I’m a native Texan girl who met a Cajun beau in a lil’ ol’ town just North of the Mason Dixon line: Washington, D.C. So smitten were we that it didn’t take long before he fell to one knee just steps below the Lincoln Memorial (yes it is ironic, we know…), and proposed that we mingle our Southern cultures and cuisines in a novel way. Both from towns where food is more than just a meal, our first great marital compromise was a taste test to be sure. Thus was born, the Cajun-Spiced Texan!
Growing up in Central Texas, Tex-Mex was an everyday food. As a child, I used tortilla chips more like a spoon, ladling as much salsa as physically possible (for a 2 year old) into my mouth. To this day, my Mom tells stories at every family gathering about her sheer mortification when I’d cry after she took the salsa away. “People would stare,” she exclaims! “I could only assume they must be thinking, ‘that poor child’s mouth must be on fire?!’ Nope – you just wanted MORE!”
Thus, it should come as no real surprise that I acquired quite the taste for spicy stuff. As my Dad used to say when judging salsa, “it’s not hot enough unless you’re sweatin’ while ya eat it.” Needless to say, I now have a pretty high standard for what gives just the right kick in my own dishes.
Well, imagine my shock when I learned from my new Cajun beau’s Granny that she doesn’t use a single chili pepper in her Gumbo! Per Granny, Cajun seasoning is all you need to pack that punch everyone’s looking for in Cajun cuisine.
And that got me thinking; maybe there was more to spicy food than meets the mouth?
Spice now has a different meaning for me. It’s not just about burning your mouth off with every bite – don’t get me wrong, that is still very important – but it’s also about ensuring every bite on your plate encompasses the full-bodied flavor of a perfectly spiced dish. With every mouthful, you aren’t just sweating a bit, but your also savoring a burst of flavor that reminds you why Southern cooking is just so good.
My Food Mantra:
My Mother, a dedicated teacher for over 30 years, used to joke that her favorite dishes were ‘teacher recipes’ – cheap, quick, and easy!
After joining her in public service, as a government employee myself on Capitol Hill, I realized she was on to something. My Cajun-Texan foodie fusion melds the cleverness of my family’s cooking with the benefits of Cajun spices, and a dash of my own health conscious variations.
Voila! My Food Mantra: cheap, quick and healthy! For more on my Food Mantra, check out the Lagniappe page.