This weekend is the big Louisiana Fur and Wildlife festival in Camerson, and after blogging on it I got some questions about Gumbo. For all of you unfamiliar with this delicacy, it deserves a few comments.
Gumbo is a stew or soup which originated in south Louisiana in the 18th century. Hunters and fishermen took meat of the day and mixed it with a strong stock, a thickener, and vegetables, often celery and bell peppers and onion which were plentiful. One of the more famous varieties uses a spice called "Fele". This powder is made from dried and ground sassafras leaves. "Fele" can give some thickening when okra is not in season, as well as giving the stew a very distictive flavor. Over the years ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures influenced the hundreds of recipes that are available today: French, Spanish, West African, and native American Indians (Choctaw); and later the Italians, Germans, and other Europeans.
The meat components can be anything available, seafood, chicken, sausage, duck, wild game meat, or sausage made from any of these things.
Here are a few of the more interesting recipes:
Nutria Gumbo (video)