November 30, 2023


Food & Travel Enthusiast

What is actually in a Gumbo Danish? Why Houston cooks are mixing and matching cuisines more than ever

On a literal degree, the solution is basic. The coronet of laminated pastry I scored from Koffeteria a pair of Saturdays back held a trove of gelled, spicy roux studded with hunks of sausage and hen.

I had been unable to resist the concept when I went on line to position an order the night time prior to — normally the greatest way to make confident of acquiring the most up-to-date concoctions from chef Vanarin Kuch at this well known bakery-cafe in EaDo. It sells out of certain objects quickly, and the a lot more daring the thought, the extra likely it is to fly out the doorway with the early birds.

Which is how it goes in Houston these days. The food stuff-obsessed seem ever a lot more committed to conspicuously consuming the most outrageous examples of the style-swapping that has grow to be central to Houston cuisine. Instagram feeds are total of these hybrid dishes, daring us to try to eat them and then brag about them to our friends.

I am not immune. Just a couple of months in the past, I was drawn to sample — and then celebrate — the freewheeling quesadilla that has come to be a signature dish at Cobos Que, the birria and barbecue professionals who have established up shop equidistant from downtown’s baseball, soccer and basketball venues. We’re conversing barbecue brisket meshed with mac and cheese that has smoked boudin mixed in, folded into a flour tortilla and griddled until the cheese pulls and oozes in a really fulfilling way.


1110 Hutchins, Suite 102

It’s a tiny nuts and crazy fantastic.

So, in its own style, was my Gumbo Danish, which made available the taste profile of the Louisiana soup so beloved in this town as a area-temperature reliable relatively than a incredibly hot soup. Yeah, I could have heated up the danish pastry when I obtained it household and created a liquid result, but I could not hold out that extended to try it.

It worked, in its have peculiar way. And it remaining me asking yourself how the Crawfish Rangoon Danish that Koffeteria highlighted in its Instagram feed awhile again had tasted. It looked wild: its quick, cylindrical foundation spouting two considerably swirled claws of laminated pastry. It slyly referenced not just the Cajun and Creole pressure of our area food items tradition but Kuch’s personal Asian roots, as the son of Cambodian immigrants.

A single of past week’s specials, a Cambodian pesto roll, made use of French croissant pastry as a cradle for pesto based mostly on Thai basil and meka leaves, or hog plum leaves, “which have a fragile citrus flavor,” the Instagram caption recommended, with peanuts as the nut foundation. A bit earlier, Kuch dipped into a little bit of Americana that has develop into quintessentially Texan, thanks to our barbecue society: a Tex-Czech kolache loaded with a loaded mashed potato fluff laced with the two cheddar and Oaxaca cheeses.

Houston cooks have been mixing and matching the city’s foundational foodways with our wealthy array of global cuisines ever considering that the 1980s, as I recall it. That cross-fertilization is essential to our unique regional cooking in the 21st century.

But lately I have been inquiring myself why the mixing and matching looks to have hit a feverish pitch listed here in early 2022. What is really in that Gumbo Danish, or underneath it, contacting it into existence?

I have a pair of theories, each relevant to the pandemic that is now getting into its third grinding year.

The very first is the way Instagram has fueled the present surge of experimentation. During the previous pair of years, the platform surged into prominence as a advertising device for having difficulties restaurants, and suddenly underemployed chefs and bakers and cooks of all types. The much more outrageous and swaggery the mix-and-match notion, the far more “OMG!” responses and website traffic it draws. Verify it out on line and you are going to see — the experimentation fuels itself.

My next principle is that dishes that kick around the culinary traces, that jolt our perception of “normality,” make us come to feel some thing in a way that all the pandemic-welcoming ease and comfort meals in the entire world can not do. To take in a Gumbo Danish is to remind your self you are alive, if you will. It’s a assure that shock and even astonishment can lie around any corner.

At Koffeteria — and at Houston foods establishments of all stripes correct now — they do.

[email protected]