Baton Rouge native Germaine Sibley Gordon has spent the last decade taking on a daunting challenge: translating Southern soul food into vegan-friendly interpretations. “I loved the foods I grew up with: smothered chicken, rice and gravy, and greens, but I was committed to this lifestyle,” Gordon recalls. “When I finally got a jambalaya to work, it was a personal triumph.” Today, the homeschooling mom and vegetarian food blogger says she's more optimistic than ever about living meat-free in the Capital City.
Gordon was in graduate school in Chicago for dance when she met her future husband, and decided to join him in a vegan lifestyle. It wasn't hard in the Windy City, but when the couple moved to Baton Rouge around 2000, they found plenty of hurdles. They relied largely on Asian and Greek-Lebanese restaurants and frequented Our Daily Bread and now-closed Living Foods. When it opened in 2005, Whole Foods Market was a welcome trove, but as the years have gone by, Gordon has also found options in unexpected places. “I live in 70805, and I made a commitment to support my local grocery stores here, like Hi Nabor,” she says. “It's starting to have a few things I can work with. I think people are more curious and supportive than in the past and I think as more customers ask it will continue to change.”
Gordon also includes the Saturday Red Stick Farmers Market among her regular stops. She likes interacting with farmers, many of whom she's gotten to know over the years. “I love, love, love the Farmers Market. That's community to me. I cook a lot at home, and it's an incredible source of ingredients,” she says.
Check out Gordon's Southern Vegetarian Chronicles blog for recipes and more about her journey, and see Maggie Heyn Richardson's Spatula Diaries blog this week for vegetarian-friendly dishes in local restaurants.
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