Sunday, November 28, 2010

Breakfast at Parrain’s

Food has lately been at the forefront of conversations and gatherings, probably a characteristic true of many people celebrating Thanksgiving around the country this week. For the more fortunate it’s been a blitzkrieg of eating that has us still groaning with the abundance of it all. Lots of remembered favorites, new recipes and flavors that linger on the palate for a day or two, and a refrigerator half full of leftovers. “Do you want a turkey sandwich?…Hey, how about a piece of mince pie?” Had to answer no this time and confess that I’m full of turkey and dressing. “But hey, let’s jump in the car, take a drive and find a place to have a bite to eat.”

At the risk of overkill, today’s post again features Louisiana food, or the type served at Parrain’s seafood restaurant on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge. Not that old, Parrain’s opened in September of 2001. The waiter offered an interesting tidbit of information about that: The opening was originally planned for September 11, but a slight complication in New York City that morning put a stop to most things, including restaurant openings. In the nine years since then, Parrain’s has become a Baton Rouge favorite for Cajun seafood dishes. The name of the restaurant comes from the Creole-French word parrain for ‘father.’

Sunday brunch at Parrain’s is a popular time, but we got there early enough to get a comfortable table beside a window half full of banana leaves. The restaurant isn’t small, but some sections give the impression of being busier than others, with a loud clatter of dishes and voices. Our table was in a quieter corner. The brunch menu for today offered five special dishes, with the alternative of ordering from the regular menu. The five specials looked pretty good, and we ordered the first choice, something called Eggs Grace. Here is a description straight from the menu: French bread toasted and topped with grilled tomatoes, fried catfish filets and poached eggs smothered with crawfish etouffée and served with grits. It’s a tempting plateful, but maybe more the thing for someone with an appetite. First look makes one wonder if all those flavors are going to work together, and for the purist they might not. Eggs smothered in crawfish etouffée is a combination I first had last Monday in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, one that I was eager to try again. As for the catfish, it fits right in as long as you eat it still crisp and not drenched in etouffée. The way it is served at Parrain’s makes that easy, with most of the etouffée soaking into the French bread.

But others may opt for the Boudin omelette—a three egg omelette with boudin sausage and pepper jack cheese topped with white gravy and served with grits and a biscuit. Or the soft shell poach—a bed of spicy hash browns topped with a fried soft-shell crab and poached eggs, finished with hollandaise sauce and served with a biscuit.

It might be hard for anyone to eat like this every day, and I can’t imagine many do and still keep a healthy heart, but for a different kind of brunch or breakfast, these Creole recipes are a delicious alternative. I will miss them when I return to Florida in a few days.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America