“Thibodeaux, Fontenot, the place is buzzin” sang the great Hank Williams, setting a distinct cajun mood. Traveling eastward in Texas, across the mouths of three main rivers, the Trinity, the Brazos, and the Colorado, you pass through one of the largest rice producing areas in the world. The names of the cowboys take on an increasingly French sound, like LeBlanc, LeDoux and Battiste. Their accents deepen, their skin color varies widely from white skinned and light blue eyes, to African brown and nearly black eyes, while the beat of zydeco music fills the air, and there is the unmistakable aroma of that most Cajun food of all – gumbo!
This cool weather brings on the urge to make a big pot of it. So I am going to tell you how we do it here on the Twin Creeks.There are three parts of gumbo–roux (roo), veggies, and meat. We start the morning with a big cast-iron skillet, a cup of flour and a cup of oil, slowly stirring them together constantly over medium heat. You are making what’s called an emulsion, as the starch grains of the flour unwind and tangle with the long chain-like molecules of the oil. When it’s done it looks like fudge, and smells almost, but not quite, burnt. At this point throw in a pile of chopped vegetables to stop the roux from cooking too much. We use a pile of chopped green peppers, onions and celery – the “Holy Trinity” of gumbo! All this time we’ve been boiling the meat in a stock pot, so we pull out chicken, take it off the bone, chop the sausage and peel the shrimp (and squirrel?). Then chop up the meat, throw it in the pot, strain the stock, pour it in, and simmer. Season with salt (especially garlic salt) Cayenne, a little nutmeg, bay leaf and parsley. North of I-10 you get okra, south of I-10 no okra. It’s an argument you ain’t going to win, bro!