The Band: This Wheel's On Fire
Sunday Night Journal — April 22, 2012

Father Dan Makes Gumbo

Not sure if this is going to play correctly--if it doesn't, go here. That is, if you want to see how to make real gumbo. To my mind the phrase "seafood gumbo" is a little redundant. "Gumbo" is "seafood gumbo" unless you say otherwise. This young priest is at St. Mary's in Mobile, where I will probably be attending the annual Crawfish and Bluegrass festival this evening. 

I'm glad to see that he does gumbo the right way. Some people try to pawn off tomato soup with a few shrimp in it as "gumbo," which should be against the law.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Mac, up here in Yankee land, restaurants that serve gumbo often distinguish between "seafood gumbo" and "chicken gumbo," the latter seemingly being simply the former with some chicken added. Is there such a thing as 'just' chicken gumbo with no seafood?

Yes. I like gumbo with chicken and sausage.


Right, there definitely are other forms of gumbo. They're just not "gumbo," unqualified, in my vocabulary, or I think in general around here. Not sure about New Orleans. If you refer to Oreos, you mean the traditional type. If you want to refer to the ones that have double stuffing or a chocolate coating or mint flavoring, you qualify the word.

For me the sine qua non is the roux. If it doesn't have that, it may be a tasty soup, but it's not gumbo.

This is making me hungry. There will be gumbo at the festival this evening, but probably not the best.

Well, my friend that makes this gumbo which you think is not gumbo grew up in Natichitoches. Pierre Prudhomme, who came to Louisiana with La Salle is her ancestor. Her family had a plantation, so I would say she knows what she's doing.



I live in Southeast Texas, close to the Lousianna border, in an area that has close ties to the Cajun tradition. My husband is actually half French-Cajun, if that helps add credibility to my gumbo expertise.

There are two types of gumbo, common to his family and traditionally seen at Cajun restaurants in this area. There is seafood gumbo and chicken gumbo. Chicken gumbo is, indeed, gumbo.

The real French-Cajuns always just make gumbo with whatever is on hand. This can be sausage, chicken, seafood, crawfish or something more wild like snake, turtle, or alligator. Real Cajuns will mix any of these ingredients together, but as I said earlier, the restaurants like to make a seafood or a non-seafood gumbo.

The tomato soup gumbo that you are talking about sounds like a variation of Haitian-Creole gumbo, which is still a traditional type of gumbo. Haitian/Creole gumbo has more of a tomato base and uses more tomato and okra than Cajun gumbo. Around here, it is more popular among the Haitian Creole and African-French-Cajun communities. It's still a good gumbo (maybe not with tomato soup) and has it's own tradition.

It's probably like spaghetti gravy, or sauce or whatever you want to call it. My grandmother's spaghetti is spaghetti and when I go to a restaurant, I just think of it as something else--but not spaghetti.


Just to be clear, I'm only saying this is the usage in my circles, and it seems to be pretty general in this area. Here's an example of what I mean--the first hit when I searched the local newspaper's web site for the word "gumbo." When he gets to the name as it appears on the recipe he calls it "seafood gumbo." We are really big on seafood around here. I'm not sure I've ever seen non-seafood gumbo on the menu in a local restaurant.

It occurs to me to wonder whether the words "gumbo" and "jambalaya" have any etymological roots in common with "jumble." Jambalaya, as I know it, is basically a non-soup throw-in-whatever-you-have sort of dish.

Father Dan, I, too, think of gumbo being full of seafood unless noted otherwise. Living in different parts of Louisiana, whether it be Creole or Cajun, I have learned the trick to a perfectly flavored gumbo with the appropriate stock is making a good roux...patience is required for stirring 30-45" & knowing exactly when it has reached the right color & aroma. A friend of mine told me years ago that when her mother was making a roux, that was the time she & her sisters knew they were safe jumping on the their beds.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)