Back then, the internet may as well have been witchcraft; we had to rely on reading books, magazines and newspaper articles to vector in on under-the-radar Cajun kitchens.
Gravel parking lot conversations then and now carried plenty heft. Folks in southwest Louisiana love to pass time talking to strangers and I always kept a notepad in the backpocket of my Wranglers.
I’d read the greats of the era like R.W Apple Jr, Calvin Trillin and Michael Stern. If you found yourself in New Orleans in the afternoons you could call Tom Fitzmorris on his terrestrial radio show (WSMB) and ask him a few questions. The Times-Picayune was also a good source.I was about to start culinary school, and make friends with one of the South’s greatest chefs, Curtis Giles. His cuisine is as good as any you’ll ever eat in Mamou, Lafayette or Grand Chenier. Giles was kind enough to show me the old ways of gumbo he’d learned from his elderly relatives.
That’s how I started down the path to gumbo. Years passed, and I started working for a catering company that had started-up in Baton Rouge before moving to Austin where I lived for two decades.
I’ve called the 9th Ward of New Orleans home for nearly a decade now.
One of my most treasured cookbooks is an old spiral bound, hand-written notebook that I acquired from an elderly maid who’d lived her entire life in St Martin parish. Her Cajun gumbo receipt is solid country gold.On Sunday February 23rd 2020 I’ll be cooking a giant pot of this historical Cajun gumbo at the oldest bar in Treme, Little People’s Place. It’ll have plenty andouille sausage from Best Stop out in Lafayette Parish, smoked chicken meat, handmade stock, homemade roux, and a heavy freight of Holy Trinity with a fair amount of garlic for good measure. Leidenheimer French bread will round out the bowl.
New Orleans legend DJ Seprock will be spinning old New Orleans r&b, soul and hip hop vinyl.
Little People’s Place is one of the most important bars in the Deep South.
We hope y’all can make it out for the New Orleans edition of our big Scrumptious Chef Cajun Gumbo Pop Up.
We’ve been doing these for 10 years and this will be our New Orleans debut.
Sunday February 23rd
1226 Barracks Street