CULLINARY THRILL SEEKING: Of home-grown popcorn and Gunsmoke

Published 12:37 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Of home-grown popcorn and Gunsmoke

It’s like a clock.

At 3 p.m. Carroll Duhon is in his favorite chair with a bowl of buttery  popcorn – that he grew himself – watching “Gunsmoke.”

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Duhon, 89, grew up on a farm in Maurice, La. This Marine veteran and Texaco retiree has been known for his Port Acres garden. A sign listing produce he once sold leans across the garage, because he’s cut down from six gardens.

This season he played around with a crop from his youth: popcorn. Yellow and something called “caramel,” which has a vague sweet taste.

“We used to have popcorn. My mama always made popcorn balls. There was 10 of us in the family, so she had to make a lot,” Duhon said. “We had a lot of popcorn, all winter.”

Kids today are familiar with the convenience of chemically-coated bags of popcorn that cook up quick in the microwave. But Duhon says his mom popped on a wood stove and it didn’t seem to take any longer.

“To me it tastes much better than what we buy in the store,” Duhon said of his crops.

White plastic laundry baskets full of cobs sit on his lap. He takes one and rubs it across another to get the kernels off. They click loudly as they fall into empty plastic Folgers coffee containers.

Donna Roberts is a family friend who said she’s long admired Duhon for several reasons in addition to his green thumb. As a U.S. Marine he served two tours: one in the 1940s and again in the 1950s. He retired from Texaco and his late wife, Gladys, tended orchids in a hothouse.

Roberts said her friend has several “angels” in his life who get him to the doctor and care for his needs. She can attest to her friend’s popcorn and “Gunsmoke” routine.

He raised his fill of vegetables this year, but has cut back. Roberts said he once had six gardens working. But he’s got his eye on what has now become another unusual crop for the home gardener, and one that certainly compliments popcorn. He’s watering a patch of peanuts.