“When da mama gator jumps inda boat, you jump outda boat.”
Such was the advice I was given by my father-in-law after a recent “safety meeting” at an undisclosed restaurant in Baton Rouge, LA. And it seems perfectly reasonable, at first, until you consider the following: the mama gator was in the boat because one of the passengers thought it advisable to snatch a baby gator, who subsequently cried for help; if there are gators in the boat, that would suggest the presence of gators outside the boat, as well; and, everyone in the boat is probably drunk.
A “safety meeting,” in its purest form, is an excuse for a group of Cajun men to get together and drink; safety is presumed because as long as they are in the same room, everyone else is safe (excepting, I would think, those in the room). I am not sure if the term is universal, or specific to my Beau-Père, but I would suspect variations on the theme exist throughout Cajun country. What happens after the meeting is anyone’s guess, but safety is dubious.
Besides “safety,” and alcohol consumption, the main features of these gatherings are low-level harassment of the female waitstaff and apocryphal tales laced with homespun wisdom. And fire. Fire is always a prominent theme. Things that have been set on fire, things that could be set on fire, and things that are no longer set on fire due to improvements in design.
Boats, in an irony worthy of Coleridge’s “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” seem particularly susceptible to fire. “Water, water everywhere,” but T-Roy, a bottle of Chivas in, still managed to set the boat on fire.
Things that could be set on fire usually apply to local and national politicians, and sometimes turkey fryers, although with completely different emphasis.
Things that are no longer set on fire are the cajun microwave, and the wheel to the trailer mounted smoker now that the firebox has been moved from above the wheel.
And along with fire, food and humor are also featured, oftentimes concurrently. What do I mean by this? Instead of trying to explain, I will leave you with this recipe, passed down by generations of Cajun men, and by my father-in-law to me, for what can only be described as a dream Turkey:
Wonderful Turkey Recipe
HAPPY THANKSGIVING……….Here is a recipe I thought you would like for the holidays: Ingredients:
1 whole turkey
1 large lemon, cut into halves
salt and pepper to taste
butter or olive oil, whichever you prefer.
Heat oven to 350 degrees Rub butter or oil over the skin of the turkey until it is completely coated.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you prefer.Take a knife and gently separate the skin from the breast meat;
Slide lemon halves under the skin with the peel side up, one on
each side. This way the juice from the lemon will release into the breasts.
Cover and bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove cover and continue
to roast until juices run clear, basting every 15-20 minutes.
If you’ve followed these steps correctly, your turkey should
look like the one in the picture below.
Bon Appetit! Um, um Good!