Gumbo Tales – Literary Monday

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A number of years ago, we ventured down to New Orleans for the early parts of Mardi Gras and a tour of New Orleans drinking spots.  We loved the dog parade but didn’t really love New Orleans.  It wasn’t really what we expected.  I had romantic notions of New Orleans.  I pictured myself sipping cocktails at historic bars and restaurants and gazing upon Mardi Gras parades.  I wasn’t expecting that Bourbon Street would be like one giant frat party each and every night.  I was turned off by the golf superintendents yelling at grown women and some to flash their boobs for beads.  I am picking on the golf superintendents because they were having their convention and one night at dinner, we got to see a number of them in action.  To make matters worse, I ended up with a terrible case of the flu thanks to the sick child I sat behind on the plane to New Orleans and then our credit card was stolen.  Needless to say, the city didn’t live up to my expectations.

Many years later, we made a return trip to attend Tales of the Cocktail.  I didn’t know what to think.  I was excited about the convention but a little apprehensive about the city.  I didn’t want another “tourist trap” experience.  I am happy to report, that was not the case.  Tales was amazing.  We got to meet a ton of locals.  They told us where to eat, where to drink and what to do.  We hit up many of New Orleans historic spots attending Tales parties.  It was amazing!  I was hooked.

After the Tales trip, I wanted to know more about New Orleans.  It almost seemed like the city was Hyde and Jekkyl.  There was an amazing side of the city that we saw during the Tales trip and then there was the tourist side that we experienced on Bourbon Street during our first trip.  So, I set out to find more.  I stumbled across a book called Gumbo Tales “Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table” by Sara Roahen.  Not only had Ms. Roahen written a tale about New Orleans but she was also from Wisconsin.  Unlike me, who had followed a man to San Francisco and spent my 20’s and early 30’s working like a crazy woman in an office, Ms. Roahen followed a man to New Orleans and spent much of her 20’s and 30’s pursuing a cooking degree and then a career in food journalism.  As part of her journey, she penned Gumbo Tales, a sort-of love letter to her adopted hometown of New Orleans.

In Gumbo Tales, Ms. Roahen explores her arrival in the Big Easy, the historic restaurants in New Orleans and the drinking habits of native New Orleans folks.  I was especially fond of the chapter comparing the native’s love for Sazeracs with the love that Wisconsinites have for Brandy Old Fashions.  It’s in the chapter entitled “I Take My Liquor Brown”.  Ms. Roahen delves into the food culture and the drinking culture of New Orleans.  The real New Orleans.  Not the tourist one on display on Bourbon Street.  It left me wanting to see more!  For a great book on New Orleans from an outsider, then insider’s point of view, give this book a good read. 

<a href=”″>Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table</a><img src=”″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />


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