Friday, January 14, 2005


Gumbo. I really don't want to open this can of worms 'cause I'm likely to add them to the gumbo. Can't help myself. Personality flaw.

I hated gumbo as a kid. Gumbo at my house was made with turkey. It was less like the gumbo I crave today and more like a thin, watery turkey soup with bits of tomato and soggy okra floating in it. That's my recollection and I might have never become a gumbo cook if I hadn't had a bowl of seafood gumbo at some hole-in-the-wall oyster bar in New Orleans.

I didn't even know it was gumbo. All I knew was that it looked good, it smelled great and some total stranger was eating it and I grabbed the waiter by the lapels and said (OK, maybe I snarled or hissed) "I want some of THAT!" And shortly I got "that."

Later they told me it was gumbo and I was like, no way! Gumbo is thin and watery and yucky and smells like dead turkey. They all laughed, and backed away from me...slowly.

Soon, I learned that every gumbo starts with a roux. Flour and fat (or oil) cooked ever so slowly over a very low heat until it goes through several stages: blonde, peanut, pecan, light chocolate, mahogany and dark chocolate. Whatever stage you stop at will be the color, and flavor, of your gumbo. It takes time and patience.

Well, enough of gumbo. You get the idea.

The same folks who produce Tortilla Soup (see prior postings on that subject) also produce gumbo on Friday. It's not bad. A few weeks ago they skimped on the seafood part of seafood gumbo and that wasn't too good. Last week they had some woody okra and that definitely wasn't good, but today the stars were in alignment and the gumbo was rich and tasty.

Later I'll tell you about the Great Frog Leg Gumbo Adventure.

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