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Gumbo is Louisiana’s Most Famous Food

There is one reason why gumbo is Louisiana’s most favorite food. It is delicious. Although gumbo can be classified as a soup, it is no ordinary soup. Gumbo characteristics are uniquely influenced by Cajun, Creole, native American, African, Spanish and French cultures. It’s blend of ingredients and cooking techniques render a dish with an intense and rich flavor that generates a sense of warmth and contentment.

A hot steaming bowl of Louisiana’s most famous food sends a tantalizing aroma to your senses and conjures up visions of rustic homes on bayous, moss covered oak trees and wonderful times spent with family and friends. A big pot of gumbo on the table is always the perfect occasion for a gathering and can be quite a big affair.

Which variety is best. Grandma’s seafood gumbo or mothers chicken and andouille? Should it be thickened with okra or is it best with a roux? Does it have to use file’ to be an authentic gumbo? All interesting questions and the answers will vary widely. Depending on family traditions and availability of ingredients authentic gumbos can come in many varieties.

In some homes chicken and andouille gumbo is the favorite. In others a seafood gumbo with okra and file’ wins the award hands down. And purists will claim a gumbo that is true to the roots of the dish will be dark and rich loaded with okra, locally obtained ingredients and will always use a roux. It is the many and varied recipes and combination of ingredients that make gumbo so unique and so appealing.

Your basic gumbo will start with onions, celery and green pepper sauteed in a roux. Roux is flour browned in oil and is the basis for providing the body, color and unique flavor to gumbo. Then water is added creating a soup like concoction to which other ingredients are added. A little garlic, some black pepper and salt, a bay leaf or two along with optional seasonings like thyme, white pepper, oregano and cayenne pepper go into the brew to cook and meld. Then the main meat or fish components go into the pot and this magical blend of ingredients becomes the wonderful dish we know as gumbo.

Good cooks seem to always strive to tweak and improve or find new and different ways to make recipes better. This is true with gumbo. And in recent decades celebrity chefs have introduced hot and spicy to gumbo and added ingredients gumbo traditionalist often scoff at. Sweet potatoes in gumbo? Who would have thought it would be so good. Holiday gumbo using leftover turkey and ham and a stock made from the bones takes the dish on a tangent that everyone should experience.

Gumbo often provides a reason to celebrate. There are gumbo festivals, gumbo cook offs and gumbo parties. You find gumbo kings, gumbo queens and gumbo restaurants. Every cookbook published will have at least one gumbo recipe. In stores you find gumbo cookbooks, gumbo spoons and bowls, gumbo pots and instant gumbo in a package.

Gumbo is found on the menu of nearly every restaurant in Louisiana. Chefs and restaurants claim to have the best in town. And the great thing about that is you have to try them all in order to find your favorite.

The author of this article was born on the bayous of Louisiana. Being a native of Cajun country Gene Gautro learned to cook and eat the wonderful cuisine Louisiana is famous for. New Orleans is a favorite destination and Gene and his wife Jan often travel there to experience the wonderful restaurants and culture found in the Big Easy.

He is a lover of Louisiana’s most famous food and is expert at making the many varied recipes. Gumbo is that famous dish and Gene maintains a web site for free gumbo recipes and gumbo cooking instruction. Visit his site and enjoy many of the fantastic recipes New Orleans has made famous.

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