Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Gumbo Story

*singing* Come and listen to a story ‘bout a man named Neil..

Please don’t tell me I’m a dork. I know this. Thanks…

So, how did I come by that gumbo recipe? It started with my eldest child. My dear sweet boy….How much sweeter can you get than 265 pounds of man child cuddled under a Hello Kitty Blanket?

My dear sweet boy who loved to play football and was good at it… I miss those days.

So, being the ultimate high school football fan that I am, I registered for a local message board to keep up with what folks were saying about our town's pride. Oh my goodness, these boys were good that year. They went on later to be the district champs and had a fairly decent run in the playoffs. My boy even got an all state nomination.  *sigh*

Ok…gumbo.  Sorry.

A big rival game was coming up. Our boys were playing the conference team to beat. Those Wildcats give our boys a run for their money every year and we were playing in wildcat territory this time. But, this time was different. Our boys were undefeated in conference play. And so began the banter on the message board.

This team truly has some of the classiest fans I’ve ever encountered. They are all a pleasure to interact with. In the midst of the banter I was reminded of something my grandmother was said to do with her children who didn’t behave on long car rides. She was brilliantly evil. She would give the offender a cookie.

A cookie? Really? Read on. I assure you she wasn’t rewarding bad behavior.

The problem was offenders weren’t allowed to eat their cookie. Instead they had to hold it in their mouth while sitting on their hands for an indefinite period of time. Brilliant isn’t it?

Then WildcatDad got cute with me. I told him I was bringing cookies for him and that every time our team scored he had to put one in his mouth and hold it until the next score. He said, “I like Oreos.”

Alright then, Mr. Smarty-pants . Prior to leaving town for the game I stopped at the local grocery and bought a package of Oreos. When we arrived at the field I marched my behind over to the homeside and walked right up to WildcatDad. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a minute and then I handed hi m the Oreos and he laughed.

Then, do you know what that precious man and his wife did? He reached over between them and they handed me a container, still warm and wrapped in foil, along with a spoon. It was gumbo he told me. He brought extra knowing I would be coming over to say hello.

I was so grateful for the gumbo. I had just been rescued from soggy nachos and cold hamburgers from the concession stand. Then I opened it up and started eating. It was brilliant and still steamy hot from his efforts to keep it warm for me.

This alone would have been one of the best football memories I ever had. However, our boys went on to win that game. I went out on the field afterward and watched those kids cry with pride and relief over their accomplishment. The gravity of that win was everything to them. It was the moment when all their hard work paid off and they had pretty much just sealed the conference championship.

I went home and emailed WCD and told him how wonderful the gumbo was and then asked for the recipe. Without hesitation he sent it and without hesitation I marched my tail to the grocery store for the ingredients.

Our coaches got wind of the story and asked me to make it for the linemen’s next meeting.  I was happy to oblige. I made a huge pot and a ton of rice. I still don’t know how I managed to get it over to Coach’s house without spilling any.

Those boys ate every last bite and fought over the last bits in the pot.

And then mothers called me or stopped me at games and asked me for the recipe.

With exception of a few I played dumb. J Occasionally, boys D played ball with will hear I’m home making gumbo and ask to come over for dinner.

I’m always glad to make it and it gives me an opportunity to think fondly on that football year and my message board friends.  Over the last couple of years  I have refined the recipe that WCD shared with me.  I make it for people I love and until now have been pretty guarded with the recipe.  Now I’ve shared it with you.  Hope you like it.

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