tumblingdays: cornbread (cooking)
[personal profile] tumblingdays
Last night I successfully made my first jambalaya. It's not a fancy dish, but I have to balance the amount of protein that I need to be satisfied (again with the Intuitive Eating) with the right balance of flavors, and that can be tricky with rice and pasta dishes. Plus, I very, very rarely cook rice, so that was tricky too. I am pleased with my success.

I used Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" recipe to get an idea where to start, but I feel like jambalaya requires a certain amount of improv. Plus, he's clearly not a Southerner, and it shows in some of his traditionally southern recipes. It was missing a few key elements- like okra. Actually, it didn't have all the elements of the trinity either, but I left some out because I was using farmers market veggies, and we had no celery. Anyway, I have learned that okra isn't widely available outside of the South, so I'm not surprised a cookbook dedicated to the basics would skip it. I happened to have a whole passel on hand despite having pickled several quarts of it already. It's been a good growing season for okra.

I am not a purist in language or in cuisine. I get annoyed by people who think that "authentic" is the same as "good." This particularly annoys me with "peasant foods." All cultures have foods that are some variation of "leftovers." The Irish and British have "shepherd's pie." The French have rustic casseroles. Jambalaya is one of these things. It's rice plus whatever you have on hand that needs to be used. Over time, these peasant foods have been codified either because they become trendy and someone's particular recipe becomes famous or because someone writes them down and the written version becomes THE version. Folk stories follow the same process. Cinderella had a million different variations before it was written down. So, anyway, I made jambalaya using veggies on hand in middle Tennessee during this growing season and it was delicious and recognizable and not "authentic." Meets included smoked Kentucky ham, locally made andouille sausage (amazing), and shrimp.

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