From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this gratifying love letter to her adopted home, food writer Roahen takes the French idea of terroir-the effect of a region's climate and geography on its wine grapes-as a jumping-off point, locating New Orlean's "emotional terroir" in its food. Though it's a nebulous concept, this culinary tour succeeds repeatedly in defining the indefinable with grace, wit and passion-especially in regards to the city's alluring, complex flavors and aromas. Beginning with gumbo, Roahen examines the Crescent City's signature dishes, offering a history of the cuisine, the people who shaped it and those who keep it alive. Readers will meet Ernest and Mary Hansen, crafters of "artisan" shaved-ice sno-balls; take a seat at Luizza's by the Track for transcendental BBQ shrimp po-boys; sample Miss Lovie's phenomenal Big Mama's Seafood Gumbo; and marvel at the ravenous characters populating Hawk's crawfish boil. An accomplished cook herself, Roahan periodically ushers readers into her kitchen for experiments like the daunting, superindulgent Turducken: a chicken stuffed inside a duck that is then stuffed inside a turkey. Hurricane Katrina is treated as a kind of recurring character, dogging the city and its inhabitants, and Roahen honors their struggle and loss. Those familiar with the city will smile and nod along; readers who've never had the pleasure may find themselves making travel arrangements long before the last page.
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“[This] deeply informed and plainly heartfelt investigation into New Orleans’ finest food traditions taps into a cornucopia of cultural riches.” (Elle)
“An endearing collection of stories from the seven years [Sara Roahen] spent in the Crescent City, learning to embrace its unapologetically decadent cuisine. It is part culinary history, part memoir and part homage to places that have since been erased.” (Salon)
“Informative, engaging and amusing . . . Gumbo Tales
has the not-surprising effect of leaving the reader’s mouth watering.” (Jonathan Yardley - Washington Post)
“This is the book to lead you, rejoicing, to your favorite restaurant, or fire up that kitchen stove to make a batch of gumbo for your mama ‘n’ dem. This book is a joy to read, a pleasure to pass along, a book to treasure. It leaves you hungry in your body, satisfied in your soul.” (New Orleans Times-Picayune)