Updated: October 6, 2012 1:41PM
I wake up with the sun every morning as I’ve been doing all my life. They might’ve got me out of Louisiana, but they ain’t never gonna get the Louisiana out of me.
Interviewers ask me all the time, “Buddy, what would you be doing if you weren’t playing guitar?” My answer is cooking. Everything I learned about cooking, I learned from my mother, Isabell. My parents were sharecroppers and growing up in Lettsworth, La., we had a common saying: Eat to live and live to eat. We didn’t have much. We ate what we had.
My momma would say, “Buddy, go kill a chicken, wring its neck, pluck it and bring it in for me.” There was no talk of salmonella or mad cow disease. We drank straight out of the creek and I’m still standing. Sometimes I think that was better than the bottled water we get now.
I’d jump clean over Lake Michigan for some fresh beans over a choice steak any day. Down in Louisiana, they’ll run you crazy with fresh red beans and rice. I grow tomatoes in my yard, and you could walk out there right now with some salt and pepper and make you a sandwich. That’s how good they are. As for the tomatoes you get in the store now, let’s just say you could play baseball with ’em and they still wouldn’t burst!
One thing I really love is fresh corn. My momma knew how to cut the corn off that cob and fry it up just right. The other day I passed by a roadside stand with fresh vegetables and I stopped for a basket. The guy selling the corn said, “These ears are 25 cents, and these here are 15 cents.” I asked, “What’s the difference?” and he said, “The 15-cent ears have some worms.” I said, “OK, I’ll take those.” When he asked why, I said, “Because you didn’t spray it with the stuff that’s gonna kill me.”
I live out in the suburbs and my house sits way back in the woods. Now if you drive by my house around 5 a.m. you won’t need directions. The smell from my kitchen will be your GPS.
You could cut the electricity off in my house right now, and I could still make you a pot of gumbo on a wood-burning stove. l suppose I would compare my guitar playing to a good gumbo. It’s got a little bit of everything, but you gotta taste it for yourself.
Buddy Guy donated his fee for writing this column to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
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