Rule of Gum(bo)
Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson
Gumbo may seem like a simple or humble dish, but it carries with it the heart and soul of Louisiana cooking and is as personal to the chefs who make it as the dish’s roots itself. Gumbo is a hearty Louisiana soup or stew which incorporates spices, techniques and cuisines from French, Spanish, and North African cultures – all who first settled in the region. The origins of gumbo are most commonly linked to the Cajuns and references to this stew begin around the beginning of the 19th century.
Traditional proteins found in gumbos can range from chicken and ham to oysters, crab, shrimp, and sausage. And some gumbo recipes always include okra and/or tomato, and some most certainly do not. (This too can spark controversy amongst purists!) All are served with rice, that is one common ground agreed upon.
For one of our favorite gumbo recipes…check out our idea of a Super Bowl of fun!!!!
In modern days, a roux is typically used to thicken the gumbo, and here again sparks a whole separate debate. A roux is flour that has been cooked and browned in fat. Opinions range widely on its ultimate pinnacle color and consistency. One popular rule of thumb is to achieve a share close to the color of milk chocolate. This takes many hours and patience as any Louisiana chef would share. Two other trade secrets are the use of smoked meats and homemade stock. No self respecting gumbo “artiste” would use water or boxed broth to make this beloved dish.
Is your mouth watering yet? Lucky for all of us here along 30A, there is a long time premiere event highlighting the best gumbo has to offer and it is just mere weeks away! The 27th annual Sandestin Gumbo festival will be held at Baytowne Wharf located within Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort. The address is 9100 Baytowne Avenue, Destin, FL 32550.
Kick off the weekend on Friday, Feb. 12th with a fun Crawfish Boil starting at 4 p.m. Then for the main event! Saturday, Feb. 13th from 12 – 4 p.m. folks will enjoy live music, family activities, and the best gumbo found on the Gulf Coast. 30Afoodandwine.com’s own Phil Heppding will be among the guest judges and the rest of the staff are more than a little jealous of his seat at that esteemed table. Break a spoon, Phil!
For a list of past winners, to buy tickets or for more information go to: www.sandestingumbofestival.com/sandestin-gumbo-festival/#27
Photos courtesy of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and Fire It Up Foods.