Closing The Loop: Belinda Hulin

May 8, 2015

Credit photo courtesy of Belinda Hulin

Belinda Hulin is food writer by birth. She was born — a Cajun. When Belinda became a professional journalist and writer, there wasn’t any doubt that she was going to write about food. And eventually, Cajun food.

“People in Louisiana are very enamored of their own cuisine. They really feel like it's the best, and really, this is what we want to eat.”

After college, Belinda took a job at Philadelphia's main newspaper, came to Jacksonville to become the food editor at The Florida Times-Union, and later, a food writer for magazines. She also began to write cookbooks.

"I wrote a pizza cookbook, a fondue party cookbook, a Chinese cookbook. Whenever I'd bring these books home, my mother was very proud and happy to talk about my cookbooks. But she's always pull me aside and say, 'When are you going to write about something we want to eat?'"

Belinda continued to write cookbooks about every kind of food imaginable — except what she considered "home cooking" — until an event changed her family’s life.

"Hurricane Katrina! My mother's house flooded, and she had to live in a hotel for eight months."

Belinda and her sister returned to New Orleans after the storm to clean up their mother’s home, piling up ruined household furnishings on the curb. As she went to check the second floor, Belinda discovered something on the staircase.

"I saw this box on a step just above the water line. It was the family recipes! Someone had gone to it to get a recipe and just left it there. That carelessness meant that the family cooking was preserved. It took it as a sign that I needed to write the family cookbook!"

Belinda Hulin started writing "Roux Memories," using the recipes as well as photo albums of her family to create a mémoire of food.

Belinda became an instructional designer, and is now a tech writer, as well as a frequent contributor of food articles to magazines. But her memoir of food and family gave her not only writing work. It became a mission.

"Oral recipes are a part of our culture, but in many cases, they're not being passed down and written. When our older relatives die, those recipes are often lost forever. I've become almost evangelical about getting people to record their family traditions, even if it's just for the family. It’s your history."