ROUSES_Summer2023_Magazine Pages-Web





Quick-Pickled Vegetables




Helping the Gulf Coast Grow Since 1923

My very first job at Rouses Markets — at least, the first job I got paid for in anything other than candy — was in the Produce department at our store on Audubon Drive in Thibodaux.

I cleaned and stocked the shelves. I unloaded the trucks. I washed and crisped (crisping is “produce speak” for misting) spinach, kale and other greens, which are on the wet wall. That’s what we call our fresh greens section. Not many things were prepacked back then. I cut up ripe watermelons and cantaloupes. You can tell if a watermelon is ripe if it is symmetrical for the shape, heavy for the size, and has a yellowish spot where the melon was lying on the ground. Cantaloupes will have smooth, somewhat sunken, and rounded stems and a sweet, musky aroma. They will smell…like cantaloupe. The grapes came in bulk so we had to overwrap them, which means we picked out a perfect bunch, placed them on a tray, wrapped them, and weighed them. Nowadays they come in baggies

or clamshells. We also overwrapped the strawberries, which came in little green pint containers. I loved working in the Produce department, learning all of the different varieties of fruits and vegetables — plus, it wasn’t as cold as the Meat department. My boss was Kerry Adams, who is now one of our top produce buyers. Kerry started out as a Produce Clerk at Rouses #1, our very first supermarket, which was in Thibodaux. It was also the first store to carry the Rouses name. Kerry became a Produce Manager and then, in 2013, he came to work in our office with, among other people, Mr. Larry Daigle, who was our Local Produce Buyer at the time. Larry literally grew up in the produce business. He started growing and selling mustard and turnip

greens when he was just 13. He sold to my grandfather at our first store, Ciro’s.

Kerry loves to tell people that he was my first boss, and also that, when I came to work for him, my dad said, “Do not give him any special treatment, or you’ll hear about it. I want him to learn.” I was the one who cleaned all of the produce cases that summer, so I guess you could say he didn’t give me any special treatment…. We had the idea for the cover of this issue on a Tuesday at 4:57pm. It was Kerry who jumped into action and got our partner Capital City Produce to deliver all of the fresh fruits and vegetables on the truck to our office first thing the very next day for the photoshoot.

— Donny Rouse, CEO, 3 rd Generation



SARAH BAIRD Sarah Baird is the author of multiple books, including New Orleans Cocktails and Flask , which was released in summer 2019. A 2019 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, her work has been featured in The New York Times , Washington Post , Saveur , Eater , Food & Wine and The Guardian , among others. Previously, she served as restaurant critic for the New Orleans alt-weekly, Gambit Weekly , where she won Critic of the Year in 2015 for her dining reviews. DAVID W. BROWN David W. Brown is a freelance writer whose work appears in The Atlantic , The New York Times , Scientific American and The New Yorker . His most recent book, The Mission: A True Story , a rollicking adventure about a motley band of explorers on a quest to find oceans on Europa, is in bookstores now. Brown lives in New Orleans. Contributors


Creative Director & Editor Marcy Nathan

Susan Langenhennig Granger is editor of Preservation in Print magazine and director of communications and marketing for the Preservation Resource Center in New Orleans. Prior to that she was a news editor, reporter and feature columnist for The Times-Picayune and POPPY TOOKER Poppy Tooker is a native New Orleanian who has spent her life immersed in the vibrant colors and flavors of her state. Poppy spreads her message statewide and beyond via her NPR affiliated radio show and podcast, “Louisiana Eats!”

Art Director, Layout & Design Eliza Schulze

Illustrator Kacie Galtier

Designer Mary Ann Florey

Marketing Coordinator Harley Breaux

Copy Editor Patti Stallard

Advertising & Marketing ron bonacci Tim Acosta Amanda Kennedy Stephanie Hopkins

Nancy Besson Taryn Clement

Marketing Interns Peyton finch Charlotte Ghrist



In Every Issue 1 Helping the Gulf Coast

Raised Right Here 17 100 Years of City Produce by David W. Brown

Food & Drinks 52 Bee’s Knees

32 Ruling the Roost by David W. Brown

38 Crystal’s History Is Peppered with Milestones by David W. Brown

Grow Since 1923 by Donny Rouse

Honey Syrup

Honey Strawberry Tea Cooler

5 Letter from the Editor by Marcy Nathan

19 Heart & Soil: Family Truck Farms by Sarah Baird 23 The Year Was 1923… 24 Faire Son Marché (Makin’ Groceries) by Sarah Baird

42 Farm to Glass by David W. Brown

West Indies Salad

Fried Eggplant Sticks

9 Cookin’ on Hwy. 1 with Tim Acosta

45 All About Rice

53 Pork Chops with Garlic and Herbs

13 Our Roots Are in the Local Produce Business by Ali Rouse Royster

48 Busy Bees by Susan Langenhennig Granger 50 To Bee or Not to Bee by Susan Langenhennig Granger

55 How to Roast Sweet Potatoes

56 Quick-Pickled Vegetables

30 Go Behind the Beans as Camellia Celebrates 100 Years by David W. Brown

Stuffed Tomatoes

57 Grilled Corn Cacio e Pepe How to Grill Green or Spring Onions 58 Fresh Green Onion Sausage Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits

59 How to Grill Pineapple

How to Roast Asparagus

60 Grilled Pound Cake with Peaches

61 Mango Royale

Photo by Romney Caruso



Letter from the Editor By Marcy Nathan

In addition to celebrating 100 years of City Produce, we are celebrating our Rouses Magazine ; I’m personally celebrating 10 years as Editor in Chief of the publication. We’ve spent a lot of time, as we worked on this landmark issue, remembering where we’ve been.

