If the shelf hadn’t crashed, Evangelines Creole Home Kitchen Recipes would still be stuffed in between cookbooks, unnoticed and forgotten.
It’s not that Cheryll Guilbeau didn’t know about the recipe book. It was inherited from her grandmother, Carmen Bulliard Montegut, whose father Edmond Bulliard founded and operated Evangeline Pepper & Food Products in St. Martinville.
Bulliard’s company released the 19-page brochure in 1960 with joint recipes for cush-cush, sucre brule, and chicken okra gumbo – all for 50 cents.
Guilbeau remembers the recipes. They were the same dishes from her childhood visits to her grandmother’s house.
But the pamphlet was out of sight, out of mind for years, until Guilbeau’s pantry shelf in her Lafayette home collapsed under too much weight. Make this book heavy because it was filled with some of their collection of 300+ cookbooks.
And while we were cleaning up the mess, the pamphlet came out with its mix of family memories and history, all leading to a lonely chimney standing in a field on the outskirts of St. Martinville.
It is all that remains of Guilbeau’s great-grandfather’s business, although several of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren revived the business through Peppers Unlimited of Louisiana, Inc. If you download the company’s online cookbook, you’ll see the same recipes as Guilbeau’s brochure.
No surprise. Same family, same recipes, right? Perfection cannot be repaired, and Guilbeau recalls that those recipes were perfect back then.
They are so perfect today that when Guilbeau saw a recipe on the Lafayette Memories group’s Facebook page, she knew it was the same one passed down from her great-grandmother to her grandmother.
And when in doubt, she had the book.
“When I saw that, I was like, ‘Oh, well, that’s from my great-grandfather’s factory, so I sent it back,'” Guilbeau said. “It was crazy how many people were interested in it.”
The group members started asking questions. One even posted a photo of Edmond Bulliard’s St. Martinville factory with their local landmark, an oversized bottle of Bulliard’s Evangeline Brand Red Hot Sauce, looming over them.
Guilbeau is related to the Bulliards through her mother who passed away last year and was the founder of the legendary outdoor history of Lafayette, Pack & Paddle. Guilbeau does not claim to have any direct connection to the revived family business. Her immediate family settled in Lafayette, where Guilbeau now runs the gift shop at the Hilliard Art Museum at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Still, the family history is part of their own.
In 1910, her great-grandparents Edmond and Louise Bulliard developed and bottled a cayenne pepper sauce in their St. Martinville kitchen. In the story on its website, peppersunlimitedofla.com, Peppers Unlimited states that this was the cayenne pepper sauce sold commercially.
“From neighbors and friends to palates around the world, Edmond and his nine children grew their home craft business into an international industry that at its peak employed nearly 400 members of our community,” continues the Peppers Unlimited story. “One hundred years and four generations later, Peppers Unlimited of Louisiana, Inc. continues the family legacy — bottling peppers to perfection through a community-based company with a global reach.”
“He was in direct competition with the McIlhenneys at the time,” said Guilbeau.
It refers to the McIlhenney family’s Tabasco hot sauce, which is still mixed and bottled in Avery Island, near New Iberia.
Now, Peppers Unlimited Founder and Corporate President George E. Bulliard Sr. continues the family tradition.
But for Guilbeau, that tradition can be found in her great-grandmother’s cookbook. Her copy is signed in her grandmother’s handwriting on the cover with “ca. 1960”.
“And the recipes my grandmother used growing up are the same recipes in my great-grandmother’s book,” Guilbeau said. “My mother was a businesswoman and didn’t cook until after she retired. She opened Pack & Paddle in Lafayette in 1974, and my father was the area’s first pediatric dentist. Pack & Paddle started and eventually left his practice to help my mother. So my grandmother taught me how to cook.”
Guilbeau recalls summer days at her grandparents’ camp in the Atchafalaya Basin, which featured a full kitchen. Despite this, her grandmother often chose to cook outside.
“She put a pan on a stove that looked like it was meant for cooking crawfish,” Guilbeau said. “And we loved it. We had so much fun at this camp.”
Some of Guilbeau’s best memories of those summers can be found in the old booklet – memories that might have stayed out of sight, out of mind, if her pantry shelf hadn’t collapsed.
From “Evangeline’s Creole Home Cooking Recipes.” The recipe says: “An old-fashioned iron pot is an excellent utensil; This dish can also be served with ‘Sucre Brule’.”
2 cups cornmeal
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1½ cups milk or water
½ cup cooking oil, heated well
1. Mix the first four ingredients thoroughly, making sure it’s not too dry.
2. Put in hot oil and let it form a crust.
3. Stir well and simmer on low flame, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
4. Serve with milk as a muesli or pour Evangeline Old Tom Pure Cane Syrup on top and serve with a glass of milk.
From “Evangeline’s Creole Home Cooking Recipes”
25 pounds of crayfish
1 cup cooking oil
3 large onions, finely chopped
1 cup flour
salt, to taste
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional)
Dash, Evangeline Powdered Red Pepper, or Evangeline Hot Sauce
3 sticks of chopped celery (optional)
½ sweet green pepper, chopped finely parsley and onion tips
1. Weed out crabs, remove dead ones, wash thoroughly and kill by broth.
1. Pick fat and tails and add to bowl. Gradually add the flour to the cooking oil, cook over a low heat until it is a dark golden brown and the white film from the roux has disappeared.
3. Add onions, celery and green peppers.
4. Cook until translucent. Add crabs and fat, simmer until fat comes to the top.
5. If the stew is too thick, add boiling water until the right consistency is reached.
6. Add onion tips and parsley and serve with rice or French bread.
Millie’s Spaghetti Supreme
Serves 12 generously
From “Evangeline’s Creole Home Cooking Recipes”
2 pounds round beef, ground
2 large chopped onions
2 small cans of tomato sauce
1 #2 canned whole tomatoes
1 large can of mushrooms
½ cup cooking oil
1 stick of butter
1 small can (4 ounces) allspice, chopped
½ cup celery, finely chopped
½ cup paprika, chopped
1½ pounds American cheese
1 12-ounce package of spaghetti
Salt, black pepper to taste
Dash, Evangeline powdered red pepper
1. Fry the minced meat and onions in cooking oil, add the garlic and tomatoes and tomato sauce and let it cook.
2. In a separate pan, sauté mushrooms, allspice, celery and green peppers in butter over low heat until tender.
3. Then add to the meat. Cook for a few minutes and season with salt and black and red pepper (dilute with a little water if too thick).
4. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti and finely grate cheese.
5. In the casserole, alternate layers of meat mixture, spaghetti, then cheese, finishing with cheese.
6. Continue until the ingredients are used up.
7. Bake in moderate oven 20 to 30 minutes.
Ail au lie mayonnaise
Evangeline’s Creole Home Kitchen Recipes
Add to mayonnaise according to your favorite recipe:
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Chopped olives, celery and green peppers to tastee
¼ teaspoon Evangeline Worcestershire sauce
3 to 5 drops of Evangeline Hot Sauce
Salt to taste
Mix thoroughly, ail au lie mayonnaise is the ideal salad dressing for fried fish (Gaspergou, Red Fish or Red Snapper), shrimp or crab meat.