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This Is The Earliest Known Reference To “Gumbo” And Is Found In The Interrogation Records Of A Slave, New Orleans, September 1764
The Creole Cookery Book, published by the Christian Woman’s Exchange of New Orleans in 1885, calls gumbo making an “occult science” that “should be allowed its proper place in the gastronomical world.”
A dish that originated in southern Louisiana from the Louisiana Creole people during the 18th century. It typically consists primarily of a strongly flavored stock, okra, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and seasoning vegetables, which can include celery, bell peppers and onions.
According to one suggestion, gumbo is a reinterpretation of traditional African cooking. West Africans used the vegetable okra as a base for many dishes, including soups, often pairing okra with meat and shrimp, with salt and pepper as seasonings. In Louisiana, the dish was modified to include ingredients introduced by other cultural groups. Surviving records indicate that by 1764, African slaves in New Orleans mixed cooked okra with rice to make a meal.
A more familiar version of the dish was described in an 1879 cookbook by Marion Cabell Tyree. Her Housekeeping in Old Virginia described “Gumbo Filit A La Creole”, a filé-based gumbo with chicken and oysters and spiced with allspice, cloves, red and black pepper, parsley, and thyme. The 1881 cookbook What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, dictated by former slave Abby Fisher, contained three gumbo recipes. “Oyster Gumbo Soup” used a filé base, while “Ochra Gumbo” and “Chicken Gumbo” used okra as a base. Four years later, the cookbook La Cuisine Creole documented eight varieties of gumbo. None used sausage, but almost all of them contained ham.