Here we are in the heart of Texas, and I believe I can safely say this trip is destined to euphorically circle around food, friends, and God, not a bad combination, any sensible person is bound to agree. Southern cooking has to be some of the finest in the world, but, hear me out, it no doubt sinks bottom-ward as to anyone’s scale of healthy, nutritious meals. Fried, sauced, buttered, oiled and sweetened, served in gargantuan portions to intimate groups of jocular companions or to battalions of gustatory gourmands, southern food is delectable.
Take yesterday. Jerry’s nephew Ted, and Ted’s charming wife, Karen (tell you more of them later) picked us up at our hotel and we drove together to Lufkin where they had to visit someone in the hospital.
After the hospital visit: “How does Ralph and Kacoos sound for lunch?”
Sounded excellent to Jerry and me. Ralph and Kacoos is a highly regarded sea food place that I believe originated in New Orleans, although I’m not positive of that–need to do a bit of research. At any rate, the first time I indulged in a Ralph and Kacoos was at their place that is part of the Bourbon Street scene. Their menu is so large, the dishes so unfamiliar to me that I had a hard time making up my mind yesterday, but finally decided on Shrimp Louis…but I wanted to taste alligator.
“Could I order just one piece of fried alligator,” I asked the waitress.
“Well,” she hesitated, and I could tell mine was an unusual request.
“Bring a full appetizer order of alligator,” Ted told her, thereby settling the issue.
…the issue was not totally settled, for in minutes a plate full of fried alligator morsels appeared at the table, and someone had to eat them, did they not? It was I who first dined of the alligator. I chewed down, lifted my head and saw that my compadres had their eyes fixed on me…waiting, I supposed for the verdict.
“Delicious,” I declared. “Love it.” The taste is mild, slightly chewy, but in all honesty, since my alligator had been subjected to a dunk in a frying batter, the predominate taste was of fry! Told you that’s how they do it here.
The best food on the lunch table was Jerry’s Crawfish Bisque, quite possibly the finest taste my mouth has ever savored. Googled the term quickly for you and found this definition:
Perhaps the grandest dish in all of Cajun and Creole cuisine. This spicy, hearty bisque is sometimes served as thin as a soup, sometimes even thicker than an étouffée — adjust the consistency to suit your taste. What makes it unique among all bisques in the culinary world is the addition of the stuffed crawfish heads (shells, actually) with crawfish dressing … heavenly.
Take a look at how they make the stuffing for the crawfish heads:
For the stuffed crawfish heads:
* 1/4 cup oil
* 1/2 cup flour
* 2 medium onions, finely minced
* 1 large bell pepper, finely minced
* 3/4 cup stock or water
* 2 teaspoons salt
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
* 2 large eggs, well beaten
* 2 cups plain French bread crumbs
* 1/4 cup chopped parsley
* 1/4 cup minced green onions with tops
* 4 tablespoons butter, melted
* 5 dozen cleaned crawfish heads
* Flour for dusting
Make a roux with the oil and flour. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until tender, stirring constantly. Mince or grind the remaining half of the crawfish tails and add to the roux-onion mixture. Add the remaining crawfish fat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Source: Crayfish Bisque
Back at our hotel as we prepared to go to our room, Ted and Karen reminded us they and their children would, after church, be hosting a supper for us at their home. The pièce de résistance would be Crawfish Etoufee, prepared by Stephanie.
Believe it or not, at 11:00 last night we were diving into a scrumptious Crawfish Etouffee….lots of other delectables I just won’t mention, except for the finish of strawberry shortcake.
Here at the end of this piece, I’m a little ashamed to see that out of the Southern Big Three of Food, Friends and God, I chose to write first of the least important, food. For shame. 😦