If you find the terms cajun and creole interchangeable, this primer on authentic Louisiana cooking from Gulf Coast natives Hand and Paul will school you with delicious lessons in the subtleties of each. Devoting the first third to everything from seasoning a new iron skillet and defining local favorites (Ribbon Cane Syrup, Filé Powder) to a timeline of Louisiana culinary history, Hand and Paul ably guide newcomers toward the first recipes: 18 classic sauces (Remoulade, Espagnole, etc.) that crop up often. Entrees include well-loved standards like Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya and Bananas Foster, as well as Cajun takes on ribs, roast duck and popcorn balls (known as Tac Tac, theyre laced with pecans). Catering to extra-regional tastes, Hand and Paul offer key variations, such as five basic gumbos, that illustrate the breadth of a staple. Novices might be intimidated by the sheer number of ingredients required for a given dish (Vegetarian Gumbo calls for 24), though its mainly herbs and spices adding to the count; well-stocked cooks should get by with a minimal investment in new spices. The authors devotion to doing things the right wayhomemade stocks, fresh herbs, etc.isnt for everyone, but the New Orleans-authentic results are surefire crowd-pleasers. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.