Talk about fake news. The New York Times was in trouble from the beginning, with a headline like this:
Gumbo, the classic New Orleans
dish, is dead. Long live gumbo.
Hmmm. Since when is gumbo a classic New Orleans dish? It might seem so for a writer for The New York Times, but gumbo is a classic Cajun dish, and that's something different than New Orleans. You'd have to go 30 minutes west of New Orleans to get to "classic" gumbo territory.
But that happens with folks from other parts of the country. They confuse Creole with Cajun, New Orleans with Acadiana, city with country.
The best way it's been described to us is this: New Orleans food is European, with lots of creams, influenced by all the people from around the world who settled that port city. Cajun food is anything you can find growing or crawling around in the front yard. Thus gumbo. A very Cajun food.
Otherwise, The Times' story was entertaining.
Different chefs are taking chances with gumbo these days, reinventing it to their tastes and the tastes of their clientele. One restaurant in N'awlins is making gumbo with curry. He calls it Indian gumbo.
Some restaurants are putting black-eyed peas in their gumbos. And making their roux with oysters. Even going so far as adding potato chips.
Potato salad, we get. But potato chips?
But that's the beauty of gumbo. When the temperature drops below 70, everybody has his own recipe. Some like a dark roux, some prefer a lighter color. We knew a woman who made a roux without any oil or fat. She browned the flour in the oven, stirring as often as the heat would let her, before adding trinity (onions, bell peppers, celery). Okra, for some, is a must. Okra, for others, is a nonessential worker.
Chicken and sausage for everyday gumbo for the family. Seafood gumbo when guests are expected.
Our preference: Duck and shrimp gumbo, like they serve at Wings Over the Prairie in Stuttgart, Ark., in the fall. With some andouille thrown in and a generous heaping of filé on top. Not served over rice, but with a scoop of rice on top. (Or potato salad.)
Yes, with some very French bread on the side. Good appetite. With gumbo, you can't help it.
And geaux Saints.
Editorial on 01/18/2019
Print Headline: The beauty of gumbo