We’ve eaten the best on offer in New Orleans since we were schoolkids, and began applying our skills to the dish when we were breaking in big cast-iron pots that we inherited from our grandparents and aunts in the 80s
As our elders began to falter and pass we always circled through their kitchen cupboards to harvest the old iron cookware before the Philistines would’ve toted it off to a nearby flea market.
Hazel, Lilly, Etta, Nellie…good country women all, and assiduous collectors of strong cast-iron cookware plenty of which came from the old country.
Big black cooking kettles are chockablock across the 9th Ward of New Orleans, and have been for centuries.
When we say pastoral we mean “of land or farm” and truly the best gumbos come from a deep connection to the land. It’s easy to feel this connection in the 9th Ward as we are surrounded by vast swathes of fields, forests, levees, pastures, and empty parcels of land. The 9th Ward is enormous containing 18 distinct neighborhoods including St Claude, Holy Cross, Village d’lest, Venetian Isles, Florida Development, Desire, and Little Woods.
If you’re eating gumbo in Little Woods be prepared to shuck and buck as it is the most dangerous neighborhood in the entire city of New Orleans.
On Sunday afternoon you can drive through any of these areas and smell the gumbo pots burbling away in people’s backyards and kitchens. If your aunt Maxine’s not in the mood to cook there are hundreds of restaurants in the 9th Ward and you’d be hard-pressed to find one that didn’t have a cup or bowl of gumbo on the menu.
When we need a fix and don’t have the day and a half it takes to make our own pot we drive five minutes away into the Holy Cross neighborhood and visit Cafe Dauphine where chef Shawn Smith is putting out one of our favorite bowls in the city.
Like any good gumbo cook will tell you: It’s not as good as ours.
Find out for yourself this Sunday January 20th at Tamale House East in Austin tickets