Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Black Things I Love #2: Gumbo

"On a cold winter's day, gumbo is communion for the body."--Brian

I'm sure some food historian out there my take issue with defining gumbo as "black," but as I'm from Louisiana and have never actually eaten gumbo (and I've eaten a lot of gumbo) prepared by someone other than a black woman, I'm going to call it black.

At home there are three questions that matter when meeting someone new: Who's your mama? Are you Catholic? And can you make a roux? While the first two are self-explantory, the third is nonetheless crucial. Roux (pronounced "roo") is the basis of any good gumbo (or etouffee for that matter) and getting it just right--cooking up butter and flour so that it turns a delicious caramel brown, without burning it, is considered an art.

In New Orleans, Brian's home, you can have okra gumbo or seafood gumbo or chicken and sausage gumbo. In Lafayette, where I'm from, we put all of that in the same pot (clearly the superior way to eat gumbo, though Brian doesn't let me cook it this way). If you meet anyone who is putting tomatoes or any other vegetable that isn't celery, onions, or bell pepper (the holy trinity of Cajun/Creole cooking), you know that person is making their gumbo all wrong.

Here's a last quote from Brian: "Make sure you put a little bit of cayenne pepper on top of your serving so that the gumbo lingers with you throughout the day, like any good sensual experience." (Actually what Brian said was quite a bit dirtier than that, but I've cleaned it up for you.)


Alison said...

Even before I got to your disclaimer, I knew that Brian had said something far dirtier than that.

Heather said...

Gumbo is love in a pot. My stepfather, who while not black is from Louisiana, makes fantastic gumbo. He always sends some over for Tim and I.