And now for a taste of the local culture . . .

It is hard to imagine that there could be a place where food is a more important part of the culture than it is in Louisiana. A visiting correspondent finds that an interview, however serious and businesslike its ostensible subject, often includes a number of restaurant recommendations.

And recipes are everywhere. Some restaurants hand them out like after-dinner mints. There are recipes on post cards. There are recipes in cookbooks, and there are cookbooks everywhere. Even the state Commerce Department's industrial recruitment handbook, after its discussion of revenue bonds, tax breaks, and personnel training programs, ends up with a section on Louisiana life style - including several recipes. Here's one from ''Louisiana, A Dream State,'' a 1984 calendar published by the Petit Press in Baton Rouge. Shrimp Etouffee (Can be made with crawfish.) 2 large onions, chopped, or 1 cup chopped green onions 1 cup chopped celery 1/2 pound butter 2 tablespoons flour 2 pounds shrimp or crawfish tails (reserving fat) 2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional) 1/4 cup water 1/2 cup chopped parsley Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup water Plenty of fluffy rice

Saute onions (or green onions) and celery in butter. Add flour and lightly brown. Add shrimp or crawfish tails and fat, with tomato paste and 1/4 cup water, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer 1 minute and add the 1 cup of water and cook until thick enough to serve over fluffy rice. Serves 6 to 8.

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