Louisianians love food. They love to cook food, celebrate food, talk about food, eat food. And so it’s natural that they would also compete over food. Cook-offs. Who makes the best barbeque, boudin, jambalaya, boiled crawfish. And of course, gumbo.
There are so many things that uniquely define Louisiana, especially when it comes to cuisine. And I remain fascinated by all of them. Gumbo remains near the top of the list.
A Lake Charles Mardi Gras tradition took place this past Saturday -- the annual Gumbo Cook-Off.
The cool thing about gumbo is that no two gumbos taste alike. Most cooks do not use a recipe, but rather make it like their mama taught them. A pinch of this, a shake of that, with varying amounts of spices such as file´. Chicken and sausage gumbo is very traditional. But there are also seafood gumbos with shrimp and crab and wild game gumbos (with who knows what). And in each of those categories are endless variations. Typically, gumbo is served over rice. But some put a dollop of potato salad on top. Some serve it with a hard boiled egg. Should gumbo contain okra? People either love it or hate it.
I’m not sure how many teams competed this year. Twenty or so? Five dollars admission gets you all the gumbo you care to sample. Two bowls fill me up. I prefer chicken and sausage. Seafood is often good, but sometimes a bit fishy-tasting. Wild game – I won’t go there. I’m never quite sure what I’m eating in that category.
It's a great event, complete with live music, dancing, and Mardi Gras merriment. But I’d really like it if the organizers would move the venue to a larger location. It is such a popular event, the place is packed.
Here’s the crew on the PPG team. I don’t know who won the event, but these guys made a delicious chicken and sausage variety.
What is your favorite gumbo and who makes it?