by Andetrie Vicks
Today when family and friends in Louisiana get together to enjoy each other’s company the style of cooking is still Cajun/Creole. Traditional comfort foods are on the menu, like red beans and rice, fried catfish and most importantly gumbo. Gumbo is extremely diverse and every family makes it slightly different with their preference of meats, spices, and thickener.
In the beginning this tasty elixir was made by the people of South Louisiana, but it was just a simple soup using meats and vegetables cooking in water. Gumbo history reveals that African American imported okra found its way into the Louisiana kitchens, and provided gumbo with its name; Gumbo is the African word for okra. It was discovered that okra boosted the flavor, but more importantly it added some texture in the way of a thickening agent.
Later people found that flour browned in pig lard added a great color, texture and taste. This is where roux first made its appearance and changed gumbo history. Since then roux has become the dominant agent to thicken this famous Louisiana dish as nothing can match the colors and flavors as deep.
Another way of thickening is by adding the ground leaves from the sassafras tree: Filé. This fine seasoning was adopted from the local Choctaw Indians. The powder is added right before serving and adds a hearty taste that gumbo lovers seek.
Gumbo differs from bowl to bowl but one thing always remains the same, it is a Louisiana classic enjoyed by many. This is a recipe for a chicken sausage gumbo, one of the many variations of this dish.