Kreol Magazine Exclusive with a Louisiana Creole Gourmet & Scholar John la Fleur II
by John La Fleur II
Most folks don’t know that the Louisiana Native-Americans were cooking their own ‘kombo-lichi’ as early as 1000 A.D. The ingredients included chicken, smoked meat (viande boucanee) shallots and wild rice about 600 yrs. before the first West African slaves ever arrived with their own ‘kin-gombo’ (okra) as a thickener for the making of the famous soup of Louisiana fame!
The Choctaw, for example, introduced both kombo-lichi, cayenne pepper and laurel leaf, along with ground dried sassafras leaves (file’) to the French, with whom they intermarried from the founding of Canada.
This culture of mixed-race people was known as ‘metis’ (French-Indian). The Houma and other Louisiana Indians continue this culinary tradition, in the same way-without roux!
In the early 1700s, Governor Jean-Batiste Lemoyne, Sieur de Bienville, decided to import West African slaves and their ‘native-born’ (creole) and frequently mixed-race children to colonial Mobile, Louisiana.
Since the Colonial French under Louis XIV had no racial hatreds of black people or any other group, except for the British. Inter-racialism was well-known and widespread across la Nouvelle France, from Ft. Kaskaskia in Illinois, to St.Genevieve in Missouri. In Mobile, and later on in New Orleans, this remarkable interracial and intercultural harmony persisted, notwithstanding the beginnings of racial segregation concepts in later revisions of the Code Noir.
Obviously, therefore, Africans and their Louisiana Creole children too, were to become part of Louisiana’s own unique Creole & Metis people and cultural ‘gumbo’.
This cultural fusion is also evident in Louisiana French & Kreyole languages which give strong evidence of this multi-ethnic and intercultural marriage of Indians, French & European, African and later Spanish peoples, as does her delectable historic menu!
In this issue, I’ll share with you one of my Louisiana Creole summertime specialties, Old Louisiana Shrimp, Okra, Tasso & Fine Herb Gumbo without having to use a roux! (p.132) Here’s how to get your gumbo going, cher!