Monday, July 09, 2007

El Gumbo

The Mexfiles has a good piece today combining four of my favorite things: New Orleans, Mexico, food, and making city councilman Oliver Thomas look stupid.

Gumbo and tacos, while emblematic dishes of Louisiana and Mexico, also serve as shorthand for broader cultural and economic references.

A detailed answer to the New Orleans council member’s question might surprise him. It seems the taco people helped the gumbo people during an especially desperate period.

Writing in the winter 2001-02 issue of Louisiana Cultural Vistas, Mary Gehman notes that in the 1850s, the American interlopers who moved here after the Louisiana Purchase increased their persecution and oppression of the native Creole-of-color population.

“Free blacks with young families and long futures ahead of them saw greater opportunity beyond the borders of Louisiana and prepared to leave,” Gehman wrote.

What happened to these people? Many found refuge in Veracruz, Mexico.

We haven't been to Veracruz, which we often hear described as "fetid" (for a long time it seemed that the Indians', and later the Mexicans', best defense against invaders was to lure them to Veracruz, where they'd all die of yellow fever), but I'm starting to think an eating tour may be in order. Who's in?

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