Sunday, November 23, 2008

South Louisiana Thanksgiving Memories

Edited to add:
The following post was inspired by this post by the silver-tongued Karen over at foodvox.


As a kid in South Louisiana in the 70s, Thanksgiving was a time for giving thanks and for eating lots of great food. There was an occasional cool snap in the weather, leaves fell from trees, and the men were keeping up with their favorite football teams. The 70s were simpler times -- there were no turduchens, no Cajun injectors, and no deep fried turkeys (at least not for us) yet. Instead, my mamère and my mother combined family favorites into family feasts.

On Mamère's table, were these:

  • roasted turkey
  • fresh white beans
  • fresh field peas
  • salad of sliced, blanched chardron in vinegar, s&p -- We pronounced them "shah-drrrron" (with a silent 'n'). The French call them chardon (no second 'r'). They are the stalks of artichoke thistles harvested, in our case by Papère, from fields and swampy areas.
  • rice n' gravy -- This is a very common Cajun dish of a thin, not gloppy, pan sauce served over rice.
  • Cajun potato salad
  • gumbo (occasionally)

Mom's house was a bit different. On the menu there were the following delicious options:

  • pork loin with LOTS of yummy garlic
  • dirty rice (rice dressing) OR farre (a German meat dressing of organ and other meats)
  • petit pois -- The tiniest of green peas cooked in a roux with onions and other seasonings; most often eaten on rice
  • green beans and potatoes OR
  • creamed potatoes -- silky smooth, tasty, and thinner than mashed potatoes
  • candied yams
  • mirliton casserole with shrimp -- Another occasional dish. Mirliton ("Mare-lee-tawnh") is a vining vegetable that is also known as chayote or vegetable pear.

There were other dishes that made appearances over the years, but the ones I've mentioned were the anchors at our Thanksgiving meals.

At this time of year, I especially long for those foods of Thanksgivings past. As usual, I probably won't put many of them on my Thanksgiving table -- DH and picky SD probably would not touch them with a ten foot pole.

Which of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes you are you unable to or reluctant to cook for your family?

6 red beans:

tallmisto said...

My mom's family started the tradition of 'heavenly hash' or '24 hour salad'. My husband calls it Delmonte and Coolwhip. To be honest it does look like that, however it most certainly is not Delmonte and Coolwhip. It is a custard based fruit salad, but we use fresh fruit and the custard must rest for 24 hours. It's heavenly and the table just wouldn't be complete with out it.

Make a Roux said...

Mmm! That sounds lovely. I totally adore custard and fruit together. Thanks for sharing and have a terrific Thanksgiving! :)

Anonymous said...

Your memories are filled with grace and love, MR. Thank you for sharing them.

My MIL (native Italian) used to gather and cook cardoons - which I believe are the same thing as your chardrons(sp?). They were strange the first time, to taste - but then something set in and one just wanted more, as often as possible.

Farmer's Markets sometimes now sell these in metropolitan areas for exorbitant prices. How things change! :)

We're having bibimbap today, later. Tomorrow will be something along the more traditional lines.

Just now I made a quiche-y thing with lots of veggies and cheese for breakfast and my son came into the kitchen and said "I'm thankful for Mommy". Who could ask for more.

Not me!

Happy T-Day to you and yours . . .

Make a Roux said...

Out of the mouths of babes. Right, Karen? :)

Thanks for your kind words and for the inspiration.

Indeed, my chardrons and your cardoons are one and the same. I never see them in the markets here, but I have seen some growing along a hiking trail near the house. I often think of cutting some for myself. :)

I went with the flow and did the traditional thing today, but darn if bibimbap and a cheesy-veggie breakfast quiche don't sound appropriately delicious!

Happy T-day to you, too!

Katherine Aucoin said...

We usually had a roasted or smoked turkey. You're right we didn't have fried turkey either in the 70's. We had oyster dressing, rice and gravy, and either spinach casserole or mirliton cassereole. I am posting mirliton casserole Thursday and yes it's got shrimp!

Make a Roux said...

Katherine, thanks for sharing! I totally forgot about the ersta dressing! :) I'm so looking forward to your post on mirliton w/ shrimp!

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