Austin gets a taste of Gullah Geechee and Creole cuisine with the new LE Meals food stand, courtesy of owner and cook Alexandria Hollowell. Meals are available for collection and delivery via online orders from 4305 Red River Street in Hancock.
Hollowell wanted to focus on Gullah Geechee and New Orleans Creole because she knows best. Her mother is from South Carolina, an area shaped by the Gullah Geechee culture, and her father is from New Orleans with a Creole history. “I learned who I am in our culture through our food, because that was an outstanding thing,” she said in both her parents’ homes. She was born and raised in Houston and spent time in Jacksonville.
The Gullah Geechee are descendants of West and Central Africans who were brought as slaves to the southeastern states from the 18th century and who settled in the coastal corridor after the abolition of slavery. The term Gullah is more commonly used in North and South Carolina, Geechee in Georgia and Florida.
Alexandria Hollowell prepares the meal before Jonathan Tegegne
Gullah Geechee’s cuisine has been described by Hollowell as a mix of Caribbean and Creole foods. That results in seafood dishes with more rice and freshwater seafood compared to New Orleans Creole, which has more fried foods, noodles and grits, plus chicken, beef and “more oysters, more drinks” laughed.
“I just want to educate people about the cultures of Gullah Geechee and New Orleans through their taste buds,” said Hollowell, “and I want people to help keep them alive.” LE’s Gullah Geechee Alfredo is made from jumbo lump crab meat (the Gullah influence) with andouille sausage (the New Orleans nod), and the sauce is more nut based. The NOLA shrimp and grits are made from yellow organic raw polenta and a roux according to a family recipe, both from the Gullah side. A newer item on the menu is the gullah brunch (always available), which is made with fish and vegetable grains with an overly light egg, fried catfish and shrimp, and a kale chipotle aioli sauce (another aspect of gullah) .
Before Hollowell fully opened LE Meals this year, she was on a corporate entertainment job but knew she wanted to run her own grocery store. She was slowly preparing to open the food stall when she was released at the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, she received all of her LE marketing materials on the day she lost her job. “Maybe it’s not a coincidence,” thought Hollowell, “maybe that’s a sign that I have to run with it.” (The name is an abbreviation for her brand name Lavish Endeavor, which she used for previous entertainment jobs.)
LE Meals began selling desserts outside of their home in March with the help of their partner and LE Meals CFO Jonathan Tegegne. The organic desserts were “something I felt more confident about,” she said. She used sustainable mason jars so that they were reusable. Customers even returned their clean glasses without prompting.
There are three desserts that are supposed to satisfy three different taste cravings: the “spicy” Key Lime East, the fruity Banana Nana (without actually sliced bananas) and the chocolate melanin goddess. Regarding the latter part of the trio, Hollowell said, “I’m a black African American woman. And I wanted some kind of portrayal of myself. I felt it was such an uplifting connotation for African American women. “
The desserts from LE Meals Jonathan Tegegne
There’s a dessert option without jarr, a peanut brittle named after Hollowell’s brother, who passed away in early July. “I have to represent my brother,” she said. “He was so young. I just feel like he didn’t live long enough to create a legend. “This was her way of honoring him.
To educate people about what Gullah Geechee’s culture is beyond food, Hollowell is working on building a miniature museum in their home. “It’s a dying race and culture,” she explained, “I didn’t really know how much people didn’t know about it.” She imagines the room as a passageway while people wait to collect their food orders with their family history and belongings. She hopes it will be ready in two months.
Another possible future plan includes starting a dinner club dinner series held at her home. “This is where the connections are really made when people can have good food, good conversation, and good energy,” said Hollowell, adding, “I want people to feel the same as my family does when we eat eat whether you feel surprised or you are going through something. I want my food to help people make connections in their lives. “
Until then, the LE hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for delivery and pickup at the roadside. Only orders over $ 100 are accepted on Sunday and Monday. Orders are placed through the website, with payments made through the website or through several mobile payment services including Venmo and Cell. Larger orders are accepted by email to [email protected] Orders on the same day can be placed within a two-hour standby window.