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Spice of Life: I lost control and had a good time doing it

Last Modified: Tuesday, October 09, 2012 6:51 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

I lost all control while eating a sauce piquant at Good Times Cafe in Lake Charles last Saturday.

Yes, I broke one of the cardinal rules in dining etiquette and licked my fingers during and after I ate a true down-home Louisiana dish.

What transpired after the arrival of a Styrofoam container filled with the turkey necks and chicken parts was the ultimate example of uncouthness.

The whole time I ate like a man served his last meal, the restaurant’s owner, Walter Williams, sat in front of me and watched.

We attempted to have a conversation, but it was difficult. How do you talk to somebody with a chicken wing hanging from your mouth and grease and gravy sticking to your fingers.

“I’m sorry,” I told Williams as I sucked all five fingers one at a time.

“Don’t worry about it. That’s how I know it’s good,” he said with the most pleased grin on his face.

Even though the man granted me a manners pass, I felt uncomfortable. You have to understand, I pride myself on not being completely taken with any cook’s creations.

And even though the etiquette rule book nixes finger licking, belching, eating with the wrong utensil, talking with a full mouth, and placing elbows on the table, those actions happen at times.

Cooks like to observe a diner’s visceral response though. It’s like a gut-busting laugh after a joke. An instantaneous reaction confirms to the creator that “I got them.”

Williams had me.

The man, who has family roots in Ville Platte, opened the restaurant, at 1850 N. Martin Luther King Highway, several months ago.

His plan was to build a place where the community could have a place to eat, hang out and strengthen ties.

How hard can that plan be when visitors get the opportunity to eat red beans and rice; fried chicken; smothered pork chops; cabbage with smoked meat; okra with sausage and shrimp; beef stew; shrimp stew; liver and onions; and barbecue?

Williams also serves sandwiches with chicken, pork steak, pork spare ribs, pork chop, with a hot link or pork roast as the primary meat.

Added to all of that are hot dogs, corn dogs, french fries and seafood dinners.

“I call this good old-fashioned home cooking. If you are going to do something, do it well and do it with your heart,” Williams said, sharing his mantra.

How I remembered to jot parts of our discussion into my tablet amazes me.

His style of cooking reminds me of all that’s good with the foodways that originate out of Ville Platte, affectionately known as the smoked meat capital of the world.

The sauce was the result of slow-cooked meats and just enough seasoning to tickle the olfactory senses.

I am going back. Especially since I know I can lick my fingers without being embarrassed.

Breaking the rules makes life so much fun sometimes.

•••

Eric Cormier writes about food every Wednesday. Contact him at ecormier@americanpress.com or 494-4090.

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