Dirty Rice Gumbo

For a brief stint in my life I was a civil trial lawyer in Beaumont, Texas, and there were two things I liked about it.  Being in the courtroom and Miss Euna’s gumbo. 

Never did figure out what all was in it.

Every day at noon all 14 of the lawyers in the firm were expected to eat lunch together around this huge solid marble table in the dining room, unless of course, you were off doing something to make more money. 

We each had a seat.  A place where we sat every day.  In oversized leather tufted wingback chairs.  

While Miss Euna served our meal. 

Now keep in mind we’re in Beaumont, and for those of you who aren’t familiar with that part of Texas, don’t make the same mistake I did.  I thought Beaumont would be like any other city in Texas, but it’s different.  

Living there was like stepping back in time.  

Beaumont was right on the coast, giving it an oppressive sub-tropic climate that made your sunglasses fog over the minute you stepped out of the air conditioning.  Plus, it was right on the Louisiana border, so there was a lot of Cajun influence.

Their Zydeco music wasn’t a favorite, but the practice of having crawfish and gumbo at every meal, well, I liked that just fine.  

Every day Miss Euna, dressed in her crisp white uniform like something out of a past I barely remembered, made dirty rice gumbo and would serve a bowl to each of us at the table.  When I looked down into that first bowl, I nearly gagged.  

It was the filthiest looking concoction I’d ever seen. 

Looked like it had just been dipped out of a nearby swamp.  There were plenty around.  It seriously resembled the puddles in the mud ruts that the garbage trucks used to make in the alley behind our house when I was growing up.  A breeding ground for the quart jar of tadpoles I’d scoop up after it rained. 

All it took was one bite.  

From then on, I didn’t care what it looked like.  

Huge shrimp the size of my fist and whole crawfish.  I know, the head on the crawfish thing was disgusting, but with all the rice and the spices, this was amazing gumbo.

After they told me about the oversized swamp rats called Nutria that lived around there, I always wondered if those might be in the gumbo, too.

A swamp rat, otherwise known as Nutria. Mighty tasty.....

  

But by that time I didn’t care. 

I tried to let Euna know how much I enjoyed her gumbo.  Everything she cooked.  It seemed to please her, knowing that what she did mattered.  

That somebody saw the woman behind that white uniform.

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Alyssa says:

    I laughed out loud about the nutria. We lived in Houston for a while and people talked about them there. I totally thought these people were crazy. Never thought to actually look it up!! It’s real!

    1. sallygary says:

      I thought the same thing, Alyssa – especially when they talked about eating them….yikes! But they’re actually kinda cute little varmints, aren’t they?!

  2. Stephen Taylor says:

    Hi Sally,
    Thanks for making me homesick. Beaumont is where all my family is from. You have to wash your gumbo down with Community Brand Coffee with chicory.
    If you listen to the late Clifton Chenier (the “King of Zydeco”) singing “I’m a hog for you baby” you might just change your opinion about this musical genre.
    I hope it’s not too hot over there, by the way.
    Stephen

    1. sallygary says:

      It’s way too hot over here, Stephen – so good to hear from you! I thought of you often when I lived in Beaumont. And I nearly used a picture of Clifton Chenier with this post! Hope you’re doing well and would love to catch up with you whenever you have time.

  3. PeggyCorder says:

    We call good gumbo “motor oil” because often that is what the good stuff looks like! I am with you, though, the Zydeco music has to go! Not my fav, in fact not on my radar at all but it is all around us.
    I am so thankful you were lead to Beaumont, Texas. The short time and sparse moments gave me a glimpse of the wonderful friendship to blossom and the powerful, Godly woman I would come to know. Come on down anytime and we will go have some of that “motor oil” for lunch! “:P)

    1. sallygary says:

      Motor oil! I never heard that one while I was there, but that’s a great description! Sure doesn’t taste like it, though. I can’t wait to come visit you and Tollie! Hope I get to do that soon, but I don’t know when it will be. Y’all were definitely a bright spot during my time in Beaumont – I’m so thankful God crossed our paths, Peggy – give my love to Tollie!

  4. Cathy G. says:

    Sally ~

    Thank you.

    Cathy

    1. sallygary says:

      Oh, Cathy – thank you – for all you’ve been to my family. For caring tirelessly for my mother – long after your nursing duties with her were finished. You are so loved!

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