In the chaotic, rat-race world we live in, people don’t have time to sit down and eat anymore. Everything we do is based around how quickly something can get done. It’s not enough that my car goes 120 mph; I want it to go 150. Next day delivery isn’t fast enough; I might as well e-mail it. Even dial-up connections are becoming obsolete; it’s all about high-speed now. So, it makes sense that we have extended this rapidity to our eating habits as well, which is why fast food is so popular.
In the world of fast food, burgers are king. Followed by imitation Mexican and Chinese food (anyone who’s been to Mexico or China will tell you that it only slightly resembles the original in the broadest of terms.) But there is one place to eat on the north side of Indianapolis (at 86th & Ditch Rd.) that is like Pavarotti amidst a roomful of alley cats. And that place is Gumbo A Go-Go!.
Set in the middle of a small shopping strip facing busy W 86th Street, Gumbo A Go-Go! serves Louisiana- and New Orleans-style cuisine. All of the food uses fresh ingredients in Cajun and Creole style. Proprietor Bill Zierke explains that in the South, food is not cooked on a time limit. Taking your time allows the more subtle flavors to emanate. (That’s why the North uses a lot of spices because they try to rush the cooking process, he says.) Many of these dishes take as long as 10-12 hours to fully cook.
Zierke explains that historically speaking, Louisiana is home to five different cultures: French, African, Mexican, Spanish and American. In these cultures, the vast majority of the people lived in poverty, and food was shared among all people, across all cultures. But it was a quantity for a quantity, preferably of a different food. (You could trade a quantity of rice for the same quantity of tomatoes.) Everyone shared and blended their recipes to create the melange of an epicurean regale that so defines the region.
At the heart of Cajun and Creole cuisine is gumbo, a rich soup thickened with homemade brown roux (a mix of butter and flour). Roux is often the base of many Cajun and Creole dishes, including etoufee. Another popular dish of the region is jambalaya, a rice-based dish cooked down with chicken stock and sausages, onions, bell peppers and celery. Many of these dishes often use peppers and spices, together with vegetables, and mixed with some kind of meat (namely chicken, sausage, pork, beef, shrimp or crayfish) which is served over rice. All of the entrees are also served with a slice of spiced bread that is to die for. Most of these dishes are medium-spicy but a few dishes will kick you in the pants. However, there are also additional hot sauces available if it doesn’t kick you in the pants enough. To put out the fire, a large sweet tea should do the trick. (If you still need more, there are free refills.)
So, if you are tired of burgers, but still want something with flavor, then try Gumbo A Go-Go!. For about the same price as regular fast food, you can challenge your palate to something different. Come in, sit down and enjoy the food from a place that doesn’t run on time limits or schedules.
Stop in and eat at:
Gumbo A Go-Go!
1420 W. 86th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46260