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The Geography of Gumbo: From One Pot, Many

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From our organizers:

Gumbo is hotly contested ground, with many laying claim to its invention and tasty evolution. Some cooks use okra, some use filé, and some a roux as a gumbo thickener.. Some use sausage and chicken, some shellfish, and some a combination of both. No matter which way you cook it, this dish reflects the culinary story of America; as Dr. Jessica Harris points out, gumbo is “a case where these parts make an extraordinary whole without totally melting .” Or as Ken Wells writes in his new book, Gumbo Life, gumbo “is the story of jazz but writ in food.”

Though Louisiana is its symbolic home, the geography of this rich brown soup is as varied as its ingredients. The word gumbo itself comes from the word for okra in the Bantu languages of West Africa. Filé, or ground sassafras leaves, is a Choctaw ingredient. Roux is a French technique by way of Creole and Cajun cooks.

And how do other one pot dishes compare? Is it still gumbo if it is made in Missouri, Chicago, or Brooklyn? Come learn about the ins and outs of gumbo from our panel featuring Nicole Taylor, Adrienne Cheatham, and Ken Wells, and celebrate the launch of Wells’s Gumbo Life: Tales from the Roux Bayou, which arrives just in time for Mardi Gras!

An informal reception with book signing and a tasting of various gumbos will follow.

This program is part of our Eat•Drink•Read series, sponsored by W. W. Norton.


March 5
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
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62 Bayard Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222 United States
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