Date of Award
The table manners and customs of South Louisiana are different from those of the other parts of the United States and from those of the European countries represented. It is thought that the people who settled here brought with them manners and customs and that these manners and customs are different from those of other sections of the United States because of the type of settlers. It Is also thought that the environment of South Louisiana caused these manners and customs to be changed to meet the needs of the people In a new country and that they were blended with the manners and customs of the American Indian. It is the purpose of this writer to try to sheer how the manners and customs brought over and adjusted to suit the needs of the environment have influenced the present day manners and customs of South Louisiana. The writer proposes to discuss (1) the beginnings of fixed habits of eating, (2) the evolution of the art of eating through these civilizations; Egyptian, Jewish, Grecian and Reman, Mediaeval Italy, France, Spain, Germany, England, American Indian, Modern European and American (3) and, finally, present day manners and customs found In Louisiana, showing that these are an outgrowth of previous practices and conventions. The Information on this subject has been collected from the literature aid the history of the nations represented In the settlements of Louisiana, from local history and stories, and from the messages recorded in the guest books by the various visitors who have come and enjoyed the atmosphere of the famous old restaurants of New Orleans. Early In the eighteenth century, a hundred years after the English had been on the eastern coast of what is now the United States, the French came to Louisiana to establish homes. Some of these early French settlers and many of the peoples from other countries who same to the colony to live were from the high born families, and many, having lived at the courts of their native countries brought court manners and customs with them. In as much as this territory was settled by the French for French people, a definite French influence can be noted in all the manners and customs. This mixing produced something a bit different from that of European France. This Creole people, which was prod used in South Louisians, made famous a Creole style of cookery and dining. These high born people who had been accustomed tf a life of ease and luxury in their European homes readily tuned to the use of ths many slaves, which were dumped on our shores, to produce food products on the richest of lands. Life became easy for all and during the early years was very simple. The homes of that day were not much more than cabins, yet were elegantly furnished with the beautiful furniture and fixtures brought from Europe. Later, not to be outdone by the English neighbors who had come to South Louisiana to live, the Creole grew luxurious. Easy incomes and the use of slaves soon made an Idle end extravagant people. Great entertainments were given and the families spent a part of each year in the city where their wealth was squandered. The wreck of the economic basis upon which this splendor was founded caused a change In the plane of living yet the descendants of these people have retained many old customs. The family still takes the dally siesta after a dinner at noon. The spirit of hospitality survives but on a more simple plane, since living conditions will not permit of the magnificent entertainments which was the custom In the "Golden Age" of Louisiana history. Conclusions 1) The table manners and customs of a people depend upon the development of cookery and the social and financial statue of die people. 2) The manners and customs of the people of South Louisiana are a combination of those of the old world changed to meet existing conditions In a new country. 3) The Creole lived a simple life during the greater part of Colonial days but after Louisiana entered the Union of States and became a center of wealth, the plane of living changed to one of elegance and extravagance. 4) The destruction of Mississippi River commerce and the freeing of slaves changed the economic conditions until more simple living became necessary. 5) Hospitality remained but on a smaller scale; table manners remained the same with less formality; table service became less elegant, because of loss of property and loss of servants. The one o'clock dinner and the siesta have been retained in the Creole family. 6. Apparently manners and customs have changed but little within themselves. The plane of living has changed, becoming less extravagant and less elegant than fomarly. This affects the grandeur of entertainment. 7. In the entertainment of friends there Is still retained a semblance of the old elegance of manner, the old hospitality, the old courtesies, and the old menus and recipes found in family life of the early days of South Louisiana.
Carey, Mary Sada, "The History of Table Manners and Customs and the Influence upon Manners and the Customs of South Louisiana" (1933). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 8333.