The Jambalaya Chronicles, Part 2

Since the last time I wrote about jambalaya, those people over at Tasty posted this video recipe and called it jambalaya.  And there was a quite a backlash by my own transplanted Yankee kids, and certainly by the serious South Louisiana jambalaya aficionados.

“…wouldn’t know what graton is if it hit him in the face.”

What’s graton?  It’s that yummy, browned, crunchy stuff on the bottom of the pot that you gotta deglaze to get all the flavor (and color) from.  If you don’t get a good graton, your jambalaya might look like…well….like that pan of rice and tomatoes those people at Tasty called a jambalaya.  I’m still working on getting a good graton, and a good, dark brown jambalaya – but according to the feedback I get, the taste is worth coming back for.

A couple of weeks ago, I caught the tail-end of a section on one of my favorite food shows (I think it was on “Bizarre Foods” – but I watch so many of these shows) and they mentioned a “chicken bog” in South Carolina.  The picture they showed looked a lot like a good jambalaya.  So I searched the interweb for chicken bog and found something quite amazing.

I showed this picture to my daughter and  she said that it looked like a good jambalaya.ChickenBog

Not only does it look like a good Gonzales jambalaya, it has nearly all the same ingredients.  Chicken, smoked sausage, onions, salt, pepper, garlic, and rice.  Except they boil the chicken first – ack!  But still, the finished product looks, um, tasty.  It appears that chicken bog is limited to a small area in South Carolina (around Myrtle Beach), but some other folks are making chicken perlo, which is nearly the same thing.  And, like a jambalaya, some folks like to add bacon to their chicken bog.  One blogger said:

The defining factor for good chicken bog, is moist, greasy (hence the bacon) rice. While greasy hair may be a turnoff (unless you’re an Alabama fan), greasy chicken bog is highly desireable, so be sure to err on the wet side when measuring your broth. Unlike rice pilaf or pilau, chicken bog should clump to your fork when eating.

(note: pilaf and pilau appear to be alternative spellings/pronunciations for perlo – or maybe perlo is how they say pilau in “South Curlina.”)

What I find so interesting in all this is that all over America – all over the world – people have come up with their own, unique  – and nearly the same – ways to cook up rice and meat.  The first time I had paella (in Puerto Rico), I asked my host if he knew about jambalaya, and he said “Yes, yes!  It’s the same.”  (Well – sort of – they both have rice and meat, and if you do it right, you can’t make just a little.)

Ten years ago when our new Medical Director (from Scotland) spent two days with me driving to our plant in Alabama, we talked about a lot of things.  I had to ask about haggis.  I suggested it sounded pretty rank, but that I might try it someday.  He reminded me that every culture has a way of using the offal and low grade cuts of meat that used to be trash.  And I then thought about our Cajun boudin.  Pretty much the same thing as haggis, but with rice instead of oatmeal, and pork instead of sheep.

I’ve watched a lot of food shows, and eaten in a lot of cities across America (and a few in Europe), and it turns out – it’s the same all over.  To be sure, the bratwurst and curry wurst is better in Berlin, Texas and Carolina BBQ can’t be beat, and the best jambalaya is in Gonzales, Louisiana.  But, all over the world, we’re all feeding ourselves with pretty much the same things – and in their own way, most of them are yummy.  I’m still not down with that quinoa jambalaya, or the Tasty version with shrimp and tomatoes, but otherwise….let’s eat, y’all.

Next time I make a jambalaya, I think I’m gonna have to record the steps and straighten out those folks over at Tasty.

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About Joe

Writing on the things I'm passionate about: my family, my faith, and my work. View all posts by Joe

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