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Gumbo Arose From A West African Word For Okra

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A heavily seasoned, stew-like dish is in the spotlight on National Gumbo Day which is annually observed on October 12. Originating in southern Louisiana during the 18th century, Gumbo is a dish that typically consists of a strongly flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener and seasoned vegetables.  The seasoned vegetables may include celery, bell peppers and onions which are a trio known in Cajun cuisine as the “holy trinity. The dish is commonly served over rice.

  • Gumbo arose from a West African word for okra, which many believe is how the name and the ingredient also intertwined.
  • Gumbo is thought to have been first documented in 1802 and was listed in various cookbooks in the latter 19th century.
  • No one is certain behind the dish’s origin; the oldest mention is by French explorer C.C. Robin on the Acadian coast in 1803.
  • In 1803, gumbo was served at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans
  • It gained widespread popularity in the 1970s when the United States Senate cafeteria added Gumbo to the menu in honor of Louisiana Senator Allen Ellender.
  • Gumbo is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana.
  • Since 1989, New Iberia, Louisiana has held The World Championship Gumbo Cook-Off.
  • There are several different varieties of gumbo based on the type of thickener used to create the dish.
  • Creole gumbo contains shellfish and tomatoes whereas Cajun gumbo is generally spicier with shellfish or chicken.
  • Gumbo may have flavors rooted in Native American, African, Caribbean, Spanish, and French cuisines.

Sources:

National Day Calendar

Foodimentary

Southern Foodways

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