About 50 pages into the culinary memoir Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, near the end of the chapter about the famous shaved-ice-and-syrup dessert, tears may start to seep into your eyes. They won’t be the last. Such is the talent of Sara Roahen — she has you at “sno-balls.”
Roahen doesn’t set out to pull the heartstrings; she just wants to explain how a former vegetarian from Wisconsin moved to the Crescent City and became a dedicated disciple of crawfish, pork, and the duck-stuffed-in-a-chicken-stuffed-in-a-turkey wonder known as the turducken. Her adventures in gastronomy are entertaining, instructive, often hilarious, and absolutely hunger-inducing — but also (this being New Orleans) heartbreaking.
Three years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast. Gumbo Tales is one fitting tribute to a great, peculiar city.
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