Gumbo Ingredients


Gumbo is mixing a lot of cultures from all over the world. This includes mixtures from Africa, France, India, Spain, and Native America roots. The stew itself resides in New Orleans. Gumbo is a great example of how diaspora took place in the kitchen. Un knowingly the slaves brought foods from all over the world together in one spoonful. Gumbo is traditionally served over a plate of rice. The spices included in it represent the countries they come from, bringing flavor and taste. Since it was made in the coastal area, some recipes call for seafood such as shrimp, fish etc. Gumbo is an African term for okra, “gombo”

Bay Leaf

Bay laurel trees originated in the Mediterranean and parts of Africa and India. The bay leaf was primarily used for flavoring dishes in the Greek civilization, but in parts of the Sahara in Africa, it was used to flavor their coffee. Bay leaf has dated all the way back to the time of the Greek philosopher Homer. Homer’s Odyssey states that Ulysses used the bay leaf in medicine. Many Greek people believed that the bay laurel was a sacred tree since it traced back to Apollo and Zeus. This is because it stated that Apollo had made a crown from laurel to show his victory over slaying the dragon.


Peppers had been cultivated for over 9000 years and originated in South and Central America. The word pepper was given by the European settlers when they came to North America to transport the fruit back to Europe. The original name given by the Spanish was Pimiento. Since the pepper is easy to grow and can be grown throughout many different climates, it is found all across the world. Now peppers are grown all around the world to give their food different tastes and textures. The main producer of peppers in the modern world is China and Mexico.


Okra originated in the Abyssinian center of cultivated plants. This consisted of present day Ethiopia, mountainous part of Eritrea, and the eastern part of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Okra was introduced in India and was used for a long time, but it did not originate there. Okra was found along the White Nile and in the upper Nile region. One of the earliest accounts of Okra was by the Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216. When he first saw the plant, he found that when the plants were young in pods they could be used in food to add taste, which he brought back and used in their own food. There are not many detailed accounts of where Okra originally came from, but we know that many colonists discovered the product and brought it back to their own country. In Africa okra was also called gumbo. Today many people call dishes gumbo that contain okra in them. Gumbo originated from the Portuguese word “quillobo” which was the native name for the plant in Congo and Angola. The French colonists of Louisiana brought okra to the new world, which spread throughout the country. Now a days people use okra for many or their dishes. They have also learned to dry Okra to save it, which also gave the same taste as fresh okra.  

Okra was oftently used as a filler to slaves to make their food heavier. This made the slaves able to work longer on a full stomach.


Shrimp was first found within the warm waters on the Gulf of Mexico. Shrimp is an extremely popular component to Louisiana seafood dishes. For instance, Gumbo is one that became very popular due to the protein shrimp provided. For many slaves in Africa, and throughout, they worked long hard days and needed and abundance of nutrients to give them strength. Shrimp is a food that is available year round, so it was easy for them to access all across the world. The word shrimp itself, comes from a Middle English word “shrimpe”, which means crustacean. As it passed through continents, the word formed into “shrimp.” This crustacean became popular with the Chinese diet and culture as well. Around 1280, Marco Polo noticed the great amounts of seafood the Chinese market had, and harvested it all the way back Louisiana. Louisiana then also started harvesting shrimp in the 17th century by the residents who lived locally. The people started catching them, and even selling them. Since then, shrimp has been added to many dishes including Gumbo, which became very popular for many reasons.

This is a picture of Shrimp being used in gumbo. In many dishes, many people added a lot of shrimp for more protein


Rice was grown on farms that were submerged in water and formed like a patty. Rice was cultivated in mainly the North- Eastern hemisphere, but was spread throughout the globe. Rice has been growing on rice farms from as early as 2500 B.C. and is still grown today. As it was popular in Africa for the slaves, it originated in China, and spread to countries as far as India. It was in 800 A.D. that the people in East Africa began to trade with people in India, which introduced them to rice. Because many of the people in Africa during this time were in slavery, they would bring the rice on the ships that brought them into America. To be specific, a majority of the slaves on these ships went to the Carolina regions. Rice became known as “Carolina Gold” and was eaten by all the locals and foreigners in the Americas. Rice became a bigger industry when countries tried to put an end to slavery with the civil war. As soon as the war ended, rice was produced on the empty fields throughout the south, working its way to Louisiana. Because rice was so easy to grow and consume, it became another main aspect to Gumbo that made it more filling, and more nutritious.  


The baguette was baked by the French and used for many dining purposes. French people brought it to New Orleans when they colonized in 1718. In 1788 and 1789, the sales of materials and grains needed to make bread became severally scarce due to weather inconveniences, which made prices for the bread skyrocket, and it became extremely un-affordable. Bread was one of the ingredients used for many dishes and was easy to get, until the drastic change. Eventually French bread resurfaced, and was brought back down to regular prices making it a big part of meals again. Because French colonized Louisiana, they brought over many of their cultural background, which is why part of their diet evolved as well. Bread was another ingredient that paired well with meals because of its plain flavor, and it provided fullness to meals such as Gumbo

Indian File

Powdered sassafras,(made from grounded sassafras leaves), known as "file," which in French means to spin threads. That’s exactly what it could do if it is added wrongly to the stew, but otherwise it thickens and flavors the broth. Native Americans introduced file to the French settlers. Indian file is native to North America. It was brought to the pot by the Native Northern American Indians. File was originally used when okra wasn’t in season. But later on they started using both.


French peasants used roux, a butter-flour mixture, to thicken sauces, stews, and soups. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, a French Canadian who had lived in France before exploring Louisiana with his brother, founded La Nouvelle-Orléans in 1718. This is the basis of the whole stew. In French roux mean red, thus when cooking it the color browns red orange. When roux is a thickened it becomes a brown sauce, which is the basis of the gumbo. There are varied amounts of recipes. For gumbo it is more likely that a Cajun creole style was used

Andouille Sausage

A spicy, heavily smoked sausage made from pork chitterlings and tripe. Andouille is a specialty of Cajun cooking. It's traditionally used in specialties like jambalaya and gumbo, and makes a spicy addition to any dish that would use smoked sausage. The Andouille sausage was made through German roots, Acadian ingredients and a French name. The Germans had migrated from Germany and they happened to land on the coast of what is known today as Louisiana in the 1700's. They brought rich heritage and great sausage making skills which overtime mixed in with other cultures and ideas and produced the sausage. The Andouille was made of pork, which was the result of near, by hogs that were hunted and butchered.


The Tomato history has origins traced back to the early Aztecs around 700 A.D; therefore it is believed that the tomato is native to the Americas. It was not until around the 16th century that Europeans were introduced to this fruit when the early explorers set sail to discover new lands. The first cultivated tomatoes were yellow and cherry-sized, earning them the name golden apples. They were considered poisonous but appreciated for their beauty


The creator was Edmund McIlhenny (1815-1890), a New Orleans banker, who was given a gift by a soldier returning to New Orleans from Mexico of dried peppers that were acquired in Mexico during the United States-Mexican War. During the time he and his wife were living in war like areas, eventually it caused them to flee to a war-free area. This happened to be Avery Island where he planted some of the leftover seeds from the peppers given to him, which he planted in his wife's garden. Although he also noticed that the land had a good source of salt. In which determined to turn the peppers into income, he devised a spicy sauce using vinegar, Avery Island salt, and chopped capsicum peppers.