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IT'S TIME FOR GUMBO The greatest contribution of Louisiana kitchens to American cuisine is gumbo. The word "gumbo" is derived from the Bantu word for okra, "kingombo". Okra is indigenous to Africa. The Choctaw Indians of Louisiana invented file' (ground sassafras). Toss in the French and Spanish flavors and this dish is a classic Cajun/Creole/African/Indian dish central to the celebration of Mardi Gras
In some parishes of Louisiana, masked and costumed riders participate in the courir de Mardi Gras, making the rounds of neighboring farms, performing "monkey shines" and dancing in return for a live chicken, a length of sausage, or rice for the evenings celebratory gumbo.


No two gumbos are alike and each is as good as the cook who makes it. In any kitchen gumbo amounts to a personal expression of creativity. Some prefer gumbo thickened with slow-cooked okra and others add file` powder just before serving.
Gumbo is neither a soup nor a stew, but a real meal in itself. The variety is endless, chicken and sweet sausage, shrimp, oyster, seafood, duck and audouille sausage, cabbage, rabbit, even squirrel and turtle. There is also gumbo aux herbes, a melange of greens and herbs said to be created originally for Good Friday. Some superstitious Creoles believed that if one ate seven greens and met seven people on that day, good luck would follow on the coming year.

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