New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Friday, July 12, 2024
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Ya Mamma's Cookin' (an' ya' MawMaw's too)

My Mom passed away a year and a half ago. Cooking was a large part of herlife, and she was so good at it. She was half Italian and half Cajun, so you know we had some delicious meals when we were growing up.

I guess it's part of her legacy to us. It might be fun to hear other New Orleanians
talk about the wonderful dishes their mommas usta cook...since the appreciation of food seems to be at the very core of every New Orleanian's existence!
We are so sorry for the loss of your Mother, Lakeview Gal. But hopefully, our shared stories of our Mothers will bring back some fond memories.

My Mother makes THE best gumbo in the world. Yeah, I know, that's what everybody says. But Frank Davis tasted her gumbo and offered to put her on his morning show so she could cook it on T.V. and
share it with "tha' world".--- I've watched her cook it. I've had her watch me cook it--with her help. Mine never comes out like
hers. She tells me about how you might want to add a capfull of crab boil to give that little catch of spice in the back of the throat. She talks about how the roux MUST be dark but not burned ("ya don't want it
burned like tha Cajuns do"). She uses frozen cut okra, but insists that it be fried in the roux before adding the stock--or else "ittal be slimey". "An when ya add tha' tomatas' ya wanna fry em off ta' take tha' bittahness an' tha' raw taste out".

My mother is a treasure. She'd do anything for me. But somehow, she can't seem to teach me how to make a gumbo which compares with hers. It's not because she hasn't tried. It's not because I'm a bad cook. Must have
something to do with the "soul of the pot" or maybe "the soul of the cook".
Your momma's gumbo must be some good, by the
sounds of it! And by the way, I'm sure my momma would bristle at the thought that Cajuns burn their roux - dark, yeah - burnt - non, chere! :)
We were always in the kitchen at Grammaw's house on St. Roch and Villere. I remember she never measured a single ingredient, adding a "pinch" here, a "splash" there, "summa'dis", "summa dat", a "l'il bit" of another.
Reading the cooking reminiscences brought back vivid memories of my Yankee mother's efforts to learn New Orleans cuisine. She depended on recipes published by the New Orleans Public Service (NOPSI). At least there were measurements. Eventually she became capable in local dishes. I'll
NEVAH forgit da day she wuz gonna berl crabs inna kichen--BIG mistake!

Onna dem suckas jumped outta da big powcelin pot an scrambled behinda stove. Like ta took us haf da night ta pull out da stove and grabim. Daddy put im inna ice chess and took im back to da Lake. . . sed he wuz too onery ta eat anyway. Afta dat, we always bought da crabs already berled from Schweggman's or Yaeger's.
Loved ya' story about tha'ornery crabs. Reminds me of when we were at "Tha' Camp" not long after Hurricane George blew half
of it away. We'd caught and boiled a hamper a' crabs, worked for days trying to put the place back together, and were sittin' on tha' back porch relaxing and enjoying our private view of paridise. My mother was
talking about how she kept hearing a noise in the front room (which was still a wreck--parts of the floor missing, half the roof gone, no front wall). She figured a racoon or rat had found a home in there and she was
determined to find it. Told us how she looked under and behind everything that was left in there. We laughed at her--of course
"something" could be in there, anything could be in there considering that it was opened up like a dollhouse. But you know how
Mothers can be, gotta protect tha' family, gotta find that creature and get rid of it.

Before she could finsh the story, this crab comes scrambling down the hall, through the back room, and onto the back porch. Talk about a funny sight. He was fulla' saw dust and spider webs, "arms and legs" going in every direction, and with those front claws defiantly poked up in the air like he was sayin' "Don't mess with me, Dudes!". And making all kinda' noise "running" on that
old hard wood floor. We could hear him coming. It was hilarious. We didn't have the heart to stop him. Poor guy had stayed alive for days out of the water and with no food or friends. We let him scuttle right on down the back porch and into the Lake. Gave him a standin' ovation.