W e’d seen other grocery store publications, and wanted to start our own. The majority of these publications are recipe-focused, which is great. But the Gulf Coast gives us so much more material to work with — the culture here is like nowhere else. It was important to us that, along with recipes, we also feature the people, places, restaurants, bars, music and everything else that make our region so unique. Those are the things that I love about living here. From our very first issue, which had Creole tomatoes on the cover — and quite a few typos — we quickly gained a loyal following. FOOD & DRINK In our early issues, we featured so much about red beans and rice, white beans and catfish, jambalaya, and an inordi nate amount of spaghetti — spaghetti and meatballs, spaghetti mac and cheese, even weenie spaghetti with hot dogs or Vienna sausages — that at one point, I worried we might’ve run the same story twice. So, we expanded our menu. New Orleans was home for me, but like most New Orleanians, I was well-acquainted with and cherished all of the Gulf Coast, from the beaches of coastal Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, to the inland towns and rural areas where so much of the country’s produce is grown and harvested each year. With so many great stories to tell, we also started theming our issues. We began dedicating entire editions to Bourbon, Barbecue, Pizza, Pasta, Hamburgers, Garlic, Seafood, Steaks and comforting Southern Food. (One of the stranger things I learned while researching that Garlic issue is that you can taste garlic with your feet. Really!) We argued endlessly about gumbo and whether or not it should have tomatoes, as

well as what color jambalaya should be. We unwittingly left the rice out of Tommy Rouse’s jambalaya recipe and got hundreds of calls and letters and emails telling us just that — it was ricemaggedon . We did a word search in our 60th anniversary issue and acciden tally cut off the last line. We blackened absolutely everything for our Cajun issue…including the table that we were shooting on. We’ve created multiple Italian issues because, let’s be real here, one helping of Italian food is never enough. And two Mardi Gras issues. To be perfectly honest, we might not be done covering these themes; we are truly spoiled with a wealth of subject matter. We drank so much tequila for our Cocktail issue that I can barely remember writing any of the stories — or my letter. I freaked out a colleague in Thibodaux when I told him that I cracked a very expensive bottle as I was moving it to New Orleans for a photoshoot for our Bourbon issue — that is still one of my favorite pranks. I tried to prank our chef Marc, but he spotted someone filming and quickly stepped out of the way; I got pie in the face instead of him. In every issue, we’ve shared tips from our experts on choosing steak and fish, and on baking, including sharing popular recipes like our Gentilly cake and Cajun tarte à la bouille pie. Now, we intentionally repeat ourselves every once in a while, rerunning your favorite stories and recipes; we run our Holiday 101s every year. Thankfully, we have avoided repeating the same holiday recipes and stories every year — do you really need a recipe for a sandwich made with leftover turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce? One year we fried turkeys with Chef Nathan Richard, a 20-year veteran of the volunteer fire department in his hometown of Thibodaux. Last year we featured an



authentic Cuban flan recipe, porchetta (which almost none of us could pronounce), and the Chinese Zodiac for the Lunar New Year. We also baked so many pans of schnecken, to perfect a recipe that was sticky and gooey enough for Christmas morning, that schnecken became a curse word in our office. LOCAL CULTURE When our first issue hit stores, we were already a few years into our “Where the Chefs Shop” campaign (later renamed “Best Chefs and Cooks Shop at Rouses”), a marketing effort I came up with that included chefs like world-renowned Paul Prudhomme, Cajun cooking authority John Folse and many more. It celebrates our region’s chefs, cooks and food makers. We’re about to relaunch it with some great new faces. I’m super-excited! Thanks in part to that campaign, we’ve been able to run exclusive interviews with chefs and cooks from all over. I feel like they all talked about learning to cook at their mother or father or grandparent’s side. Like you, roots mean everything to them. To me, too. For those among us who are cookbook enthusiasts, we’ve covered a range, from chef-driven to community-based, including cherished regional cookbooks that are passed down between generations. Even if you’re not a cook, they make for great reads. I have my own tattered copies of Talk About Good!, River Road Recipes, Pirate’s Pantry and Recipe Jubilee! We’ve run endless lists, often with contri butions from our customers: Best Dressed (po-boys), Pit Stops (barbecue), Pearls

