Growing Up In Food

I was born in Lake Charles, took first grade in Lafayette and second grade in Houston where I have lived ever since. Both parents were born and raised in south Louisiana and each were from families of 5 children. Lots of cousins from those aunts and uncles and I was one of ten myself. My branch of the Boudreaux/Frank and Carver/Fournet families was the only one that migrated to Texas. Everybody else stayed put and that is where they and their descendants remain, except they now spread from Lake Charles to New Orleans and all spots in between.

South Louisiana is a food culture like I have not known anywhere in the United States.  There are many reasons for that.

Louisiana was settled by poor immigrants who were accustomed to hunger and plain, repetitive and not-enough food who found themselves plopped down in the rich farmland of the Mississippi Delta and the Gulf Coast. They could and did grow everything. In the middle of the delta farms sat the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest and most productive marine estuary in the United States.  Along the southern edge sat the Gulf of Mexico and all of its bays and briny lakes. Because of its verdant waters and soil, anything that walked on 4 legs, flew in the sky or swam in the water were found in Louisiana. The wildlife knew, as the immigrants learned, that Louisiana was where the food was.

Then you added the jambalaya of nationalities. Louisiana folk are commonly referred to as Cajuns by outsiders, but I learned at an early age that a Cajun was a descendant of French Acadiens that migrated from Nova Scotia. Creoles were a mix of nations, and that was us. To the extent we were French, we were “King Louis French”, and we were never to forget it!

What was the result of all of these factors coming together in one small area? A bunch of hungry people suddenly found themselves in the middle of a food paradise. They raised it but more often caught it or hunted it and ate it. They couldn’t believe their good fortune, and every meal became a celebration of their new-found good life. The astounding joy that good food brought to families and friends never left them - it is alive and flourishing today.

So now you know what inspired Honi and I to put good food from rich living soil at your front door once a month. It’s a celebration of life and all that it can be.

JVF