Gumbo: The Mysterious History
December 29, 2009 5:46 PM   Subscribe

 
*BLAM*

got 'im

*returns to cooking gumbo*
posted by sidereal at 5:51 PM on December 29, 2009 [15 favorites]


Nevertheless, a debate about gumbo's precise origins has raged for decades, framed by Louisiana's legacy of colonialism and complicated by the vast range of gumbo-preparation techniques practiced by t ens of thousands of sentient octopedes that have invaded the coastal shores of the South. On the other hand, such practices have clearly p
posted by jabberjaw at 5:58 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somewhere I have a copy of Terry Pratchett's Nanny Ogg's Cookbook, which I decided to get based solely on an observation he wrote in a gumbo recipe:

"You don't really need a recipe for gumbo. You just make it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:00 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read this as "Gumby: the Mysterious History" and wondered how Louisiana's legacy of colonialism could lead to the creation of a green cray figure and an orange horse.
posted by borborygmi at 6:02 PM on December 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nevertheless, a debate about gumbo's precise origins has raged for decades, framed by Louisiana's legacy of colonialism and complicated by the vast range of gumbo-preparation techniques practiced by t ens of thousands of sentient octopedes that have invaded the coastal shores of the South. On the other hand, such practices have clearly p recipitated a new wave of anti-octopus sentiment, triggering riots, panic, and the second Gumbo Putsch. Meanwhile, t
posted by vorfeed at 6:03 PM on December 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


a green cray figure

Well, some cray figures are kind of greenish....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:03 PM on December 29, 2009


Nevertheless, a debate about gumbo's precise origins has raged for decades, framed by Louisiana's legacy of colonialism and complicated by the vast range of gumbo-preparation techniques practiced by t ens of thousands of sentient octopedes that have invaded the coastal shores of the South. On the other hand, such practices have clearly p recipitated a new wave of anti-octopus sentiment, triggering riots, panic, and the second Gumbo Putsch. Meanwhile, turn down the freakin' pot! It's boilin' over!
posted by netbros at 6:10 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


This thread is delightful, but I'd like to mention that the link is pretty good as well.
posted by serazin at 6:13 PM on December 29, 2009


I don't know what I ate, but I read:

Nevertheless, a debate about gumbo's precise origins has raged for decades, framed by Louisiana's legacy of cannibalism

I think that article would be a very interesting read.
posted by splice at 6:23 PM on December 29, 2009


[Fixed the broken link text.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:38 PM on December 29, 2009


spoil sport!
posted by serazin at 6:45 PM on December 29, 2009


Actual Comment:

That's some gnarly looking gumbo in that article photo there.

I've made gumbo more times than I can count, and I don't think I've ever made it the same twice.

what rifle
posted by sidereal at 7:07 PM on December 29, 2009


Gumbo was invented by someone who was tired and had only one clean pot.
posted by vapidave at 7:09 PM on December 29, 2009 [5 favorites]


I am so hungry now.
posted by brundlefly at 7:10 PM on December 29, 2009


well, first you start with a roux...
that's how all the gumbo recipes i've ever heard start, anyway</small
posted by sexyrobot at 7:12 PM on December 29, 2009


Sexyrobot, you are absolutely correct. Roux is tricky to cook, at least for me; I get bored stirring and waiting for it to brown so I usually end up burning it. And taking it off the heat doesn't really help, because the pot is still hot!

Now, I was born and raised in Cajun country, and all I have to say is this: you do not put any goddamned celery in any goddamned gumbo. What abomination is that? But then again I guess that's a New Orleans thing, and they do other weird things with food, like boil crabs and then serve them ice-cold.
posted by m0nm0n at 7:17 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never understood why making a roux is such a point of pride with some people. Flour/fat, 3/2 ratio by weight. Apply heat and stir constantly.

It only gets tricky if you're going all the way to brown/brick territory, but even then, there's a cheat: make it in the oven. Cuts down on the scorch factor big time, almost idiot-proof. Don't even have to stir it.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:39 PM on December 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


My first job was waiting tables at a seafood restaurant in Pensacola Beach. The chef learned to make gumbo working at a gas station somewhere in Louisiana. As in, they served the gumbo at the gas station. She'd put a big bunch of crab claws in the pot in the morning and the crab meat would cook out of them, leaving the claws to float to the top. Once I accidentally served a cup of gumbo with an empty crab claw in it to a tourist from way out of town. It freaked her right out. I took the gumbo to the back and "fixed" it (scooped out the crab claw out with a spoon and threw it away, what did you think I did?) Anyway, I must have told a good story when I brought it back, or maybe her husband just thought it was funny, because they left me a good tip.
posted by zinfandel at 7:57 PM on December 29, 2009


actually, when making gumbo, just remember the four R's:
Roux, (ok)'Ra, Rice, and Roadkill.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:17 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


borborygmi: ... a green cray figure ...

A green cray figure.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:52 PM on December 29, 2009


The Road to Gumbo is intersected by the Boudin Trail.
posted by pantsonfire at 9:18 PM on December 29, 2009


I can tell a New Orleanean/Cajun fight is gonna break out. I don't have a dog in it, but you put the dog in the gumbo, I'll eat it.

