Too Much Of A Good Thing, But For A Good Cause

Mary Ann Fitzmorris February 04, 2020 12:16 Dining Diary

It’s been a busy few weeks, and I just realized we never did report on the Krewe of Tucks Gumbo Gras we judged a week ago. Tom and I were a judging team. It was the first time I was an official judge of anything, but I realized quickly how daunting such a thing is. It was an early call, and we arrived at 9 am. Things were just getting started, although all fourteen teams had the process well underway. Contestants at such events take their competition very seriously, but in a good-natured way. We walked around visiting the various booths, some of which were decorated, all of which manned with contestants busy chopping or stirring or making extra roux. I became fascinated by one particular roux that was going to be added to a pot simmering with a lot of gumbo already. Since I find roux-making very stressful, it was fun to watch someone else’s project get darker and darker. It took quite a while with much decision-making along the way. Finally, they merged the two and I moved on to watch some others.

We walked around talking to everyone and watched entertainment arrive. Among the acts was a great little band with a dancer that was riveting, and circus performers with stilts and elaborate costumes. And we tried the signature beer of the event, “Friar Water”, brewed by Port Orleans in conjunction with members of the Tucks organization. Tucks krewe member Ellie Platt did a special design for the beer cans featuring the Umbrella Walk. She is best known for her Superdome Saints hats available at Fleurty Girl.

Before long it was time to actually sit down and judge. There were fourteen gumbos and a page with boxes to check for six categories, like taste, after taste, aroma, presentation, color, and consistency. This is not easy with a spectrum of 1 to 5. After even a few they start to blend. The biggest differences to us were in presentation. Some really went all out on this. One of them had a cup piled so high with fried oysters, it’s a good thing it was lined with crab claws to hold it all in. I wanted this one to win because they had worked so hard, but the winner was a little different in ingredients. We gave the top spot to a venison sausage and rabbit gumbo with a very dark roux. 

Most of them were chicken and sausage gumbo, which is a personal favorite. There was also a crawfish and alligator gumbo as well as miscellaneous seafood blends and the winner with the exotic meats.

All of them had something to recommend them, and they differed only a little in color and thickness, so it was challenging. Fairness demanded real concentration. 

It all happened so quickly. We gave the sheets with a lot of scratching out and corrections to the gumbo “runners”, and hoped we had made the right choices. It wasn’t a matter of great consequence. These teams were definitely into the competition, but they all united behind the same goal: raising money for the seven charities. They quadrupled the revenues from the previous year, and ran out of gumbo. And we left with a single thought: what a lot of gumbo we had at one sitting.