By Barton Seaver
In a state so blessed with delicious seafood as is Louisiana it makes perfect sense that talented cooks in both restaurants and homes have over the years developed a cuisine worthy of celebration. In New Orleans, there exists such pride in their unique cuisine that it is the home to more legendary dishes than any other place I know. Modern day seafood masters such as Tenney Flynn, the brilliant and incredibly knowledgeable chef at G.W. Fins is but one of many in a long line of innovators that pay respect to the lineage of food in this great city. G.W. Fins has been open now for 15 years, a grand success for any restaurant, anywhere. But G.W. Fins will forever be the new kid on the block. Across the street, Arnaud’s was founded in 1918, around the corner, Gallatoire’s is even older. Each of these restaurants has a number of signature dishes or dishes they claim credit for their development. But mostly they have endured by the charm of Southern hospitality and the incredible ingredients with which they have to work. To New Orleans, the culinary community owes a great debt of gratitude. Dishes that now grace menus throughout the whole nation and even the world, such as Antoine’s Oysters Rockefeller, Paul Prudomes Blackened Redfish, and gumbos, each made as uniquely as the larger than life personality of the person stirring the pot. Innovation is not lacking in the culinary community in New Orleans, but in an era when many restaurants are celebrated for their abandonment of tradition and efforts to recreate the very science of cooking, it is always with great pleasure that when in Louisiana we can revisit tradition not in the same way we view artifacts in a museum, but that with joy, conviviality and a few Sazeracs we experience a taste of a vibrant, enduring culture. The salty sweet brine of shrimp, the meaty pecan sweetness of crab, the rich plump oysters sizzling on the half-shell, are perfect reminders of the greatness of this state and of what its waters provide for us.