Good Louisiana cooking is hard to find west of Calcasieu Parish, but
now and then we'll come upon a platter of boudin or a bowl of gumbo
that briefly, tantalizingly reminds us what we're missing for the sake
of a perfect climate. Such are the red beans and rice served at Smokey
Blues Bar-Be-Que, an affable little rib joint under the
Shafter-MacArthur cloverleaf. The dish's official name, Mom's Dirty
Creole Red Beans and Rice, smacks of Crescent City authenticity. And
although turkey meat replaces pig meat in a casual nod to California
sensibilities, this tantalizing bowl of creamy, smoky beans, cloudlike
rice, and pot likker fragrant with sweet pepper, onion, and celery
stirs the soul and satisfies the stomach just the way it's supposed to.
One bite and you'll be back on the Algiers ferry, breathing in that
moist, sweet, swampy oxygen.