I will say I never had a bad meal in NOLA. So if they put celery in something, it's going in my gullet.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:23 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I go with the Alton Brown Roux... Equal parts flour and vegetable oil, (4 oz, 4oz) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 90 minutes. After that, toss in garlic, celery, bell peppers and onions cooked for 9 minutes in the roux, or until translucent. Stir in water, tomatoes, stock, protein, and cook for however long. Add spices somewhere in there.

In short, a lot of what middleclasstool said. I do love the roux tip, because it makes gumbo a once a week meal, rather than a once a year meal.
posted by Cathedral at 9:27 PM on December 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love to make a roux, and will happily stand there and stir it for as long as I need to*, because when it's ready, you throw the peppers and onions and garlic it it and fry them up. Oh, magic--oh, alchemy! If heaven exists, it smells like that moment.

*also, I always put someone in charge of bringing me beers until the roux is done, so I don't have to move from the stove. I recommend this. ;)
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 9:57 PM on December 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


P.S. This story also reminds me of a Louisiana turn of phrase I haven't heard in a while. A stingy person is described thus: "He wouldn't give a crippled crab a crutch to get to a gumbo party."

/just decided to make gumbo tomorrow
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 10:03 PM on December 29, 2009


I don't quite get why you should stir your roux for a very long time. If it's to get rid of the raw flour taste, it should take about five minutes for fine wheat flour. I just usually mix it together for a bit, add the other ingrediants and let the sauce boil until the flour taste is gone. Am I missing something here?

I just had my first bowl of gumbo the other day, actually. A friend made it. It's not common fare in Norway.
posted by Harald74 at 6:00 AM on December 30, 2009


Am I missing something here?

yes you are. In Gumbo roux is not a thickener so much as a flavoring. You have to cook it much much longer than you would in traditional cooking. A roux for gumbo is usually dark brown/caramel colored.
posted by JPD at 6:20 AM on December 30, 2009


...and all I have to say is this: you do not put any goddamned celery in any goddamned gumbo. What abomination is that?

Clearly you are trying to type something, but it's all reading as crazy jibberish.
posted by gordie at 7:25 AM on December 30, 2009


Yeah, the roux loses its thickening power as it cooks, but that's where the flavor comes in. Do not shortcut the roux! Nice and golden brown at least.

Then the holy trinity -- celery, onions, bell peppers.

Stock, spices,

Whatever meat you have on hand. Bonus for things that crawl in the mud.

File. Not Okra.

Serve over rice, have tobasco and saltines handy.

Now I wants me some gumbo!
posted by cross_impact at 8:29 AM on December 30, 2009


Well now I have a new cooking project.
posted by Drexen at 9:53 AM on December 30, 2009


It's really good with potato salad instead of rice too.
posted by m0nm0n at 11:41 AM on December 30, 2009


sister nunchaku of love and mercy: "P.S. This story also reminds me of a Louisiana turn of phrase I haven't heard in a while. A stingy person is described thus: "He wouldn't give a crippled crab a crutch to get to a gumbo party.""

I'm from New Orleans and I've never heard that in my life. Where did you hear it? Not knocking it, by the way, because it's great!
posted by brundlefly at 11:48 AM on December 30, 2009


I've been tweaking a chicken and sausage gumbo (I'm alergic to shellfish) recipe for about 10 years now. It constantly evolves but the current version is in my MeFi profile if anyone is interested.
posted by cmdnc0 at 11:57 AM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


brundlefly: Leah Chase (whose gumbo credentials are solid gold) was quoted saying this (about her husband) in a NYT article a while back, shortly after Katrina. I'd heard "he wouldn't give a crippled crab a crutch" before, but not the part about the gumbo party.

It makes me hungry!
posted by sister nunchaku of love and mercy at 1:42 PM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's some gnarly looking gumbo in that article photo there.

When I looked at it, I thought it was a photo of creatures still crawling in the mud.
posted by exphysicist345 at 5:21 PM on December 30, 2009


My grandmother was the best gumbo chef ever. I don't recall that there was a recipe. We all just watched her start with the "roux" as people are calling it, and add stuff to a pot. Funny thing is, the gumbo filé spice was really important, as I remember. Too much, too little were issues. Me and my little brother used to laugh about the slimey okra. And everybody would argue about whether or not she should put sausage in there ("Sausage, spicy or not, don't belong in no gumbo!") but she would do what she pleased and it was always a strange-looking, muddy pot of deliciousness.

She would make it every New Year's. We are "Creole", as in my mother and her mother were born in New Orleans and made up of black, French, and Choctaw Indian races. I don't know a whole lot about my "Creole'ness" but I do know that the smell of gumbo makes me cry when I realize a whole culture that I am somehow a part of is not really a part of my life anymore.

(I don't live in New Orleans, but a good portion of my family did, before Hurricane Katrina.)

I feel a little knot form in my stomach when I clicked on the video. I shouldn't feel this way, but something in me feels ownership of gumbo. Why is that guy demonstrating how to make MY family classic?!?!
posted by sharkfish at 4:45 PM on December 31, 2009


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