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The signature stew of New Orleans, gumbo truly bears the imprint of nearly every ethnic group to have settled in the Crescent City. The name derives from the African gombo, meaning “okra,” a key ingredient. The French contributed roux (a paste made of flour and cooking fat), here cooked until it’s “brown,” much darker than in any French dish. Spain is the source of the dish’s rice, and seasonings are borrowed from the Caribbean.
Some versions, including the familiar shrimp-and-andouille one, are thickened with file powder, made from ground sassafras leaves, which comes from the Choktaw tribe of Native Americans. You will also find ample examples of gumbo made with chicken and okra, almost all gumbos feature the “holy trinity” of Cajun and Creole cooking: celery, onion, and bell pepper. No matter the type of gumbo, it is always served over rice.
Kick Butt Gumbo Traditional Louisiana gumbos are usually made with seafood, or chicken and sausage. Some gumbos have okra, but really everyone has their own recipe. Taste this one and you’ll know how it got its name!
“Gumbo, of all other products of the New Orleans cuisine, represents a most distinctive type of the evolution of good cookery under the hands of the famous Creole Cuisinieres of old New Orleans.”
~ The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book (1901)