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Author Ken Wells gives an inside to Gumbo Life Tales from the Roux Bayou

March 13, 2019

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Author Ken Wells gives an inside to Gumbo Life Tales from the Roux Bayou

Photo by: Olivia Demac

Photo by: Olivia Demac

Photo by: Olivia Demac

Ken Well, author of Gumbo Life Tales from the Roux Bayou, spoke about the meaning of his book at the John Folse Culinary Institute on March 8.

The book depicts Wells’ personal journey with gumbo. He said it is Louisiana culture explained through the gumbo. The book explores the history of gumbo and when roux became an important ingredient.

“I dived deep into the world of gumbo, and that is what any good journalist would do. I became an expert of gumbo,” Wells said.

Wells’ personal journey with making gumbo began when he was in graduate school. He went to an out-of-state school and discovered gumbo was not easy to come by.

Wells called his mother, and she told him that gumbo was not something you could teach over the phone. Wells said he encouraged her to do so anyway, and the results were poor.

According to Wells and those who have passed down recipes, all rouxs have a set of specific rules. If it is overcooked, that is bad. If it is undercooked, that is worse.

While attending a gumbo cook-off in New York, Wells said the gumbo he made, with his mother’s recipe, was the only pot empty at the end of the day.

“Momma’s been gone a long time, but she is still making people smile,” Wells said.

The writer then asked the culinary students in the room what the most important ingredient to gumbo was. Most of them responded with the roux, while he responded with love.

When Wells was asked about the future of gumbo, he said many people are doing experimental things. One of the biggest things happening with gumbo is Mexican fusion. Chefs from all over Louisiana are going to different countries and states just to teach the art of gumbo.

To Wells, gumbo is a way of life and culture. He said you can read all about it in his book.

 

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