Southern Louisiana Dish

Zetta Nganga

Zetta Nganga wants to be an ambassador for her birthplace.

Nganga is of Creole descent and left Louisiana in 2005 right after Hurricane Katrina. She moved to Macon, trying to escape the hurricanes.

Though she now calls Macon home, Zetta keeps her cultural ties to Louisiana through cooking one of her favorite dishes — jambalaya.

Growing up, she experienced a lot of the Creole culture through music and food. Often times, she enjoyed gumbo and jambalaya with her family while listening to Zydeco music.

“Mondays was always called red bean Mondays growing up in Louisiana,” Nganga said.

She said this is because on Mondays, people did their laundry, and the beans would cook all day while family did the laundry.

Zetta’s jambalaya has sausage and rice and is served with red beans.

The dish is a mixture of African, French and Native American cultures. These three different cultures are what makes up the Creole culture.

“(Jambalaya) is basically a hybrid of when it was back during the slavery days, when the Africans came over from Africa and then the Acadians came down from Canada… that was the French culture and then Louisiana was already all Native American Indian,” she said. “So the rice base is African.”

Creole creations like jambalaya were a way for family and friends to enjoy their culture.

“It’s like a big family event and you passed the pots around and all the dishes,” she said.

She said she likes to invite people into her life experiences and culture by giving them a taste of what South Louisiana has to offer.