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Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table

Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table

4.1 16
by Sara Roahen

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“Makes you want to spend a week—immediately—in New Orleans.” —Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Wall Street Journal

A cocktail is more than a segue to dinner when it’s a Sazerac, an anise-laced drink of rye whiskey and bitters indigenous to New Orleans. For Wisconsin native Sara Roahen, a Sazerac is also a fine accompaniment


“Makes you want to spend a week—immediately—in New Orleans.” —Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, Wall Street Journal

A cocktail is more than a segue to dinner when it’s a Sazerac, an anise-laced drink of rye whiskey and bitters indigenous to New Orleans. For Wisconsin native Sara Roahen, a Sazerac is also a fine accompaniment to raw oysters, a looking glass into the cocktail culture of her own family—and one more way to gain a foothold in her beloved adopted city. Roahen’s stories of personal discovery introduce readers to New Orleans’ well-known signatures—gumbo, po-boys, red beans and rice—and its lesser-known gems: the pho of its Vietnamese immigrants, the braciolone of its Sicilians, and the ya-ka-mein of its street culture. By eating and cooking her way through a place as unique and unexpected as its infamous turducken, Roahen finds a home. And then Katrina. With humor, poignancy, and hope, she conjures up a city that reveled in its food traditions before the storm—and in many ways has been saved by them since.

Editorial Reviews

Jonathan Yardley
…[an] informative, engaging and amusing book about the cooking of New Orleans…[Roahen] seems to have read just about every book on New Orleans and its food—there are plenty to read—and, as the whole of Gumbo Tales makes plain, she learned well…New Orleans, I suspect, will…be grateful to Sara Roahen for this lovely, heartfelt, quietly passionate book. She may not be a child of New Orleans, but by the end of Gumbo Tales one can't help thinking she's an adopted daughter.
—The Washington Post
“[This] deeply informed and plainly heartfelt investigation into New Orleans’ finest food traditions taps into a cornucopia of cultural riches.”
“An endearing collection of stories from the seven years [Sara Roahen] spent in the Crescent City, learning to embrace its unapologetically decadent cuisine. It is part culinary history, part memoir and part homage to places that have since been erased.”
Washington Post
Informative, engaging and amusing . . . Gumbo Tales has the not-surprising effect of leaving the reader’s mouth watering.— Jonathan Yardley
New Orleans Times-Picayune
“This is the book to lead you, rejoicing, to your favorite restaurant, or fire up that kitchen stove to make a batch of gumbo for your mama ‘n’ dem. This book is a joy to read, a pleasure to pass along, a book to treasure. It leaves you hungry in your body, satisfied in your soul.”
Jonathan Yardley - Washington Post
“Informative, engaging and amusing . . . Gumbo Tales has the not-surprising effect of leaving the reader’s mouth watering.”

Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Barnes & Noble
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664 KB

Meet the Author

Sara Roahen’s work has appeared in Tin House, Oxford American, and Food&Wine magazines. She and her husband moved back to New Orleans in 2008.

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Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even before you open Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table, a new book by Sara Roahen, you might get a sense of the place. The beautiful dust jacket evokes the spirit of New Orleans, a city of traditions that involves not only food, but celebrations, music and much history. The cocktails sign may be a little faded , like the city itself, but the wrought iron lanterns over the doorways are warm and welcoming . Roahen serves up chapter after chapter of New Orleans¿ specialties as vignettes of the different inhabitants of the city. There is a tremendous amount of interesting history of the people and their indomitable spirit who eventually called New Orleans their home and blended their culture with the cultures of others. The reader experiences the joy of St. Joseph¿s day, the riotous enjoyment of Mardi Gras and other such ethnic diversions. Through the different foods, the reader is introduced to the importance of gumbo, oysters and po¿boys. It seems in New Orleans, errant husbands do not bring home flowers, they bring po¿boys ! Interesting note that Italian culinary traditions have spread in the Metro area, second only to Creole. Whatever ethnic neighborhood, food and family are the common themes. . Style of writing - beautiful descriptive phrases make reader feel they are transported to New Orleans and the specific location she is writing about . Roahen writes with an incredible use of imagery the reader can almost smell the cooking aromas and feel the presence of the other diners in what ever restaurant she is describing. In one café she describes, there are only two other people in the bar with her, a lone drinker of Chivas Regal and the server. The room is dim and only lit by the light from the window. While the jukebox wails out its plaintive song, the server begins to dance while humming and spinning around with her eyes closed. The man sipped his drink while Roahen samples some turkey gizzards. This is just one of such numerous dining experiences. If you have never been to New Orleans, after reading this charming tale , you will feel as though you know the city and its people quite well. There is also such a sense of poignancy and heart break about the city after Katrina changed not only the landscape but the people but there is also hope for new beginnings. Roahen states one of her strongest lesson so far is ¿the power of the place is not limited to where: it can also be a why and a how.¿ Whether you are a die- hard foodie or not, or just have an interest in the history of different cultures, people and their traditions, you will enjoy this book. Almost four pages of bibliography for further looks into cooks, cooking, and how to make a perfect cocktail round out this personal memoir of a former line cook turned food critic in her much beloved city of New Orleans . A recommended read.
BillyArce More than 1 year ago
I am from NOLA and this book was right on the mark. Filled with lots of facts and humor. Anyone wanting good food and local facts about NOLA should read this well written book. Although Ms. Roahen is not from NOLA, she knows her city like a native and in some cases better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carly is fine. I have helped her an he is healthy.
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Ok when will u be back?
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