On November 12, 2013, Ulysses Press released The Southern Po’boy Cookbook by Todd Michael-St Pierre. The cookbook is filled with over 50 easy-to-follow recipes that allow you to create the famous New Orleans Po’boy sandwich at home. There are the classics, internationally inspired recipes, and some really unique versions.
10 years later, it’s still one of the most unique New Orleans cookbooks and one of the only ones that solely focuses on the famous po’boy sandwich.
If you own the cookbook, perhaps you’ve read my name and website mentioned in the book a few times.
Did you ever wonder why or how that came about?
Once I started Red Beans & Eric I shared not only recipes but also did reviews of the various cookbooks that I owned. Books that I learned to cook from and how I came to understand Creole and Cajun techniques and cooking styles. I never had that family member show me how, or had recipes passed down that I learned to make through stories in the kitchen. Everything I learned was from reading books or forums online. You have to remember that this was before YouTube took off and we have all of the content we have now.
One of the cookbooks I reviewed was A Streetcar Named Delicious (2009) by Todd-Michael St. Pierre. I never tagged anyone I wrote about because I didn’t really know if anyone read what I wrote. I just put it out there. The blog, Red Beans & Eric was only a year old, but somehow T-M found the review. Google Alerts, maybe? He reached out to thank me for the review and we became friends on Facebook. In 2012, I reviewed his then-newest cookbook, Taste of Treme (2012/Ulysses Press).
Towards the end of 2012, T-M mentioned on Facebook that he was putting together a cookbook about po’boys and asked for any ideas for unique versions. I had one. I had been working on different po’boy ideas for the blog and debated on whether it was something I wanted to keep for myself or share with him.
Who else would really want to publish a Swedish Meatball Po’boy recipe besides me, right?
I had been making the classic roast beef version with a debris gravy at home and always thought of different ways to make it. I also made Swedish meatballs from scratch and wondered what it would be like if I put the meatballs in the French bread I used for the roast beef po’boy and made it messy with gravy and a lingonberry sauce. So, I developed the recipe, and The Swedish Po’boy was born.
A month or so went by and he mentioned on Facebook again that he was looking for unique ideas. I was at work one day and couldn’t stop thinking about it. Eventually, I messaged him and told him about this Swedish spin I had on a po’boy. He liked it and wanted to use it for the international section of the book.
In A Streetcar Named Delicious, he gave every recipe a unique name. So I told him that he should call this one the Anders Osborne Po’boy since the great musician was born in Sweden. The recipe stuck but the name didn’t.
The Swedish started out being served in a po’boy bread which I had intended it to. At one point the publisher wanted a different style of bread. I mentioned rye is popular in Sweden but luckily they decided against it and went back to the original concept. A po’boy must be served on a light and flaky French-style bread, right?
Over the course of a few months, I helped T-M develop a variety of recipe ideas for the book besides The Swedish. I was working full-time during the day, messaging him on lunch breaks, and developing recipes at night or on the weekends. He shared a list of ideas he had and asked if I’d help him. It was an amazing time working on his ideas and coming up with different and unique spins on what could become a po’boy.
In the end, three of my creations made it into the cookbook with credit, and two of them were photographed by professionals at Judi Swinks Photography with food styling by Anna Hartman-Kenzler. The Swedish. The Benny. The German.
In October 2012, I received my contributor’s copy of The Southern Po’boy Cookbook with a note from the publisher. It was such a great experience to work with Todd-Michael St. Pierre and help to create the different recipes for that book. That was also the first time seeing my name published in a book! I think every family member received a copy of it for Christmas that year.
Suddenly, Red Beans & Eric was out there with a big-time credit to the name.
I’ve messaged Todd-Michael St. Pierre recently to thank him again for that experience. As each November comes along, I always think of that time and what this cookbook means to me even though I played just a small part in its creation. It was interesting to see and hear about some of the behind-the-scene moments as he was putting this together and coming up to different deadlines or delays in photoshoots. But I can tell you firsthand, as with all of his work, Todd-Michael put a lot of hard work and research into creating a book that has stood the test of time. You can never go wrong with a book written by him. I promise.
The Southern Po’boy Cookbook is still such a unique book and one of the only ones that allows you to bring the famous New Orleans sandwich to your home. And for those that have purchased the book: thank you!
I still have quite of few po’boy recipes sitting around that maybe I’ll share on the blog one day – unless T-M wants to do another 50!
THANK YOU FOR READING!
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KEEP THE RED BEANS COOKIN’!
Eric Olsson is the food blogger of RedBeansAndEric.com. He publishes new recipes and interviews weekly. He has developed recipes and written articles for the famous Camellia brand in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has been mentioned in Louisiana Cookin‘ magazine and has had recipes featured in Taste of Home magazine – with his Creole Turkey recipe being runner up in their annual Thanksgiving recipe contest. He lives outside of Detroit, Michigan, with his wife and four children.