National Gumbo Day – yesterday – was bitter-sweet at our house. My book The Gumbo Diaries: Mississippi & Beyond premiered on Amazon and the first box of copies arrived. But, cooking a pot of gumbo was bitter-sweet. I made Cajun Sausage and Seafood Gumbo in honor of Paul Prudhomme, the Louisiana chef who brought Cajun cooking into the spotlight. He was buried yesterday, National Gumbo Day, in classic New Orleans style. White-jacketed chefs carried his casket into St. Louis Cathedral at Jackson Square and following mass, hundreds of mourners formed a second line and followed a brass band to K-Paul’s Kitchen, his famous restaurant.
In the past, October 12 has meant Columbus Day for me, but this year the pairing of National Gumbo Day with Indigenous Peoples Day seemed particularly appropriate. After all, the Choctaw put the filé in gumbo. Choctaw blood runs through my veins all the way down to my feet, which I explain in “These Feet Were Made for Walking” in my book.
It’s nice I have a copy of Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen cookbook around whenever I want to remember him. And, I’m glad my light-hearted, slice-of-life collection The Gumbo Diaries: Mississippi & Beyond is a reality. Somewhere down the road, somebody just might want to remember me.