Jambalaya originated in southern Louisiana around the bayou where food was scarce and folks were searching for a simple inexpensive way to feed their large families. The word origin combines Jambon from the French meaning ham, and Aya meaning rice in African, since there were many slaves in the Louisiana at the time. One popular belief is that it originated from the Spanish rice dish Paella, which has also transformed in the United States to a dish called Spanish Rice. Jambalaya is as different as the people who make up the residents of Louisiana and is said to incorporate seafood, ham, smoked sausage rounds and chicken, although it doesn’t have to have all those ingredients. (more…)
Gumbo was a staple in Louisiana kitchens long before written records of the dish existed, and there are many myths surrounding its origins. One bit of common knowledge is that African slaves had their hand in the pot since many recipes included okra, known in many English-speaking countries as lady’s fingers or gumbo; its a flowering plant in the mallow family, valued for its edible green seed pods and originating in Africa.
Jessica B. Harris is one of the few African Americans who have achieved prominence in the culinary world. She holds a Ph.D. from NYU, teaches English at Queens College, and is a member of the IACP and Les Dames d’Escoffier. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Eating Well, Food & Wine, Essence, and The New Yorker.
Attention new cooks! Since you are just starting out on your culinary journey here are a few words of wisdom. Don’t step out on a limb and attempt to cook the unusual.