…because some thoughts are worth remembering
Flavors not only please the palate but can transport you to a different place or time by evoking memories (as with (Proust’s) madeleine). I made an étouffée to thank my hosts in the Bay Area as one of them is from the South. Before I even tasted it, I was remembering a friend from Louisiana who passed away last year around this time (and way before her time) and how her loving husband (and also a great host) showed me the secret to his roux making, and introduced me to Cajun and Creole cooking (and a Louisiana ritual to plan for the next meal as a topic of conversation at the present meal).
I usually associate flavors that transport one to a particular geography to spices rather than the ingredients because the ingredients unique or typically used in the area are hard to come by, if at all, or pricey , For étouffée, however, I was pleasantly surprised how the mere act of making roux evoked a strong emotion and memory of the wonderful time we had in Louisiana and the hospitality of my old friends.
Even without the use of crawfish, a key ingredient to Louisiana cuisine, I think they would approve that an étouffée was prepared as a token of our appreciation for our new hosts whose hospitality is as warm and rich as the dish itself.
Modified from the Crawfish Étouffée recipe in “The New Orleans Cookbook”.
Being a one pot/pan meal and because it can be made ahead, it’s great for entertaining. As you feast on your holiday meals, consider making an étouffée for your next meal.
Photo: Café Du Monde, the place for beignets and chicory coffee in New Orleans