Food Definitions

Joe Guilbeau / Humorist

In my previous column I wrote about jambalaya, crawfish and file' powder.

Hank Williams made those Cajun foods nationally famous in the famous lyrics "Jambalaya a-crawfish pie and-a file gumbo" in his 1951 super hit "Jambalaya."

This song has become a country classic and is still on cd's and played on radio and TV 68 years after its recording.

I have several connections to the hall-of-famer which I will write about in another column.

NAVEL ORANGE: In my last column I wrote about Navy Beans, which had military roots. The navel orange does not have a military background. Its name originates from the fact that the blossom resembles the human navel (surprise).

Grown in California, Arizona, and Florida, the navel is an excellent eating orange. Among the most popular sweet oranges are the seedless navel. It is better eaten fresh than cooked. The large fruit has a bright orange that's thick and easy to peel. The pulp is sweet, flavorful, and seedless. Their segments are loose and divide with ease.

OYSTERS BIENVILLE: A dish named in honor of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville. The founder of New Orleans. Oysters Bienville was created in the late 1930's at one of New Orleans's most famous restaurants, Antoine’s.

It consists of oysters on the half shell topped with a basic French white sauce flavored with sherry and cayenne and mixed with garlic, shallots, mushrooms, and minced shrimp. A bread crumb and grated cheese mixture is sprinkled over the top, and the oysters are baked on a bed of rock salt until browned.

TEX-MEX: A term given to food (music, etc) based on the combined cultures of Texas and Mexico. Tex-Mex food encompasses a wide variety of dishes such as Tacos, Burritos, and Nachos.

MAPLE SYRUP: The American Indians taught the colonists how to tap the maple tree for its sap and boil it down to what the Indians called "sweet water." Canada, New York, and Vermont are known for their superior maple products.

The maple tapping season usually begins sometime around mid February and can last anywhere from four-to-six-weeks. The "sugarmakers" insert spouts into the maple trees and hang buckets from them to catch the sap. The sap is then taken to the "Sugarhouse" where it is boiled until evaporated to the desired degree.

Quite simply, maple syrup is sap that has been boiled until much of the water has evaporated and the sap is thick and syrupy. It may take as much as 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. Maple syrup is a must for your breakfast pancakes.