Monday, January 26, 2009

There's Gumbo In My Freezer

Lots of gumbo. Two big bowls of it stuffed with shrimp, Andouille sausage, okra, chunks of fish and I'm not sure what all. This gumbo dates back about six months from a party we had in the summer. Our friend Pete (who, along with our friend Billy, won a gumbo cook-off against Louisiana chefs) came up from Los Angeles to make his award-winning gumbo for the party. Pete loves to cook and specializes in tastebud tantalizing recipes in quantities guaranteed to feed the Russian army.

Pete not only cooks, but comes armed with his own pots and pans, knives and assorted spices. He sends me a list of ingredients beforehand and I either shop the night before or with Pete the morning of our parties. Six pounds of shrimp? No problem! We have a great little Chinese market down the street with yummy tiger shrimp for 3.99 a pound. And Costco is our very best friend when it comes to the quantity shopping Pete requires for his dishes.

The prep work for the actual cooking is started late morning/early afternoon. We usually have at least two to three other people (Pete's son Ernie and his girlfriend, Allie were here the last time) to play sous chef and attend the chopping, slicing, shredding and dicing required. Wine and or single-malt scotch is poured to keep the cook happy. Music blasts through the house and several guests arrive early to participate in the pre-party party that is the food prep.

Our parties are also potlucks. Everyone brings a bottle of their favorite wine or other beverage (usually wine) along with something to contribute to the table. We provide the main dish prepared by our imported chef Pete and your basic party starters: cheese, crackers, bread, fruit, veggies. We end up with enough food and wine to feed the armies of several countries. And when the parties are over, we don't have to grocery shop for a few weeks. The last party...well...did I mention gumbo in the freezer? We had four containers of leftover gumbo. We still have two. And it's going to be time for another party soon.

Lesson learned: buy lots of little faux Tupperware containers and don't let guests leave unless they're taking leftovers!

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