New Orleans-based burlesque superstar Perle Noire discusses her Miss Exotic World titles, Josephine Baker, wardrobe malfunctions, and how Hurricane Katrina changed her life.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka Photographs: Shoshana, Through the Looking Glass Studio
How long have you been performing?
I’ve been performing since I could speak and walk as an actress, singer and of course I loved to dance around whenever I got the chance. Although I’m not formally trained, I still have such a passion for being onstage.
How long have you been involved with Bustout Burlesque?
I’ve been involved with Bustout Burlesque ever since Hurricane Katrina.
What made you decide to get involved in burlesque?
I fell in love with burlesque when I discovered Josephine Baker. Her story was so fascinating to me that I vowed to perform a tribute to her one day. So I started doing research on other burlesque queens and tried to find shows to audition for. The women seemed so empowered and free. I loved how glamorous and confident they looked. In New Orleans there was a burlesque musical called Backstage at Da Fonky Burlesk, and after performing in this musical I knew that I was meant to be a burlesque performer.
Burlesque is widely interpreted and means something different to many people. What is your definition of burlesque?
The definition is “to make a spectacle of” and I love that. Burlesque is not about taking off your clothes. True burlesque is about showmanship and creativity.
Tell me about your best moment(s) as a burlesque performer.
My audition for Bustout Burlesque was great because I met Dollie Rivas and Rick Delaup and that was the moment that sent off a chain reaction to my burlesque career. This moment followed winning Best Debut [at Miss Exotic World 2008] which lead me to London to perform in The Tease show with the mighty Immodesty Blaize, Kalani [Kokonuts] and Catherine D’Lish. Now I’m speaking with you as the Second Runner-Up Miss Exotic World 2009.
Do you have a worst burlesque moment or embarrassing story (wardrobe malfunction, accident, injury, etc.)?
I’ve been known to lose a pastie.
Tell me all about your experience at Miss Exotic World. What are your aspirations for next year?
I had such an amazing time at Miss Exotic World. Everyone in the community has been so helpful and kind to me. I remember when they called my name last year for Best Debut, I was in shock. It’s such an honor to perform on the stage and I still can’t believe I won at Exotic World twice. I really hope to become a burlesque queen one day.
Who is/are your inspiration(s)?
I’m so inspired by Josephine Baker, she was so ground breaking. I love to watch other performers; they inspire me all the time. I love the queens and upcoming queens such as Immodesty Blaize, Kalani Kokonuts, Catherine D’Lish, Dirty Martini and so many more.
What do you know about the history of burlesque in New Orleans, and what impact (if any) does that history have on what you do today?
New Orleans Burlesque was so vital to the burlesque scene. Bourbon Street was famous for its burlesque legends such as Wild Cherry. I’ve had the honor of performing on Bourbon Street and I’ve worked with Wild Cherry. The stories she’s told me about Bourbon Street, well you’ll have to ask her yourself.
Tell me all about the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. What are you most looking forward to about the weekend?
I’m so excited about the festival! It’s the first burlesque festival to feature a LIVE BAND! I’m competing for the title and I have to say, I’m extremely nervous. I can’t wait to watch everyone backed by a live band.
Were you there during Hurricane Katrina, and if so, what impact did it have on your life and/or your involvement in burlesque at that time? Would you say that New Orleans has now “fully recovered” or do you think there are any areas that may never recover?
I was in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina and I lost everything. This event made me more determined to live my life and pursue my dreams because everything really can change in the blink of an eye. The New Orleans Burlesque Fest is proof that New Orleans is recovering.
What do you like to do when you’re not performing, rehearsing, etc.?
When I’m not performing I’m working on performing again. I contact shows about performing as a guest performer and audition for plays.
Anything you’d like to add?
I would really like to thank all the burlesque queens before me. Thanks for taking a chance and opening up so many doors. The burlesque community has accepted me with open arms and I’m truly grateful.
All Photos taken at the Victorian House Bed & Breakfast on Rampart. www.victorianhousenola.com The staff was very hospitiable, the building was beautiful and has a rich history (it is over 100 years old, and after being a private residence, it had a run as a brothel beginning in the 1930s, before becoming the beautiful bed and breakfast it is today). I highly recommend The Victorian House to any NOLA visitors.
During our shoot, while sipping a vodka, sprite, and soda, Miss Perle Noir shared her infalliable Hangover Cure with me:
Two Pepto fast tabs (the melty kind, not the shaken kind) dropped into a glass of Sprite (Coke will do). Drink while still drunk, before you hit the pillow. Perle swears by it!
