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Gumbo – The One Word That Sums Up New Orleans

Who’d a thunk that as you are sitting slurping down that lovely brown, thick, chunky, spicy gumbo you are really chowing down on a history lesson about all things New Orleans.

Gumbo – The One Word That Sums Up New Orleans

Jazz musicians Kermit Ruffins and Danny Barker...

Marco Werman of NPR came down for a visit to radio station WWNO and did a nice little piece about the city. Here is an excerpt from his article on NPR website:

… New Orleans’ two best known cultural contributions to America – music and food – express multiple layers of meaning in this city.

Think jazz.

Think gumbo.

And whenever new people come to New Orleans, the words and the music and the food evolve. When you listen to trumpeter Kermit Ruffins performing at the Bullet’s Sports Bar in the city’s seventh ward, it’s easy to forget that all this comes out of a few hundreds years of history.

“You know, it’s like “there’s no place quite like this place, so this must be the place”? There is no place in the United States quite like this place. Southern Louisiana,” says New Orleans food historian Jessica B. Harris. “This is a place that has been French, then Spanish, then French, then American. That’s a lot of stuff going on.”

“It is that place where things mix. People often have referred to the culture of New Orleans as a gumbo,” Harris says.

 The origin of the word gumbo is from Ghana where ‘gombo’ means okra. And okra is just one of the ingredients in a good gumbo. So whenever I eat gumbo I see it as the one part of our unique cuisine that reflects that true essence of New Orleans. So many influences, such a great flavor.

Allen Toussaint has a little song that reflects this essence of the Crescent City:

“A yankee saw a crawfish called it a baby lobster
We laughed so hard we nearly busted our sides.

But when he tasted the difference he started raving so much he got a southern welcome arms open wide.

Imagine boudin cooking.
Imagine cracklins cracklin.
Almost enough cayenne to water your eyes.

But in the midst of all this fine southern cuisine, I’ll take the crawfish everyday, everytime.

Laissez laissez bons temps rouler.
Laissez laissez bons temps rouler.
Laissez laissez bons temps rouler.

I could eat crawfish everyday.
I could eat crawfish everyday.”

And although I personally would not want to eat crawfish every day, I know what he means.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Food, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music.

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