I should probably preface this blog post by acknowledging that I have a bit of an obsession with Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp. I say “Shreveport-style” because I genuinely believe that this particular kind of stuffed shrimp is a Shreveport thing; more specifically, I believe the recipe originated in the kitchen of the Freeman & Harris Cafe. When it closed, Freeman & Harris Cafe may have been the oldest continually-operated, black-owned restaurant in the United States. That fact gives these stuffed shrimp historical significance, as possibly the oldest surviving menu item from a historically significant black-owned restaurant.
All of this is to say that, to me, these are more than shrimp. They’re history on a plate. Delicious, delicious history.
When Eddie’s Restaurant, 1956 Hollywood Avenue, recently re-opened after five years of closure, the Shreveport Sun ran an article about it in their August 22, 2013 edition. The article stated that “Eddie Hughes, a former chef and manager of the old Freeman & Harris Cafe, was the creator and originator of what is known as ‘stuffed shrimp.'” Earlier this year, I spent about two months looking into the matter of who created the original stuffed shrimp recipe on behalf of Louisiana Kitchen & Culture magazine, and I ended up half-convinced that Willie “Brother” Chapman created the recipe.
The thing about these shrimp is that they are, genuinely, a little different at each restaurant. Many prefer those found at Brother’s Seafood (operated by Willie Chapman’s son, the locally-beloved Chef Orlando Chapman) or C&C Cafe (which is operated by a former Pete Harris Cafe cook, Ms. Connie Robinson). The re-opening of Eddie’s Restaurant makes at least three restaurants that claim to be serving the original, correct recipe for Freeman & Harris-style stuffed shrimp. The plot thickens, and so does my waistline.
Here are photos of three versions of Shreveport-style stuffed shrimp, and details of where you can get them, if you’d like to do your own “research”:
For reference, here’s a photo of your average-looking stuffed shrimp.