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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to

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Josephine Cormier

Josephine Phillips Cormier raised eight children and worked for thirteen years at Walmart before she opened her eponymous St. Martinville restaurant in honor of her late father. While Josephine didn’t even start cooking until after she was married, she appreciated her father’s cookery, and the culinary heritage he bequeathed his family, from a young age. A field worker by profession, he performed boucheries, made his own boudin and tasso, and cooked for funerals and weddings in the community. When he passed away, Josephine made a commitment to carry on her father’s cooking traditions.

Today, Josephine and her husband, Wilray, make good on that commitment by waking with the sun to put okra to smother, eggs to boil, and gumbo to simmer. On Wednesdays year-round, they sell out of their roux-free shrimp and okra gumbo—served with deep-fried chicken and potato salad—before noon. Chicken and sausage gumbo and crab and shrimp gumbo (both made with a peanut-butter-colored roux) appear frequently in the cooler months. Josephine has a quiet manner but she cooks with a point of view: she doesn’t like dark rouxs, slimy okra, or potato salad in her gumbo. And though none of her gumbos contain filé, she does keep some behind the counter for customers who ask.

Date of interview:

Sara Roahen

Sara Roahen

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


Alex Raij Txikito

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