Thankful I’m wearing more than my pajamas, I go back into the kitchen and tell the rest of the family that Walter is coming to cook us a meal. Needless to say, the eyes around our table were wide with curiosity (and uncertainty).
“Listen – I have no idea what this will be like, but make sure that Walter feels at home,” I implore my crew. “I can barely believe he is doing this for us. It is so beyond thoughtful. … And I don’t want to hear one, ‘Ewww – That’s gross’ or ‘I don’t like blah, blah, blah’s.’ Got it?! Good.”
They nodded at me. We were all a bit uncertain about what’s going on.
Walter and Slow Walker make there way to our kitchen where he proceeds to open his cooler and begins placing the fresh ingredients on our counter.
Sweet Walter had not only brought everything to make his favorite meal, but also every utensil, gloves, pot and dish towel so he wouldn’t mess up any of our things. I’m still overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of each gesture.
Next he began to share with me all his secrets to a delicious jambalaya.
He handed me the paper where he had written everything for me (although he told me I might want to get a pencil to take any notes along the way … which I did!) Since this recipe is one of his staples, he has honed the ingredients over the years … thus the “Walter’s Way” on the right.
We all watched and listened as he shared his love of cooking – along with all sorts of stories about his life. He sliced the onions into small pieces (larger than dicing), cut and seeded the bell peppers and thinly chopped the celery.
First he coated the bottom of the pot with oil, heated it and added the vegetables which he cooked until the onions were translucent. He thoughtfully sized the peppers so they could be removed after cooking, knowing the kids probably wouldn’t like them.
Next he quartered his tomatoes
which he added, along with some water, to the vegetables cooking them on medium/high heat.
“Here’s the secret”, he offered as he showed us, “Joe’s Stuff.”
“You can get it at the New Orleans School of Cooking on line. I found it when I went there to take a class. It’s just wonderful.”
“Great,” I replied. “I’ll go on-line and order some right now.”
“Oh, no. This is for you. I’m leaving it here so you can have it.”
WHAT?! As if I’m not already blown away by his cooking for us … in our home!… he has even bought us seasoning ingredients!!!
Not just Joe’s Stuff, Cajun Chef Hot sauce, but also Joe’s Hot Stuff – for the spicy lover in the family. (That would be me. Walter told me to add the Hot Stuff only to my own bowl. It might be a bit much for the spicy-challenged)
He added a generous layer of Joe’s Stuff on the simmering vegetables and let that cook for a short while
encouraging a taste by his audience.
He then sliced the sausage he planned on adding to the dish. You can add all sorts of meat to jambalaya, but he thought the kids would most like the brand of skinless sausage. Again – he had paid attention to every detail with us in mind.
He added the sausage
three generous cups of water.
As he started to pack up his stuff, he instructed me to bring the stew to a boil then add the rice (that he had pre-measured and brought to us in a styrofoam to-go cup.) After adding the rice, the jambalaya needed to cook for 20 more minutes. Then it would be ready for us to eat.
The finished product!
We all profusely thanked Walter for this grand gesture. I’m so blown away by the incredibly thoughtful way he shared his love of cooking with us. My missionary father-in-law, who is in town visiting, ventured down the road of discussing our faith. It was interesting to hear Walter share some of the ways he’s been hurt by religion and his views on world religions. He grew up around a rather judgmental crew of folks and appreciates other cultures. He welcomed our comments as we welcomed his.
I walked him to the door and told him again how much we appreciated his thoughtfulness and the way he blessed us with the unexpected and delicious treat. Once the rice was cooked, we ate almost every bit. It was sooooo good!
Later, as I recounted the story to my folks and a friend at dinner I was struck by the gesture yet again – especially as it related to blessing.
“Walter may not have been saying the name of the One who inspires such giving, but he acted out being the hands and feet of Jesus today. In fact, I might even go as far to say that this thoughtful man, through his generous gesture (an act that was clearly outside all of our comfort zones) was the closest thing to washing of feet that I have ever seen in practical action.”
What an inspiration. I’ll never forget it. He shared his passion, catered it to our tastes, and even taught me how to do it myself. I hope that his gift will be on the forefront of my mind as I encounter others who could use some encouraging the way that Walter encouraged and blessed us today.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Walter’s quote of the day: “Anytime you have the chance to learn something from someone, do it! It’s free. And people are happy to share what they know.” … We could probably all do a little more of both – sharing and learning.