Q&A with Jamie Oliver: Louisiana

Jamie Oliver gives us an insight into his experience in Louisiana while shooting his show, Jamie's American Road Trip.  

How has meeting David Allemande and other people who have experienced natural disasters helped you understand what they go through?
Before this trip I didn’t understand why people continued to live in Louisiana after all of the pain the hurricanes had caused. You would think everyone would want to pack up, drive off into the sunset and find somewhere else to live. But after being there I reckon Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had it right: “There’s no place like home.” New Orleans, and Louisiana in general, is full of energy, music, beauty, colour and general craziness and if you’d been born there you wouldn’t want to leave that behind.

Several people told me that when a hurricane is on its way they have a party in the street and get the barbecue going. That totally shocked me. Yes, they are putting a few boards up on the windows while they are drinking and partying, but mostly they are having a good old time. You have to admire that sort of spirit!

I know you like your spices – how did you find gumbo?
Gumbo is an African word for Okra and basically it is an absolutely delicious dish. But I learnt that it embraces all sorts of ingredients and is really more of a philosophy than one specific recipe. I do like my spices and so do the people of Louisiana. I loved trying their gumbo.

You are a good shot and you go on game shoots here in the UK. What was it like hunting and shooting alligator?
To be honest, I loved it. I never dreamed I’d hunt for alligator in my life but in Louisiana their population has sort of exploded and now they are a pest and a danger to the local paddy field workers. They aren’t allowed to hunt loads of them in Louisiana, they have to stay within strict quotas and only hunt during a short season but the ones that are caught are used for their meat and skin so nothing goes to waste.

I’ll admit I was very, very worried about the whole thing on the day I went hunting for ‘gator… they have a lot of teeth! But the one I caught and cooked tasted amazing. If you visit Louisiana you’ll see that loads of restaurants and pubs serve alligator and frogs the same way we’d serve pork and chicken in the UK. 

For more information, see www.jamieoliver.com

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