The Gumbo Pages (est. January 1994) are the World Wide Web's first and friendliest site devoted to the food, music and culture of New Orleans, Louisiana and that region of Louisiana known as Acadiana, or "Cajun country".
This site is also the home of my radio program "Down Home", the future home of a webcast version thereof, and also focuses on roots and traditional music from around the world, non-commercial radio (primarily in the United States and Canada), and whatever else tickles the fancy of its creator .. me, that is.
"Cool ... it's a virtual Chuck!"
-- Luis Meza
Well, not really. I'm not my web page, and it ain't me, babe ... it's just some online musings that might give someone an idea of what I'm all about and what I'm up to. It teeters on a fine line between how much I love to share my passions for food and music with others, and being appallingly self-indulgent. Which is it? Up to you, I guess.
Credits and Special Thanks
Written, edited and designed by: Chuck Taggart
(except where another writer is credited)
"The Gumbo Pages" logo constructed and rendered by: Chris Gaal "The Gumbo Pages" logo designed by: Chuck Taggart Original homepage logo designed by: Lee Williamson "Creole and Cajun Recipe Page" logo designed by: Sean Burke Midwifery (or, those who helped me get this thing started way back in 1994): Michael Yasui and Kevin Fong. Programming and coding assistance: Sean Burke, Chris Gaal and a cranky French guy who wrote a really useful script that I used to migrate this site, then demanded I remove his name, which was listed here in thanks. (There's no pleasing some people.)
I'd also like to extend my special thanks to all the signers of the guestbook, all those folks mentioned within who have contributed reviews, recipes or articles, and all the wonderful readers who have written in over the years who've made and enjoyed the recipes, got turned onto some cool new music, or had a great time in Louisiana. Merci beaucoup à vous-autres!
The Gumbo Pages is a non-commercial organization!
DISCLAIMER AND POLICIES
Any links to commercial Web sites, or any mentions of any commercial service or product contained withing these pages, are non-remunerative; i.e., they don't pay me. If a link or a mention is here, it's because I happen to like or use the product or service myself, or because I think its inclusion is relevant to this site's subject matter.
(Exceptions to this policy -- I have business relationships with Amazon.com, cdnow.com, and iMVS, from whom I recieve a small referral fee for products purchased via links from this site. All fees are recycled back into the maintanance fees I pay for the upkeep of this site.)Also, please don't think me rude, but just because you write to me and ask for a link doesn't mean that I'm going to give you one. If I link to your site, 1) it has to be cool, an 2) it has to have something to do with the content of this site. Thanks for understanding. Now ... given the tone of some of the emails I've gotten, let me be brusque, rude, plain, direct and to the point here ... Just because you have a food or music related website doesn't mean that I have to link to you! So don't whine and send me complaining email if you've asked to be linked and don't get one. Okay, done with that. Thanks again.
The author, editor and contributors to The Gumbo Pages do not recommend or endorse any product or service which may appear on any banner advertising on the site. I just rent the space. Why do I sell space for banner ads, you ask? ('Cause I'm a whore, of course. I need some extra income, plus this site costs me money. Filter 'em out if you don't like 'em.)
I am not responsible for any stupid things you might do based on stupid ideas you might get while reading anything on this web site. Read more about it.
Here are just a few things I'm cooking up:
Plans for the Future
I've been working on gradual redesigns of the site, adding morephotographs and a few small but nice graphic touches, (not too large, keeping in mind the tenets of the Bandwidth Conservation Society), more audio (but NOT embedded MIDI files, which I despise!), and doing general work on making it look a little bit prettier and a little less plain under graphics-based browsers. Jeez, can you believe that I initially wrote most of this just using Lynx, a text-based browser, and Pico, a plain ol' UNIX text editor? Gawd sakes ...
- More and more updated information on New Orleans and the rest of southern Louisiana, and on Acadiana ("Cajun country") in particular
- Many more recipes for the The Creole and Cajun Recipe Page
- I want to get up off my lazy butt and add more articles, rants, musings and stories, along the lines of my iced tea rant, The Crawfish-Sea Urchin Tale, why I hate tripe, and how I got into the New England Journal of Medicine.
- More pictures in my photo gallery -- personal stuff, travel photos, etc. Lots more Louisiana pictures.
- The possibility of my weekly radio program being stored each week in a RealAudio file that's available on demand
- A section on Ireland (only in the idea stage at the moment), based on my travels there and my interest in Irish music, culture and language
Well, I have a real machine now, I write most of this using BBEDit now, and I've finally accepted the fact that most folks use graphical browsers and not Lynx. However, my pages will always be Lynx-friendly.
And look, there's still an "Optimized for Lynx" button down there at the bottom of the page. Isn't that cute? It's been there for about 13 years, and you know what's funny? The site still works with Lynx, almost a decade into the 21st Century. Why? 'Cause it's all about the words, baby. You can keep your Flash.
I swear to God, people have asked me about this. Have some strong tea or pop a No-Doz if you plan to read this section.
Origins and History
I began this site back in January of 1994 merely as an online homepage for my radio program "Gumbo". At the time the site was little more than place to store my playlists that I had been posting to FOLKDJ-L, the Folk/Roots/Bluegrass DJs' Mailing List, since its inception in October of 1993, and that I had been posting years earlier on the ancient GEnie network (which closed at the end of 1999). I had just been turned on to the World Wide Web by my friend Michael Yasui, and I was captivated. I wanted in. At the time, "homepages" were a very new thing, and there were no books on writing HTML like there are now, so I started at the online tutorial at CERN, where the W3 was developed. I was amazed at how easy it was (at the time) to learn and write.
