COOKBOOK: Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen, is the latest tome in the Emeril Lagasse cookbook cannon. More than 100 updated and refined recipes are included in the book, which Lagasse deems his most personal, and it also includes instructions on technique, a list of basic cookware for every kitchen, what to have in the pantry and step-by-step photo tutorials, making it the perfect starter cookbook or gift for a more experienced home cook. Personal stories and anecdotes are peppered throughout the book, including the story of being lured to New Orleans by Dick and Ella Brennan to take the helm at Commander’s Palace as a successor to Paul Prudhomme. Not only is the book a glimpse into the life and cooking of this famed chef, but it’s also perhaps the one you should buy if you’re only going to own only one, as evidenced by Lagasse’s own words in the forward where he writes, “I am very proud of this book – it’s my ultimate collection, curated over a lifetime of cooking.”


TRAVELOGUE: Lovers of Southern literature, its authors and their hometowns, which often wind up as central locations and characters in their novels, will want to read and plan trips based on Margaret Eby’s, South Toward Home: Travels in Southern Literature. Eudora Welty’s garden in Jackson, Mississippi, William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and Flannery O’Connor’s peacocks are but a few points of interest in the journey. As luck would have it, fans of John Kennedy Toole’s posthumously published, Pulitzer Prize-winning Confederacy of Dunces now can enjoy a tour of the hot dog carts frequented by the book’s slovenly, eccentric Ignatius J. Reilly. With considerable biographical and historical background included, Eby’s prose plays to an audience who likely has already embarked upon more than one pilgrimage to a literarily significant locale and gives the fans what they crave and perhaps inspiration for a few new vacation destinations.


ELECTRONIC POP: You don’t have to be a “day one” fan of New Orleans’ Mutemath to appreciate their newest album, Vitals. Set for release this fall, the synthpop packed album grabs your attention from the first note. While most of the album is uplifting and sounds like something you would play on a road trip, the seventh track, “Composed,” allows the listener to focus on the vulnerability and emotion of lead singer Paul Meany.



Book reviews by Melanie Warner Spencer, CD review by Johnny Heatrock

Please send submissions for consideration, attention: Melanie Spencer, 110 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Suite 123, Metairie, LA 70005.