Clementine Paddleford on making Café-au-Lait

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The late American food writer, Cementine Paddleford describes how to make Café-au-Lait, ‘New Orleans-style’, in her book The Best in American Cooking, now unfortunately out of print but still available second-hand (we found our copy in an Oxfam bookshop, left behind by an American who obviously loved it so much, they noted all the page numbers of the recipes they cooked regularly at the back of the book in blue pencil).

Clementine suggests that you pour the milk or half milk and cream into a saucepan and heat to boiling point ‘while your coffee is dripping in a French drip pot’. The drippings, she assures us must be ‘as slow as New Orleans molasses in January’. In New Orleans, she says they say ‘Honey, if you can hear it drippin’, it’s drippin’ too fast’.

Clementine Paddleford was a pioneering food writer who travelled the length and breadth of America from 1948 onwards, collecting and curating over 2,000 recipes of home cooks, travelling 800,000 miles to create a book of culinary history called How America Eats. She is one of the reasons why women write about food as well as cook it.  Read more about Clementine Paddleford on Wikipedia.

The New York Times called Clementine the ‘Nellie Bly’ of culinary journalism, ‘a go-anywhere, taste-anything, ask-everything kind of reporter who traveled more than 50,000 miles a year in search of stories in a day when very few food editors strayed far from their desks.’ Read the full article in the New York Times biography of Clementine Paddleford.

Women you should know: Clementine Paddleford


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