born on the bayou by Donny Rouse, CEO, 3 rd Generation
photo by Romney Caruso
My Cajun roots run deep. My grandmother’s family, the Guillorys, lived in Eunice, the “prairie Cajun” capital of Louisiana. Like the vast majority of Cajuns, my Guillory ancestors came with the wave of Acadian refugees who were exiled from their homes in the French Canadian maritime province of Acadie. But not all people in Cajun country descend only from Acadian exiles. My Italian great-grandfather J.P. Rouse arrived at Ellis Island, New York, in 1900. J.P. founded City Produce Company in my home- town of Thibodaux, which is in Louisiana’s Cajun bayou country. He helped share the local ingredients that go into our great Cajun food with the rest of the country. He bought onions, bell pepper, celery and fresh green onions — which he called shallots — from local farm- ers and shipped them by rail to stores and supermarkets as far away as Alaska. My grandfather, Anthony, continued the tradition of neighbors sup- porting neighbors when he opened our family’s first grocery store in Houma in 1960. Pa bought Creole tomatoes in Chackbay, which they would clean and pack in the back of that little store, same as the cab- bage and shallots and oranges from neighborhood farms. He said buying local was important for the community.
That’s the Cajun way. While I’m very proud of my Cajun heritage, and it has definitely shaped who I am, I don’t think you have to be from South Louisiana to have the Cajun spirit. It’s about being mindful of where you came from. It’s about passing down traditions, from generation to generation, so that we keep those traditions alive. We do that all over Acadiana and, indeed, all over the Gulf Coast. Sharing is the backbone of Cajun culture. We love to intro- duce people to our fabulous food — our gumbos, étouffées, jambalayas and more. We love sharing our recipes, our cook- ing traditions and methods, our Cajun joie de vivre . Whether it’s my dad’s recipe for smothered chicken (see page 32) , or your mom’s recipe for Alabama banana pudding, it’s in the sharing of these reci- pes that we truly reflect the Cajun spirit. And in that same spirit, we love sharing the stories and recipes in our magazine with you, our neighbors, customers and friends.
AFTER ALL, THAT’S THE CAJUN WAY.
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