Real New Orleans gumbo

Diaspora Gumbo
Along with New Orleans essentials-red beans and rice and jambalaya-Diaspora Gumbo was designed as a formula wherein you'd "pick your diaspora by choosing from the following foods, depending on personal preference and availability to obtain ingredients in your evacuation site."


  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 pounds okra, thinly sliced (1/8-inch slices)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1-pound can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 gallon stock (shrimp, chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 clove garlic
Use any combination of the following ingredients depending on your personal preference and your evacuation site:
  • 4 gumbo crabs (can be purchased frozen in 1-pound packages)
  • 2 pounds shrimp
  • 1 pound smoked sausage (andouille or kielbasa), sliced and browned
  • 1 pint oysters
  • 2 cups chicken meat
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hot sauce
  • Sprinkle of filé powder
  • Hot cooked rice (1/4 cup per serving)
  1. Cover the bottom of a 10- or 12-inch skillet with vegetable oil (approximately 1/4 cup). Heat oil until very hot, then fry okra in single layers until lightly browned. Reserve.

  2. In a 10- or 12-quart Dutch oven-type pot, make a dark roux by combining 1/2 cup oil with flour and cooking until the mixture is the color of milk chocolate. Add onion and stir together; cook until the roux darkens to a bittersweet chocolate brown. Add celery and bell pepper; cook together for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Add stock, garlic, okra and any combination of the diaspora ingredients (except raw shrimp and raw oysters, which must be added in the last 5 minutes before serving). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

  3. Cover and cook for 45 minutes or so, stirring periodically to be sure there's no sticking. In the last 5 minutes, add raw shrimp or oysters if desired along with green onions. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

  4. Serve over rice with a sprinkle of filé powder stirred in if desired.
About Poppy Tooker:
Poppy Tooker is a native New Orleanian who has spent her life immersed in the vibrant colors and flavors of her home town.

Classically trained, she was awarded both a master chef's diploma and a cooking teacher's diploma in 1985 upon completion of Madeleine Kamman's legendary professional course. Poppy's teaching centers on history and tradition with a gentle integration of food science while remaining eminently entertaining. As Food and Wine magazine proclaimed; "She may wear ceramic red beans in her ears and make finger puppets out of crawfish, but her class is certainly no joke. Rather, it compels you to take reams of notes so as not to forget a single nugget of her fascinating culinary wisdom."

A mainstay on the Food Heritage stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Poppy's engaging teaching style has been showcased as far away as in Turin, Italy's famous Salone del Gusto, and London's celebrated Books for Cooks as well as in classes and cooking demonstrations across the United States.

Poppy's on-camera flair has been viewed internationally in documentary projects such as Savouring the World, Taste of New Zealand and Simple Living. The History Channel enlisted her whimsical culinary approach for the Holiday Foods episode of "America Eats" and she regularly contributes colorful food commentary on WYES, the New Orleans PBS affiliate's weekly show, Steppin' Out. She has been featured on the syndicated Smart Woman and her food recovery efforts were the subject of an August 2007 Weather Channel special. Chef Daniel Boulud invited Poppy to be a featured guest on Dining After Hours in spring 2008. Even Bobby Flay could not resist a Throwdown with Poppy where her famous seafood gumbo proved unbeatable on the popular Food Network show!

Poppy produced and hosts "Eat It To Save It!" a television series focusing on the people who harvest the rare and endangered foods of the Slow Food Ark of Taste. A contributing editor for Hallmark Magazine, Poppy also writes for other national publications such as Fine Cooking and is a regular columnist for Louisiana Cookin' magazine. In yet another incarnation Poppy offers her informed view as author of the soon to be released "Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook."

In 1999 Poppy brought the international Slow Food movement to New Orleans as the founder of its local chapter. With her motto "Eat It To Save It!" Slow Food has been a perfect philosophical fit and Poppy has been instrumental the Slow Foods work reviving endangered local foods such as Creole cream cheese and rice calas. She has served as an international governor with the movement and currently heads the US Slow Food Ark and Presidia committee. Poppy was awarded the first "Carlo Petrini Slow Food Leadership Award" in 2006.

Poppy's passionate volunteerism extends to many other efforts and organizations. She is Vice President of the board of (Crescent City Farmers Market), serves on the task force of the Edible School Yard New Orleans and as chair, she hosted the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs 2008 national conference.

From the time this culinary activist returned home in the early days following Hurricane Katrina she worked tirelessly to rebuild and restore the historic food ways of New Orleans. Recognized by the Times Picayune as a "Hero of the Storm" her wide ranging restoration efforts included Dooky Chase Restaurant, Gendusa Bakery and Angelo Brocato's Ice Cream and Confectionery; even Patsy the mule got a helping hand so she could return to the city and pull the Roman candy wagon once again - a story documented on the BBC's national Food Program. Inspired by Poppy's far-reaching restoration and improvement efforts; The International Association of Cooking Professionals recognized her at their 2008 conference, with their first ever, Community Service Award.

You'll find Poppy stirring the pots and signing books:

Friday, August 28, 2009, 6 - 8 PM
The Tyler Florence Shop, 59 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, CA

Saturday, August 29, 2009
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Noon - Market to Table Diaspora Gumbo demonstration
CUESA Teaching Kitchen, in front of Ferry Building, under North Arcade
Book Passage, 1 - 3 PM - Ferry Marketplace Shop #42

Sunday, August 30, 2009, 2 - 4 PM
Williams-Sonoma Flagship Store, Union Square, 340 Post Street, San Francisco, CA

Tooker will commemorate the 4th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by bringing a taste of New Orleans to the Bay Area. Inspired by the mass evacuations following Hurricane Katrina, Diaspora Gumbo is a recipe for re-creating New Orleans' favorite dish - no matter where a hurricane evacuee may seek refuge in a storm! At the following events, Poppy will prepare her gumbo (which beat Food Network's Bobby Flay in a Gumbo Throwdown) with a distinctly local, Northern California touch.

Thirteen years in the making, the Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook tells the story of the New Orleans food community with profiles, anecdotes and recipes. The book, written by New Orleans food authority and market supporter Poppy Tooker, celebrates the city's rich culinary heritage and recounts the city's efforts to rebuild. Sales support market programs and more than 125 seasonal recipes from New Orleans chefs, and family favorites from farmers and market shoppers are included. The foreword is penned by Alice Waters, Executive Chef and owner of Chez Panisse, author and farmers market advocate. Published by, the beautifully designed book with 100 color photos retails for $24.95. For more information, visit, or call 504.861.4485.

Local food preservationist and Slow Food New Orleans founder, Poppy Tooker is a culinary activist who has worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the historic food ways of New Orleans. With her motto "Eat It To Save It" she has helped to revive endangered foods across the U.S. and abroad in collaboration with Slow Food's Ark of Taste. Poppy's on-camera flair has made her a sought after guest on the Food Network, the History Channel and in multiple PBS documentaries. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana.

While she has received many accolades (The Times-Picayune named her a Hero of the Storm) and is a sought after speaker and writer, Poppy Tooker may be best known for beating TV Food Network Star Bobby Flay in a Seafood Gumbo Throwdown. He didn't stand a chance. She'll be glad to tell why she loves this cookbook - it uniquely gives our farmers and fishers a voice. She tells their story. It's filled with grassroots goodness.

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