We were planning to go elsewhere to watch the 2009 Cotton Bowl Game between Ole Miss and Texas Tech on the day after New Years – which is the day everyone eats themselves to death. Betsy was determined to take something to feed the crowd of Rebel Rousers that they would not have had since Eating Season began last Thanksgiving. She mulled it over, checked the freezer, and it was revealed unto her: “I’m going to make a big pot of Goose Gumbo!” she announced.
“Big Pot” would be the right choice of words. She has one of those what I call, from my Navy days, “K-P Pots” that one can actually crawl into and scrub the bottom of, if one just has to scrub the bottom of the pot. Such a thing is unheard of in the Navy, and at men’s hunting camps, where that pot previously served time. I rescued the Big Pot from outside on The Store (our guest house – the remodeled old plantation commissary Store) porch, where it had last been used possibly for a fish fry, or maybe to boil a deer skull and antlers clean. She did insist that I crawl in and scrub the bottom, which brought to mind a similar pot on one of the Kairos Prison Ministry weekends for ladies, when we men were cooking for 110 women, team and inmates together, for the three-day weekend.
About the middle of the second day when we were cleaning up from lunch in preparation to cook supper, we heard a dank echo from the young man whose designated job, due to his small statue, was Big Pot Bottom Scrubber. Larry croaked loud enough for us to hear, “Cleanliness is ‘WAAAY over-rated!”
However, I even knocked off the dirt dauber nests around the Big Pot, brought it into the kitchen, and mirated over the amount of meat that Betsy had dug out of the freezer, especially since it was the day after Christmas, over a week before the Rebels were due to play. “Hey, those are specklebellies,” I pointed out. We had picked those better-tasting geese, so as to roast them for a dinner. Nay, nay – she dumped those into the pot to thaw, along with the blues, snows, and a Canada goose or two, as well as a few ducks, doves, what I thought was a squirrel or possibly a small coon, a venison loin, and a chicken for the stock.
Mid-day next, I walked into the house to the most wonderful smells. Gumbo was obviously going to be the main course for supper! I salivated throughout the afternoon, but was greeted by fried venison steaks, rice & gravy, black-eyed peas, turnip greens, cornbread, and soggum ‘lasses for dessert on another piece of hot buttered cornbread. Mighty good, but she warned me away from the gumbo.
Too late to make a long story short, but she had decided there was not going to be any discussion like unto: “Wow! This gumbo was really good last night, but tonight it’s absolutely wonderful! How come it’s always better the second (or third or fourth – however long it lasts) day?” Of course, the answer is always, “Because the flavors have more time to blend, if you just give it a few days in the fridge.”
Seven-Day Gumbo! We waited a full week before attacking that Big Pot, and I’m here to tell you that it was the best gumbo anyone anywhere ever put into their mouth. The smell of it all the way over to Dallas inspired the Rebels to play over their heads and soundly defeat a team picked to beat them by two touchdowns even though they started out two touchdowns behind before Betsy actually began to serve the gumbo. Our family Texans, after that first bowl, never cheered whatever it is that Red Raiders cheer, but joined us enthusiastically in “Hotty Toddy” after each worthy Rebel play. The event that Betsy had prepared Seven-Day Gumbo for was worthy of her efforts, and the flavors were perfectly blended.
She might be talked into building you a Seven-Day Gumbo for your next Big Event, if of course you provide the ingredients – that’s her provision. But here’s mine: we ain’t building any more Seven-Day Gumbos around Brownspur. I lost nearly ten pounds just smelling that Big Pot for a week, before she let me put a spoon in it. No doubt the flavors were blended; but I’m gonna at least taste yours!