A story of Cajun Food

Joe Guilbeau, Humorist

Andouille: a spicy heavily smoked sausage usually made from pork. French in origin, Andouille is a specialty in Cajun cooking. It's traditionally used in specialties like gumbo and jambalaya. A spicy addition to any dish that would use smoked sausage. Andouille is especially good served as an Hors D' Oeuvre.

Café' Au Lait: French for "coffee with milk." It usually consists of equal portions of scalded milk and coffee. Made famous by CAFÉ DUMONDE in New Orleans. It can also be enjoyed in Baton Rouge.

Couche – Couche: a thick cornmeal breakfast, sometimes called the original Cajun cereal. It was a long standing ration to scatter finely ground cornmeal on Cajun dance floors to make it slippery. So when ice hockey came to Lafayette this practice became known as "Cajun Hockey."

The Navy Bean: from its early years U.S. Navy ships had sparse supply of meat on long sea journeys. So white beans, which were plentiful became a common substitute for meat. So the namesake struck and today navy beans are on the shelves of every supermarket.

The navy bean is sometimes used in canned pork and beans and is often used in the preparation of Boston Baked Beans (although New Englanders prefer using the smaller pea beans).

In my stint in the United States Navy over 70 years ago the navy bean was still served as a staple, often twice a day.

Gumbo: the one word which is synonymous with good Cajun food. It is the mainstay of Cajun cuisine. It's a thick, stew-like dish that can have any of many ingredients, including vegetables such as okra, tomatoes, and onions and one or several meats or shellfish such as chicken, sausage, ham, crab, shrimp, or oysters.

The one thing all good gumbo begins with is a dark roux, which adds an unmistakable flavor. Okra serves to thicken the mixture as does file' powder, which must be stirred in just before serving after the pot's off the fire. The name gumbo is a derivation of the African word for "okra."

Amandine: the term meaning "garnished with almonds." A famous haute cuisine New Orleans restaurant dish is called "Trout Almandine." This recipe is said to have originated in cajun country when it was known as sardines and peanuts.

On a personal note: special thanks to a stranger to me, Mark Allen, who helped me start my old car on a hot day in a supermarket parking lot.