While reading the recent newsletter from the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, the name, Belinda Hulin, caught my attention. Could it be the Belinda that was a good friend of my deceased Uncle John G? While staring at the name and thinking about my uncle, I knew I had to contact Belinda. Yes, it was the same Belinda. Hearing from Belinda brought back many memories and I wanted to explore those memories. First, I wanted to find out about Belinda and her life.
Belinda’s family like so many others in South Louisiana had been devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. While Belinda and her sister were mucking out the family home in New Orleans and throwing away mementoes, Belinda went upstairs to the second floor. There on the landing was a box, with papers hanging out, just sitting there like someone had forgotten it. That box held generations of Hulin Family Memories – recipes! That box became the bright star in the dark aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Belinda held on to the box and knew she had to let that star shine. That box became the foundation for – Roux Memories, a Cajun –Creole Love Story with Recipes. Roux Memories is about Belinda’s family yet it could be any Cajun family from south Louisiana.
While reading Roux Memories, I started thinking about John and my Cajun heritage and our ancestors. I realized how much my sisters and I have lost through the years. The Cajun language and culture is an oral one. Not much was ever written down. We have a few recipes from my grandparents, yet some have been lost forever. We try to reproduce certain foods we remember, yet they are never the same. Of course that is what Cajun is all about. We are an adaptable culture. There is now only one person left who holds some of those recipes in her memory. I am on a mission to write down as many recipes as Lillie can remember. Lillie is my parent’s housekeeper and has cooked for our family for over 60 years. Lillie does not use written recipes so the best way to capture ingredients is to stand with her while she cooks. This I’m sure will prove to be very interesting and frustrating at the same time.
In Cajun families, the kitchen is where everything happens. No matter the occasion everyone ends up in the kitchen. In my family as well as John’s, we would all sit around the kitchen table talking, planning, discussing and visiting. In a Cajun Culture there are three very important things – family, religion, and food.
I, sisters and cousins as well as John’s siblings and cousins are now the older generation. It is our responsibility to pass family memories on to our children. I recommend reading Roux Memories and becoming the advocate in your family to carry on traditions from one generation to the next.
Belinda, thank you for taking that box, bringing it to life and showing the importance of family heritage!