(oysters bars), iconic dishes of the Gulf Coast, essential ingredients of the Gulf Coast, our favorite Asian restaurants for our fabulous Asian Food issue…. Right now, we’re working on the Best Saints Bars for our upcoming Saints issue. We’ve covered festivals that celebrate food, wine, music, boudin and beer, and anything else recognized with a celebration. Let’s be honest: Down here, we will throw a party for just about anything. Music journal ists have delved into the unique soundtracks of New Orleans, Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, Festival International, and other events from around the region. Folklorists have provided insights into local traditions, including Cajun humor. We even drew our own comic strip with the Cajun duo Boudreaux and Thibodeaux. We’ve shared local traditions of every hometown we serve. In 2017, we recorded the definitive interview with the Cajun Cannon, Bobby Hebert himself, and then-LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron, for our Tailgating issue. It took

me four hours to transcribe it, and I’m still not sure I got it completely right because of the accents. Together, the pair brought home the state title for the South Lafourche High School Tarpons in 1977. OUR WRITERS Storytelling is so important to a magazine, especially this one, and I’ve heard every excuse for writers missing deadlines.



when Pableaux and I were having coffee at a local donut shop, a woman delivered a baby in the bathroom. It was straight out of TLC’s I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant. We’ve also featured excerpts from renowned writers such as Rick Bragg and Ken Wells, who hails from Bayou Blue and began his career at The Houma Courier. Wells went on to become a longtime writer for The Wall Street Journal and has authored five novels centered around the Cajun bayous. Upcoming issues include our Fall Saints edition, with stories by Mary Beth Romig. The Romig family has a strong connection to the New Orleans Saints, for whom we are the official supermarket. Mary Beth’s brother, Mark Romig, serves as the Saints’ PA announcer; their late father, Jerry, was the original PA announcer for the team. Our holiday theme is Cocktails, and hopefully Wayne Curtis and Robert Simonson will once again be lending their libation expertise. Curtis has contributed to publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Garden & Gun, and is the author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails, while Simonson writes extensively on cocktails, spirits, bars and bartenders for The New York Times. Writers, if I left your name out, you were probably late turning in your story…. OUR TEAM I have been surrounded by very talented people from the very first issue. But if you’ve been a regular reader of this magazine, you’ve surely noticed changes over the years. When our art director, Eliza Schulze, joined our team four-plus years ago, her talents and creativity really took our design to a whole new level. She gives each magazine a distinct feel to match the distinct theme. Kacie Galtier caught my eye as a chalk artist who created signs for our stores. I was so excited when we brought the Chalk department into our Marketing department! You’ve seen Kacie’s original illustrations throughout this magazine in the past five years, and on our reusable bags. Kacie also designed our 100 Years of City Produce logo.

One writer who lived on the edge and, let’s just say, had a relationship of conve nience with the truth, claimed cracked ribs, twice — different ribs, by the way — and two bouts of food poisoning, all within the same year. There have been a lot of dead relatives and sick friends, excuses I chose to believe, even when the same person died twice. And while no one has ever claimed that their dog ate their story, one writer did miss a deadline because of a goat. One writer began channeling the poet ee cummings and turned in a story without punctuation. Our copy editor threatened to quit if I hired that writer again. But, overall, the quality of writing from our contributors has been exceptional. Sarah Baird is a prolific writer and our most frequent contributor. Baird’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, Saveur, and Food & Wine, and she has authored three books on cocktails. She has never missed a deadline. She has also never owned a goat (to the best of our knowledge). Baird also pens our original horoscopes, which we feature once or twice a year. David W. Brown is a longtime contributor to our magazine. His impressive command of language has earned him recognition in publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Atlantic, but his mother in Gonzales only reads our Rouses

Magazine. Brown has a new book that documents his two Antarctic expeditions, and he asked us to feature an excerpt in our magazine to ensure his mom doesn’t miss it. I assign any stories on potted meat, pickled pig’s feet, pineapple on pizza or anything unappetizing to him. Our team of contributors includes “Louisiana Eats!” host Poppy Tooker, cookbook author and Cajun food expert Marcelle Bienvenu, and Southern Food & Beverage Museum founder Liz Williams. Additional food contributors include Toni Tipton Martin, Michael Twitty, Justin Nystrom, Sara Roahen, food editor Judy Walker, and cookbook authors Lolis Eric Elie and Kit Wohl. Our cheese writer, Liz Thorpe, authored her definitive The Book of Cheese. Don Dubuc, aka the Outdoors Guy, covers outdoor topics for us. Food writer and photographer Pableaux Johnson has been our authority on red beans. I’ve been fortunate enough to get a seat at his Monday night red bean dinner. Once



“I don’t think there is any other supermarket that has a better magazine, and I don’t know if there are any food magazines that are better, anywhere.” — Donny Rouse, CEO, 3 rd Generation

