Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ragin' Cajun Gumbo

(UPDATE: Ragin' Cajun Gumbo closed in early January 2013)

Ragin' Cajun Gumbo is a food cart located in the A la Carts Pavilion food pod (SE 50th and Division/Ivon) in Portland, Oregon. Having just opened in mid-January 2012, this cart is one of the newbies on the block.

The cart during its second week of business! A week and two days, to be exact!
My only trip to the South (as of this post) was in 1995. My paternal grandfather fought in the 100th Battalion (442nd Infantry) during World War II, and the trip was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the war's ending. The guided tour spanned a few weeks and several states, with numerous events and ceremonies. My grandma brings up this trip many times during conversation.

Woohoo! Complete with Louisiana Hot Sauce!

New Orleans just happened to be on the itinerary that summer. I might not remember every detail from that trip, but I do remember the food I had there (guess I really am a foodie). My first taste of beignets, cajun food, and creole food. I was hooked for life.

You just watch, once I get through some business later this month, I'd like to book a trip back to Louisiana...along with many other states. I'd return to Oregon happy and with a mega-full belly. Well, maybe my stomach would demand a rest.

Anyway, Pat Marken, a Lafayette native, runs Ragin' Cajun Gumbo. After working in upholstery for many years, she wanted a career change. She had always wanted to open a food cart and, after moving to Portland, figured the time was right to do so.

I came by during Pat's second week of business and had a small bowl of her chicken and sausage gumbo ($6). Shredded/diced chicken and diced smoked sausage meet the usual cast of gumbo characters (including garlic, bell pepper, and onion). It is served over a bed of brown rice.

(Late January 2012...second week of business)

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
(Ragin' Cajun Gumbo)
While in Oregon, I made a few friends that either lived in Louisiana or resided near there. They'll tell me gumbo cannot have celery in there. Must be bell peppers, onion, garlic, etc.

The gumbo had the slightest trace of spice on the back end. I noticed Pat had some hot sauce on the counter, and I know next time to add some to my meal. Especially on a cold day, gumbo becomes that happy-place-inducing, belly-satisfying dish.

I stopped short of a food coma, and I can probably thank my morning coffee for that. Good, I can drive home safely!

Pat also has "T-Belle Potatoes," which appear to be like a potato salad. Boiled red potatoes and sausage are among the key items here. She is planning to run specials on a regular basis. For example, Pat has run a Chicken Lafayette special on Saturdays. Check that out as well! Chicken, shrimp, and tasso (cajun smoked pork) in a cream sauce. Doesn't that make you want to jump through your computer screen, iPad, iPhone, etc., right now? (I recommend not doing that and just go drive to Pat's cart)

Vegetarian items will be added to the menu over time. Perhaps a mac and cheese dish is in the cards! Oh man, I can just imagine my eating if I lived any closer to Portland.

I'm a fan of this cart. I may have only had one menu item so far, but I'll try to make my way back for more.

Steven Shomler of Portland Food Cart Adventures also reviewed Ragin' Cajun Gumbo. His in-depth review culminates with a stamp of approval!

Pat is an awesome person, and she has some great comfort food for you! Check Ragin' Cajun Gumbo out (winter hours are Wed-Sat, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). 7.5/10

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