by Ian McNulty
First you make a roux, sure, but from there opinions on how to make a great gumbo vary widely from one New Orleans kitchen to another.
Next weekend, you’ll be able to sample six standout renditions on the city’s iconic dish side by side at the Treme Creole Gumbo Festival, which is part of year-round series of free, neighborhood festivals put on by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit behind Jazz Fest.
The Gumbo Festival, started in 2009, seems poised for a breakout this year. It has a new venue in Congo Square at Louis Armstrong Park (901 N. Rampart St.), and over two days a line-up of 10 brass bands will perform, including the Hot 8, the Soul Rebels, the Dirty Dozen, the Treme and the Stooges brass bands. School-based bands will also perform and compete during the event. And then there’s the food.
“We have learned over the years that New Orleanians love their music, but they’re really passionate about their food,” says foundation spokesman Scott Aiges. “With that in mind, for all of our festivals we try to put a really high emphasis on the food and represent that aspect of the culture we’re showcasing.”
The number of food vendors is up from four in past years to six for the 2012 edition, and each will serve a different gumbo along with other dishes. From the Treme neighborhood itself, there will be Li’l Dizzy’s Café, from the renowned Baquet restaurant family, and NOLA Foods, a much newer hole-in-the-wall on Dumaine Street. Brocato’s Eat Dat, a well-hidden eatery in New Orleans East, and Olivier’s Creole Restaurant in the French Quarter will be there, as will Ms. Linda’s Creole Catering and its namesake, Linda Green (a.k.a. “the Ya-Ka-Mein Lady”), who has for many years served food at second lines and, more recently, made appearances on national TV food programs. The festival will also feature Celestine Dunbar, of Dunbar’s Creole Kitchen, a pre-Katrina Freret Street destination that is now planning to reopen in Gentilly. See the festival full menu below.
The Treme Creole Gumbo Festival is Nov. 10 and 11, from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. each day. Admission is free.. The full menu is below: