I dearly love Arkansas and the River Valley. I love the mountains and river bottoms. I love the creeks and lakes. I love the culture. I love the people… most of them anyway. This is home. But here’s the confession: I could be persuaded to move south, way south into coastal Louisiana to be exact, by one simple argument — food. There is no cuisine out there to match the spicy, sultry, French-influenced Creole/Cajun dishes that define New Orleans and all of southern Louisiana.
I enjoyed a trip to New Orleans and points south just last November. Fly fishing for red drum was the stated purpose, but I could have spent every day eating my way through New Orleans and been just as happy. I’ve already been planning a return trip for this summer and maybe another in the fall, and I’m already saving money earmarked solely for the pleasure of my palate.
But now this new place opened up here in Russellville, this restaurant that could siphon off some of my food fund. It’s called Gumbo Zydeco.
No need for an eight-hour drive, Gumbo Zydeco has captured all the sublime found way down there in the bayous and marshes and brought it here. We had oysters on the half shell loaded up with cheese, bacon, and just enough spicy bite to make you crave another along with a steaming, shrimp-filled gumbo of a spectacular hearty and earthy complexity. It tasted like genuine Louisiana — in Russellville.
So this summer, I might just save the miles, grab a spoon, and laissez les bon temps rouler right here in the River Valley. The red drum can wait.