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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.

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Lynn Anselmo

A singer-songwriter who spent his early adulthood on the road, Lynn Anselmo returned to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and took over the family doughnut business in 1974. Under his direction, Tony’s Donut Shop transformed from a single wholesale donut operation to additional donut outlets plus a full-scale restaurant with a stage for musical entertainment. For 30 years, until the State bought the land and turned it into a highway, Lynn ran the Baton Rouge institution with his wife (also named Lynn). He baked his own bread for po-boys, he honed recipes for shrimp Creole and crawfish étouffée that still lure his daughter, Amanda, home for dinner, and he developed a recipe for a gumbo Ya-Ya  that appears in his self-published cookbook, “Baton Rouge” Style. Lynn’s gumbo Ya-Ya is a Creole-style chicken and sausage gumbo that’s about as different from his mother’s Cajun chicken and sausage gumbo as it could be. He makes a lighter roux than his mother does, and he adds flamboyance with color—red bell pepper and slightly cooked okra—to offset the “gray”ness of the food he grew up eating around Baton Rouge. Lynn’s gumbo Ya-Ya is highly seasoned but not fiery—at Tony’s, the tables were always set with Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Date of interview:
2008-10-16 00:00

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.


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