Food for Thought
I don’t trust people who do not absolutely LOVE food. A person’s attitude toward food says a lot about that person. Just look at our cultural connections to food. Texans love their bar-be-que and Tex-Mex dishes as much as Cajuns take pride in their gumbo or etoufee. Also, folks have particular preferences about their favorite foods. Some like fast food fare like burgers and pizza while others yearn for “faun-faun” meals that feature foie gras or pork belly linguine. But no matter what one prefers, just have a preference. Someone with food apathy is not to be trusted. Make sure the eggs are scrambled hard or the steak is bloody rare, if that’s what you crave.
My close friends tell me I have lots of “food rules”; I suppose that’s because I grew up in south Louisiana where we discuss Monday’s supper while we’re eating Sunday’s brunch. One Cajun dish I have a long list of rules for is gumbo. Gumbo is a very important staple that we cook once the football season begins, the temperature dips below 50 degrees, and people declare, “It’s gumbo weather.” (One disclaimer to all of my rules is that most Cajuns prefer gumbo the way their momma liked her gumbo, and there are as many different gumbo recipes as there are mosquitoes on the porch in summer!)
Ginger’s Gumbo Rules (as learned from Geraldine Latour of Ville Platte)
Make your own roux. (none of the store-bought stuff)
Chicken & sausage gumbo should not be combined with seafood gumbo (shrimp, crab, oysters). Make a choice.
No okra in my gumbo (Gerry’s preference).
Start with the Cajun Holy Trinity: onions, celery, and bell pepper. (no carrots or potatoes)
Cook the gumbo with bone-in chicken pieces, and you can debone chicken after it’s cooked.
Add boiled eggs to seafood gumbo.
Skim a chicken gumbo as meat cooks.
Use true Louisiana sausage, like Lejuene’s Garlic Pork sausage, whenever possible.
Add green onions and parsley at the end.
Serve gumbo over white, not brown, rice.
The cooking and sharing of gumbo makes my heart and soul get all warm and fuzzy. Gumbo is my favorite thing to cook – partly because it connects to a social event (a big football game, a birthday, a graduation, an anniversary, or a Mardi Gras gathering). We don’t make a gumbo for just two! Also, my gumbo-making ritual usually includes beer drinking and music blaring, even at 7 a.m.
Even though I have “gumbo rules,” I’m not a gumbo snob. To each his own, right. I respect ALL gumbo recipes because we learn to make gumbo from our momma or our poppa or our Tante Sue or our parrain (godfather) or our close couzine. It’s a family thang base on love of food and love of each other. And “it’s all good, cha!”