Gumbo. What’s not to love? I actually have a funny story involving gumbo, so spare me a minute.  The year was 2005, and we were flying down to see my husband’s (actually, we weren’t even engaged yet. He bought the ring on the trip!) mother in Texas. Since Norfolk’s airport has very  few direct flights, we had a layover in Charlotte, NC. There were horrible storms over Texas, so it was delaying our final leg of the stretch. We waited for hours, finally loaded onto the plain at 1 AM, only to discover that the plane was having mechanical problems and the flight was finally canceled and rescheduled for the morning.

In all the waiting and delays, we struck up conversation with a very nice gentleman whom had been to visit his mother, and was heading home. He carried with him a plastic bag, filled with 2 containers of gumbo that had been frozen in order to transport back to Texas. By 1 in the morning, it had been thawed out for hours, and the poor guy reluctantly threw it in the trash. I remember feeling bad for him, but not really understanding what all the fuss was about in the first place.

“Gumbo Guy”, I can now say that I feel your pain. A couple of months ago, I finally broke down and made this Cajun staple. I thought it would be something I’d make for the boys, but that I wouldn’t really enjoy. So wrong. The roux  is the backbone of gumbo, and adds so much depth of flavor. I’ve made this a couple of time now, once with fresh okra, and once with frozen and didn’t notice much of a difference. Some folks use okra as a thickening agent, and others use filé (ground sassafrass ro0t). But, apparently it’s a cardinal sin to use both! So, I stuck with the okra. I have some filé in my spice cabinet though, so I think I might try that next time around to see if it lends different flavor. If you’re looking for a dish to celebrate Mardi Gras, look no further. This makes enough to feed an army, and it virtually takes care of itself on the stove. Can’t beat it with a stick!

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