BATON ROUGE, LA
Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center
Michael Loupe, executive chef at the historic four-diamond Baton Rouge Hilton, is a Louisiana native and seafood expert. He has spent years traveling the world promoting the unique cuisine that the state is known for.
“I haven’t noticed anything different in any of the Gulf seafood. We're a fine dining restaurant - we wouldn’t serve any food that was questionable," he told me over Labor Day weekend.
So for you, our loyal readers, I took his word and spent Saturday eating Gulf blue crab, and shrimp, and Louisiana Redfish, and freshwater crawfish ... Oh, the things I'll try for Whole Living! (more please...)
Since the BP environmental disaster, we have all learned more about the crucial role that the Gulf of Mexico plays in our food supply: 30% of the domestic seafood we eat comes from the Gulf, and 70% of that is from Louisiana waters. There have been 27,000 tests done on the quality, and the majority of them say it's safe, though questions remain. (On September 3, about 5,000 square miles were reopened for commercial and recreational and fishing.)
Tourism has taken a hit says Jim Hutchinson, assistant secretary of the Louisiana tourism office. "We're not all walking around in oil," he says. "Louisiana is such a unique state, mainly known for our seafood and hospitality. It's still great."
He wonders how this became only Louisiana's seafood problem, and hopes the media will show more of what is really going on to help change the misperceptions. "Just when we seemed to be coming out of Hurricane Katrina, this happens."
So I will continue updating you over the next few days on my experiences down here in Cajun country. But if you don't want to try the seafood for yourself, you can always try the genetically-modified salmon that the FDA now says is safe.