Hey, Cajun French speakers: did you ever think you’d see the word poule d’eau in the New York Times? I certainly never guessed I would. Mad props to chef John Besh, who answered readers’ questions in the Diner’s Journal section of the New York Times back on December 3rd, where he offered poule d’eau gumbo recipe (linked above) in response to a question on using game in gumbo.
Poule d’eau, also known as coot, are the Rodney Dangerfields of the waterfowl world. Their tendencies to dive and swim when confronted, to form huge flocks in the marsh, and their need to run atop the water to get airborne make them easy prey for hunters. In addition to aquatic vegetation, the birds eat fish, small animals, bugs, and eggs, lending their flesh a distinctive, emphatic flavor found unpleasant by many. Still, poule d’eaus’ relative abundance, even in years when better-tasting migratory wildfowl like mallard, teal, and pintail are scarce, make them a familiar food across south Louisiana.
I like ’em pot-roasted with apple, onion, and garlic, served over rice. How do you cook your poule d’eau?
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