Story: Divertida Devotchka, Photos: Courtesy of Rick Delaup
Some of the biggest acts in burlesque will be appearing September 11 through the 13 at the New Orleans Burlesque Festival. The festival is the first of its kind in New Orleans since 2001’s Tease-O-Rama, and it’s shaping up to be one of the biggest burlesque happenings of the year. The event is boasting three nights of burlesque shows with live jazz, workshops with burlesque superstars such as Michelle L’amour, Jo Weldon and Catherine D’Lish, and panel discussions with New Orleans burlesque legends Kitty West (Evangeline the Oyster Girl), Wild Cherry, Tee Tee Red and Rita Alexander.
New Orleans burlesque has a very rich history, and I was lucky enough to discuss all of the details with Rick Delaup, the founder of the New Orleans Burlesque Fest and producer and creator of Bustout Burlesque. Delaup has almost 15 years of New Orleans burly-q research under his belt, making him a more than qualified source on the topic.
According to Delaup, the glory days of Bourbon Street burlesque were from the mid-forties to the mid-sixties. “The mid to late 1940s is when you started hearing about big burlesque stars like Stormy, Lilly Christine the Cat Girl and Evangeline the Oyster Girl,” said Delaup. “In the forties there were a lot of dancers who would come in and strip in the style of that time. In the late forties and in the fifties, they got more creative, using props like big oyster shells and champagne glasses. Things got even more imaginative, with more production value and more gimmicky shows.”
Evangeline the Oyster Girl headlined at the Casino Royale on Bourbon Street, rising out of a giant oyster shell and performing a dance with a massive pearl. She eventually dyed her hair green to make it look more like seaweed for her act.
Aside from the grandiosity of the performers, the Bourbon Street venues themselves were apparently quite a sight to behold. The most well-known locales were The Sho Bar, the 500 Club and the Casino Royale, which had raised stages with theatrical-style lighting and balconies from which spectators could watch the shows.
“The 500 Club was on the corner, so they had a great location,” said Delaup. “They could advertise from both sides and they big, tall windows with nearly life-size photos of the dancers in the windows and lots of neon lights. The outsides and entrances of the clubs were very attractive to crowds.”
Of course no discussion of New Orleans burlesque would be complete without mention of the music for which the city is most famous – jazz. According to Delaup, live jazz and burlesque were hand in hand all throughout the Bourbon Street hey-day.
“All the burlesque venues had live jazz. Louis Prima’s brother Leon Prima owned the 500 Club for a long time, and quite a few jazz musicians got started in strip clubs,” said Delaup. Legendary jazz saxophonist Sam Butera, who just recently passed away this June, got his start in Bourbon Street strip clubs when he was just a teen.
New Orleans may have a history of being a playground of debaucherous delights, but its image has changed quite a bit over the years. “It was the burlesque clubs, jazz clubs and shows that made Bourbon Street famous,” said Delaup. “Of course, there’s no semblance of that now; Bourbon Street is very different now.”
The glory days of Bourbon Street burlesque may have faded, but Delaup decided that a throwback to the old days was in order, which is why he created Bustout Burlesque in early 2005. The group consists of an average of 6 to 7 dancers (one of them being this month’s stunning spotlight burlesque performer, Perle Noire).
“We’re trying to give the audience the experience of what New Orleans nightlife was like 50 years ago while still being in the here and now,” said Delaup. “Some people who have attended our shows say they feel as though they’ve stepped back in time.”
Delaup says they’re heralded as the only authentic 1950’s style show because their entire hour and a half long show is performed with the accompaniment of a live band, which is something he decided to include in the New Orleans Burlesque Fest as well.
“It’s going to be a real challenge because all of the performers competing for the Queen of Burlesque title will be performing to live music, and some of them may or may not be accustomed to that,” Delaup said. “It will be very interesting to see how everyone does.”
In addition to the live musical accompaniment, Bustout is pretty serious about authenticity. There’s no neo-burlesque or visible tattoos in their shows. Delaup says there’s nothing wrong with either, but that their goal is to have acts that really look as though they could have come from the era.
“Our acts are very different from the average four minute strip act. They average seven to ten minutes per act, which is much more in line with the classic acts, which some could be as long as 20 minutes,” said Delaup. “A four minute song simply isn’t enough to adequately tease the crowd.”
The caliber of Bustout’s show is pretty astounding considering what they’ve been through during their existence. They premiered in March 2005 and just as things started picking up for them, Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005 and laid waste to all of their hard work.