Unfortunately, I was a Netcom subscriber at the time, and Netcom didn't make their Web server and http service available for its users to create home pages -- they never did for their shell account users. I set it up with ftp access, and in the beginning it seemed to work fine. "The 'Gumbo' Information Center", as it was initially called, was born. It had the monstrously unwieldy URL of ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/ea/eamon/home.html ... oy.
I had also had several of my most-used and most-requested Louisiana recipes in a few scattered files on my hard drive -- I had gotten tired of copying them out for friends and acquaintances who wanted them, so I typed them out on my computer so that I could just print them out when needed. Similarly, I typed in a list of "must-do" things in New Orleans, 'cause I got tired of writing out that list as well -- people were always asking me what to do and where to go on their trips to New Orleans.
Since these files already existed in an online format, it was relatively simple work to convert them to HTML and put them up on the site as well. In March of 1994, I changed the name of the site to "The Gumbo Pages", and started publicizing it in a few Usenet newsgroups. And lo and behold, accesses started to rise dramatically.
(Are you sure you really want to know this? My God, this is boring. This might have been interesting when the Web was new, five years ago, but now it's drivel. But believe it or not, some of you nice folks do ask, so I'll continue blathering ...)
I worked on the site constantly, adding more and more recipes and guides and reviews. I kept tweaking and redesigning as I learned more about HTML and as the site grew. The problem was -- Netcom's ftp site is very difficult to reach, due to the generally crappy quality of their customer service and the lack of a sufficient number of simultaneous anonymous ftp logins, and their astonishing lack of httpd service (for a provider that makes such grandiose claims to quality as they do). People began hearing about the site via word-of-net, and began to write to me to complain incessantly that they could never access it, because Netcom's ftp server was never accessible. It was very frustrating.
Then, I was invited by Chris Schefler to be a charter subscriber to a brand-new Web service provider called Web Communications (Webcom), and moved the whole kit and kaboodle to Webcom in October of 1994. After then, accesses rose dramatically, up to the current peak of about 500,000 total hits per month.
More and more people began to find the site. I got hundreds of wonderful signatures and comments in the guest book, including thrilling kudos from Chef John Folse of Lafitte's Landing restaurant in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, and president of the American Culinary Federation (I'm still swooning over that one).
The Creole and Cajun Recipe Page developed a separate life of its own, and began to be accessed separately; it still receives about 30% more accesses than the home page! I added more and more sections on the culinary arts, drawing on what I've been learning as a UCLA Extension culinary arts student, added more and more music pages, hotlinks, and more.
The media began to stand up and take notice, and the site has been reviewed very favorably in Home PC magazine, NetGuide magazine, The Web magazine, The San Francisco Examiner, the San Jose Mercury News, in Chef Gary Holleman's book Food and Wine Online from Van Nostrand Reinhold, in the 1997 World Almanac (*boggle*) and in other magazines and newspapers, plus oodles of "Best of the Web" accolades in various Internet reviewing sites. It's very nice, very heartening, very encouraging, and a very rewarding effort. I will go on. The site continues to grow weekly, if not daily.
WebCom were swallowed up by the megalithic Verio in 1998, and things gradually began to erode for my good ol' web host. The president and founder was squeezed out, negating any promises he had made to his customers (including personally to me). In late 1999 Verio eliminated the credits program by which my site had been basically free for over four years, and for the service plan I was on it would have cost me nearly $100 per month. Fortunately, I found a better and independently-owned web host that offered me tons more service (including things WebCom would never offer, like CGI scripting and telnet access) for less than 1/3 the cost. I'm now hosted by pair Networks, and I like them a lot.
If there's a restaurant in Louisiana that you've been to and don't see here, if there's a band you think I should know about, if there's a link you think I should add, if you want to contribute a review or an article or especially a recipe, please do so! I'm more than eager to accept submissions from readers, and would be happy to add them to the Pages.
How You Can Contribute
As far as monetary contributions ... heheh, well, feel free. The Gumbo Pages is a strictly non-commercial entity, and you will never see paid advertising here. I don't do this for money, I do it for the pleasure of turning people on to great food and music, and because it's been a lot of fun doing this site. However, if you feel compelled to make a spendable contribution to my non-profit organization (me, that is), I sure won't stop you!
Drop me some mail anytime -- I check my mail several times a day.
How To Get Ahold of Me
Given the large volume of email that I get, and that I'm both absentminded and God Emperor of Procrastination, I'm sometimes slow to reply to email. Please be patient. If by some odd chance you don't get a reply, please don't take it personally. I try to answer every email I receive, but every now and again one slips through the cracks.
If you need a snail-mail address to send a paper letter, a CD for consideration for airplay on ... um, some future radio show that I don't have ye t, a birthday present (November 11, don't forget!), a large crate of cash or negotiable bonds, or whatever ... well, you can't right now. I'm not crazy enough to put my home address on the web, and I no longer get mail care of the radio station because I don't work there anymore. I'll have a PMB soon, and I'll update the address here. (Not that people are lining up around the block to send me stuff, but still.)
PMB ... something
Somewhere in L.A. close to my house, and hopefully not nine double-0 too-far.
the gumbo pages | search
chuck taggart (e-mail chuck)
Wow, look at this quaint little collection of website icons, circa 1995!
Wow, Mac OS 8! How adorable. Hey, I'm in The Point Survey's "Top 5% of Web Sites" too! (Hee.)
Just say no to "optimized for Netscoop/Infernalnet Expectorator" ...
read The Lynx Manifesto and optimize it for everybody.