By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Cajun cooking comes naturally to Leah Green. She’s originally from Louisiana, where she grew up on a farm.
“We cooked meals, we didn’t eat out,” said Green. Raised with all that Southern home cooking, and the Cajun flair, Green developed a love for it. She shared her specialty cuisine with family and others, bringing the unlikely regional flavors to Midwestern Indiana. It ultimately blossomed into a business.
“I love to feed people,” said Green. “I was just cooking for people. It just kind of snowballed and turned into The Big Easy.”
The Big Easy is the Cajun and Southern cuisine-based catering business that Green and her husband, Jeff, launched this year. They purchased a food trailer and took it to their first event in early May, the Highway 38 Sale in Pendleton. Since then, they’ve been pulling their trailer to all kinds of events including the Elwood Glass Festival, the Madison County 4-H Fair and the Atlanta New Earth Festival. They’ll soon be headed to the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County, too.
The Greens also occasionally bring The Big Easy to Anderson folks for Food Truckin’ Thursdays — the lunchtime events held at Citizens Plaza Park each Thursday. The Big Easy will be there tomorrow for the third time, bringing such out-of-the-ordinary fare as Catfish Po’ Boys, Shrimp Etouffee, Cajun Tenderloin and Beignets. The addition to Anderson’s cultural lunchtime cuisine has proven attractive.
“She keeps selling out of food. It’s a good problem to have,” said Levi Rinker, with Anderson’s parks department. “People go out of their way for something unique.”
Among the popular offerings Green cooks up is jambalaya.
“I always sell out,” noted Green. “It’s the biggest hit.”
Her Po’ Boys are also big hits. These are sandwiches with either fried catfish, fried shrimp or sometimes oysters on French bread with lettuce, pickles and remoulade – a Cajun-style mayonnaise. Green doesn’t often serve the oysters at events. She noted, “That’s a lot of shucking.”
Etouffee is another dish for which Green gets repeat requests.
“Etouffee means smothered,” explained Green. “Most Cajun foods are served over rice – in Louisiana, we have a plethora of rice.” Green describes her shrimp etouffee, “It’s a creamy shrimp sauce over rice. It’s my favorite.”
Green also cooks up Cajun hand-breaded tenderloin. “I do my own version.”
Beignets will also be on the menu tomorrow. These are French doughnuts made from fried sweet dough.
Green suggested that people like the Cajun and Southern fare she prepares for a number of reasons.
“It’s something different,” said Green. “It’s well seasoned. It fills you up. There’s something pretty satisfying about it.”
The Louisiana native moved to Anderson about 11 years ago. She first met her future husband at the Church of God campground when she was just 14 years old. The two started writing letters to each other, and eventually attended college together before marrying 17 years ago. Green holds a degree in Christian ministry psychology and sociology from Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City.
Green put that degree to work, too. In addition to her cooking, she is a visit supervisor for the Children’s Bureau, a job she has held for almost eight years. Jeff balances his Big Easy commitments with his work as a courier for Fed Ex Express.
The couple has two kids who also get in on The Big Easy act. Eleven-year old Ian likes to run the cash register. As for Jacob, 14, Green said, “He likes to cook.” During the summer, the whole family mans the trailer’s fully-equipped kitchen.
The rest of Green’s family eventually even relocated to Madison County, including her parents, grandmother, brother and sister.
“They all kind of trickled up here,” said Green.
Still, Green said she tries to get back to Louisiana every couple of years. Among other things, she really enjoys the cuisine.
“I don’t have to cook it for myself.” Her favorite? Chargrilled oysters from Acme Oyster House in New Orleans.
In addition to Food Truckin’ Thursdays tomorrow, Oct. 31 and Nov. 14, The Big Easy will also be at the Balloons over Killbuck, Oct. 25-27, when Anderson’s Municipal Airport hosts Indiana’s First Hot Air Balloon Championship.
To get more info on Cajun catering with The Big Easy, call 623-1625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like Nancy Elliott on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @ NancyElliott_HB, or call 640-4805.
If you go What: Food Truckin' Thursdays, now with three vendors. Tomorrow's vendors include The Big Easy, Your Way Cafe and Fab Lab. Tomorrow's entertainment is music by The Slick Music Studio. When: Thursdays through Nov. 21 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Where: Citizens Plaza Park, Ninth and Main in Anderson