“The show was destroyed,” Delaup said. “We lost all the costumes. The props were ruined. Performers scattered all over the country. Some returned. Some didn’t. It took half a year to restart everything from scratch.”
As soon as they were able to reassemble, they hit the ground running. Bustout Burlesque started back in March of 2006 performed every Saturday night for nine months at Tipitina’s in the French Quarter. They did runs at a cabaret and on Bourbon Street, but they’ve been performing monthly at the House of Blues for the past two and a half years.
As far as the city’s recovery from Katrina, Delaup says there’s still a lot to be done.
“New Orleans is still trying to bounce back from the storm. A lot of tourists probably wouldn’t notice because the French Quarter is rebuilt, so you don’t really see any damage in those areas,” Delaup said. “But we’re definitely not fully recovered.”
Delaup and his associates have been planning the New Orleans Burlesque Festival since October of last year, and we here at Pin Curl are quite confident that his efforts will pay off. If you haven’t already snagged tickets, you better do so quickly, because you’re not going to want to miss the opportunity to see who is crowned the new Queen of Burlesque in one of the most historically risqué cities in the country!
We asked Ginger Valentine to share her insiders’ tour guide to New Orleans as well as her favorite Louisiana recipes. Here’s what she had to say:
I lived in southeast Louisiana for about five years, and what an impression it left on me! Trips to New Orleans were frequent, and before I knew it, I had fallen in love (really fallen) with the city. I will never be the same. To keep my sanity I visit at least once a year. The following is a very short list of some of my favorite places to visit for food and drinks. I hope if you plan on going to the upcoming New Orleans Burlesque Festival that you will check out some of my favorite spots – you’ll probably see me there devouring a po’boy or giddy from one too many Pimm’s Cups.
Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club
This is the queen mother of all dive bars everywhere. Located near Tulane and Loyola in Uptown at 7612 Oak Street, this bar is nothing more than a glorified shack where you can get beer like Schlitz in a can. The bar is an old house and it’s in the middle of a residential area. It’s hard to tell whether it’s a home or bar. They say they open at seven, but things don’t really get going till 1 a.m. At my first sojourn to this truly locals-only bar, I found myself in need of the ladies room. You can imagine my surprise when a bartender led me to the end of the hall where there sat an exposed toilet. Ha-ha, joke’s on me. That one was just for show; they do have a private bathroom. Use it if you dare.
Café Du Monde
Sandwiched between the mighty Mississippi River and the French Quarter you will find Café Du Monde French Market on Decatur Street. Open 24/7, this is my favorite late-night spot for a quick pick me up after too many sazeracs and hand grenades. Famous for their scrumptious beignets (so much more than just a French doughnut) and café au lait with chicory, Café Du Monde is always packed no matter the hour. There is a perennial dusting of powdered sugar throughout, so think twice before wearing black.
That famous red and yellow hotdog cart that you find parked throughout the French Quarter is more than just ordinary street food – it’s a Crescent City tradition. Sure, some may scoff at a greasy hotdog bought from a vendor, but this has a literary connection that permanently endears them to me. Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces is part tall tale and part love song (albeit wacky one) to New Orleans. The main character, Ignatius Riley is briefly employed by Lucky Dogs, and what ensues is some of the funniest shit I’ve ever seen in literature. I suggest picking up a Lucky Dog and taking it to the corner of Canal Street and Bourbon where you’ll find a bronze statue of Ignatius Riley parked in front of the old store front of the D. H. Holmes department store.
You want tradition? You want unique cocktails and the best damn muffaletta you can wrap your hungry mouth around? Then you want to go to The Napoleon House located on 500 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. Built in 1797, story goes that this was a residence intended for Napoleon Bonaparte after his exile, but he died before he could move in. Now it’s the most famous place to get a muffaletta (call it a “muff” if you wanna blend in, but try not to giggle like me) and one of my favorite cocktails, Pimm’s Cup. The building really hasn’t changed much in 200 years, be sure to check out the cash register at the bar. And the bartenders wear arm garters there, which I think is really romantic.
If you want to get rowdy (I mean really rowdy), and don’t mind hitting up a tourist spot (but hey, I’ve even known some locals to have fond memories of this joint), then you have to go to Tropical Isle to get a Hand Grenade. Order the big one in the commemorative cup. About half way through your drink, you’ll swear it’s talking to you. Yes, it’s obnoxious and cheesy, but that’s usually how I like to start out my visit in the Quarter, but then again, I kind of turn into a hedonist once I’m in the 504, so I’ll just say I can’t help it.
