Gumbo book

Dale Curry’s latest cookbook shares the history of Cajun and Creole cooking.

In the introduction to author Dale Curry’s latest cookbook, Gumbo, slated for release March 2, she summarizes the titular dish: “Of all the Creole-Cajun dishes, gumbo is the most representative. It is a soup made from a myriad of ingredients that must be well-seasoned. This book aims to show cooks how to do just that.”

Curry shares the history of Cajun and Creole cooking, including its heritage and connection to French, Spanish, German, African, Caribbean and Native American cultures, and shares her own childhood memories of eating shrimp-and-okra gumbo at her grandmother’s house in the Big Easy.

From there, the book is essentially divided into two sections: The first half focuses mostly on gumbo, with 16 recipes – with contributions from chefs Emeril Lagasse, Donald Link and Leah Chase – in variations like Cajun hen gumbo, quail gumbo, and duck and andouille gumbo, as well as recipes for its fundamental ingredients (seafood stock, poultry stock, rice, Creole seasoning and a primer on how to prepare frozen and live crabs).

The rest of the first half consists of six jambalaya recipes, such as chef Tory McPhail’s braised goose, a foie gras jambalaya or pastalaya, a variation on the dish that calls for pasta instead of rice. In the second half of the cookbook, Curry explores lagniappe (LAN-yap), or a little something extra, which she defines as New Orleans and southern Louisiana favorites like alligator sauce piquant, crab and Brie soup, shrimp and grits and turtle soup.

"Gumbo" by Dale Curry, uncpress.unc.edu

Liz Miller is the senior editor of Feast Magazine.