By Mandy Manners
My husband of more than 25 years, was born and raised in Austin and is fairly normal for someone born and raised in Austin.
But 20 years ago his little sister Sally married a gentleman from Louisiana and, well, let’s be honest, her husband is “one of those.” You know what I mean – a basically crazy person that vacillates between the most entertaining to the most embarrassing person in the room.
T-Bob, his real name meaning Bob Junior, was born in Pierre Part, Louisiana to a fairly normal family. Somewhere along the line, he must have fallen out of the moss covered family tree and hit his head on a cypress root.
He plays the fiddle probably as well as Charlie Daniels, and also sings both kinds of music (not country and western, more like Cajun and Zydeco). He also seldom wears shoes.
Last week, we visited with Sally and T-Bob for their 20th wedding anniversary. The party was at their Pierre Part home on the banks of Lake Verret. They live just off Hwy 70 on a street named Edge of Swamp. You probably get the picture.
T-Bob had been “swamp-huntin” the night before our arrival and had planned a traditional Cajun meal for us. I expected a splendid crawfish etouffee, or a blackened fillet of redfish, or maybe a dozen delightful Oysters Rockefeller – wrong, he had killed a nutria.
Should you be a normal person and not know what a nutria really is – it’s full name is nutria rat — basically a 30-pound rodent. It looks like a beaver without a flat tail. It is horrible in all stations of its life – dead or alive, whether shot, caught, or run-over, and absolutely disgusting on your plate at dinnertime.
As a food and art critic for most of my professional career, I have had the opportunity to experience a lot of odd and strange culinary presentations. But this was the top of the totem pole for gastric and gourmet distractions.
You may think I am pulling your leg — well, here is a photo of my supper and the recipe, in his own words, for T-Bob’s Crock-Pot Nasty-Nutria:
1 big ol’ fat Nutria, skinned real good
1 small onion, sliced thin like dat
1 tomato, cut into big wedges, cher
2 potatoes, sliced thin-thin-thin
2 carrots, sliced thin-thin-thin
8 mirliton, peeled and sliced thin
1/2 cup fresh box wine, da rest be for da cook
1 cup swamp water, fresh dipped from bayou
2 teaspoons chopped garlic, o’yeah cher
Salt and pepper to tickle you taste
1 teaspoon of Tony’s Cajun Seasoning
1 cup demi-glace (optional)
Layer onion, tomato, potatoes, carrots and mirliton in ya’ crockpot. Season nutria with salt, pepper and garlic, and place nutria over vegetables. Add a box of wine and water, set the crock-pot on low and let cook until meat is tender (approximately 1-1/2 hours). Garnish with vegetables and demi-glace.
Makes four servings, plus leftovers for the family dog!
I know – every family has “one of those.”