Celestial and Roy are newlyweds with a promising future ahead of them. Enjoying each other’s company, working hard at jobs they love, they’re convinced that life will always be wonderful. Then something happens that only a black man in America can remotely understand, and the strength of their relationship is tested.
What impressed me the most is how deftly the story was crafted, bringing me to such a strong, emotional response at the very end. People are so complex, that it’s possible to not even truly know yourself, let alone someone you love. What a complex story, with characters I cared about so much that I wanted to intervene to help them through their difficulties.
THE BEAUTY: Roy mused on the first page of the book, that some people stay in the place where they were born for their whole lives. Although I did not take that path myself, there are many places that have been home to me, and evoke a strong emotional response when I revisit those places. This is one of them.
The first meal Big Roy cooked for his son when he got out of prison was salmon croquettes. Roy (the son) was surprised because he had never seen his father cook before. He teased him, saying, “Now you putter around the kitchen like Martha Stewart.” Later, when Andre visits and realizes he’ll have to spend the night, Big Roy cooks salmon croquettes for him as well.
yield: 13 pieces
1 14.75 ounce can salmon, drained and flaked
2 eggs, lightly beaten, extra egg if desired (for extra crunchiness)
½ C onion, diced
½ tsp minced garlic
1 C panko (divided)
1 tsp white pepper
1-2 green onions diced (about ¼ cup)
½ -1 tsp hot sauce
¼ tsp salt, adjust to taste
1 tsp cajun seasoning
oil for frying
Drain the liquid from the canned salmon into a measuring cup. Flake the salmon into a large bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently mix together the canned salmon, eggs, onion, garlic, ¼ cup panko, white pepper, green onions, hot sauce, cajun seasoning and salt. Refrigerate for 15 minutes before forming croquettes. Take 2-3 tablespoons of the salmon mixture, shape croquettes into an oval shape like an egg. Lightly dip the croquettes into the extra egg mixture, if using, until it is completely coated, then dip in panko.
Heat a small non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat, then add oil about ½ cup. Let oil heat until it reaches about 350º. Gently place croquette in oil using a frying spoon, then fry about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Do in batches to prevent croquettes from being soggy. Transfer to a plate with paper towels and serve warm with remoulade sauce.
¾ C mayonnaise
¼ C Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
1-2 T Creole seasoning
2 T white wine vinegar
1½ T prepared horseradish
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp Tabasco
¼ tsp celery salt
Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. The remoulade is better if left for a few hours to let the flavors meld. Keep refrigerated.
I know, I should have garnished with parsley and lemon. Clearly, I’m no food photographer. But the good news is, if you want something that is pantry-ready, this is a great recipe to have on file. I’m a fan of croquettes, having first learned to make them in 8th grade Home Economics as a way to use Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. The canned salmon works just fine, no need to use leftover cooked salmon. Another keeper recipe for me.