Gumbo and Grace

mama dearest
Gumbo Queen

Finally! It’s gumbo weather in Louisiana.  Temperatures are mild, and the humidity is low.  Time to stir up a roux in a cast iron pot and get cooking. Even better, it’s a good time to ask my mama to make a gumbo.  When it comes to gumbo, I can’t think of any I have had that compares to her gumbo. Especially her seafood gumbo.

The roux is turned into dark brown.* The holy trinity is added. ** Stir in a tad of finely chopped tomatoes,  and lastly fresh shrimp and crab.

 

And best of all, okra. I love okra. Just the name, okra, makes me smile. It sounds southern and exotic at the same time. It’s a weird-looking vegetable, spindly and green on the outside. On the inside, it’s full of muokra and rouxcilage and seeds.

 

My mama is the Gumbo Queen in my mind. I didn’t know, until recently, that she feels she has spent a lifetime in pursuit of the perfect gumbo, and after 85 years on this earth, she hasn’t gotten it right yet. She’s always comparing it to her mother’s gumbo. She feels insecure mainly about her chicken and sausage gumbo.We figured it out maybe. Her mama used fresh chickens from the yard, killed the same day as the gumbo is fixed, as well as using her own lard, not oil in the base. The okra would have come from my grandfather’s garden, picked by one of her seven children.

I think she should allow herself a bit of grace. A store-bought young fryer chicken never will taste like a large hen from the chicken coop. Nor will frozen okra compare to the pods one can pick from the garden. I scarcely expect her to find fresh pig fat either.

Maybe her roux isn’t as good as my mother’s mom did it, but it’s good, no doubt. For me I consider it a success to not burn the roux.  There’s a trick to it, after all. Only the best cooks can get a smoky, dark roux just perfect without burning the oil and flour mixture. Too little cooking, and a light brown watery broth makes for a tepid bowl of gumbo.

My Cajun mama needs to give herself permission to have an excellent gumbo even if her mama had a better one. I need grace, too. Not just with gumbo. But with myself, with my family, and everyone else, for that matter.

Smiing Adele.jpg
Grandma Adele in the 1950s.

 

*A roux is made from equal parts of flour and fat/oil heated over a low flame, turned constantly until the mix becomes dark brown.

**The holy trinity of most Cajun dishes are these three: celery, onions, and bell peppers.

 

 

The Gumbo Ya-Ya Premieres Today!

gumbo yayaIt’s me, the Gumbo Lady. I used to write as Madame Gumbeaux at the blog, Honduras Gumbo. I left Honduras over three years. I am living in Louisiana. I don’t think I will be around much longer in the area north of New Orleans. Something is stirring in the gumbo pot. I am ready for the next adventure.

This week I am in Managua, Nicaragua. I am checking out different ministries and organizations. My hosts are missionaries with i-61.org. The number and letters are taken from Isaiah 61 which talks about all sorts of good things that God promises for us now and in the Kingdom to come.

Look up Isaiah 61 when you have time. It’s crammed with revolutionary verses about beauty coming out of ashes, good news for the poor, healing for the brokenhearted  and more ridiculous and  wonderful stuff. Read it for yourself at Bible Gateway online, then pop back here for more from the Gumbo lady.

Gumbo is a soup full of good stuff that we Louisiana people borrowed from French, Spanish and African cultures. It’s an eclectic and delicious dish. No one makes gumbo right unless they learned it from your South Louisiana ancestors. It’s in our blood to make gumbo. Other gumbo in different parts of the US usually tastes like dish water. I have been served it like a chowder. God forbid! If you can’t make a roux, then don’t even try it.

Why Ya-ya? Well, long ago,  Lyle Saxon wrote a classic compilation of Louisiana folk tales titled,  Gumbo Ya-Ya. The term, Ya-Ya, has many meanings including everyone talking at the same time.  My take on Ya-Ya will be to tackle a broad range of subjects, rather than simply writing solely about  mission stuff, or just Louisiana tales, or my solitary musings.  It’s going to be a Gumbo pot of all that’s happening in my storied life.

We’re going to have some fun around here. I can guarantee that. This post will be cross-posted under my former site, The Gumbo Pot. See ya’ll soon.