I would consider myself to be a somewhat adventurous eater. I was raised with the mantra: "Try everything once," the argument being that I couldn't possibly explain how I didn't like something if I hadn't even tried it. As I got older, my mantra is now: "Try everything once, in multiple forms." Because I've found, with this particular mantra, that I do in fact like things like escargot and beets IF PROPERLY PREPARED.
In preparation for this presentation we're giving in a few weeks, it was decided we would also provide a taste of New Orleans cuisine, specifically red beans and rice. We had the most exquisite red beans and rice in the home of a family who couldn't have been nicer, but we somehow felt it would be rude to ask for the recipe. It was skirted around, ("This is delicious! I wish I could make something like this at home!") and the only response was something involving cooking roux for twenty four hours. We're all mid-Atlantic types who prefer lox with our bagels and thin-crust on our pizzas. Roux is simply not a staple of our everyday cuisine.
I somehow, in the nether regions of my very tired brain, remembered purchasing a second-hand Cajun cookbook in the French Quarter on my visit in 2005. It was from such a small publisher that a typed note was pressed in the front of the book that said "Errata: The following changes should be observed" followed by a listing of three recipes with errors printed in the book. I found a recipe for red beans and rice and, upon further inspection, discovered that I also have the recipes for these:
Crock-pot Squirrel and Dumplings
Alabama Pea-Pickin' Cake
Favorite Shrimp Mold
Wait. I know. I KNOW. Garfish Balls. So not a typo.
Thankfully, my newly recovered Cajun Cookbook appears to have been written for Yanks like myself (because, despite the ever-disputed presence of the Mason-Dixon Line, I am pretty sure most native Southerners would consider me to be a Yankee), because there was a description of said "Garfish," and the "Balls" aspect of it was innocuously something like meatballs.
The garfish is said to date back to the dinosaur days. Today there are several species of garfish found in all types of water. One species called the "alligator gar" can grow up to ten feet long and is found predominantly in the southern US.
There you have it. Garfish.
I'm seriously tempted about the Crock-pot Squirrel. And, most thankfully, it appears I also have recipes for deliciousness such as King Cake (baby sold separately) and, of course, roux. Delicious roux. Browned fat and flour. Mmmm.
I may have to have a dinner party.