A stew from Louisiana made with whatever ingredients are to hand, either meat or seafood, but particularly with okra (itself known as gumbo), tomatoes and onions and flavoured with cayenne, and bay leaves. Created in Louisiana in the 18th century, it is a mixture of West African, German, Spanish, French, and Choctaw Native American dishes. This may have derived from an African dish called quingombó/

Each culture has contributed to the dish. West Africans brought okra, or ki ngombo, and Choctaw Native Americans added filé powder, or kombo, as a thickener. French cooks used roux, flour slowly browned in fat, as a base for the rich stew. (Huntsman).The Spanish contributed “the trinity,” sautéed bell peppers, celery, and onion. Creoles tend to use shellfish as their meat, while Cajuns tend to use pork, game, or fowl (Huntsman). Gumbo is usually served over rice, but because of the lack of constants in this dish, there is no one true gumbo (Dry). Gumbo is made with just about anything the chef wants to put in it. Everyone has his or her own special meat, spices, and cooking techniques for this complex dish. 

There are three main classifications of gumbo: meat, shellfish, and Gumbo Z’Herbes. Meat gumbo has been known to be made with variety different types of meat. Currently, the most common types of meats that are used are chicken, pork, and turkey. In its earlier years, it was said to be made with owl, muskrat, wildfowl, wild boar, and deer. Shellfish gumbo can be made with almost any type of seafood found in the water. Shrimp, crawfish, crab, catfish and even oyster are used for the dish. In order to know what type of seafood will be in a shellfish gumbo, there is a “calendar” to tell what fish will be fresh in the restaurants. Crawfish are big in the winter, while shrimp comes in the spring (Bickers). Gumbo z’herbes is a special version of gumbo, often eaten during Lent. Occasionally known as “green gumbo,” it uses several types of leafy greens in the dish. Leah Chase, the owner of Dooky Chase’s, is particularly famous for her gumbo z’herbes. Every Holy Thursday, Mrs. Leah Chase, serves her gumbo Z’herbes to hundreds of customers (Gaudin).

Lexicographer: Kailey Bryan, Mercer University 

Works Cited

The Associated Press. "Greater New Orleans." The Times-Picayune. N.p., 3 Mar. 2012. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

Bickers, Amy. "The Best Gumbo in New Orleans." Southern Living. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

Dry, Stanley. "The Southern Gumbo Trail | Introduction." The Southern Gumbo Trail | Introduction. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

Fitzmorris, Tom. "Recipe From The New Orleans Menu Daily." Recipe From The New Orleans Menu Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

"Galatoires Restaurant - History." Galatoires Restaurant - History. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

Gaudin, Lorin. "Cook the Book: Leah Chase’s Gumbo Des Herbes." GoNOLAcom RSS. N.p., 21 May 2012. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

"Gumbo History! The Cajun and Creole Influence!" Gumbo History And Origins With Bygone Times Of Louisiana. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.

Huntsman, Mark W. "Gumbo History, History of Gumbo, Gumbo Recipe, Louisiana Gumbo, New Orleans Food History, Mark Huntsman." Gumbo History, History of Gumbo, Gumbo Recipe, Louisiana Gumbo, New Orleans Food History, Mark Huntsman. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2013.