N.Y. Times: Gumbo is dead in New Orleans

Don Ames
January 14, 2019 - 7:53 am

A recent article in the New York Times says the classic New Orleans dish, gumbo, is dead. 

The article goes on to say that gumbo is disappearing from local restaurant menus. 

WWL Food Show host Tom Fitzmorris begs to differ.

"Every restaurant I go to, with almost no exceptions...they always have gumbo on the menu. It's all over the place."

The Times argument is that, as new chefs arrive with different cuisines and ideas, they're catering to a population remade by the transplants who settled in the city after Hurricane Katrina. So, the paper says, even what's called gumbo now isn't really gumbo anymore. 

Tom doesn't buy it. "To say that there is no gumbo out there, or even less gumbo than there ever was, is ridiculous."

But, the Times says gumbo has changed with the times, as those new chefs bring new ideas to the dish...so the "classic" version of the dish is disappearing. 

Fitzmorris, however, defies anyone to define "classic" gumbo. 

"No two gumbos are ever even remotely alike...never have been," says Fitzmorris. "So which one is the classic one? There's no answer to that."

Still, the newspaper says gumbo has strayed too far from its roots. Now, there's curried Indian gumbo, Vietnamese and Chinese versions, even a gumbo that resembles oyster gravy. 

But, says Tom...

"Here's what I will tell you. If I took a bite of it and I said 'That's got a gumbo taste to it'...by God, it's gumbo."

"The New York Times is a great paper, I read it all the time. But, they've never really had a handle on what we do, in a culinary sense, here in New Orleans. They just don't get it at all. It's a bunch of bunk!"

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