Bryant Fuselier is the best known by his nickname, Boobie. He can’t remember the last time someone in his family called him Bryant. Kreol looks at his take on his family history, Creole culture, and his approach to life.

Family is the thread that holds every person’s life together. Who you are today is reflective of the people that had an impact on the formation of your life, whether it was the parents that brought you into this world or the family members and close friends that helped raise you. Every person is a reflection of those from generations before, and it is only natural for each individual to wonder about the people who made a contribution. Bryant Fuselier, better known as “Boobie”, is a man whose life is focused on family, food, and enjoying the life he’s been given.

Bryant, Melinda, & Cody Fusilier

Bryant, Melinda, & Cody Fuselier

Born & Raised in Simpler Times

A native of the state of Louisiana, Boobie grew up in St. Landry Parish where neighbours could be just a few yards away or a couple of miles. In great detail he can tell you what is was like for generations of his family growing up in southern Louisiana. His grandparents on both sides lived on large farms, where the cattle of one man may as well have been the cattle of another.

Boobie

Bryant with his son, Steven, cooking large pot of Gumbo

Neighbourhoods didn’t look like they do today for these folks. They all contributed to the community to ensure that no one ever went without. When it was time for a cow from the herds to be slaughtered, everyone was portioned out a chunk of the meat. No more cows were ever killed than were needed by the neighbours at a given moment. When someone else was too sick or lost a loved one, people would go work a neighbour’s land to ensure those who depended upon the sick or departed individual wouldn’t be left behind in spirit or in reality.

To a degree, Boobie grew up in this same kind of community. Though he is 45 today, his parents raised him in a manner that seems foreign to most modern parents. Born to a mother and father who both had to work to support the family, Boobie would stay home alone during the day at the age of seven. With no crime and little reason to fear violence in their quiet community, his parents knew he would be safe.

It was in this environment that his love of food and interest in tinkering in the kitchen first began. His cooking adventures started at this point, as he put it himself, “bologna sandwiches get old after about a week of summer vacation”. His dad raised cattle, and hogs in the winter, so there was always a pack of meat left out of the freezer to cook when mother got home.

Boobie

Fried catfish: Bryant Fuselier (right) & Creole Genealogist Alex Lee

Experiments in the Kitchen

With the temptation of thawing meat just sitting in the sink, Boobie thought he would give it a shot at cooking. His first experiment was, well, not so great. He thought for certain that he would be in trouble with his dad, but to his surprise his father told him that now you know what doesn’t work, so try it this way instead. From there on, his adventures in cooking blossomed.

Boobie has no formal education in cooking. He is a nurse by occupation and founder of a medical device supplier. Healthcare is work, but food is his love. His experiments in the kitchen continued as he learned from his parents and kept trying out his own creations, perfecting recipes for jambalaya, gumbo, and fricassee.

Boobie

Cracklin on table: Randon Thomas & Steven Fuselier (Bryant’s Cousins)

“Never Made a Dime from Cooking”

Family is important everywhere, but in southern Louisiana’s tight-knit communities, Boobie cooks out of a love for cooking and compassion for family. He has never spent a day in a culinary class or attending university to study cooking, baking, or any other culinary pursuit.

Boobie’s culinary passions have nothing to do with making a living. He’s a nurse and a healthcare professional. He can tell you endless stories of being the first on the scene after someone, a loved one in too many cases, has passed away. He cooks to provide for family and friends, in both good times and bad.

He didn’t learn how to cook his favourite recipes, like his “big butt” pork fricassee, by reading his grandma’s recipe cards. He spent his childhood observing and emulating his grandma, aunties, and mother cooking in the kitchen. He watched to see how they treated the meat, the spices they combined to create deep and varied flavours, and most importantly, how to make a roux. Boobie has been offered chances to cook on a catering basis, but turns it down every time because he does it for family, does it for love.

Boobie

Cooking Shrimp Etoufee

A Proud Creole

It is tough for some individuals to understand what Creole really means. When quizzed with difficult questions about Creole culture, Boobie has impressive insights into his native culture. His definition of what it means to be Creole comes from his familial upbringing. His parents were both Creole, and understood both French and Creole languages. His mother’s side used French frequently, but his father’s side spoke French on a daily basis.

As Boobie views it, “Creole is not a colour or a race, but an upbringing and a culture”. In his opinion, you don’t have to be from Louisiana to be Creole in the United States. Creole, to Boobie, is how the people in his region speak, how they spend their time together, and how they cook. It’s a way of life, not a race. It’s a way of life that, sadly, he thinks is falling by the way side. Younger generations aren’t adopting the Creole lifestyle and embracing their roots.

He hopes that people from St. Landry Parish and elsewhere in Louisiana will remember their roots, even when they move away from the area. That starts with more people learning the language in order to preserve the Creole identity in the area. He even points out that Creole cooking needs to be preserved. As he notes, health-food crazes push people away from Creole food to salads and other foods. He is quick to point out, he’s in perfect health and eats his beloved Creole cuisines on a regular basis.

It’s difficult to judge your own success in life and evaluate how far you’ve come. Boobie maintains his nursing license by seeing pediatric patients, operates his own medical equipment management firm, and is well known for his cooking. He can speak English, French, and Creole, though he admits having to focus real closely to carry on a conversation in the latter two. Asked about his own success, he has the following to say:

“I am not rich with money, I am extremely wealthy with friends and family. Extremely successful as far as the true Creole meaning to me. As far as having my true friends and family stay close to me, I’m extremely wealthy.”