Mary Ann Florey was practically raised in Regina’s Kitchen, the legendary lunch spot in Mobile, Alabama. She uses her expertise — and friends and family — to help research, develop and cook recipes to go with our stories. Harley Breaux, our marketing coordinator, keeps us in line and on track. She and the rest of our amazing marketing team also contribute ideas for stories and recipes and photos. Romney Caruso is our go-to food photographer. He has been a professional photographer for more than 25 years. You may not know that we prepare and photo graph most of the food in this magazine at our Downtown New Orleans store. The photo studio is really our office. We don’t use any clever tricks to make the food look delicious, like subbing mashed potatoes for ice cream. And we eat almost every thing we make on shoot days — everyone brings Tupperware; the rest we deliver to the Community Refrigerators around town. Patti Stallard is our copy editor, proof reader and copywriter. She has decades of editorial experience in marketing and

publishing, and her copyediting comments are so insightful and witty that we could easily dedicate an entire magazine to them one day — and probably will. We take turns reading them out loud to each other. ROUSES FAMOUS I am honored every time you tell me you read an issue. I am tickled pink when you’ve recognized me in one of our stores. I know someone who plays in a second line band who describes himself as “city famous.” Me? I am Rouses famous, and proud of it. I have shared a lot of myself on these pages. And you have shared a lot with me in return. I love hearing your family stories and reading your family recipes. I wish I had more of my own to share, but I’m better at appreciating food than preparing it. It’s not just me, either. People tell our Marketing and Advertising Director, Tim Acosta, they feel like they know him from his magazine column, “Cooking on Hwy. 1.” It happened this week on an intro ductory Zoom call! I’ve been with Tim in

stores when customers have come up to ask him, “Whatcha cookin’?” He needs an hour to answer. I spent most of my career on the adver tising agency side helping a variety of local brands, as well as major national brands like Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses, define their personalities, before I crossed over to Rouses Markets full-time. None of it was as fun — or as fattening — as this. In my Editor position, and in my role as Creative Director for Rouses Markets, I’m lucky enough to work with some pretty amazing people, and to share my ideas and much of my world with you. This magazine really has been a passion project for our entire Marketing department for 10 years. The magazine is lagniappe — a little something extra — but we wouldn’t give up the extra work for anything. We do it because we love to do it. And we hope you love it, too.



There’s no getaway like a Brett/Robinson getaway! The sound of the waves as they crash on the shore…the feeling of sugar-white sands beneath your toes…the refreshing smell of the salty sea breeze…and the spectacular view from your balcony is an experience you can taste for yourself during your stay on the Alabama Gulf Coast. All five of your senses will thank you!


get real

REAL LOUISIANA GOODNESS IS EASY TO FIND. Look for the Certified logos in Rouses Markets to support Louisiana businesses and families, and keep your dollars at home.































ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Back in college, I knew there was something different about my New Orleans upbringing the first time I suggested to someone that we cross the street to the “neutral ground.” He looked at me as if I were from Mars and asked, “The what? Do you mean the median?” Until that moment, I don’t believe I’d heard that word before. I only knew that grassy strip as the neutral ground. The same style of New Orleans idiosyncrasy holds true when it comes to shallots vs. green onions. First as a student and later as a teacher, I would hold up the green shoots in question and ask the assembled: “What do you call this?” Inevitably, non-New Orleanians would answer “green onions” or “scallions,” while locals definitively pronounced them “shallots.” This anomaly passed all class and neighborhood distinctions. If you grew up anywhere in New Orleans, those green onions were shallots! While a little historical research quickly yields several plausible explanations for our neutral ground vernacular, the same does not hold true for the shallot. As a child, I first learned about those little bulb onions, French shallots, from Julia Child on PBS. Even then I was puzzled, but no one could offer an explanation why — despite what Julia said — in New Orleans green onions are shallots. Then one year I planted French shallots in my garden, and up from the ground came green shoots that looked and tasted much like green onions. That’s when it dawned on me that those original French settlers must have brought root vegetables and seeds with them to plant in New Orleans. It seems very plausible that, when old Creole recipes called for shallots, they were using the green, shallot tops, likely from their own gardens. Some Creole recipes even specified using only the green shallot tops while discarding the white bottoms with roots. So…why do we call green onions shallots? Let’s just say it’s a neutral ground kind of thing! – Poppy Tooker, Producer and Host of “Louisiana Eats!”

Cookin’ on Hwy. 1 By Tim Acosta, Advertising & Marketing Director

A s we’ve been gearing up for our 100 Years of City Produce celebration, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about shallots. While some may argue that what much of Louisiana calls a shallot is actually a spring onion, I challenge anyone to convince the farmers in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, where sprawling fields of shallots were grown for generations. In photos, the shallots really are a sight to behold, with their giant green onion-like stalks and flowering bulbs. We looked through the Packer Produce Red Book from 1927, which is like a phone book for farmers. It lists scallions and shallots, but no spring onions. We also looked at our old City Produce ad, which screams: “All shallot growers, we are now buying Shallots bunched or in the field, see us before you sell!” The City Produce phone number was only a few digits long. My father-in-law and our founder, Anthony J. Rouse, Sr., worked at the T&P Shed washing and sorting shallots for his dad’s company, City Produce, and he was always telling old stories about loading shallots onto the railcars in Thibodaux to be shipped north. I can remember passing fields of shallots in Chackbay and Schriever, and seeing the old trucks parked beneath the stately oak trees, loaded down with bushels of shallots

alongside crisp heads of cabbage and other vegetables. Mr. Anthony really was a farmer at heart; he had his own backyard garden. I would sometimes help with harvesting the shallots. We would separate them into similar sizes, and secure them into a neat bunch with a blue rubber band. (They still bunch them that way today.) What the family didn’t need, Mr. Anthony sent to the Thibodaux store. All of this talk about old-time shallots has our produce team working with today’s growers to regionally source spring bulb shallots throughout the year. Stay tuned.

ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Elmer’s CheeWees are a snack made in New Orleans. Unlike most cheese curls, they are baked instead of fried. The Green Onion flavor is crafted using a blend of aged sharp cheese and Elmer’s own mild, sweet green onion spices.



Delight your palate with Italian quality, taste and style (and no artificial Available in these varieties: Ginger Beer, Tonic Water, Club Soda, Light Tonic Water Saluti! sweeteners!). Rouses Italian Sparkling Mixers are designed to make every cocktail and mocktail taste delicious.




Find us In the seafood section ™

Scan for easy shrimp recipes

exclusively at

from the freezer to the pot

From the pot to the plate



© 2023 Community Co ee Company

Vidalia sweet onions are exclusive to a specific region in South Georgia, which encompasses 20 counties and is centered around Vidalia, Georgia and Toombs County. Most onions owe their pungency to sulfur in the soil, but the soil in the Vidalia region contains very little sulfur. As a result, the onions grown in this area are exceptionally mild and won’t make your eyes water when you cut them. The weather in the region is also ideal for growing Vidalia sweet onions, with average winter temperatures in the mid-50s, spring temperatures in the mid-70s, and an average monthly rainfall of 3.5 inches during the growing season.

Our Roots Are in the Local Produce Business By Ali Rouse Royster, 3 rd Generation L ong after he opened our family’s grocery store, my grandfather’s heart was still in produce, which is where he got his start. I can practically still hear his voice lift up in excitement, about to tell a story of going out into the fields or down to the packing sheds with his dad — my great grandfather, J.P. Rouse, who I unfortunately never met. More than just telling stories about the past, Pa continued to work with produce farmers, both locally and worldwide, for as long as I can remember, and right up until the end. He loved visiting fields near and far, to purchase directly from farmers where he could, and to learn about innovations in farming — and with the modernity of global shipping, to see what was amazing and available to bring in for his neighbors, our customers at Rouses. When Pa started to slow down a little from actively managing most aspects of the business he founded, leaving the hustle and bustle to his sons, one of the first things I remember him doing was planting a few rows of crops on the batture, a little section of land that fronts the bayou across the street from his house, adding to his already large collection of backyard crops. I remember crossing the road to go see him when he was working in the garden with a few of my cousins, tending his cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and, at one point, watermelons. I know a lot of his fondness for produce fields is a testament to his early life with his dad, and a lot of my fondness for local produce certainly comes from him, which links me back to a great grandfather I wasn’t lucky enough to cross paths with, but whose roots still certainly ground our family.

Photo by Channing Candies


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real cajun tm & still family since 1955

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SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS This product was prepared from inspected and passed meat and/or poultry. Some food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly. For your protection, follow these safe handling instructions. Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces

SAFE HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS This product was prepared from inspected and passed meat and/or poultry. Some food products may contain bacteria that could cause illness if the product is mishandled or cooked improperly. For your protection, follow these safe handling instructions. Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thaw in refrigerator or microwave. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces



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(including cutting boards), utensils, and hands after touching raw meat or poultry. Cook thoroughly.

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COOKING INSTRUCTIONS: Cook to internal temperature of 165° F.

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All brands are property of their respective owners. © 2023.

J.P. Rouse founded the City Produce Co. in 1923, bringing fruits and vegetables from local, independent farms to the rest of Louisiana and eventually to stores around the country.

Scan to experience our City Produce story.


100 Years of City Produce By David W. Brown City Produce is the first company that the Rouse family started after arriving in America from Sardinia.

“A round 1899, my great grandpa came over from Italy,” says Donald Rouse. “He came in through New York with a sponsor, and he had to get work. He had to be settled in before he could send for his wife — my great-grandmother — and my grandpa.” The immigrant moved to Westwego, adjacent to New Orleans, where there was a thriving Italian community. There, he found a job on a little farm, and worked tirelessly until he could afford to set up a sharecropper deal with the landowners. “That is how he started in the farming business.” Donald’s great-grandmother, and two children, came over in 1900. Donald’s grandfather, Joseph “J.P.” Rouse, was barely a year old then. In the early 1920s, J.P. moved to the Thibodaux, Louisiana area, because he felt the ground there was fertile and would be good for farming. Eventually, J.P. was able to buy 10 acres of land. At first, he planted watermelons, tomatoes and shallots — good, reliable local crops. To sell his produce, he opened a little stand on Jackson Street; he would load up whatever he had grown, then bring it all to the stand to sell. Over time, he managed to buy additional land and grow yet more. “When he did that,” says Donald, “he started growing more shallots and bringing them to New Orleans to sell.” He founded his company in 1923, calling it City Produce.


Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh — even as far away as the Caribbean. And they extended the reach of where they bought products, acquiring such crops as potatoes and sweet potatoes from Fairhope, Alabama and rural Mississippi, and red potatoes from areas in South Louisiana. When Anthony Rouse, who later founded Rouses Markets, reached age 14, he climbed into the truck driven by his father, J.P., and joined the family business, going dutifully to the sheds for the unloading, sales, loading and shipping of the produce. Much later, when Donald was a boy, he would join his father, Anthony, at those very sheds. “I remember going to the shed as a kid and watching them load shallots,” Donald recalls. In those days, workers would load shallots into barrels, fill the barrels with ice, stack barrels in a railcar, and add more ice yet, to keep the produce fresh even as it traveled to places far from Louisiana. The produce business had high times and low. City Produce weathered the Great Depression, though Anthony learned well the lessons of that hard time in American history. When J.P. died, Anthony Rouse and his cousin, Ciro, took over City Produce. But there was trouble on the horizon. The produce export business slowed as more products began shipping from Mexico. Concurrently, the oil industry in Louisiana was reaching its peak, and Anthony realized that farmhands would have other work options and would soon be in short supply, which would make CITY PRODUCE TO CIRO’S TO ROUSE’S TO ROUSES

As the company grew, every day he and his small group of employees would load his big green truck with the best produce he had grown, and drive it all over to sell. Because his crops were so prolific, he also brought shallots to what, at the time, were called “the sheds” in Thibodaux, where whole salers would buy the crops, load them up on railcars, and ship them to other markets. (The sheds were a lot like the stands on docks today where you can buy fresh shrimp.) J.P. quickly figured out that he did not need to sell his products to other people to do the shipping — he could do that himself. Eventually, when a shed opened and J.P. could set up shop there, he started selling his shallots to other markets. When demand exceeded his supply, he started buying shallots from other local farmers as well. For the Rouse family, supporting local farmers has always been a priority, and this is one of its earliest instances. Unlike other shippers, J.P. or a member of his team would actually go into the fields where farmers grew shallots, and would talk to the farmers to get a feel for the crops, their likely yields and their quality. J.P. would buy entire fields rather than what was later harvested. Though he never knew exactly how much he was going to get from a harvest, he guaranteed farmers a certain amount of money for the crops — which was a win for everybody — and many local farmers soon worked out similar deals with him. J.P. and his men began shipping produce out of Thibodaux to markets such as Dallas,

For the Rouse family, supporting local farmers has always been a priority.


the company harder yet to keep going. So Ciro started looking far and wide for what could be the family’s next move in the food business, and soon settled on the idea of opening a grocery store in Houma. “They named it Ciro’s because, when you hung the letters on the outside of the store, Ciro’s had fewer letters than Rouse’s,” says Donald. “That’s a true story.” The two put all their money (and a lot of the bank’s money) into this tiny, 7,000-square foot store, hiring two workers and doing everything else themselves: from stocking merchandise to working the register. Donald joined the company when he was old enough, bagging groceries and rounding up carts out front. When Ciro retired in 1975, Donald bought out Ciro’s interest in the company, and he and his father renamed the store “Rouse’s.” You might have noticed that Rouses stores today lack the apostrophe. The reason is because in those early days, the lightbulb in the punctuation mark kept burning out, and rather than continuing to spend the money fighting a losing battle, Anthony — ever a practical man — decided to take the apostrophe down from the store sign and solve the problem permanently. “We still have relationships with local farmers,” says Donald Rouse. That is one of the best things about being a local company, he says, and generations after the founding of City Produce, Rouses Markets is more committed than ever to local farmers, and to bringing store guests the very best this region has to offer. “I feel like our respon sibility as a company is to give back to the local community. Our responsibility is also to our team members and to our customers.” To serve store guests today Rouses has also established a new partnership with Capitol City Produce in Baton Rouge. For over 75 years, Capitol City Produce, a family-owned company, has provided the best produce of the highest quality for some of the most celebrated members of the culinary world — everyone from The Windsor Court hotel and Ruth’s Chris Steak House to the Ritz-Carlton. Now, shoppers at Rouses can enjoy that same quality, practi cally year-round. ROUSES MARKETS STILL HAS TRUCKS, AND STILL DOES PRODUCE THE J.P. ROUSE WAY

“It’s a good partnership we have with them,” says Donny Rouse, the CEO of Rouses Markets. “We are two family-owned companies with strong roots in the produce business, and with our partnership, we’ll be able to expand our offerings and build more relationships with farmers throughout the Gulf Coast, so we can get that product to our customers.” In addition, the Rouses team travels the country and goes around the world in search of the very best produce grown anywhere, anytime of year. Rouses Markets was one of the first grocery stores in America to offer organic produce and one of the first to bring in such once-exotic items as kiwis from New Zealand, guavas from Honduras and hatch chiles from New Mexico. Today, every Rouses location routinely offers hundreds of different fruits and vegetables for shoppers to enjoy. When it comes to produce, Rouses prides itself on giving busy customers plenty of options. “One thing we continue to do in produce — that a majority of other retailers have gotten away from — is cut and package fresh fruit for our store guests,” says Donny. “We have that in every store — watermelon chunks, pineapple chunks, cantaloupe slices — we still do that every day. The national chains have stopped doing that just to cut their labor force, but that’s not important to me. We will continue offering cut fruit because it’s just what we do and how we will always do business. We offer our customers the best quality and convenience of fruits and vegetables there is.” Innovation, quality and devotion to the community have always been essential parts of the Rouses ethos. They are intertwined with the entrepreneurial spirit that motivated J.P. Rouse and made City Produce a success. That dedication has carried across the generations, to every Rouses location. It is something the Rouse family has been doing for 100 years now. And it all started with a produce truck.