Not far from the French Quarter, you’ll find Mother’s Restaurant on 401 Poydras Street. This is a cafeteria-style deli that serves po’boys so good it’s hard for me to express my feelings without using profanity. When you go to Mother’s this is what you get: The Ferdi Special. Baked ham, roast beef, debris (crusty bits of roast beef that fall off during the roasting process) and gravy crammed in between two perfect pieces of crusty french bread are the key players in the Ferdi Special. I’ve stood in the line that wraps around the block (hungover and in the rain!) to eat a Ferdi special, and I’d do it again (and again) in a heartbeat.
Laffite’s Blacksmith Shop
If you keep walking down Bourbon, and then walk a little more, you’ll come across one of the oldest bars in the country. Built sometime before 1792, this bar is lit by candle light, and it’s easy to imagine yourself transported back 100 or so years ago, that is until your cell phone rings. They have all the usual New Orleans cocktails here, but I suggest trying a sazerac. This whiskey cocktail is one of the oldest cocktails (which is why it’s great to order it here) and it has such a yummy and distinctive flavor that you’ll always associate with the magic of New Orleans. I think this place is a piano bar too, but I can’t be for sure. I could have had one too many drinks and found myself singing along to a song that only I could hear.
Click here for Ginger Valentine’s Red Beans and Rice recipe.
Brad Pitt visited New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina and was devastated by what he saw in the 9th ward. Even more disturbing was the overall sentiment that New Orleans would never be able to rebuild. He decided that doing nothing was not an option.
Pitt moved his family to New Orleans, where they spend much of their time, and put his love for architecture and his environmentally conscious sensibilities to work. The result is the Make It Right Foundation, which strives to do just that- make it right. Make It Right, working with Global Green and others, has embarked on one of the most unique and ambitious rebuilding efforts New Orleans has seen to date. The first eight homes are completed, and displaced 9th Ward residents now call these houses home.
To learn more on this amazing project, and how you can help, visit www.makeitrightnola.org
Nola Chick, Pin-Up model and New Orleans resident gives Pin Curl the insider’s guide to New Orleans, tips and tricks on modeling, and the importance of a mystery.
Your name let’s folks know just how proud you are of your home town. If an out of towner had one weekend to spend in New Orleans, what are some things they should be sure and see/eat/do?
Oh my gosh! Where do I start? Well, when you come to New Orleans, what do you want? You want food. Start at Mother’s and go from there. It’s one of the best places in the city and they are known for their roast beef po boys. Cafe Degas for French and Tony Angelo’s for Italian. Oh! And you have to stop by Central Grocery to get a world famous muffaletta. This delicious sandwich was invented here.
Then go see jazz at Snug Harbor on Frenchmen- they have free shows at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Go to One Eyed Jack’s or Dragon’s Den for your Burlesque fix. Visit the Ogden museum and the World War II museum and the New Orleans museum of art! Also be sure to do some shopping on Magazine street and get a drink at the Sazerac Bar in the newly refurbished Roosevelt Hotel. The Roosevelt is a place where anyone can dress up and instantly feel like you are back in the 1950′s. I could go on and on, but I would be here all night!
Take us back four years to August 2005. When did you leave, when did you return? Describe what the city was like after Katrina.
Well, I left with my family the day before the storm hit. It was a Sunday and the mayor had officially told everyone that they need to leave or seek shelter. We were gone for about 3 weeks, not really knowing what was going on or what the future held for any of us. To this day, I think that the “not knowing” was the very worst of it.
When we got back, we had discovered that although our home had been spared, my aunt and uncle, had lost everything. For those first few months, New Orleans was not the city that I knew. The national guard was heavy, parts of the city didn’t have power, there was a curfew all over town and there was a general feeling of unease. We all had the question of, “well, what’s next?” swimming in our heads, because we weren’t getting any answers. People who had lost everything didn’t even know where to begin in the whole “rebuilding” process.
Should we stay and start over and hope this doesn’t happen again? Should we leave and start a new life somewhere else? Imagine your entire town being wiped out; Imagine that you have lost everything. All you have are the clothes on your back and a couple of bucks that the government threw at you. What do you do?
You cling to what you DO have…family, friends…this is when you realize what matters. This is what gives you hope and keeps you going. What else can you do? You’ll go crazy doing anything else.
Has New Orleans returned to her former glory? Have the business, culture, & community returned?
