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fifi

Gumbo

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I have been "studying" gumbo for about 30 years. My quest began stoveside with a dear departed lady in LaPlace LA that I nicknamed my Gumbo Goddess. She had relatives scattered all over Louisiana so she had a well grounded knowledge of different styles of gumbo. Over the years, I thought I had developed a pretty good understanding of various aspects of Louisiana sub-cultures and how that was reflected in their cuisine in general and gumbo in particular.

Then I read your essay "Creole Country". I now realize there is still much to learn.

With that blathering background, could you please comment on your experiences with various styles of gumbo? Does one style stand out as a favorite.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Actually, I think the most interesting stuff about gumbo in my book is in the essay titled Pods of the Gods. As I mentioned in the thread about food and travel, in the Condomble religion of Brazil, foods have spiritual uses. The West African name for okra (in one tribe anyway) is ngombo. Okra is the food of the Condomble (Voodoo, Santera) twin spirits of fertility. To summon the help of the twin spirits, a priest (spiritual guide, whatever) would place cooked okra on the subject's head, thus helping her become fertile. On the feast day of the twin spirits, an okra stew called caruru is prepared. No need to belabor what the slimy stew with its many seeds symbolizes.

The original Louisiana gumbo of the native Americans was made with file powder, which turns slimy when it gets wet. West Africans arriving in Louisiana made a connection between the stew and their own okra dishes. That's why I suspect that gumbo was once a spiritual food in the Voodoo religion of Louisiana.

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THe Pod of the Gods

Thank you for that useful new term. There are some people with some very strong feelings about okra around here and I am in the apparent minority ( I love the stuff, grow it, eat it regularly, etc.) among these gastronauts. I believe that these okra haters can be rehabilitated, but it will be a long, hard road for many of them and many people may not be strong enough for the journey. :wink:

I agree with your theory about gumbo being intitially related to a spiritual experience. Well made gumbo (in any of it's variations, but particularly including Gumbo Z'Herbes, which includes both file' and okra) can be a pretty sublime eating experience.

THis link is to Uncle Bill's File. He is a blind guy from Placquemine Parish who is often at festivals and the Crescent City Farmers Market. The stuff is awesome, far superior to anything you can buy in a bottle at the grocery. He does mail order (I think).


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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To summon the help of the twin spirits, a priest (spiritual guide, whatever) would place cooked okra on the subject's head, thus helping her become fertile.

I think you just described Mayhaw Man's Mardi Gras costume for this year.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I am also a fan of mayhaw jelly, but the way.

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I am also a fan of mayhaw jelly, but the way.

I can't imagine how anyone isn't. :laugh:


Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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