Innovation, quality and devotion to the community have always been essential parts of the Rouses ethos.... That dedication has carried across the generations, to every Rouses location. It is something the Rouse family has been doing for 100 years now. And it all started with a produce truck.


Heart & Soil: Family Truck Farms

from the French word for bartering, troque . “The ‘truck’ in this sense comes from Middle English, trucken , from Old French troque , both meaning to trade, to barter, and springs from the fact that such commodities were often used as items of exchange — paying the local pastor with an occasional bushel of corn, for instance,” explained Merrell Knighten, an English professor at Louisiana State University , in a 1984 syndicated column. It wasn’t long after the rise of truck farms in Louisiana that the term “truck” even became synonymous with fruits and vegetables, the bartered and-sold items themselves. The truck farms were also sometimes known as market gardens; the produce raised on truck farms (leafy greens, peas, artichokes, radishes, tomatoes, orchards of figs — the list is endless) was delicate, meaning that even if it could be shipped long distances to the likes of Memphis or Chicago, the risk of spoiling was too great a financial and product-wasting risk. This ensured that, for most of their popularity, truck farms sold almost exclusively at local public markets, becoming indispensable

community resources and a productive use of the rich farming land that hadn’t yet been targeted for any other type of development (like, ahem, suburban neighborhoods). “The vacant lands in and about New Orleans are the most prolific in the United States, and equal in productiveness the richest soil in the world. The soil is especially well-adapted to the culture of vegetables, and the products are not only large and plentiful, but the flavor of certain kinds is superior to those raised in other and less favorited sections of the country,” The Times-Picayune proclaimed in an 1887 story. “There are thousands of acres of land, relegated to the alligators, snakes and other reptiles, swampy and subject to overflow, which with but little expense, compared to their ultimate value, could be drained and converted into truck farms which would more than doubly repay the cost of reclamation every year.” The same 1887 Times-Picayune article also made note of how different truck farms around New Orleans had found a range of crops that grow splendidly in their specific locations — even if those garden

By Sarah Baird When someone mentions heading to the “truck farm” to buy produce, what picture springs to mind? Perhaps it’s the booming voice of the late, great Mr. Okra in New Orleans, driving his veggie painted technicolor truck through the 9th Ward announcing, “I’ve got mirliton! I’ve got tomatoes! I’ve got cucumbers! It ain’t no use in cooking, if you don’t use fresh veg-e-tables!” Perhaps it’s swinging by a roadside, makeshift farm stand housed on a truck’s tailgate outside of Breaux Bridge, grabbing bundles of collards or turnip greens and slipping cash to the guy sleepily manning his sales post under an umbrella. B etween the end of the Civil War and the suburban sprawl of the mid 20th century, though, a very different type of “truck” farm was crucial to the agricultural ecosystem of South Louisiana. Truck farms were an enterprising, fresh-food-forward way of life for growers and families, feeding residents in urban centers like New Orleans using the yet-to be-developed fertile lands in places like Gretna and Metairie (which even means “farm share” in French) to grow small and mid-sized farm plots of produce intended to be sold hyper-locally to the surrounding community. If heading to Rouses Markets is your idea of buying local in 2023, then checking in with your truck farmer was the 1923 equivalent. Etymologically, the use of the term “truck” farm doesn’t refer to any four-wheeled, rattling Ford or Chevy, but instead comes

If heading to Rouses Markets is your idea of buying local in 2023, then checking in with your truck farmer was the 1923 equivalent.


— were particularly drawn to the truck farm ideal, and local newspapers were consis tently rich with advertisements promising a better existence, and plenty of opportunity, through classifieds about the draw of the market garden lifestyle: ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT BE INDEPENDENT 1926 RAISE WHAT YOU NEED ON A TRUCK FARM ( The Shreveport Times , 1926) ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT WAVELAND, Miss.— 35 acres, with improvements, $750; good for truck farm; adjoining Brown’s vineyard. ( The Times-Picayune , 1899) ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT IN THE “MAGIC CITY” OF BOGALUSA. For sale, 26 truck farms. If you are interested call to-day or to-morrow. ( The Times-Democrat , 1907) ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT PARADIS TRUCK FARM. $500 buys an improved truck farm; any vegetable you grow will make every payment except the first; all farms front the railroad and a good wagon road. ( The Times-Democrat , 1906) With the rise of refrigerated railroad cars and technological advancements that

bettered. Prices of vegetables would lessen; the town would thrive because the merchants would have more customers to purchase their wares; the half million dollars that now goes to other cities would remain at home.” Truck farms were also a way for lower income Louisianans to not only corner the market on a potentially well-paid agricul ture career, but find a place to call home: Truck farms were quite often residen tial spaces for their growers, meaning that buying into the pastoral life of a market gardener was a 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year lifestyle commitment. Many truck farms across the region were operated by African Americans, while Italian American truck farms operated all over Harahan, Kenner and St. Bernard Parish, growing herbs, beans, peas, zucchini and beyond. (A teenage J.P. Rouse got a job at a truck farm in Marrero raising potatoes and cabbages!) Immigrant families — including Chinese laborers who farmed in a collective model near Gretna, both for their local community and, eventually, nationwide shipping

