotton was fueling an economic explosion, and plantation 4  The Delta Queen Cookbook owners not only transported their crops aboard steamboats but also bought expensive furniture, imported food, and slaves directly from these floating department stores. During this time, an estimated eleven thousand steamboats clogged America’s canals and rivers, and they carried every imaginable commodity as well as families and the stereotypical slicked-down gamblers, banjo players, and ladies of opportunity. Steamboats were considered the height of luxury travel, but their cookhouses still operated under primitive conditions. Typical passenger boats stopped often “to wood” and to pick up coal for both the boat’s boilers and the cook’s cast-iron stove. Water for washing and drinking was generally hauled up in buckets directly from rivers, and produce came from farms along rivers and canals. Fresh meat and milk, however, were stored below deck and transported in the form of live cows, hogs, ducks, and turkeys, this menagerie of farm animals assuring that steaks and cream would not spoil in sweltering heat. Lack of refrigeration was an ongoing problem for nineteenth-century steamboat cooks. This is mildly surprising considering that even before the invention of steamboats, Boston-area ice barons were shipping their product on brigs to customers as far south as Cuba. This “frozen gold,” however, was almost exclusively saved for sale to onshore customers. When finally made available for steamboat cookhouse use, mostly after the 1890s, ice was served only to first-class passengers. Meats and produce seldom were put on ice, although dairy products sometimes merited refrigeration. In 1842, John Gorrie created the first crude refrigerator, but his sometimes toxic invention did not catch on in homes, or on steamboats, until the 1930s, when Thomas Midgley introduced Freon. Even though early steamboats usually had access to fresh food, the quality of meals served to passengers depended on the class of passage. For the upper classes, servants accompanied masters and, later, employers on the upper decks in private staterooms, and they often cooked for them onboard. Another option for the wealthy was the firstclass dining room, often called a dining saloon, with its largely African American wait sta≠ and menus with multiple courses. Meals were not included in the price for steerage passengers, customers who slept in small cabins filled top to bottom with berths. Deck passengers, the even lower class, slept and ate alongside the cargo on the main deck. Both of the economically priced classes either paid for food separately or brought their own. Some boats o≠ered stoves to deck passengers, and others even allowed the lower classes to dine with the crew. In addition to improving transportation, the steamboat must also be recognized for its part in diversifying the way America ate. Before steamboats, the oat farmers of Minnesota knew very little about the grits lovers in Mississippi, and the gumbo eaters in Louisiana were the stu≠ of myth. That all changed with the advent of the steamboat, a introduction  5

Author Cynthia LeJeune Nobles Isbn 9780807145371 File size 36MB Year 2012 Pages 296 Language English File format PDF Category Cookbooks Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare The world’s last authentic overnight wooden steamboat, the Delta Queen cruised America’s inland waters from 1927 through 2008, offering passengers breathtaking views, luxury accommodations, rousing entertainment, and southern-style feasts. For over eighty-two years, chefs in the small galley served memorable meals — from fried chicken and crawfish en croûte to strawberry shortcake and beignets. The Delta Queen Cookbook brings the Delta Queen’s story to life with an engaging historical narrative and over 125 recipes prepared by the steamboat’s former chefs during their tenures in the cookhouse. Nobles traces the story of the “Grand Old Lady” as she faced remarkable social, economic, and political challenges. The Delta Queen became a haven for illegal drinking during Prohibition, and she survived the effects of the Great Depression, World War II, and increasingly modern and sophisticated competition. Despite the obstacles, this flapper-era boat always found a seamless way to coddle passengers with cozy staterooms and delectable fare. Each chapter ends with authentic Delta Queen recipes — including Citrus and Watercress Salad with Chili Dressing, Roast Duck and Wild Rice Soup, Speckled Trout Pecan, Eggs Crawkitty, Steamboat Pudding, and more — proportioned and tested for home kitchens. The Delta Queen Cookbook includes interviews with former crew, chefs, and passengers; over ninety historical and full-color photographs; and vintage and modern menus. History buffs, steamboat lovers, and home cooks alike will revel in the memories and tastes that make the Delta Queen one of America’s best-loved national treasures.     Download (36MB) Vegan Bowls: Perfect Flavor Harmony In Cozy One-bowl Meals Mamushka: Recipes From Ukraine And Beyond Authentic Recipes From Korea(Authentic Recipes Series) The Deerholme Mushroom Book: From Foraging To Feasting Clean Green Eats: 100+ Clean-eating Recipes To Improve Your Whole Life Load more posts

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