A new priest was “stationed” at our church this past year.
In an attempt to introduce ourselves and get to know him, we invited him over for dinner a few months ago. As he was leaving, he mentioned that next time, he would like to cook for us.
I was kind of taken aback–the thought of a priest cooking for us. It’s like I didn’t feel worthy or I felt it was rude of me to have him cook for us. He explained that he loved to cook and enjoyed cooking for families.
Well, alright–you twisted my arm.
When he asked what we would like him to cook for us, I jumped at the chance to have an authentic New Orleans meal because he was born and raised there.
I asked him what his favorite meal that his mom always made for him growing up was, and his answer? “Gumbo.”
Gumbo it is, Canon.
Yesterday afternoon, he arrived with everything but the kitchen sink, and he immediately got started prepping dessert.
He wouldn’t tell us about the dessert. We just watched and wondered.
And some of us ended up getting to lick the beaters.
The kids were so excited, and they all wanted to watch.
B was concerned Canon might need a little something extra to help with the meal.
After dessert was finished and chillin’, he started on the roux for the Gumbo. CAN fried flour smell any better? I don’t think so. He made it very clear that roux must be stirred constantly to make sure it doesn’t burn, and it will turn a brown coppery color to let you know it’s ready for the next step.
Once it has reached the brown coppery color, you must add the “Holy Trinity” of “seasonings”: onion, green onion, and bell pepper.
According to Canon, the “Holy Trinity” of seasonings is a hotly contested issue down south because some people declare that the bell pepper should in fact be celery.
Hey–when a priest is telling me about the “Holy Trinity” of seasonings, I figure he wins by default.
After adding THREE types of meat–chicken, sausage, and meatballs–and some other seasonings, the gumbo was coming together beautifully, and the house smelled wonderful.
As he prepped the salads, I started the rice for him since gumbo is served over rice.
Interesting fact time! “Gumbo” is an African word meaning “okra” because okra is served in some types of gumbo. Also, don’t ever replace “gumbo” with “jambalaya” because the two are completely different. Gumbo is a savory dish with different meats served OVER rice. Jambalaya (from the African word meaning “mix”) is a soup-like dish with rice cooked IN it, and it is tomato-based.
The kids were anxious for the meal to start.
Once everything was ready, he served up the salads with a Roumalade dressing.
I had never eaten Roumalade dressing before, but it definitely gave the salad a kick.
Two different wines were placed on the table–one red, one white–and the kids were even served a special drink that he brought just for them.
When he brought them to the table, asking them “Red or white?” the kids’ eyes were HUGE with excitement. I’m pretty sure they felt like adults at that moment.
Once the salad course was finished, we got down to the good stuff. The steaming gumbo was served over rice and placed before us.
Let me stop for a moment here and say that I was expecting more of a Jambalaya dish–because I’m an uncultured swine who didn’t know there was a difference before last night.
Gumbo? Completely different than jambalaya. I was totally surprised by the smokiness of the dish and how savory it was. The pieces of sausage were by far my most favorite part of the meal. It was absolutely excellent.
After seconds, we decided to stop since we still had dessert coming.
But stopping was definitely difficult–it was so incredibly good.
D declared that this was “the best meal he had ever eaten,” which says a lot coming from that kid.
We cleared the table as we prepared for dessert.
I have heard of this dessert, but I have never eaten it. Eggs, brandy, sugar, whipping cream, strawberries–how could this NOT be delicious?! It was SO good. The kids kept calling it “Strawberries Stroganoff.”
An excellent end to a wonderful meal. I was so full I could barely stand it.
The best part? Leftovers. He said the leftovers are best two days after you make the meal, so guess what we’re having tomorrow night after Children’s Catechism? “JINGO!” as my kids keep calling Gumbo.
Right before clearing the table completely, B decided to be our social butterfly and wanted “up.” It was a sweet moment.
Canon stuck around to play cards with P and my husband while I got started on letting the dishes soak. It was a beautiful mess, and it was all worth it.
We live in a big city, but our church is relatively small. I love the fact that we have the chance to get to know our priests on a personal level, and we start to feel like they are part of our family. I’m so grateful that my kids will grow up getting to talk to our priests around the dinner table, asking them questions that they’ve been wanting to know the answers to–not afraid to ask.
Let us always remember to pray for our priests.
O Jesus, Eternal Priest, keep Thy priests within the shelter of Thy Sacred Heart, where none may touch them.
Keep unstained their anointed hands, which daily touch Thy Sacred Body.
Keep unsullied their lips, daily purpled with Thy Precious Blood.
Keep pure and unworldly their hearts, sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.
Let Thy Holy Love surround them from the world’s contagion.
Bless their labors with abundant fruit, and may the souls to whom they minister
be their joy and consolation here and their everlasting crown hereafter.
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us: obtain for us numerous and holy priests. Amen.