The Gumbo Recipe that Works for Everybody | Off the Clock Economist
Off the Clock Economist Dan D’Amico is still going strong in his pursuit to know all there is to know about New Orleans. Join him as he learns how to make gumbo, the signature dish of the Big Easy. This delicious food will get him thinking too, so sit tight as he delves into topics like spontaneous order, social capital, and America’s melting pot. How do all these things relate? What do they all have to do with gumbo? How does that tie into NOLA? Keep watching and find out – no matter what, you will learn how to make some fantastic food.
Spontaneous Order (article): John Stossel breaks down the concept to its most basic, gives us an enlightening explanation, and reminds us that there are no exceptions
I, Pencil (video): An exploration of unplanned, spontaneous order and the invisible hand.
The People and Culture of New Orleans (article): Two history professors from the University of New Orleans give us a quick rundown on NOLA's diversity throughout its existence
Language and culture of New Orleans embodied in one food: gumbo (podcast): PRI makes the case that gumbo says everything there is to be said about the Big Easy
Dan D’Amico: Here we are at Langlois Culinary Crossroads, and we are going to try to learn how to make a New Orleans signature dish: gumbo. I tend to think that gumbo is the ultimate metaphor for New Orleans culture. You know if America is a melting pot then New Orleans is gumbo.
Amy: A big gumbo!
D’Amico: Excellent! So what would you, if you were describing what gumbo was to just an ordinary - a non-New Orleanian? What would you describe it?
Amy: That’s the hardest question to ask. It is heart, it is soul, it is love, it is your grandmother, it is your mama, it is all of that in one big dish and so it represents you and your family and New Orleans and Louisiana as well.
D’Amico: That is fantastic.
Amy: All of your gumbos are going to start with a roux, so that is the first step to make it happen.
D’Amico: The essence!
There is no such thing as one New Orleans culture, it is just sort of what sticks, what proves durable, what works, and gumbo is sort of that. It is things that just develop overtime and if you like it a certain way you keep making it that way and if you find better ingredients then that is what ends up in your mama's cookbook and your own pot.
Amy: Now that we have this going; we are going to carefully add our celery and our bell pepper. So now we are going to add our andouille sausage, it is from my hometown, and add our chicken, and so now what we are going to do is add our stocks. So you have this stock right there. Creole cuisine, originally French but then we have then influence of the Africans with their okra, the Native Americans with their corn, the Spanish with their peppers, the Germans with their sausages.
D’Amico: For all our Leonard Reed fans in the audience, one could say that no one person knows how to make a gumbo. We are borrowing things from Italian influence with basil, Creole influence, I mean it requires not just individual different people contributing but the entire cultural legacy’s that they exist from. The thought that comes to mind is that it is greater than the sum of its parts. If we took out one of the parts one of the things that someone shared it wouldn’t make it any less gumbo. So we boil this down a bit and it smells great. So when do we get to taste it?
Amy: Well you have to graduate.
D’Amico: What do you mean?
Amy: You have earned pleats in your toque.
D’Amico: Awesome! My head is large.
Amy: So we are going to serve this and use my favorite tool in the kitchen, called the spoodle.
D’Amico: These look fantastic.
Amy: So let's get some spoons, are you ready to eat?
D’Amico: Lead the way.
What I think is amazing about shared food, especially, is that it has this potential to build what we call social capital, a valuable relationship with someone else that you can rely on later. Gumbo is the ultimate metaphor for the New Orleans experience. It is all this different cultures coming together and sharing through the process of exchange, the process of cooking is obviously a parallel to that exchange process because the flavors themselves come together. If I tasted any of the individual ingredients, I don’t think I could have predicted how good this gumbo tastes. I came in here thinking that gumbo was a good metaphor for economic exchange and complex spontaneous order, and well, I am confirmed in that.
Amy: You are right.
D’Amico: So what is cooking gumbo have to do with liberty or social science? Well if you like gumbo, you’ll love spontaneous orders. Arguably they operate on the same principles. It took open ended experimentation trial and error and creativity to come up with gumbo to contribute to the flavors that stood the test of time. Spontaneous order is a very similar concept. It requires the context of liberty it requires the open ended system to get those forms of trial and error that prove successful overtime.
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