For the third consecutive year, I entered a vegan gumbo in the Tennessee Equality Project Mardi Gras Party & Gumbo Contest! TEP is the statewide lobbying group that fights for pro-LGBT equality legislation and against anti-gay bills. The gumbo event, which raises money for TEP, was this past Sunday. I made a new sign this year!
My friend Greg and I were on a gumbo team together, even though I did all the cooking. But Greg helped unload stuff, and he helped dole out the rice. And he manned the table all by himself when I made beer and bathroom runs.
The event isn't a vegan one. In fact, I've had the only vegan gumbo entered every year that I've been there. Each year, I make a different recipe, and this year, I went with the Okra Gumbo with Chickpeas and Kidney Beans from the Post Punk Kitchen.
It's an Isa recipe, so of course it went over super-well! I didn't count, but I'm almost certain I got more People's Choice Award votes this year than I ever have. We still didn't place in the judge's awards or People's Choice Awards, but I'm thinking that a bean gumbo may be the way to go when feeding omnis.
In my first year, I made the Tempeh Gumbo from Cookin' Crunk, and people liked it. But I had explain what tempeh was, and I think it freaked some people out a little. Last year, I made Bryant Terry's Gumbo Z'herbes from Vegan Soul Kitchen, but I added some sliced, homemade seitan sausage. And a few people said that, even though they liked it, they'd rather not have "fake meat." Now, I tried to explain that seitan isn't fake and that my sausages were homemade from real ingredients. But sigh ... some people just didn't get it.
But everyone understands beans! The not-using-weird-vegan-ingredients approach might be the best one! Also, we noticed that more people approached our booth this year who were either vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or allergic to shellfish. For some at the event, we had the only gumbo they could eat!
The event is so festive and fun! There was a New Orleans-style jazz bands, lots of beads, and Mardi Gras colors everywhere. Just look at my friend Nathan!