Disney’s gumbo no match for plums in the icebox


When I promised to blog about Disney’s kale-quinoa gumbo debacle, I never imagined I would link it to poet William Carlos Williams. In September Disney posted a two-minute video recipe for Tiana’s Healthy Gumbo on its “Princess and the Frog” Facebook page and social media users went wild. Of course, William Carlos Williams wasn’t around to read it — he’s dead. But online readers were incensed by the gumbo’s ingredients — kale, quinoa, whole wheat flour but no roux!

 According to New Orleans’ Times Picayune , social media users took the sacrilege into their


WWL posted this screen shot of the kale-quinoa gumbo recipe before Disney removed the post that outraged gumbo lovers!

own hands with hashtag #GumboStrong. They uploaded YouTube spoofs, alerted food bloggers and even started an online White House petition. Within hours, Disney’s Facebook post and You Tube video disappeared.

When choosing a gumbo for poet William Carlos Williams, I kept remembering a 1962 interview he granted Stanley Koebler of The Paris Review.  A poet as well as physician, Williams, poet by age 79 had already suffered a decade of heart attacks and strokes. Koebler describes the interview, “Because it was so hard for Dr. Williams to talk, there was no question of discoursing on topics suggested in advance, and the conversation went on informally, for an hour or two at a time, over several days. The effort it took the poet to find and pronounce words can hardly be indicated here. Many of the sentences ended in no more than a wave of the hand when Mrs. Williams was not present to finish them.”

The days during the interview, Williams kept waiting for the doorbell to ring with a copy of his 48th book, Pictures from Brueghel. Williams died eleven months after the interview.  Pictures from Brueghel won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry – and was awarded posthumously.

It’s “heartbreaking” that the poet who brought us memorable, simple images as a red wheelbarrow or ripe plums left in the refrigerator, was disoriented and unable to speak shortly before his death.  Poetry lovers (and high school freshmen who read his poems in their anthologies) are fortunate he left us with so many poems. I wonder if he would have been around to write more if he had eaten a healthy diet. Perhaps he did, and he’s the one who swiped those delicious plums out of the refrigerator.

So for William Carlos Williams and all of us who like gumbo (but aren’t giving in to quinoa or kale) here are five tips to make your favorite gumbo healthier while retaining great flavor and texture.


  •  Use low sodium or no-sodium broth & beware of high-sodium Creole or Cajun spice blends
  • Make the roux with canola oil
  • Skin chicken or turkey & use only white meat
  • Brown sausage in its own fat, then press in paper towels to remove excess oil
  • Serve with brown rice instead of white

 And, if you want a new healthy recipe, try one of these links


About thegumbodiaries

On the search for the perfect gumbo!
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4 Responses to Disney’s gumbo no match for plums in the icebox

  1. Diane, Your artful mix of writing and gumbo, good cooking tips, and the amazingly interesting tidbits from authors’ lives, make this blog on of my “go to” reads. Thank you so much! I will check out Williams’ poetry again.


  2. Thanks for reading. I still await a Native American or Arizona version of gumbo from you for this blog!


  3. Brian says:

    I actually do most of your tips. But I absolutely love the thigh & wing meat – so tasty! I’ll take that little hit in fat content. Also tried brown rice once. Just didn’t care for the texture and have switched back to regular old Uncle Ben’s. But I will have to add that bit on browning the sausage separately and blotting off the oils. Using the extra pan is no big deal really. Once the gumbo has been simmering for a while, I like to take a small gravy ladle and skim the layer of oils off the top of the pot. With a little patience, you’d be surprised how much you can get!


  4. That’s a great tip I forgot to include — even with all the techniques, it still surprises me what can be scooped off after a night in the refrigerator. My family agrees with you on the rice! Thanks for reading.


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