A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 31, 2007
Holy Trinity (onions, celery, bell peppers in Louisiana cuisine)

Texas borders on Louisiana, and East Texas shares some of the same cuisine as its neighboring state. The “holy trinity” (or simply “trinity") of Cajun/Creole cuisine consists of onions, celery, and bell peppers. The “trinity” term came into use by at least 1981. Popular chef Paul Prudhomme used the “trinity” term and possibly coined it.

It’s been called both the “Cajun Trinity” and the “Holy Trinity of Creole.” One website states that the “Trinity” becomes a “Holy Trinity” when garlic is added.


Cajun Cuisine - A Guide to Cajun Cooking
Etoufée (eh too fay): A Cajun word for sautéing.  Meat or seafood, cooked with a roux and the Cajun “Holy Trinity” (onions, celery, and bell pepper).  Usually served with rice.
(...)
Trinity - Cajun Trinity: Onions, bell peppers and celery, the three most often used ingredients in Cajun/Creole cooking.  Holy Trinity: The Cajun Trinity with garlic added. 

Cooking Louisiana
The Trinity
Onions, Celery and Bell Pepper, The Trinity as they are known, are the beginning of many a fine dish here in South Louisiana. In my 30 years of cooking I’ve almost always cooked these vegetables down until they were almost mush. Why, because that’s the way I learned to do it from the old folks. This holds true especially for pot roasts, gumbo, jambalaya, sauce piqaunts, etc.

Wikipedia: Holy trinity (cuisine)
The holy trinity of cuisine are the three ingredients key to a particular cuisine. Because these three ingredients are so common in a recipes of a specific cuisine they are almost indivisible and end up being treated as a single ingredient. They also provide the distinctive flavoring of specific cuisines.

The name is an allusion to the Holy Trinity of the Christian faith.

Common holy trinities in cuisine are:

the Indian “wet” trinity of garlic, ginger and onion
the Chinese trinity of scallions, ginger and garlic
the Szechuan trinity of green garlic, ginger and chili peppers
the Thai trinity of galangal, kaffir lime and lemon grass
the French Mirepoix trinity of celery, onion and carrot
the Lebanese trinity of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil
the Italian Soffritto trinity of tomato, garlic and basil
the Spanish Sofrito trinity of garlic, onion and tomato cooked in olive oil
the Louisiana Creole or Cajun trinity of chopped celery, bell peppers, and onions

Wikipedia: Paul Prudhomme
Paul Prudhomme (born July 13, 1940) is an American chef famous for his Cajun cuisine.

The youngest of thirteen children, Prudhomme was reared on a farm near Opelousas, the seat of St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Members of his family had been active as cooks and in the restaurant business in and around Lafayette, Louisiana. In 1979, he and his late wife, Kay Hinrichs Prudhomme, opened K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen® in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In the early-1980s, the restaurant made the dish of blackened redfish famous. Once considered poor table fare, this fish gained popularity, due largely to the Cajun specialty dish that he created. Redfish were harvested in great numbers until stocks were dangerously low. Various state and federal wildlife agencies and conservation groups began a concerted effort to restore redfish populations, limiting it to sports fish status in almost all coastal states, and regulating other harvests. Redfish numbers have since recovered, making them one of the most targeted saltwater game fish in the U.S.

Prudhomme has been a key figure in taking Cajun cooking from a style little known outside of the Acadiana region of southwest Louisiana and propelling it to national fame. He is the creator of seasonings such as Meat Magic, Vegetable Magic, and Poultry Magic. He is sometimes credited with having invented the turducken, though this has not been verified. 

11 November 1981, New York (NY) Times, “Catfish, Long a Southern Delicacy, Branches Out” by Craig Claiborne, pg. C6:
Red snapper, yes; it was basted for an hour or longer with a Creole tomato sauce made with chopped green peppers, chopped onion and celery (a friend of mine once called the combination of chopped peppers, onion and celery the holy trinity of Creole cooking).

19 January 1982, North Hills News Record (Warrendale, PA), “New Orleans savors being America’s chef” by Ellen Brown, pg. 13, col. 2:
Creole and Cajun are united by an overall use of peppers and spices—especially jalapeno and cayenne. Many Creole dishes then add a basic seasoning mixture of oregano, thyme, bay leaf and basil, and the “Holy Trinity of Creole”—green onions, celery and bell pepper. 

11 May 1983, New York (NY) Times, “Cajun Cooking: A Taste of the Bayou” by Marian Burros, pg. C1:
But even as the cooking changes it never strays far from what its foremost exponent, Paul Prudhomme, calls the “holy trinity”: onions, celery and green peppers, always called bell peppers. The outside observe is inclined to add two more fundamentals: cayenne, which provides the famous afterbite, and a flour-based roux.

6 May 1984, New York (NY) Times, pg. 437:
In both Cajun and Creole cookery, finely chopped onion, celery and green peppers are the “holy trinity” of the kitchen. Tomatoes, according to Prudhomme, do not play as important a role in Cajun
cookery as they do in Creole, where a great many creations would be impossible without them. The numerous ingredients native to both cuisines include cornmeal, okra, grits and, of course, crawfish.

17 August 1984, New York (NY) Times, “Cajun-Creole fare comes to TriBeCa” by Marian Burros, pg. C18:
Despite such lapses, Miss Trilling is generally knowledgeable about the qualities of Cajun-Creole cooking. She knew that redfish was good long before Paul Prudhomme made it famous by blackening it, and she serves it with love sauce, which is a zesty crawfish étoufée, made with crawfish fat, plus a combination known in Louisiana as the Holy Trinity: green pepper, onion and celery. 

24 February 1999, Elyria (OH) Chronicle-Telegram, pg. C8, col. 4:
Ingredients he uses time and again include the Cajun “trinity” onion, green bell pepper and celeryroux (made with flour, vegetable oil and unsalted butter) seafood stock and a family formula seasoning blend called mama Bazzell’s. 

17 December 1999, The Capital (Annapolis, MD), Entertainment section, pg. 2, col. 2:
Some maintain that creole cooking uses more tomatoes than cajun dishes. Both cuisines make generous use of a seasoning called file powder and the culinary “holy trinity” of chopped green peppers, onions and celery. 

6 August 2004, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, “Festival features New Orleans-style cooking,” pg. B2, col. 5:
“Peppers, onions and celery are the holy trinity, the base of all New Orleans-style cooking,” said Billy Hubel, the general manager at Lock III, as he prepared for Thursday’s opening of the fest.

26 January 2005, Gettysburg (PA) Times, pg. B5, col. 1:
Gumbo is a New Orleans favorite. “The liberal use of tomatoes, green peppers, onions and celery, which is called the trinity, epitomizes the very essence of Louisiana Creole-style cooking,” Michael Skibetcky, lecturing instructor in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America says.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Wednesday, October 31, 2007 • Permalink