Monday, June 10, 2013

Zydeco, and the musical roux of Cajun culture

I wrote earlier about the melting pot of Cajun and Creole cultures, and we all know and have eaten the famous gumbo, but did you know that this tasty bowl of goodness is characterized by which base builds it? The African Bantu tribe used their native vegetable, okra, which they called "Ki Ngombo." The Choctaw Indians, native to this area of the south, used File' (Fee lay), which they called "Kombo." Is that weird or what?! The Creole version of gumbo usually contains shellfish and is based more on File'. The Cajun style, on the other hand, is flour- and fat-based, and can be either shellfish or fowl. Nevertheless, the "holy trinity" of celery, bell peppers, and onions comprise the foundation. We could travel down the rabbit hole in discussing "roux," the flour/fat base of three of the mother sauces of French cooking: bechamel, velote', and espagnole'. The whole delicious mess rests on top of a bed of rice and I'm outta' here to eat some...

...back again with a couple of videos of Zydeco music. This first scene is an ebb and flow of musicians into a jam session at the Joie De Vivre Cafe in Breaux Bridge. The second is what happens when you are present when this music is being played. This was shot at the Cafe Des Ami, also in Breaux Bridge.

While wandering the few streets and cemetery of Breaux Bridge, we spied an antique store and wandered in. I  immediately noticed and heard guitar music coming from the front corner of the store with amplifiers, guitars, and musical paraphernalia clustered around it. We completed our antique store boogie and I asked the proprietor, Karl Voorhees, if he had any automotive related "stuff" like hood ornaments. Karl took us in the back of the store (it's always in the back of the store!) and there was a beautiful wheel cover from an antique Ford truck. I made him an offer, he countered it, and we shook hands on the deal with a promise to visit his rock n' roll band that night playing just on the edge of town. We arrived promptly at nine o' clock and the band, "Loggerhead," (which, if you're interested in language, has many meanings in many cultures) struck up some fine music. Ruth and I looked at each other I must admit, with surprise, not knowing what to expect. With heads bobbing, feet tapping, and hands slapping the table we began to take in the prospect of the bar. Everyone was chain-smoking like chimneys. A quarter of the people who came in were loaded already and proceeded to find their "sweet spot" of sobriety. One couple came in and the man engaged the person next to him while his date took out her cell phone and spent her time taking pictures of herself and punching her date to get his attention to share the truth that "you look much better when I'm drunk." Karl's band played a knockout version of the Beatles' "Something." A man came in, ordered a beer, sat down, and didn't move a muscle while glaring at the band for an hour. Ruth and I thought that he had died with his eyes open. Immediately in front of us, sitting in a chair, was a man playing pool with another man who walked with a deep limp and after every shot gesticulated and commented to an invisible ghostly shot adviser. The man in the chair in front of us had a companion
a little bull dog who kept looking back at us, and strike me down if I'm not tellin' the truth here, and this photograph is my witness, he said to us, "Hi, I'm Satan! I hope you're enjoyin' the show." The band played on with music to a crowd out of their element. A platinum blond came over, smelling fresh meat and, having discovered that we were from near San Francisco, promised to send us a care package of "real, honest Cajun food"...Satan kept looking over at us winking his disapproval. We left, took off our smoky clothes and drove practically naked back to our B&B. The next morning at breakfast the conversation floated to the place being haunted, particularly our room. Ruth and I looked at each other with knowing smiles. If they had seen our ghostly forms slide in late at night it would have scared them to death.

1 comment:

  1. The man who was glued to the band for an hour without moving a muscle reminded me of me. If I'm truly feeling the music I'll get stuck in a trance and the only thing to snap me out of it is food or a beautiful woman. I'm glad your having a great time over there! Please, bring back some local music from your trip if you feel inspired. Looking forward to your next posting. Cheers!!! :)