This weekend one of my literary dreams meets my culinary dreams. On Saturday I will show up at Reverie Books in South Austin to sign copies of Dark Roux. I'll have my big black pot in hand and I will cook some jambalaya onsite for whoever wants some. When I was talking about this with my wife she asked "Shouldn't you be charging for the food?" Before she could say another word I said "It's not the Cajun Way."
Where this statement originated in me I do not know. It was so instinctual. I know I must have heard it somewhere before...my grandmother, a commercial, etc. But it left me pondering what this subconscious statement is based in. Do Cajuns cook for everybody? Yes. Do we believe kindness and hospitality are a way of life? Yes. Are we the only culture that values these things so deeply? Absolutely not.
I read once that much of culture comes from generational trauma and a culture's adaptation to it. I believe this to be true. My own culture for example: the courir de Mardi Gras. It just looks like a bunch of drunk Cajun men (and now some women, thankfully) running after chickens in colorful capuchon outfits. But its origins are in poor country folk, looking to cook a community gumbo at Mardi Gras, with the little resources they could scrape together, using healthy doses of playfulness and irreverence. So much of beauty has come from painful pasts.
It would be really awesome if I could hear more about the beautiful traits of YOUR culture. What are the values which stand out? What are they born out of (as much history as you know)? How do you bring those cultural values into your life today?
Until then, I'm going to live out the Cajun Way and cook y'all a meal: