Celebrate Tradition

Bonfires on the levee in St. James Parish. Ornament swaps. Treetrimming parties. White Elephant exchanges. Charlie Brown Christmas watch parties. Cookies for Santa. Christmas morning casseroles. This South Louisiana girl loves a good tradition.

As I wrote the recipes for this Lookbook, I embarked on a world tour of cultural traditions and celebrations that left me hungry for knowledge and understanding. What I love about my job is that when I research the food, recipes and ingredients from other cultures, I am reminded that we are not so different after all.

Empanadas gave way to Natchitoches meat pies and look a whole like Moroccan B'stilla. Cook up Jollof Rice with its pleasantly-scorched, crusty bottom or a skillet of saffron-rich Paella, and you'll suddenly be reminded of a spicy-rich cast-iron pot of Jambalaya.

As I enjoyed the satisfying cinnamon sugar crunch and heady aroma of piping hot Mexican Bunelos with warm spiced syrup, instantly French Quarter powdered sugar-puffed beignets came to mind. Completely different and exactly the same—all at once.

Here's my holiday wish: Browse these pages and get inspired to explore new cultures, understand differences and cook up something new. And if you share that meal with the ones you love, well, that's music to this tradition-loving South Louisiana girl's ears.

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