I joined the Army Reserves out of high school to help pay for college. I got lucky and ended up in a section that was full of some of the greatest people ever and even now, 30 years later, I still keep in touch with many of them regularly. One of them was a guy named Jay Cobb; he was a sergeant from Plymouth, NH, a laid back Deadhead with a quick, sardonic wit. As per usual these days, we reconnected on Facebook several years back and still chat every so often.
A month or so ago, Jay messaged and said he had an Army friend who had recently arrived here on Camp Humphreys and as everyone who arrives here does, she was in quarantine for two weeks. He said she was suffering from the horrible Army food they were feeding her and asked if I might be willing to bring her some of the food I had been cooking. Of course I said no problem because, well, that's just the kind of guy I am.
I quickly discovered that Jay's friend - Ayla Papp is her name, which I think might be the coolest name EVER - is a complete foodie. She was so appreciative of the food that both Virginia and I made for her in quarantine that we started talking constantly about food, recipes, etc. and she shared some pics of her own dishes that just looked incredible and it became obvious that she is my spirit animal...it turns out she is from Louisiana and she vowed that when she got out of quarantine, she would come make her special homemade gumbo for us. This pleased me greatly as I absolutely love cajun food - jambalaya, red beans and rice, etouffé, crawfish bread...and ESPECIALLY gumbo. Well, today was that day. Ayla Papp (I call her Ayla-Papp because it's just such a cool first and last name combination) came over and made for us her special homemade gumbo with chicken and andouille sausage. And it...was...glorious.
Oh, but there is more to this story. Much, much more. First, let's see the pics of the gumbo, then I'll deliver the second, more incredible part of the story: