One of the core characters in my novel isn’t a person but a food. Gumbo. A food which, by its very nature, has as many variations as there are people who make it. And yet, there is something undeniably appealing and comforting about this idea of an authentic gumbo recipe.
For the residents of Little Gale Island, they come to Camille’s creole cafe to buy bowls of her authentic gumbo, but what does that really mean? And why does something need to be considered authentic to be good, be it a bowl of gumbo or even a story?
For example, what is an authentic blueberry? For those of us from Maine, it is the tiny, sweet morsels from the low-lying bushes. For others, it is the larger, stouter berry you can get in most grocery stores. Why does one need to be the authentic blueberry, and yet, we as consumers seek out that label, maybe even need it to truly enjoy our experience of it.
For Camille Bergeron and her daughters, their gumbo recipe is authentic because it is their own, passed down from grandmother to mother and so on. It isn’t that their recipe is the right one or even the only one, but it is theirs, and knowing that it has been made with a deep appreciation for their heritage, as well as its inherently exotic tastes, the islanders find it that much more delicious.
All that said, my husband will be making gumbo this week with a recipe that is as authentic as any I know. It is part his grandfather’s, part his own, even maybe part mine, but trust me, it’s ALL good.
So stayed tuned for a few cooking posts later in the week, and get yourself a bowl of rice, a hunk of french bread and a good beer if you want a ladle-full. One thing all gumbo recipes do have in common: they always taste best with friends.
Keywords: Little Gale Gumbo Streaked Mountain Maine blueberries gumbo