The Gumbo Pages, established in January of 1994, is the World Wide IntarWeb's first and friendliest site devoted to the food, music and culture of New Orleans, Louisiana. It's also the personal website (we used to say "homepage" way back in Teh Olden Days, kids) of one Chuck Taggart (me me me!) that's gotten way out of hand.
It's also been the virtual home of my various radio programs "Down Home" on KCSN and "Gumbo" on KCRW (and may well be the future home of a of a new Internet version thereof, one day, maybe). Eight years after I launched the site I added a weblog (or "blog," as they insist on saying these days) called Looka!, featuring my musings on food, cocktails, music, New Orleans, books, movies, science, science fiction or whatever else tickles my fancy.
Back when I first started compiling this thing my old friend Luis Meza said, "Cool ... it's a virtual Chuck!" 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 drink and music and radio and New Orleans with others, and being appallingly self-indulgent and over-sharing. Which is it? That would be up to you, I reckon.
Credits and Special Thanks
Written and edited by: Chuck Taggart
(except where another writer is credited)
Web 2.0 pages for the main entry, recipe page and Looka! weblog designed by: Marleigh Miller
"The Gumbo Pages" logo designed by:
(About the logo)
Chuck Taggart "The Gumbo Pages" logo constructed and rendered by: Chris Gaal Original 1995 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 after noticing it listed here in thanks. (There's no pleasing some people.)
I'd also like to extend my special thanks to 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.
In loving memory of
Mary Herczog -- great friend, confidante, writer, traveler, philosopher, inspiration. 1963 - 2010
Dave Schmerler -- great friend, punster, debater, music and movie fanatic, lover of new orleans. 1953 - 2009
Ian Conner -- artist, filmmaker, photographer, cinematographer, teacher, advisor, mentor, friend. 1940 - 1999
DISCLAIMER AND POLICIES
The Gumbo Pages is a non-commercial organization!
Any links to commercial Web sites, or any mentions of any commercial service or product contained within these pages, are non-remunerative; i.e., they don't pay me. I don't do paid links, I don't do keyword buys. 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 a business relationship with Amazon.com 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. Occasionally I will review food or beverage products, and occasionally I will have been provided professional samples for the purposes of review. This will always be disclosed.)
I also have clearly delineated advertisements on the site. 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 need the income, plus this site costs me money. Filter 'em out if you don't like 'em. I'd prefer you didn't, of course, because that's how I make money. I have become addicted to food, housing and utilities, and that ain't free.
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 a site, 1) it has to be something cool that I like, and 2) it has to have something to do with the content of this site. Besides, link exchanges and lists of links are so 1990s Web 1.0, and I've been working on gradually getting rid of most of that stuff anyway. Thanks for understanding. Now ...
Some people have sent me some emails on this topic that are best described as curt, brusque, demanding and outright rude when they asked for links and didn't get their way, so let me be direct and to the point for such people. 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 moan and spit poison and send me complaining email if you've asked to be linked and don't get one. Okay, done with that. Thanks again.
Also, 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 that.
Origins and History
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.
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 nascent 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 as there were no books on writing HTML like there are now 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 well enough. "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 writing them out by hand or photocopying them 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. I was happy to do it, but doing it over and over and over got a bit tedious.
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.
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 that Netcom's ftp site was 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 made such grandiose claims to quality as they did). People began hearing about the site via word-of-net, and began to write to me, complaining 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 (RIP, is féidir suaimhneas síoraí dá anam) to be a charter subscriber to a brand-new Web service provider called Web Communications, or Webcom. Chris was a fellow Netcom user who was similarly frustrated by Netcom's refusal to see that the web was the future and that their customers demanded it, and came up with the idea of providing simple and affordable web hosting for all the frustrated Netcom users who tried to have homepages in their ftp directories. I happily accepted and moved the whole kit and kaboodle to Webcom in October of 1994. After then, accesses rose dramatically, up to the current peak of between 600,000 and 900,000 total hits per month at my current provider.
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.
The weblog Looka! went up on July 8, 1999 and got noticed fairly quickly as the popularity of weblogs exploded and the term "blog" was coined (a term I still dislike). As of 2000 Looka! was the 39th most-linked-to weblog. Wow, my life on the webloggers B-list! Actually, that still amazes me. Now there are eleventy kazillion "blogs" out there, and I expect many of those have come and gone, but I'm still around and I've been plonking away at the ol' weblog ever since. In 2009 it got a huge Wordpress facelift, making it much prettier and much easier for the rest of the web to deal with, as I had been hand-coding the thing with my clunky 1995-era HTML skills until then. Unfortunately 10 years' worth of weblog comments were lost, as the off-site commenting systems I used broke and then went under. It went on an eight-month hiatus due to the incursion of Real Life in late 2012 and the first half of 2013, and recently got back on track.
How You Can Contribute
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.
As far as monetary contributions ... heheh, well, feel free. If you care to send me a tip, you can do so via Paypal, plus if you're feeling particularly generous I have an Amazon Wish List.
How To Get Ahold of Me
Drop me some mail anytime -- I check my mail several times a day.
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.
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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.