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GUMBO ORIGIN and HISTORY

 

Gumbo: Derived from various Bantu dialects (Southern & Central Africa) terms for okra (i.e. quingumbo, grugombo, gumbo, gombo, ngombo gomboaud, ngumbo, ochinggombo). (The word is one of very few African language words brought over by slaves which have entered the English language. Some of the others are goober or goober pea (peanut) also of Bantu dialect origin, Yam from West Africa, and cooter (turtle) of Bantu and Mandingo origin.

Today, gumbo is, generally, a southern U.S. regional term for stew-like  dishes with meat or seafood, tomatoes and sweet bell peppers, but more specifically it is a Créole dish whose characteristic ingredients are okra and filé powder (although some gumbos do not have okra, and are thickened only with  filé powder after removing from the heat). Okra has a mucilaginous quality which thickens and gives body to the gumbo. I agree with those who say "if it ain't got okra, it ain't gumbo!"

Créole Gumbo is a stew-like dish made with brown roux, okra, filé powder, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and seafood, chicken and/or meat. Gumbo has an  incomparably rich flavor and texture, and derives from the cooking traditions of  the French, Spanish, Indian and African residents of the area. Ingredients can  vary widely (there are literally hundreds of different gumbos). Seafood (especially shrimp) is common to many gumbos, and there is a special gumbo z'herbes (or gumbo maigre) made with herbs and greens (usually seven or more)  such as collard greens, mustard greens, and spinach, which was traditionally  served on Good Friday. Gumbo should never be over spiced, it should have a subtle flavor. Tabasco sauce is always served with gumbo so those with a  penchant for spicy foods can be accommodated. Gumbo is always served with  rice.

 

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