CBR Bingo – Birthday! I don’t think I’m alone in this, but at the launch of CBR Bingo I already had a few books in the queue so I am doing what I can to find space on the bingo card for them, at times having to pull off a bit of a shoehorn situation. And thus, I discovered the Ken Wells’ birthday was August 5th. BOOM. SQUARED. Also, after reading this book, I sent the following Facebook message to the author. No response yet, but starting my review with it as I think it gives context into my reading of this tasty tasty book.
Hi there, I hope this isn’t too weird, but I wanted to start with saying I really liked your book! Just finished it yesterday. As you’ll note, we have a few Facebook friends in common because I’m from Thibodaux. My best friend for life is your second (third?) cousin Grant Toups. And I took English with Ellie Toups back in the day. Also, I now live in Chicagoland in the NW suburbs (as of two and a half years ago) so your journey and quest for Gumbo, really resonated with me as I adjust to being away from the south. In fact, I only started my own gumbo making journey after moving here, when it became apparently I’d need to do so to survive. Anyhoo, I’ll quit my ramble now. I’ll be returning the libraries copy of your book, but i have it in my Amazon queue to purchase because I’m going to need to try those recipes! Hope you have a great day! (Just noticed this ramble is riddled with typos. Please don’t let that reflect on either Mrs. Ellie, or my education in English from Centenary College, just hurried typing).
This book is equal parts cookbook, history lesson, and autobiography. Overall Wells does a good job balancing these three priorities, but if I have any criticism it’s that some of the history bits drag on a little. It’s clear that Wells wrote this as a bit of a love letter to Louisiana, and to this dish, so it’s understandable that he loses himself a little in the telling of it. If you’ve ever had the phenomena that is gumbo you might be interested in learning how it has come to make such an imprint on the culinary world. I learned a lot from this book, but my biggest takeaway is that maybe I shouldn’t be such an uncompromising fuddy-duddy when it comes to gumbo. Interpretations don’t take away from the original, but the original for me is where my heart lies.