Daddy not a cook, but still taught food lessons

Unlike my husband and so many other Louisiana fathers, my father wasn’t a great cook.

I don’t think he even liked to barbecue. I seem to recall him setting up the grill only at the request of my mother, starting the coals, and then leaving it up to her to do the actual cooking.

In fact, I have only one real memory of him “cooking.”

My mother had gone to Denver to check on an ailing parent, leaving my brother and me to the mercy of his limited cooking skills.

The first night Mom was gone, Daddy prepared what he said was turtle soup. I was aghast, envisioning him having gone out and slaughtered some poor little turtle from the nearby coulee. Then, I realized he had opened a soup can.

He insisted we try the soup. We didn’t like it.

The next night he took us to eat at Don’s Seafood & Steak House in downtown Lafayette where he ordered raw oysters. He talked me into trying one. I didn’t like that either. Still don’t. But, at least he introduced me to what many consider a delicacy.

He also talked us into trying frog’s legs. We liked those because we thought they tasted like chicken.

Dad took us fishing and showed us how to clean fish. He also bought live crabs to boil at home, at least he did until the time crabs crawled out of an improperly closed bag and got loose in the kitchen.

As we ran around trying to scoop them up, a very large one clamped down on Dad’s thumb and wouldn’t let go. Only time I ever heard him curse.

You never knew what Daddy would come home with when he went to the grocery store.

There were those weird, grown-up “treats” — jars of pickled pigs’ feet, smelly blue cheeses and the bitter horehound candy of his youth — I never did learn to like.

But, there were also cherries, spumoni ice cream, and exotic teas. Indeed, it was he who taught me to appreciate tea and the proper way to brew it. Mom preferred black coffee.

While he might not have cooked, Dad did provide valuable lessons by introducing me to flavors I might have passed by. Mom gave me comfort foods. Daddy offered culinary adventures.

On Page 5E is a cocktail recipe to share with your family and friends at a Father’s Day gathering.

Fancy Bourbon Punch

Serves 8 to 10. Recipe is from Maker’s Mark.

1 cup granulated sugar

Peels of 3 lemons and 1 orange

Juice of peeled fruit

1 liter of strong tea (preferably green tea)

1 liter bourbon

250 ml. (about 81/2 ozs.) Champagne or club soda

Freshly grated nutmeg

1. Combine sugar and citrus peels in the bottom of a punch bowl. Muddle together until sugar starts to clump together. Let sit for about 2 hours. (While not necessary, this does add a little complexity.)

2. Brew the tea for about 30 minutes, remove loose tea or tea bags, and allow to cool.

3. Add the juice of the peeled fruit, tea and bourbon. Stir.

4. Top with Champagne or club soda just before serving and stir gently. Top with nutmeg and serve.