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That favorite dish might serve as a metaphor for the music Buffett left the world, a gumbo of a discography, songs seasoned with island spices, great for a crowd and sprinkled with food and drink references.
A “Cheeseburger in Paradise” was “heaven on earth with an onion slice”.
The “scent of fish on the grill” made him wish “lunch could last forever”.
The shrimp boats in “Tin Cup Chalice” inspired a craving for “oysters and beer for dinner every day of the year”.
In “Margaritaville,” there’s “booze in the blender, and soon it will render that frozen concoction that helps me hang on”.
Sprinkled in between are some “Boat Drinks” and “Perrier Blues” and “Fruitcakes” and a “Last Mango in Paris”.
And gumbo. That’s the dish that inspired Buffett’s “I Will Play for Gumbo.”
“I’m not talking quesadillas or a dozen Krispy Kremes
“Or a pile of caviar that’s a rich man’s dream,
“No, I will play for gumbo.”
The aroma of roux-thickened gumbo greeted Buffett and his younger sisters Lucy and Laurie each time they’d visit their paternal grandmother’s home in Mississippi.
“The smell would wind its way out of the kitchen and down the driveway to greet us in a welcoming cloud.”
That’s how Lucy “Lulu” Buffett, Alabama-based chef/restaurateur and the youngest of the Buffett siblings, described the experience in her 2017 cookbook “Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life” (Grand Central Life & Style).
Gumbo became not only her specialty but the best-selling dish at LuLu’s, her restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama, the spirited chef/author told The Post in an interview shortly after her book release.
“It evolved as a philosophy. Learning to cook gumbo, it makes you rely on character-building traits like patience and starting over when you fail. It’s all there in the gumbo,” she said.
The steps she referred to involve peeling and deveining shrimp, making a stock with the shells, gently cooking the roux until it reaches a dark mahogany color, boiling tomatoes before removing their skins, coring and chopping them, whisking up a signature spice mix and later adding okra, shrimp and crab.
And if you’re making your own shrimp stock, as she does, it involves filling up an empty 1-liter soda bottle and freezing it, so you can cool the stock later.
But to her brother Jimmy, gumbo was greater than the sum of its parts.
“Honest to God, when Jimmy comes to my restaurant, he orders gumbo,” Lucy Buffett told The Post during the 2017 interview. “He loves gumbo. He can get anything else anywhere else. But he can’t get a good gumbo just anywhere.”
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Late Jimmy Buffett’s food songs praise gumbo, cheeseburgers, margaritas