“A Cajun will never suffer from the 'American Dream' to work himself to death just to make a lot of money and have a fancy house. We want to work enough that we can afford to party, get our friends together, cook something, play some tunes, and dance. It’s keeping connected to our families, community and culture that’s helped keep us alive and strong.”–Sarah Savoy
I have a hard time separating Cajun music from Cajun cooking. People in Louisiana expect to have music playing if they’re cooking, whether it’s live or recorded, and if you’re playing music somewhere, chances are there’s a gumbo to taste nearby. Cajun food is often misunderstood as being nothing more than spicy, when there’s so much more to it and anyway the spice shouldn’t overpower the other ingredients. It’s delicious, very natural, slow food, meant to be enjoyed by large numbers of happy people. At least that’s how Cajuns see it, and everyone I’ve cooked for has agreed.
In a nutshell, Cajun food is protein cooked with our two holy trinities–the aromatics (onion, garlic, and green bell pepper) and the seasonings (salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper). Like my dad says, “You season an old boot with just that and cook it long enough, I’ll bet you you’re gonna have a good dinner!”
Living in Russia, feeling more homesick than ever before, I put on an Iry LeJeune CD and started making a gumbo. It hit me then, smelling the gumbo cooking on the stove even while looking out of the window at one of Stalin’s skyscrapers dusted with snow, that I could bring the food and music with me wherever I go in the world, and that was a way to stay connected to home even when I couldn’t party with my siblings or hug my parents.
My dad says, “Music is the glue that holds the culture together,” and Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.” I would say that the food keeps the music going, which holds the culture together. It’s the love and sense of family and community that goes into the food and music that keeps us mindful and appreciative of where we come from, that makes us want to share these traditions, these recipes, and these songs with our children so that they too carry the torch.
You can find enough locally-produced products to make a delicious Cajun meal no matter where you live, and I’ve set out to show that to the world through my Cajun cooking demonstrations live at festivals and even in people’s homes, where I’ll cook a Cajun meal with them and their friends, joke around, and play some music.
If I haven’t been around your part of the world yet, and you’re ready to try some real Louisiana home cooking, why don’t you check out my cookbook or DVD?
Contact me if you want to host an authentic Cajun dinner with me at your home, or even if you want me to cater your next party.