“Through a Glass Darkly” column for March 6, 2013

While on a business trip in Texas last week, my daughter was given the option of having dinner at a Cajun restaurant. Sarah declined.

That showed Louisiana wisdom. How many Bayou State residents have ever been satisfied with “Cajun” food served outside our borders?

The happier reason that Sarah decided to forgo Cajun food in Texas was that her next stop would be home.

She knew that here the menu would include authentic Louisiana food. At this time of year that even means crawfish boiled with corn and potatoes.

“My trips home revolve around food and family,” Sarah said Saturday as she, her younger brother and I sat near the fireplace while Mary cut sausage as a prelude to the kitchen magic of making gumbo.

Soon the steaming pot’s aroma mixed with that of a chocolate cake in the oven. Together they wafted to the living room to bond with the faint smell of burning oak from the fireplace.

Indeed Sarah’s food and family comment provided a nice description of her trips back to Louisiana.

In fact, it applies to a lot of what is special about our state.

In Louisiana, family gatherings are usually spiced with meals that draw people closer, provoking stories, laughter and compliments for the cooks.

While some of the best food is prepared at home, Louisiana restaurants seldom disappoint.

Within minutes of Sarah’s flight touching down, we headed for a favorite New Orleans restaurant.

When we found it packed, we hopped effortlessly to another one, which we like almost as much. There a table for four awaited. Over food and wine we had a leisurely chance to catch up after months apart.

The next day’s fare not only included Mary’s great chicken and andouille gumbo for dinner, but also a late lunch at one of our old haunts, Louie’s on Chimes Street, where even the cooks join in the banter.

Sunday brought breakfast at a fine bakery and restaurant between Springfield and Ponchatoula. There lifelong friends, who are close enough to be considered family, joined us from Thibodaux.

Our friends’ soft Cajun accents always make me think of growing up on Bayou Lafourche where jambalaya and seafood provided meals that would forever spoil me.

Sunday afternoon Sarah’s grandfather served boiled crawfish atop a bed of newspapers, as Sarah got to break bread and crawfish tails with extended family.

That carried on a tradition of Sunday dinners at her grandparents’ home, just as Mary’s gumbo carried on our tradition of the family sitting around the table together almost every evening as we caught up with what had happened in each others’ day.

As always, Sarah’s visit would be too short, but filled with food and the warmth of family.

Email Bob Anderson at banderson@theadvocate.com.