I’ve spent quite some time in the United States. But only in the famous, coastal cities. Never have I ventured to the middle, let alone the south, where the mystery of the bayou and the depths of the Mississippi River coexist. Which means my idea of North American cuisine boils down to “add cheese and then fry it”. Which is totally fine by me.
But oh no, turns out there is so much more than pizza, burgers and hot dogs in the USA. Back in the 18th century (according to trusty Wikipedia), in the hidden marshes of Louisiana, a strange concoction consisting of a slow cooked casserole with some stock, veggies and always some sort of meat was created. And it was called Gumbo. Which does sound like an animated Disney film. But it isn’t.
Makes you wish you were smaller and use it as a hot tub
Which brings us back to London, to a recently opened restaurant in Camden called The Bayou Soul, which serves Gumbo’s in different styles, this one with some chicken and sausage, plus something they call “dirty rice” (not nearly as dirty as I my wild imagination led me to believe).
It’s some sort of really thick soup, with rich and delicious and fantastic and wonderful ingredients. Pouring it on top of the rice did finally make it dirty, and in the land where curries are king, it’s refreshing to try something so unique that is served in a similar way. Plus, when the meat and veggies are gone, you are left to spoon the rest of the icky substance, blaming yourself for not going for the bigger portion (seriously though, the small one is big enough).
It’s been decided. Next time I cross the pond, I’m skipping New York, renting myself a hovercraft, head straight to Louisiana and bathing in good old Gumbo.
Slimy? Incredibly so. It has a sticky texture, and rich, creamy taste. I wouldn’t touch it with my hands though!
Satisfying? So good I wonder how the US does not have a fast food Gumbo chain.
The Bayou Soul
20 Inverness Street, NW1 7HJ, London