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Kamp’s, Gumbo and Love: Stirring Up Cajun Comfort in an Okie Kitchen

12:25 PM EST on February 8, 2024

Over the past few months, my girlfriend has introduced my Okie palette to her home state Louisianian foodstuffs in the best way possible, from touring down-home Cajun dives to devouring half-baked crawfish vigils.

All I can say is, “Ooooooowwweee! That’s some good stuff!”

Having grown up the cradle of the Big Easy for many, many years – and a pretty good cook in her own right – you better believe my mouth began to water this week when she said she wanted to make some down-home gumbo – the Louisiana nectar of the Gods.

I knew this meant I'd soon be slurping up cajun juice by the spoonful and that a long-awaited visit to Bill Kamp’s Meat Market – 7310 N Western Ave. – was finally in order.

In her adopted burg of Oklahoma City, anytime she gets a claw in her craw for good Cajun cooking, Kamp’s is on her speed dial, and after touring the localized meat shop, I can truly see why!

Since 1910, Kamp’s has butchered and prepared and freshest protein-packed fare possible, as well as other specialized products in their deli case, ranging from savory dishes to sweet treats.

In other words, Kamp’s is the best place to go when you want to make some real delicacies in your own private home.

As we walked into the store on a crisp afternoon, my senses received an immediate tongue-lashing as the outré spices and byzantine cooking techniques plugged my nostrils. Oh, that smell!

With clouds of aromatics swarming around me like hungry mosquitos in a swamp, I was quickly taken back by all the cheeses, pies, and other confections illuminating from the cold-case section, ready to be eaten at a moment’s notice.

I quickly went for a slice of artichoke, mushroom, and tomato cheese bread and, of course, their world-famous potato salad, a true Louisiana staple, and took it to their patio. It was all very fresh and very artisanal, and very making me want to try every other piecemeal item in the case.

Looking to my right in the showroom, the frozen meats from typical ground pork to harder-to-find bison were packed inside a stand-up refrigerator. I resisted the temptation to splurge because our mission was to find fresh andouille sausage, the basic building block of the Cajun food pyramid.

We grabbed about $15 worth, and as the porcine smell wafted out of the butcher paper, I wanted to bite the sausage right then and there, but I knew it had a better purpose – the gumbo.

When we got back to the house, I promptly got out of the way as my girlfriend put on her show of shows.

She placed the sausage on the table with the other ingredients – organic chicken, cut-up onions, Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, and a special roux she brought back from Louisiana – and began to work her magic.

Eventually, the gumbo began to cook at a medium pace cumulating to a rolling boil. The heat was then turned down, and as it tapered off to a simmering being, it was checked on throughout the whole day.

Towards the end of the cycle, parsley and green onions were added. The concoction was then ladled on top of bowls of rice, and quickly sent down my gullet

It was transcendent and a real showstopper. The fresh onions and real spices played with the strands of chicken and the stringent andouille sausage. It was perfect, with the flavors turning me into a delirious Cajun King, begging for more and more.

As I downed another flaming bowl of the pure goodness, I thought about how lucky we are to have a place like Bill Kamp’s Meat Market, and, more importantly, to have people to cook for you with skill, luck, and of course, love.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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