Recently, I shared with you the cookbooks and recipes from cruise ships that take passengers on luxury cruises on the ocean.  But did you know there is another kind of cruise that you can take, on a river?

MISSISSIPPI MEMORIES, classic American cooking from the Heartland to the Louisiana Bayou is a wonderful collaboration between cookbook author Rick Rodgers and the Delta Queen Steamboat Company.

You may recognize the name of author Rick Rodgers from some of his other cookbooks. He is the author of READY AND WAITING, which is devoted to slow-cooker recipes (which inspired me to invest in a new slow-cooker). Rodgers also wrote MR. PASTA’S HEALTHY PASTA COOKBOOK, THE WILLIAMS SONOMA COMFORT FOOD cookbook published in 2010, PRESSURE COOKING FOR EVERYONE, published in December 2000. and more recently, THE MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD SIXTIES COOKBOOK which features over 100 retro recipes, published in May, 2012.

Per Google, I learned that Rick Rodgers is considered one of the most versatile professionals in the food business. Through his work as a cooking teacher, food writer, cookbook author, freelance cookbook editor, and radio and television guest chef, his infectious love of good food reaches countless cooks every day. He is the author of over forty cookbooks on a wide range of subjects.

The Delta Queen Steamboat Company is as the name suggests: the steamboat company—of the 12,000 steamboats that once traveled the rivers, only six are left and only half of these take on overnight passengers: the Delta Queen, the Mississippi Queen, and the American Queen.  Passengers board in cities such as Memphis, St Louis and St. Paul/Minnesota, and stop in towns along the way down the river, such as Natchez, Vicksburg, and Baton Rouge.

These three Queens do not travel exclusively the Mississippi River; they also glide along the Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Cumberland and the Cajun country’s Atchafalaya Rivers. Steamboating cities such as my hometown of Cincinnati. Louisville, and Pittsburgh are also ports of call.

Ever since I read Mark Twain’s LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI years ago, I have longed to take a steamboat trip south to New Orleans.    Now we can all travel vicariously from our armchairs, with Rick Rodgers and MISSISSIPPI MEMORIES.

I can’t begin to do justice to MISSISSIPPI MEMORIES; the book is packed with old-timey photographs and enough steamboat history to satisfy the most devout history buff, trivia you are unlikely to find elsewhere (for instance, did you know that over 60% of the world’s supply of horseradish is grown in southern Illinois, across the Mississippi from St Louis?) and RECIPES? Yes, lots of good recipes. Mr. Rodgers had done his homework.

You will learn that “the landing of a riverboat cause quite a stir in small towns along the river. Some boats brought cotton, coal and other necessities, while others dealt in luxury items such as exotic foods, fashionable clothes, and fine furnishings. But perhaps most important, steamboats, especially the luxury boats, brought an influx of people and new ideas”.

The publishers explain that MISSISSIPPI MEMORIES recaptures the traditions of riverboat hospitality with more than 100 classic American recipes.

In this book, Rick Rodgers takes a leisurely trip along the Mississippi as it winds its way from the hills of Missouri to the wetlands of Louisiana. Along the way he cooks up fine American dishes, such as Roast Duck and Wile Rice Soup, Savory Corn Fritters, Spicy Chicken with Buttermilk Gravy, Jambalaya Pasta, Churchill Downs Burgoo, Apple Orchard Cole Slaw, and Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate-Peanut Frosting.

From “Pushing Off” (appetizer, soup and beverage recipes) to “Weighing Anchor” (luscious desserts such as Blackberry Caramel Bread Pudding), MISSISSIPPI MEMORIES maintains the theme of steamboat excursions and re captures for us the flavor of a kind of traveling that was most common a hundred years ago.

This is truly a beautiful cookbook, published in 1994, wonderfully illustrated and thoroughly researched. It is available on Amazon.com new, from $7.95, collectible copies from $3.86 and plenty of pre-owned copies starting at one cent. Alibris.com has this book starting at $5.00.

Want to know more? Find a copy of Mark Twain’s LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI and learn how Samuel Clemons created his pen name of Mark Twain.

And, Mr. Rodgers has his own website; www.rickrodgers.com.  You can learn a lot more about the author and his recipes on this website.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith



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  2. Greetings I am so delighted I found your site, I really found you by mistake, while I was looking on Digg for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say
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    • thanks for discovering us, Jo. Feel free to go back into some of the older posts – I’ve posted a lot of cookbook reviews….as well as anything else I find interesting.

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