A Taste of History
Category: Food & Eating

A Taste of History

Traditional wedding plater with Jambalaya
Traditional wedding plater with Jambalaya

February is the month that highlights the history and culture of Black Americans. One essential component of that culture is food, “soul food”. There are many sub-cultures within the Black community such as Creoles, Melungeons, Mustees, and the list goes on. I am Melungeon and much of my culture is infused with diverse and colorful food. One of my favorite recipes is Jambalaya.

Jambalaya origins have been traced to southern Louisiana created by Creoles in the bayou where food was scarce, as opposed to the richer part of Louisiana. It was proposed to be a compounded word from the French word “jambon” or ham and  “aya” meaning rice in some West African language. This plate was the product of Spanish, French and the various West African languages of the slave population in Louisiana.

 Jambalaya was dish that constantly changed over time. It  incorporated seafood , ham, link sausage rounds and chicken or simply just one of those ingredients. I have attached a jambalaya recipe from a famous Creole restaurant that is absolutely delicious and fairly easy to prepare. Try it, taste it, and embrace it! Happy Black History Month.

Recipe courtesy of Justin Mason, Hattie’s Restaurant
Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
Prep: 50 min/ Cook: 25 min
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Extra-virgin olive oil, enough to coat a skillet
4 boneless chicken breasts, julienne-cut
20 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
All-purpose flour, for dusting
5 links andouille sausage, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 green peppers, julienned
2 red peppers, julienned

4 stalks celery, chopped
6 fresh okra pods, sliced
1 large Spanish onion
1 tablespoon oregano
4 tablespoons parsley
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne
10 peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 cups long or medium grained rice
4 cups seafood or chicken stock
2 cups tomato juice
10 fresh crawfish, shell-on, optional
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Parsley, for garnish


  1. Coat a large, deep skillet with olive oil and keep on high heat until oil sizzles.
  2. Dredge chicken and shrimp in flour and add to skillet with andouille sausage.
  3. Lower heat and remove the par-cooked shrimp. Add garlic, peppers, celery, okra, and onion and cook on low heat for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add all seasoning and diced tomatoes and Worcestershire.
  4. Add uncooked rice and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on low heat. Add stock and tomato juice, then simmer for 5 minutes on medium heat, taking care to stir to prevent sticking. Once rice has completely cooked, add shrimp and crawfish; simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Serve in a deep bowl and garnish with fresh chopped scallions and parsley.

Photo by Kristina Camille Sims

One comment:

  1. Wow! This looks so savory and delicious.
    Perfect for the freezing rain of the Ithacan north.
    Bringing us the southern sunshine all through Black History Month. Thank you for sharing the flavors!

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