During the course of this episode, not much time is spent in the French Quarter, so you can put away your beads. We will soon see the beautiful truth about NOLA and Louisiana: the late night revelry on Bourbon Street is .0005% of the character of the city and state. There is so much out there to learn about in the Crescent City and also of Louisiana, and this episode shows a culture that really has laid down roots in the area, bringing a whole culinary culture with them.
The Vietnamese have made inroads into the area, as they brought fishing and shrimping skills into the area almost a half-century ago. With the cultural migrations we see the wonderful effects of food on a society, as Vietnamese food is lauded in NOLA now, and has become part of their newer overall culinary heritage. I remember being at a Hibachi grill type place in Athens, GA and the very native Japanese-looking chef welcoming us in the most Southern Georgia accent ever. “Hey ya’ll! I am Elliot and I am from Macon, GA.” This is our modern South, and I for one kinda love it.
There are lots of shrimp in this episode. Wild shrimp fisheries are the backbone of Gulf and lower East coast seafood in the US. The industry employs our citizens and provides a wonderfully sustainable offering. The process by which shrimp are caught has made huge strides, with less bycatch through the use of BRDs (Bycatch Reduction Devices) and better seasonal systems of when and how the shrimp can be harvested. Shrimp reproduce like mad, and so it is a renewable resource that we can be happy with eating, unlike most of the fish in the sea, that are really and truly on their last legs. Sadly, it is an industry peril. Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the infrastructure in the Gulf, much of it built by Vietnamese immigrants, and pressure from imported farmed shrimp products has made the black tiger shrimp a lower cost, but much less tasty, option. So we have to invest in our dinner by supporting our own: be conscious of where your shrimp come from… it’s somebody’s job at stake.
The episode commences with our introduction to Emeril’s companion for the day, Eddie Huang. Eddie is a fool for swag, or a fool who swags, depending on your opinion of him. He is nothing, if not divisive.
Eddie is the TV "sensation" and "chef" of such restaurants as Baohaus and Xiao Ye. He is known to be a proponent of rap, smoking weed, Four Loko, brightly-colored clothing, and well, he hates me. This should be fun.
Eddie and Emeril drop by the Bourbon Street pad. Emeril loops the chefs into teams. The teams are excited and are wondering if Emeril has a secret bedroom in their fancy pad. At this stage in his career, he is well beyond sleeping in the secret room under the stairs, so no, Emeril doesn’t live there.