I recently traveled TO Germany on an ongoing culinary, cultural, and ancestral quest. Though the itinerary was set months before, it happened that my trip coincided with the 75th-anniversary commemorations of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. It seemed only appropriate to honor my dad, Royley Folse – a World War II veteran, by visiting areas he spoke of often – the Ruhr Pocket, Düsseldorf, and particularly, Remagen. It was in the Battle of Remagen that the Allied Forces captured Ludendorff Bridge in March 1945, spelling the end of World War II a few months later.
Standing on this hallowed ground on the left bank of the Rhine River, I not only thought of my dad and his many comrades; I also remembered that I was in the state of the Rhineland-Palatinate, the area where so many of Louisiana’s German ancestors originated.
Scottish financier John Law attracted Germans to the French colony by propagandizing Louisiana as a semitropical paradise. A document entitled The Magnificent Country of Louisiana described the colony as a land of gold and silver; of herbs and plants for apothecaries; of healing remedies and infallible cures for the fruits of love. In some cases, entire villages migrated to this promised land of plenty.
Of the 4,000 recruits, only 700 actually arrived in Louisiana because of a host of travel difficulties. In 1722, approximately 300 Germans were located on the Mississippi River’s west bank, 25 miles above New Orleans, in an area still known as the “German Coast.” The Germans settling there came from the Rhenish Palatinate where they had cultivated gardens, orchards, and vineyards. Not surprisingly, the “German Coast” soon became the “Garden of the Capital,” saving New Orleans from famine twice. These Germans were cattlemen, butchers, dairymen, gardeners, and brew masters. They thrived on Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry of wild game, fish, and crawfish. They tilled fields and planted gardens, reaping splendid harvests. An industrious people, they filled their cupboards with jellies, preserves, vegetables, dried fruits and berries, and the spoils of the boucherie – or hog killing – for food during lean winter months.
My dad was a fabulous hunter, fisherman, and cook. With the June Rise every summer, he caught river shrimp from the Mississippi. But, when the dog days of summer rolled in, we headed to the Gulf. That’s where I learned to love his Black-eyed Pea Battered Shrimp. My dad was not only a soldier and great cook; he was a warrior for Christ. Ambrose, Father and Doctor of the Church, believed that anointing candidates with oil strengthened them for the demonic battles that lay ahead. Are you anointed? Are you a warrior for Christ?
CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle-Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.
MICHAELA D. YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company
Black-Eyed Pea Battered Shrimp • serves 6
¾ cup black-eyed peas, cooked
36 (16–20 count) shrimp, head-on
¼ cup diced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1⅛tsp ground ginger
Creole seasoning to taste
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
2 large eggs
¼ cup olive oil
1¼ cups beer Louisiana hot sauce to taste
2 cups flour
1 quart vegetable oil
Peel shells from tail of shrimp, without removing head. Devein shrimp; set aside. In food processor bowl, combine black-eyed peas, onion, minced garlic, ginger, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Blend on high speed 2–3 minutes, until peas are coarsely chopped. Add eggs, olive oil, beer, and hot sauce. Blend 1–2 minutes or until puréed. Add flour and blend 1–2 additional minutes. Pour black-eyed pea batter into ceramic bowl; set aside. In homestyle deep-fryer or large cast iron pot, heat 3 inches oil to 350°F. Dip only shrimp tails into batter and allow all excess to drain. Gently place shrimp into deep-fryer and cook until golden brown and partially floating. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.