Jul 15, 2010 6:56 AM by Sharlee Barriere
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - The culture of Acadiana is inextricably
intertwined with its music and food. Carolyn Shelton pulls all of
those elements together in her new cookbook, "Zydeco, Blues and
The focus is Creole cuisine from the people of African descent
who live in the area.
The book features recipes from a number of well-known musicians
from around the area, including Terrance Simien, Carol Fran and the
late Zydeco Joe Mouton from Lafayette Parish. From St. Landry
Parish are recipes from the mother of Geno Delafose, Goldman
Thibodeaux and Zyedeco Joe Citizen.
"I'm highlighting a lot of old and young zydeco musicians,"
said Shelton, a Youngsville native who has lived in other parts of
the country much of her adult life. "My attempt is to, I guess,
kind of tell their story, share their contributions and give them a
Shelton grew up in the country near Youngsville under the
influence of her mother, Angelina Zeno Mitchell and grandmothers
Antoinette Roy Prejean Zeno and Laura Richard Mitchell.
"And my great-grandmother, Malee, didn't speak a word of
English," Shelton said. "She would be talking to us in French and
she'd be eating that couche-couche in a bowl."
When Shelton was a child, she moved to Houston with her mother,
who returned to Youngsville, then back to Houston more than once.
But even in Houston, Shelton didn't entirely lose contact with her
"Because of the Louisiana connection, the language, the food,
the religion, the people of Louisiana formed their own community in
Houston, Texas," Shelton said. "It was a community called French
Town in Houston."
Shelton later married and became a flight attendant and traveled
the world before returning to southwest Louisiana nearly three
Over the years, she has had an interest in the food of the area.
This is her fourth cookbook.
"I never stopped writing cookbooks," she said. "They were
always small runs, but they gave me entree into TV shows and venues
where I could do cooking demonstrations. It provided me contact
with major companies.
But her goal is not so much to make money, but to highlight the
culture she has known all her life - not just the icons of the
culture, like zydeco musicians, but also the mothers and
grandmothers who are never publicly acknowledged for their
contributions to the food culture of the area.
Her greatest reward has been the feedback from people who
express their appreciation for the nod she has given to them
"I'm ecstatic about giving a voice to those old Afro-Creole
cooks. I didn't realize how rich my culture was until I left and
came back, traveling all over the country," Shelton said.
"I'm in love with the entire culture - the Creole, the Cajun,
the blacks, the whole gumbo pot."