Traditionally Monday in New Orleans was wash day which meant it was the day to make Red Beans and Rice, so I’ve done my part. I’ve made the beans. (The laundry waits.)
When I first started writing my novel, LITTLE GALE GUMBO, I knew I wanted to highlight my love of New Orleans food. Though I am not a native (Could I say I was RE-born there?), I moved there at thirty and fell madly and deeply in love–first with the city, then with my husband a year later. A New Orleans native, Ian is a tremendous cook–his grandfather is a shrimper whose jambalaya is legendary–and even though we now live in North Carolina, we cook traditional dishes as much as possible. So when it came time for my character Camille Melancon to open her Creole cafe on the tiny Maine island of Little Gale, I knew I would not lack for authentic recipes and expert advice on how to cook them.
As for MY red beans and rice, my husband assures me I’ve done well for a Mainer. I think the key is to soak the beans as long as possible then add the soaking water into the pot. Fresh thyme, lots of bay leaves and several crushed onion cloves, fat slices of smoked sausage and, of course, lots and lots of Tabasco. Rip off a hunk of crusty french bread and pour yourself a beer.
Of course, at our table tonight we’ll be thinking on the Gulf Coast, and the unspeakable devastation that is encroaching its shores, thinking of all the hard-working men and women who depend on the waters, and the precious wildlife that does the very same.