Ten Things Every True Cajun Has
Making my grocery list the other day, a thought occurred to me. There seem to be a number of items I always make sure I have on hand at all times. Having lived in south Louisiana my entire life, I never thought any of these things were odd. However, being the contemplative sort, I began to realize that the creature comforts I am accustomed to, while not unique to me, may be unique only to our slice of paradise.
Those musings led me to the following list of things I believe every true Cajun has in his or her home or repertoire.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on my Facebook page if you have any you feel need to be added to the list!
I grew up and live in Crowley. It's the Rice Capital of the World! As Cajuns, there is no word "gravy" without rice. "Rice and gravy" is practically a compound noun! My sister has a dear friend from the northeastern United States. He once asked her if we ever eat meat with anything but rice. Her response was, "Like what?" That's my girl! There is ALWAYS rice in a Cajun household.
If we say, "Pass the salt," Cajuns probably mean, "Pass the Tony's." How heavy-handed you are with it is completely up to you! We Cajuns have been known to travel with this stuff in our suitcases. I'm not even joking. If you call yourself Cajun and don't have any in your spice cabinet, your heritage may seriously be called into question. Don't get me wrong! My spice cabinet is filled to near overflowing. But you can bet there are at least two canisters of Tony's in there at all times. You can never be too careful.
Delcambre Reeboks. Shrimp Boots. Heck, I've even heard them called Pecan Island Dress Shoes (by a gentleman from Pecan Island, so no disrespect intended). With all the rains and flooding we've had over the last year, it's easy to figure out why we need them. They can be black or white. We ladies like to be fashionable about it. I have zebra print and red ones! I even saw a lady wear hers to mass one day! They were cowboy-style with a fantastic print. I'm sure the Good Lord didn't mind. It was really raining like crazy that day. And at least she showed up.
If you're shaking your head because you think you've just lost your "Cajun" card, don't grab the scissors to cut it up just yet, cher. The star means "mais, hold up." Maybe YOU don't own a truck, but do you know someone within your relatively close circle of friends or family that does? Yep. Every Cajun has one!
This may be my favorite. Whether or not a Cajun can dance, when Jamie or Wayne or Richard or any other Cajun artist starts playing, our toes start tapping and our shoulders start moving. At some point in every Cajun's life, he or she has ended up on a dance floor with a partner doing their own version of the jitterbug. I didn't say it was a GOOD version! Or maybe it's the way your daddy or momma taught you, your family's own version. If you're lucky, you find a person whose steps match yours, and you have a great time dancing all night in a way only the two of you know how.
If you're like me, you've probably got about 40, and that's not an exaggeration. Koozies are those can or bottle huggies that keep your beverages, alcoholic or otherwise, cold. They are a necessity in south Louisiana! When we offer someone a cold drink out of the "icebox" (that's a refrigerator, by the way) or the ice chest, we automatically ask if they need a koozie. A TRUE Cajun typically brings his or her own. Yeah, we travel with those, too.
I'm not referring to a person you hire to care for the children. "Nanny" is what we Cajuns call our Godmothers. However, the moniker oftentimes extends to several aunts or "adopted" Nannies. If you get asked to be a Nanny, that's a high honor, indeed! (By the way, I'm a Nanny Tracy to the handsome young man in that photo. His name is Alex and I'm very proud of him!)
Cajuns have beads somewhere in their homes. They may be in the attic, in a closet, hanging from a lampshade, the corner of a mirror, a bedpost, all over the living room floor, in the vacuum cleaner. Wherever they are, if you are a true Cajun, there are beads left over from Mardi Gras somewhere in your house. Even when you think you have purged every single strand from the previous Carnival season, rest assured that there is one errant reveler waiting to come out and party another year.
Rita. Lilly. Katrina. Gustave. Andrew. The list goes on and on. Whether you have run from them, cleaned up after them, been completely devastated by them, provided shelter for someone from them, or just worried that one would come our way, every Cajun has an interesting hurricane story (or several!) to tell. And they aren't second or third hand! They LIVED them.
A gumbo pot is a deal breaker. Some Cajuns use a shorter, fat pot. Some prefer a tall, thin pot. Whatever the preference, if you ask a Cajun what pot they use for gumbo, they can point right to it. A Cajun needs a gumbo pot. C'est tout!