18 October 2010

Gumbo Time: It's In The Air

The sunlight around these parts, this time of year, has got to be among my favorite things to watch.  The days and nights are getting cooler, the haze and smog of August are gone, and "The Land of Pleasant Living" begins to truly live up to its name.  Much of the day today was spent outside, doing nothing except goofing around on the playground and watching the leaves and lake.

Fall makes me hungry, in a good way.  My appetite tends to perk up in the fall, especially in comparison to the dull sluggishness it feels in summer.  My appetite in summer, especially late summer, reminds me of that old, blunted knife in the drawer, the one that gets cursed every time it gets used because it works...but only just so.  More "push" involved to actually cut something than the result seems to justify, although it could be rectified if only the body could be moved to sharpen the knife.  Sharpening rarely happens when its needed because the heat and grit of summer quickly abrade motivation.

But, Fall!  Ah, my body revives in the coolness.  The fog in my head begins to lift, and my tummy begins to look forward to eating.  A rejuvenating activity, and most welcome when the body truly wants what it is ingesting.  I feel it coming on, slowly warming up like a radiator and spreading the vibe through my body.

This year it has also sharpened my focus on what I have been craving, but was so befogged in the head I couldn't put a name on it.  This is doubly ironic, in light of the name of this blog.

Gumbo.  It's gumbo mah belleh wants.  Gumbo in any way, shape or form.  Whether it be the sultry and thick chicken-sausage version I usually make, or a lighter seafood gumbo, or even the semi-mythical gumbo z'herbes* doesn't really matter.  What is important is to make and eat some gumbo.

Full disclosure: I haven't made gumbo in months.  This is a sad state of affairs.  It has been a perfect storm of busy schedule meets fatigue meets personal upheavals meets induced laziness.  But that is no excuse.  It does, however, explain in part my prolonged battle with ennui.  Or even better, as Jim Harrison is fond of saying, "being off my feed".

I think that about sums it up.  I let the cares of the world and the oppressive heat of summer knock the chocks from under myself.  I forgot about some of the things that mattered to me, the small domestic comforts that can shore up a weary soul.  For weeks now, whenever I would write out my grocery lists I was seized by this nagging sense of missing something.  I would look at the ingredients I would need to make the things I said I was going to eat**, and I just stopped caring.  I couldn't figure out what I really wanted.

The answer was right in front of me all along.  Today, in the glorious golden wine of beautiful sunny fall afternoon, my belly spoke to me, and it said: Gumbo, c'est bon, c'est tout.

I may not get to it during the week, but if I have time (and I will make time), more than once in the coming weeks I'll be stirring up some roux and making good things happen in the kitchen.  My stomach is growling, and my soul is pulling up a chair to the table.

Gumbo: like Guinness, it's good for what ails ya!

*Gumbo z'herbes is also known as "green gumbo", because it is traditional to make it with six, ten or even more kinds of greens put in the pot.  I say semi-mythical (to me, tongue in cheek) because I have not yet had the pleasure of encountering it in the physical world.  Reading about it is nice, but I want to wrap my gullet around it. It sounds wonderful!
**Sadly, so called 'convenience' foods have begun to insinuate themselves into my life again.  Ah, to resist their siren call requires discipline and strength, two things I have felt in short supply.  I must turn things around soon; the weariness of my epicurean self must be overcome!


  1. Jump that 'convenient' ship and come aboard! I am eating like a diabetic, not one, but HAVE to get my sugars in check with the gym regime.

    I got a little too excited when I saw this post title- thought you were going to share how to start a podcast- or was that me asking you how the class went? he he

    Gumbo- man I wish hubby liked it. I made my mom's recipe one year- he snubbed it, said it was 'Okay'...argh!

  2. pancetta & pasta my go-to recipe for quick and easy. tip: buy a pound of pancetta, have it sliced 1/4" thick and freeze in packs 3 or 4 slices. xoxoxo

    (it IS gumbo time, sugar. i know we've been doing red beans & rice on monday ever since the temperature dropped!)

  3. It was a very foggy summer in my world, too... and these awesome fall breezes and glorious leaf colors are definitely increasing the visibility.

    One day soon, it'll be dark when I pull into my driveway after work and I'll look up, and there will be Orion, over my roof, clear and bright. I'm waiting for him; he's an old friend that makes me smile.

    If you make a big pot worth and need help eatin', do let me know! I'll bring the Guinness. And maybe some apple crisp. :)

  4. Aaahhhhh....the joy of soups and stews and gumbos and bisques...Autumn rocks. Thanks for reminding me Sir Gumbo. (loved your trip to the zoo)

  5. Damn you and your gumbo! I'm stuck in my little half cube with a glass of water and a corn syrup based chocolate nougat bar. Now my head is full of Fall food.

  6. laissez les bons temps roulez.....any time is gumbo time, though in the south, we don;t make it in the summer cuz it heats the kitchen up too much (if you do it right.....slow)


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