The alluring mystique of the Cajun lifestyle has captivated
people worldwide since Justin Wilson published The Justin Wilson Cookbook
with Pelican in 1965. The very word conjures images of a far-away locale
where the musical beat is infectious and dinner is more than just sustenance.
But just what does it mean to be Cajun and why is it so alluring?
Charley Addison can tell you. He served twenty-five globetrotting years in the navy, taking a two-year break while attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He has cooked gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice in over forty countries, so when he boasts that Cajun cooking is the best, he knows of what he speaks.
At the impressionable age of nine, Charley, an
authentic Cajun from Thibodaux, Louisiana, learned to cook cornbread from his
grandmother's instruction. As a teenager, Charley gained entrée into some of New
Orleans' most notable restaurants through the back door—as an egg salesman.
Balancing a case of freshly harvested country eggs on each shoulder, he
walked down Bourbon Street and into the kitchens of many hallowed French Quarter
Today he's known as Crazy Charley, a moniker he lifted from a
character named Oscar who befriended him in his youth. Oscar, known around town
as the “crazy Cajun,” would spin tall tales for the youngster, captivating his
imagination. Charley's own flair for folklore matches his talent for Cajun
cooking. He has appeared on numerous cooking shows, but nothing beats catching
him live at festivals around the country, spinning his stories and displaying
his line of Cajun sauces.
Charley Addison, a native of Thibodaux, Louisiana, resides with his wife,
Ruth, in Placerville, California. A father of six, Charley is retired from the
navy and enjoys a second career as a Cajun chef. He and Ruth have coauthored
Cooking with Crazy Charley IV: Cajun and Creole Cuisine. In this
cookbook, the pair weave tantalizing family recipes with cultural tales, some
taller than others, to convey the wit, humor, and flavor of a community that
likes its coffee strong and its food stronger.