The love Poppy Tooker and her subjects – farmers, vendors, chefs, and shoppers – have for their Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans comes across in this book loud and clear. The time line tracing the market's origins in the 18th century through bringing it back to life after Hurricane Katrina provides a glimpse into the culinary depth of New Orleans itself. Short profiles of current vendors give those of us unfortunates who don't live in New Orleans a peak into the vibrancy of market life today.
While this book clearly celebrates the market that gave it its name, it is also a tremendous resource for cooking New Orleans style at home. Most cookbooks covering New Orleans focus on the restaurants; it's refreshing to have those same flavors and cooking techniques coming from and truly written for home cooks.
Recipes are organized by course or type of dish, but with a handy season key in the corner – a clever solution to the trickiness of organizing a seasonally-driven cookbook in a menu-planning-friendly way. There is gumbo and stewed okra, of course, but also fresh takes on classic flavors like banana fosters bread pudding and vegetarian red beans, as well as evidence of an increasingly diverse population in the Big Easy (stir-fried bitter melon and shrimp and okra bhuna).