Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Gumbo Life (Ken Wells)

Ken Wells’ newest book is a reflection of his life’s journey through the Louisiana Bayou. It’s the story of how a dish became one of the signature Cajun cuisine creations but also a mirror in many ways of the American melting point. Gumbo Life is an entertaining, soulful collection of Wells’s journeys through Louisiana as he seeks out answers to the evolution and development of this distinctive dish.

Gumbo, if you are not a foodie, is a stew-like dish of meat, sometimes with or without shellfish, with peppers, celery, onion, and okra. It is well-seasoned and slow-cooked before often being served over white rice. The origins of gumbo come from a blending of several different cultures and cuisines, each adding a little more flair and flavor to the dish as it developed. We learn in the book that this dish has local flair, regional variety, and even international renown and Wells expertly details that evolutionary process in two distinct paths. The first is through the work of others like Paul Prudhomme, the second is the evolutionary process within his own family and his own life.

Gumbo Life reflects much about life on the Bayou and the namesake dish of the book; a melting pot of traditions, flavorful and authentic, simple in explanation yet an evolution of complexity that takes time and patience to properly figure out. This book will fill your soul with a feel-good tale of a dish that’s reflective of our nation’s blended heritage...and will leave you wanting to find a hearty bowl of gumbo. Let’s eat!