plots were mere miles apart. “Various localities around the city are devoted to particular kinds of vegetables; thus large, fine onions, garlic, sweet and Irish potatoes come from St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish...Grand Island and vicinity [is] noted for furnishing the finest and earliest cauliflowers...Metairie and the rear of the city for the earliest potatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, eggplants. The best canta loupes come from the farms along Metairie Ridge.” Truck farms soon became viewed as economic engines for cities, serving as catalysts for growth and sustainability by keeping precious grocery consumer dollars local. “Fully self-sustaining, close enough to the city to be called ‘suburban’ and far enough out to enjoy country life... truck farms are city builders. Why should not Shreveport export green produce instead of import it?” The Shreveport Times lamented in 1924 as part of an impas sioned plea for truck farms entitled — yes, all caps — TRUCK FARMS NEEDED HERE . “As much as those who started truck farms would benefit, the city would be as much


Tangipahoa Parish, for example: Amite City was described as a strawberry-centered growing spot for truck farmers as far back as 1892. “Amite City is surrounded by a country which is an ideal one for perfect truck farming. It is considered to be the best in this whole section of the country. Straw berries…are produced in abundance and form the main shipments from this place to the markets North, West and South,” The Weekly Times-Democrat of New Orleans proclaimed in 1892. “The industry, truck farming, peculiar to this part of the country, is in its highest element of success in and around this town.” The strawberries grown in and around Amite City today might not be on truck farms, but the spirit of the market gardeners’ ingenuity lives on through sheer quantity — Tangipahoa Parish presently grows 79% of Louisiana’s strawberry crop. The ways in which seeds planted by truck farmers have sprouted into deeply rooted cultural phenomena will continue to grow, even as market gardens themselves are tilled over into the fertile soil of memory.

systems with refrigerated trucks spread tentacles across America, making moving produce long-distance simpler, and airlines took flight, eager to take shipments of produce in their bellies. In the span of a decade, large-scale, big business farming — complete with mechanization and lab-engineered chemical sprays, like herbicides — squashed the homespun truck farms in a David vs. Goliath battle that was over before it even began. “The thoroughbred truck farmer is, like the whooping crane, a vanishing breed...[and] truck farming as the sole source of income is becoming a scarce situation,” Kathy Tilley wrote for The Town Talk in 1971. “The shrinking truck farm industry is directly related to labor problems. The small farmer can’t afford mechanical harvesters and at the same time manual labor is not available in abundance. Competition is another problem, not rivalry between local farmers but crops imported from other areas.” Even still, the crop-based culture built by truck farmers — where local residents celebrate produce that’s special to their area — hasn’t faded with time. Take

helped move prone-to-rotting fruits and vegetables longer distances, truck farm produce was also eventually carted out of Louisiana to wholesalers nationwide — though the emphasis on local-first sales never waivered when compared to the gambit of out-of-state shipping. “At present, satsuma oranges are moving to markets in large express shipping from Oakdale. Saturday one dozen crates left for northern markets carrying fine samples of the Oakdale fruit. This fruit was shipped from the John J. Seily truck farm of Oakdale and according to report are of the best on the market,” detailed a 1929 Clarion-News article about the bounty being hauled out of the small Allen Parish community. “The truck farm...contains around 105 bearing trees...[with] an average of 500 orange or more. They are now good and ripe and will be harvested within the next two weeks. Already many crates have been sold to local markets.” By the 1950s and 1960s, though, the small-is-good, market-selling ethos of truck farms found itself beginning to look like a relic of the recent past as highway

A Bunch More About Onions ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Spring onions are known as shallots in many parts of Louisiana. Young onions that are harvested before they have fully matured, spring onions have a bulbous white base that looks a bit like a mini onion. The have a mild, slightly sweet onion flavor. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Green onions , also known as scallions , are also sometimes referred to as shallots , especially in New Orleans. These onions are harvested when they are very young and have not yet formed a bulb. The white bottom part is usually firmer than the green top and has a more intense flavor, while the green part is milder tasting with a more delicate texture. The green part can also be used raw as a garnish — and is often used as a topping for a whole host of Cajun and Creole dishes, like crawfish etouffée and jambalaya. ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT Shallots are another form of onion altogether. They have a more complex and nuanced flavor than green onions do, with a subtle sweetness and a hint of garlic-like flavor. Their flesh is whitish-purple. Shallots do form a bulb, which is made up of multiple cloves similar to garlic. Shallots are grown in many parts of the world, but they are particularly associated with France, where they are an important ingredient in classic French cuisine — and are always found in the culinary arsenal of gourmet chefs in any country. Dried shallots are typically sold as a spice, while fresh shallots are sold as whole bulbs, with the brown papery skin intact. You can find them in the produce department alongside onions and garlic. 21 WWW.ROUSES.COM ARROW-CIRCLE-RIGHT A leek and a green onion are related, but they are not the same thing. Leeks have a mellower, less tangy flavor compared to most varieties of onions, with a subtle hint of garlic.

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