I'm kind of surprised that I haven't posted a single food yet in this year's A to Z Challenge, because food does indeed bring me joy. And jambalaya is one of my favorites. Meaty (though it's also delicious as vegetarian), spicy, ricey, it has all my favorite things.
For those unfamiliar, jambalaya is a regional Louisiana dish with West African, French, and Spanish influence. It usually consists of andouille sausage, chicken, often shrimp, and a variety of vegetables such as onion, bell pepper, celery, and tomato.
Jambalaya isn't complicated to make, even for someone like me who isn't exactly a master chef. I associate it with the fun Mardi Gras season, and it is appropriately hearty for late winter. I also enjoy the similar dishes gumbo and etouffe, but for some reason, jambalaya is my favorite.
The origin story of jambalaya is that it was cooked up by a mad scientist using gamma radiation. Wait, no, that would be the superhero version. When Louisiana cooks tried to make Spanish paella without all the traditional ingredients, jambalaya was born. The name comes from the French jambalaia, which means a mish-mash or a mix-up. But for the indigenous Atakapa people, the word means, "Be full, not skinny. Eat up!" That's my kind of advice!
This is for you, fellow Seinfeld fans: