Long live the Queen of Creole

Someone you perhaps don’t remember, but should:

In the 1950s and 60s at the height of the US civil rights movement, when activists needed somewhere discreet to discuss strategy, they would go to Dooky Chase in New Orleans — meeting in an upstairs room and make plans over generous helpings of the hearty, Creole stew, cooked up by its owner Leah Chase.

Known as the Queen of Creole, Chase — who died on Saturday aged 96 — fed Martin Luther King as he organised sit-ins with other civil rights activists.

She fed freedom riders — black and white activists who intentionally rode interstate buses into segregated states where it was against the law for them to travel together.

Unless you have support troops, you really have no army.

Thurgood Marshall, when he was the lawyer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is even said to have made an urgent mid-gumbo call to then-attorney general Bobby Kennedy from the restaurant’s phone.

“They would eat gumbo, and talk about what they were going to do and how they were going to do it,” she told the BBC’s Dan Saladino in 2016.

Decades later, Chase would serve the very same gumbo to Barack Obama, who was soon to become the first black president of the United States — and would slap his hand for adding hot sauce to it.

In defense of Mr Obama, I don’t recall any incident when he dumped ketchup on a steak.

The eatery itself was named for Leah Chase’s husband, Edgar “Dooky” Chase II; it began in 1941 as a sandwich stand in the Treme district, run by his parents, and the Chases eventually turned it into a sit-down place.

2 comments

  1. Roger Green »

    4 June 2019 · 9:55 am

    I DO remember!

  2. June rambling: hope, not optimism – Ramblin’ with Roger »

    17 June 2019 · 10:42 am

    […] Dooky Chase owner Leah Chase […]

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