I know some will argue with me and say that New Orleans will never be what it was. I believe we are there now more than we ever have been. The culture is here and it always will be. The culture is in the people, the food, and the music, and it will remain as long as people come here and experience it.
Do we still have work to do? Absolutely. Homes are continuing to be rebuilt and we could definitely use all of the help we can get. I don’t want anyone to think that everything here is perfect, but I definitely don’t want anyone to hesitate to pay us a visit. If you come down here, we will definitely make you feel at home.
Let’s switch to a lighter topic. How did you fall in love with the pin-up style? What about it is so alluring to you?
Well, I have always been a “girly girl”, and I love pin up because it is so classic. I just grew up appreciating the art of it and loving the “tease” aspect of it. You can be sexy without showing anything at all. It’s all about being a woman and embracing all that entails. It’s about doing your hair and makeup and getting dressed up. To me, it’s about that as much as it’s about getting a pretty picture- It’s about the whole process.
I want people to know that anyone can do pinup. ANYONE. It doesn’t see race, size or age. You are never too old, young, big or small to feel like a gorgeous woman and embrace who you are. There is nothing that I do in my pictures that a woman admiring it on the internet can’t do herself. I would tell anyone who is interested in pinup to do it. Even if it’s just once.
Who are your favorite vixens?
Well, ok, we’ll start with the obvious, the queen, Miss Dita Von Teese. As far as models, I’m inspired by people like Gia Carangi. The way she mixed fashion and art is what makes her a legend. The classics: Betty Grable, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Eartha Kitt.
These were women who did it right. They were gorgeous, but they also had strength and attitude. All of the actresses from this era carried themselves in a way that demanded respect. They weren’t like the “starlets” of today with sex tapes and mini skirts. They weren’t all over the gossip rags. There was a mystery about them. I think that’s the problem with a lot of girls today; there is no mystery left. Girls shouldn’t be so quick to put it all “out there”.
What is your trick to relating to the camera?
Well, that depends on the shoot. For a “boudoir” kind of thing, I imagine that the camera is a boyfriend that I want to seduce. Isn’t that so cheesy? But it really works! A photographer once told me to imagine that the camera is a person who I have to convince that I’m beautiful with just my eyes. Ha! That’s easier said than done.
If the shoot is about you looking more serious, then you have to put yourself in that place. If you have to look dominant, you have to put yourself there, too. A lot of it, I guess, is about acting. Only, you have to portray everything you want to say with one look.
Pastie maker extraordinaire …Laura, darling is originally from New Orleans, though she now calls Dallas home.
Interview: Shoshana Photographs: Courtesy of …..Laura, darling
A pastie is a bit unusual for a first love in the realm of the arts. What is your arts/crafts background?
I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t drawn to making costumes & fashion. When I was 3, I made my first ensemble- a red string bikini-a la Charlie’s Angels made out of paper and twine and colored with crayons. I think my mom still has it. I was always in art classes in grammar and high school and for a while I was a jewelry major in college. I graduated with a degree in fine arts and ended up in the fashion industry designing print and patterns for women’s career wear. I pretty much get paid to draw. I love it.
When did you begin designing and making pasties? What fueled your start?
Being from New Orleans originally, pasties and exotic costumes have
always been a fascination. I started collecting pasties about 8 years
ago- my first pair were from Bourbon Street. Just this past May I was
asked to create an apron for the charity event benefiting DIFFA (Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS). They were pale pink rhinestone, and making them was so much fun, I started making more.
Without giving away any trade secrets, can you describe your process?
My pasties are made of over 300 rhinestones per pair for the ultimate
sparkle. I bring my knowledge and passion for color and pattern to each
pair. Every stone is hand-picked and placed individually so they are
perfect. The tassels are hand sewn and fixed with glass beads so that
they really give you a good spin. I strive to make each pastie worthy of
Saks Fifth Avenue.
Where do you seek inspiration for your elegant designs?
Having a job in the fashion industry gives my access to the latest trends and runway shows. I find inspiration from the newest couture designs and from vintage and antique fashion and from our local burlesque dancers.
Do you welcome custom orders? Describe some of your most memorable special orders.
I love special orders. I’ve made apple shaped pasties for a fabulous
local burlesque dancer and I’m currently working with a lady in New
Jersey to make her very first pair.
What makes your pasties unique?
My pasties are all rhinestone and all sparkle. They are exactly what I
would want to wear on stage. I try to imagine what would create the most impact- and that’s what I make.
What does the future hold for Laura Darling? Any upcoming events/projects we should know about?
This is just the beginning of Laura Darling- expect great things! I have a few tricks up my sleeve, I have a list of styles that will be 100% unique to Laura Darling just waiting to be made. Costumes are a passion of mine so I’m hoping to work with some local dancers to create a complete look. I plan to start branching out into making full costumes & collaborating with other designers to make some outstanding ensembles.
Look for my booth at local burlesque events. I keep my Etsy store & Face Book page updated, so keep checking and my website should be fully functional within the next 6 months.
New Orleans Cocktail recipe
1 oz bourbon whiskey
1 1/2 oz bitters
1 oz Orange Curacao
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with flamed orange peel, and serve.
Most of us take pride in our breasts. We lift them up, dress them nicely to show them off, and some us even bounce them around for a living- but how many of us check for breast health every 30 days?
Women over 20 should perform a breast self-exam every month. It’s easiest if you pick a date (the 1st, the 15th, etc) and stick to it. To learn how to perform a breast self-exam follow this link http://www..preventcancer.org/education2c.aspx?id=2398
Top hats are a easy way to add a sophisticated look to a dull outfit. With just a few simple items you may already have laying around the house you can make a cute accessory. This is a basic hat so you can decorate it to your taste.
- Trace the CD onto the cardboard. One will be the bottom base of the hat and one will be the lower base of the hat (the upper base is the part is directly under the tall part and the lower base is under that). Trace a rectangle using the ruler (10 inches wide and 2 ½ inches tall. This will be the top of the hat. Cut them out.
- Hot glue the ends of the rectangle together. Hold it together until the glue dries.
- Take the rectangle glued. It should look like a cylinder. Trace the bottom of the cylinder in the middle both of the cd circles. Cut the circles out.
- Hot glue the doughnut looking circle and place the fabric over the glue. Press into place. Repeat with other circle. Do not put fabric on both sides Cut off any excess fabric.
- Hot glue over the outer part of the cylinder. Place the fabric over the glue and hold in place. Cut off the excess fabric.
- Glue the cylinder onto the upper base. Put it over the hole make sure it covers the hole completely. Hold it in place until it dries.
- Hot glue on the lip of the lower base. Put desired lace over the glue. Glue the lower base onto the upper base. The lace facing the top
- Trace the top of the cylinder on the cardboard then cut it out. Hot glue and put fabric onto it. Hot glue onto the top of the cylinder.
- Take two pieces of ribbon make sure they are big enough to tie around you head. Glue them inside the hat.
- Enjoy. Decorate you mini-top hat to your desired look.
- When you are putting on the lace or have thin fabic. Do not press down with your fingers. The hot glue will leak and burn your fingers.
Things You’ll Need
- Hot glue
Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make a Basic Mini Top Hat. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.
Red beans and rice is a staple of Creole cuisine. It’s easy to fix, inexpensive and good for you. Traditionally, this dish was prepared on Mondays because everyone did laundry on Mondays. So while the ladies were busy hanging up clothes on the line, they could simmer a delicious meal on the stove without having to interrupt their chores. Lots of cultures have some form of beans and rice dish, but this one is my absolute favorite. So here’s my recipe that I have adapted from some of the great cooks I met during my tenure in Louisiana.
Red Beans and Rice
(Serves your family, and then some!)
1 pound of dried red kidney beans
1 small white onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt (about 3 Tablespoons)
Black (about 3 Tablespoons)
Cayenne (1-2 Teaspoons)
1-2 Sprigs of thyme
1-2 Bay Leaves
Cooked white rice
Andouille sausage, Tasso ham, or smoked sausage
Chopped fresh parsley
Sort through the beans to remove pebbles and grit. Some people suggest soaking the beans for various reasons, but I never do. Just make sure no one will be breaking a crown on an overlooked piece of pebble.
In a large pot add the beans, 2 ½ quarts of water (Or about 10 cups; I had to look that up, I never measure at home), the chopped vegetables, and herbs and spices. Basically, dump everything into the pot.
Bring it all to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1 ½ hours. Then add the sausage or ham and cook for about 30 more minutes. Serve with cooked white rice, chopped parsley and hot sauce (Crystal’s is my recommendation). If your beans are too “soupy,” use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to mash up a quarter of the beans.
You can also add a ham hock or bone to the water and beans before cooking, which will really make it taste really authentic. Also try subbing half of the water for chicken stock.
Did you know?
In Creole cooking onion, bell pepper and celery comprise the “Trinity.” The French have their mirepoix (carrots, onion and celery), which they use as a foundation for all their dishes. But in Louisiana, it’s all about the Trinity.