I’ve lived in several different states and regions over the past ten years—for college, I stayed in the South, but moved from Louisiana to South Carolina for four years; after that, I headed to the Midwest and lived in Indiana for four years. Post-grad school, we moved out east and lived in Pennsylvania for two years, and now we’re back in the South in Alabama. I’ve never lived out west, but we frequently visit Seattle, which is where Ryan is from.
Living in so many different places has taught me a simple lesson: every state really is different. Even moving from state to state in the same region, you learn that each state has its own customs, methods, speech patterns, traditions—its own way of life, really.
And nowhere is that more true than in my home state of Louisiana. Louisiana is a state that prides itself on marching to the beat of a different drum…or, marching to the beat of a different brass band altogether. Preferably in a second line:
In Louisiana, we have unique holidays, food traditions, and customs that set us apart from the other 49 states…and we like it that way. The other states are divided into counties? We’re divided into parishes, thankyouverymuch.
And so, while I’m excited to be living back in the South, the truth is, Alabama and Louisiana are very different. And I still find myself missing something about Louisiana almost every day—a fact of life that rings especially true this time of year, during Mardi Gras.
Never mind that pesky little fact that Alabama started it first. Louisiana does it best:
So, last night for dinner, in honor of my home state, I whipped up an easy, cheater’s style Louisiana meal. This isn’t really gumbo…although it has chicken, sausage, and okra. It isn’t really jambalaya…although it has a tomato base. So, we’ll just call it gumbolaya. It still tasted like home.
2 tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups kielbasa sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups frozen okra
salt & hot sauce to taste
In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat butter. Add onion and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add green pepper and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes. Add chicken and sausage; cook for five minutes. Add tomatoes, stock, and okra. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes over low heat, until thick.
Serve over white rice with bread.
Not exactly my mother’s gumbo…but it made me feel a little closer to home!
Have a great Monday!