Eric Cormier

Lake Charles, LA

Eric Cormier is a Creole by ancestry, a Cajun by culture, an African American by complexion, and a Lake Charles native with a newspaper column devoted to the foodways of his peoples—all of them. Eric grew up in a household where his mother was the “pot cook,” tending to the gumbos and étouffées, while his father simmered red sauces and replicated other dishes from the Italian/Sicilian lexicon that he learned on the job (his night job) at Papania’s restaurant. While Eric cannot envision ever matching his mother’s platonic gumbos, he is the main cook in his household today (“My wife is from Kansas,” he explains) and finds pride in carrying forth the Louisiana tradition of men in the kitchen. This tradition crosses geographic and racial boundaries in Louisiana; for Eric, it’s most prominent at a camp in Arkansas where he and his brother gather with other Acadian men to hunt and cook. “Got to have the big cast iron pot and a big spoon and some sharp knives, and whatever is out there that’s walking or swimming is dinner,” he says.

Date of interview:

September 11, 2007

Interviewer:

Sara Roahen

Photographer:

Sara Roahen

Eric Cormier - Gumbo Trail
In most [Louisiana] communities when it comes to cooking, you won't find a man who’s going to run from the kitchen. And the ones who did, then their mama really was a doggone good cook. They had no reason to learn.

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