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In the heart of Acadiana, French national Jacqueline Salser ladles up bowls of gumbo that bear almost no resemblance to any other dish in the area of the same name. A light butter roux. No trinity. No sausage. Scallops. Yet hers is a gumbo through and through, and not in the least because of the spirit in which she cooks it.
Jacqueline moved to Breaux Bridge in 1989 not because of the Cajun food, which is too spicy for her taste, but because of “the people, the kindness.” In 2003 she opened Chez Jacqueline, “a little restaurant,” where alongside some regional specialties she serves French dishes in the style her parents once cooked at the French country restaurant about twenty miles from Paris in which they raised her. Like her parents’ place, Chez Jacqueline is family-owned and -operated. Her husband and daughter work there, and her granddaughter loves to help her cook. A few times a year she offers a traditional French bouillabaisse, which, contrary to popular consensus in many Louisiana historical texts, Jacqueline says is “completely foreign from gumbo.”