There are few things that can cause greater waves of nostalgia than the smells and tastes of foods we hold dear. Biscuits and gravy will forever take me back to my parents kitchen on lazy Saturdays. Summer to me is fried zucchini and BLTs.
For my father, those smells and tastes are rooted in Cajun cooking. He grew up in Melder, the middle of nowhere, Louisiana. It was the land of red beans and rice, jambalaya, and crawfish boils. So it’s no surprise that he finds solace in visiting the Cajun Connection in Utica, Illinois. Not only can he get the Cajun classics, he can jab with the restaurant’s owner, another transplanted Louisianan known as Cajun Ron.
On their last excursion north to get a taste of the south, my folks and their friends got a tour of Ron’s kitchen and were given a special treat.
Yes, that’s an alligator tail he’s holding up.
“While in the kitchen, Ron cut slices from the best part of the tail for us – he called it ‘gator loin’ and breaded/fried it while we stood there. It literally melted in our mouths.”
That wasn’t the end of the kitchen treats.
“He then sliced off a bit and dropped it in the deep fryer for a moment, took it out and coated it in his own home-made buffalo sauce – fried it again (never seen that done before) and then sprinkled it w/ the same sauce. Wow!”
I’m one of those people who doesn’t need a memory to have nostalgia for a time and place. Reading my dad’s email I can almost hear the accordions and washboards in the background. I’m in my lightest collared cotton shirt, the sweat refusing to evaporate from my face because the humidity is at 90 percent. My friends and family are sitting around, enjoying some gator, Boudin balls and cornbread. Washing it all down with a cold beer.
Laissez les bon temps rouler