Posted in cooking with love, Crawfish, Eunice, Louisiana, Family, Food, Mothers

Momma’s Food for Thought by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Momma’s Food for ThoughtMama gumbo

Momma cooked rice and gravy every day for us. She made dinner at noon and supper at night.  We had fish on Fridays (shrimp or crawfish for special occasions). Gumbo was in the fall and winter and boiled crawfish on Good Friday.

Momma’s rice and gravy, whether served with smothered steak, baked chicken, or pork sausage, was lick-the-plate-if-I-could delicious. I would hum my “Yum-yums” at times, and she’d laugh and warn me, “No singing at the table.” She loved all fresh vegetables and liked her toast almost burnt. Her dessert preferences were sweet dough pie, a moist bundt cake, or anything with fresh figs.

Momma taught me to appreciate and enjoy good food. She never weighed much over 100 pounds, yet she loved to cook and share meals with loved ones like a true Ville Platte Cajun.  For her, the perfect breakfast was hot boudin and dark roast Community coffee. If you added a small greasy paper bag of fresh cracklins, the morning got even better.

I remember our summer dinners of ground beef and onions over a bed of Watermaid rice with field peas and cold sliced homegrown tomatoes on the side. Late  August afternoons often meant cold sliced watermelon topped with salt at our backyard picnic table after we had been swimming or playing tennis.

Mama & watermelon
Me, Momma, Ryan, and Emile 1987

Momma taught me to follow a few of her important food rules:

*Brown your meat well to make the “gradeau” you need for a gravy.

*Do not put seafood in your chicken gumbo or vice-versa.

*Never make an étouffée with “those Chinese crawfish.”

*If you give up sweets for Lent, you can have yogurt-covered raisins because Miss Jen said “those don’t count as sweets.”

Most importantly, my lil momma taught me that good food mattered and you gotta enjoy every bite. I may not have hot boudin in Austin, but Community coffee is everywhere now, and I can pretend my doughnut is a slice of blackberry sweet dough  pie. 

Merci beaucoup, Geraldine Latour aka Poulette aka Momma aka MaMa for teaching me that the best things in life have a bite of spice and taste so good you wanna Slap Ya Mama!slap ya mama

Posted in Children, Clueless, Eunice, Louisiana, Grandmother, Growing up

Stuck by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Stuck

When I was 5, I pushed my fat face through the stair railings at Grandma’s house. I was sitting on the 7th or 8th step that led up to the spooky attic door where grown-ups had told us “Egor lived.” My first cousin Gina was in the hallway below me (maybe I had hoped to scare or surprise her with my silly stunt).  Unfortunately, I only succeeded in getting my head stuck between the wooden slats and crying like a clueless puppy who nudged a snapping turtle. 

ANDREW on stairs
My nephew Andrew who is too wise to stick his whole head through Grandma’s stair railings!

I do not remember who rescued me from my trap, but I do recall the embarrassment more than I remember the pain of pulling my big head free from the railings. Gina’s giggles mixed with my brother Emile’s taunt, “Ha!Look what Ginger did!” And my younger sister Gayle pulled her thumb from her mouth and asked me the obvious, “Why you do that?”

Years later Gina would tease me with, “Remember when you stuck your big head thru Grandma’s stair rails?” as we both laughed and clinked our Miller Pony bottles.  Gina was right.  I was a chubby-cheeked, Charlie Brown-headed kid who rushed into silly situations.

Fat Face
My “Village of the Damned” stare, and why does a 4-year-old need a watch?

I still have memories of a few unfortunate messes I found myself stuck in:

Age 8: Deciding to help a wounded opossum take care of her newborn babies as she hissed at me.

Age 15: Talking my 2 younger sisters (ages 13 &11) into hanging out at the motel swimming pool to flirt with some young army recruits stationed at Fort Polk. The guys tried talking us into meeting them later at their motel rooms. My wiser, younger sisters convinced me sneaking out to visit them later that night was a bad idea.

Age 19: Mixing cocktails in my roommate’s Volkswagen as we drove across the river on a Sunday afternoon to a bar where we danced with guys in their 30’s who later that week called us to see if we were available as “dates” for their friends.

Age 35: Driving 6 young boys to Barton Springs for a summer swim and being told, “We don’t allow day cares to swim with only one chaperone.”

My curiosity or my ill-guided bravery often led me to make a few bumpy, rocky decisions.  However, my stupid choices did not usually keep me stuck for too long. Back when I was stuck on Grandma’s stairs my mom or Aunt Toni likely rescued me. I even later served as a “cautionary tale” for future young cousins.

“Remember: Don’t be like Ginger and get your head stuck in those stair railings. Egor might come from the attic to get you!”