Here’s another gumbo recipe that Louisiana folks can argue about. More importantly, most non-Louisiana folks should be able to pull off.
I’ve written extensively about gumbo on this blog and elsewhere, so much so that I get tired just thinking about linking to the other pieces — and the arguments that usually ensue. There’s always some joker from Texas, or New Orleans, or North Louisiana — or even better, who has never set foot in Louisiana, but his grandma was from there — who’s gonna stroll in and tell you all about how wrong you are. “IF IT AIN’T GOT OKRA IT’S NOT GUMBO.” Nope. You’re wrong. Get out of my face. Or some fellow Cajun food snob will pop in with, “Mais, you gotta make you own roux, cher, or it don’t count no.” Mais, I’m here to tell you, you couldn’t tell the difference in a blind taste test. (The point is, people like to argue about food. Also, Cajun gumbo is different fro Creole gumbo is different from New Orleans gumbo.)
Anyway, my longtime friend Toby Dore, aka The Cajun Traveler and proprietor of the Cajun Hostel, has just posted his Chicken & Sausage Gumbo recipe. I’ll let you in on a little secret: When I moved from my basic gumbo recipe toward my advance recipe, it was after watching Toby cook a massive gumbo for one of his annual Christmas parties. I swiped a few steps from him. Clearly, he knows what he’s doing. And he makes a particularly bold old-school choice with one ingredient.
The good thing about this recipe is that it should be easy enough for most non-Louisianans to master and create an authentic Cajun gumbo in their own home. Just don’t skimp on the sausage!
2 thoughts on “From the Gumbo Files: The Cajun Traveler Recipe”
Loving your blog & books ! My mom was a native of SW La. and from south of New Iberia. So I have cousins on a FB site:
“Whatcha’ Got Cookin’, Good Lookin’?!”. It is a public group – believe me ..oh my, you must a least look at the food postings !
Mais, I’m sorry to be that guy, but I got some truths to tell you yeah, Cher… all this going on about Cajun this and Cajun that, is just silly. Comprends?… Let me explain why…
When the Acadians arrived in Louisiana their Louisiana born children were identified as Creoles (Acadian Creoles to be exact). The Acadians and Acadian Creoles didn’t isolate themselves, they intermarried with the group called “French Creoles” (white Louisiana-born people of French descent) that were already in Louisiana before the Acadians arrived. The French Creoles were a mixture of ancestry from France and Québec. So if you look into “Cajun” family trees (like I have done with hundreds upon hundreds of them) you see the same reoccurring pattern: a mixture of three French ancestries from France, Québec and Acadie. In fact, “Cajuns” sport more non-Acadian surnames than Acadian surnames. Surnames like Fontenot, Rabalais, Prudhomme, LaFleur, Guillory, Fuselier, Bordelon, Laborde, Ducote, Mayeux, Duplantis, Pellegrin, Fortier, Daigrepont, Vidrine, DeCuir, Labbé, Dupré, Lacour, Gauthier, Picou, Poche, Delatte, Guerin, Champagne and way too many others to list, are not Acadian surnames but are French Creole surnames and came to Louisiana direct from France or Québec before the arrival of the Acadians. And that’s not even the half of it. The “Cajuns” have also absorbed minor Spanish and German ancestry from other colonial descended Louisianians of Spanish or German descent. “Cajun” surnames like Folse, Schexnayder, Zeringue, LaBranche, Haydel, Webre, Oubre, Toups, Waguespack, Hymel, Rouse, Trosclair, Vicknair, Triche and Chauffe are German surnames. Then “Cajun” surnames like Manuel, Domingue, Castille, Blanco, Romero, Miguez, Reaux (from Riado), Oncal, Barrios, Hidalgo, Viator, Rodrigue/Rodriguez, etc are Spanish surnames. Even a few “Cajun” surnames are from white French Caribbeans from St. Domingue (French colonial Haiti) like Domengeaux, Lamothe, D’Aquin, Nicaud, Pecot, Hillaire, Allard, Billeaudeau and Beauboeuf. To be quite frank, Cajuns don’t exist anymore, just a group of white Louisiana Creoles that wrongly identify as Cajun (Acadian) and cling to the Acadian refugee narrative of “Le Grand Dérangement”, but who are made up of various French background ancestries from France, Québec and Acadie with minor St. Domingan, Spanish and German admixture. The traditional name for Louisiana’s native-born peoples of any old world race (any race except Native American) is called Creole. Today’s “Cajuns” are white Louisiana Creoles. The 20th/21st century Cajunization of Creole Louisiana has eroded this tradition. Now let’s move on to the food.
The supposed “Cajun” food is not Acadian (Cajun). Look at the foods of Acadie, none of them match foods in Louisiana. Jambalaya came from the Spanish and the French got their hands on it. Gumbo started with a simple West African okra soup and then the French, Spanish, Native Americans and Germans got hold of it and added the trinity, a roux, smoked sausage and filé powder which define gumbo today. Red beans and rice came to Louisiana with French Caribbeans. To be exact, 10,000 people from St. Domingue (French colonial Haiti) came to Louisiana. 1/3 of them were white people, 1/3 were black people and 1/3 were mixed race people of French and black mixture. This migration group brought red beans and rice to Louisiana. Beans and rice is found all over the Caribbean including Cuba and Puerto Rico and even Latin America. In fact, around the same number of white St. Domingans arrived in Louisiana as the total number of Acadians to ever arrive in Louisiana, around 3,000 of them. Yet, no one hears anything about white St. Domingans ever and “Cajuns” seem to be everywhere in south Louisiana (not really in reality). Seem strange? Other Louisiana dishes such as Courtbouillon, fricassée and sauce piquante came from the French in Louisiana, so did pralines, beignets and king cake. Tasso came from the Spanish as tasajo, which can be found in Spain and Latin America. Boudin came from France and is present in all ex-French colonies, but it was Spanish morcilla blood sausage that is traditionally made with rice that influenced “Cajun” boudin to be made with rice. Andouille came from the Germans in Louisiana who were master sausage makers, that became French speaking after a few generations in Louisiana, hence the French language name andouille. Boiled Crawfish came from the Native Americans who blended crawfish, corn and potatoes in boiling water, but the Acadians did however modify old boiled lobster recipes to come up with crab boil seasoning with the addition of Native American hot pepper. Dirty rice/rice dressing came from slaves on the French plantations in Louisiana using chicken scraps like chicken liver and rice to make a meal. Corn maque choux came from Native Americans in Louisiana. Where is the Acadian foods? The only food that may be definite Acadian origin in Louisiana is from a Cajun identified woman from Breaux Bridge that invented crawfish etouffée and I don’t even know if she was Acadian since folks that identify as “Cajuns” are usually a mixture of three different ancestries from France, Québec and Acadie because the Acadians intermarried with the French Creoles when they got here to south Louisiana. The traditional name of Louisiana’s cuisine is called Creole. The 20th/21st century “Cajunization” of Creole Louisiana has eroded the identity of this tradition. And thus, we’re left with a mixed background people claiming a Cajun (Acadian) identity and a mixed background cuisine being claimed as Cajun (Acadian) by the same mixed background group claiming a Cajun (Acadian) identity.
If you fill a glass with 6 different soft drinks and tell everyone it’s Coca-Cola, that is deceit and a lie.
This comment may anger you because you have invested so heavily in an identity that was perpetuated falsely by certain folks that had an agenda, but I can assure you all I have said is true and can be verified by documentation and credible evidence. After finding out the truth, you may just redefine yourself as Creole as your ancestors did.