Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gumbo


High on the Hog by Jessica B. Harris traces the African-American experience and the influence of African foods and African-American cooking on the American cuisine.  I really enjoyed this fascinating look at the history of the African Diaspora and the origins of some very familiar foods.
I was thinking about this today when I was in the garden picking some okra. According to Harris, the word okra is from the Igbo language of Nigeria -- where the mucilaginous pods are called okuru.  It was grown in the US by the early 1700s and was certainly on the menu at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.
I made a simple gumbo with my okra, sauteeing the sliced pods  in bacon grease with chopped onion, garlic, and green peppers, then adding chopped tomatoes.  
Served over rice, it's gumbo -- a dish with definite African antecedents.  Again according to Harris, the word gumbo come from the Bantu languages where the pods are called ochingombo or guingombo.
History in a bowl!

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14 comments:

Victoria said...

I learned some new things from your post, Vicki, thanks!

Ms. A said...

I wasn't a fan of gumbo in my younger years and haven't even thought about trying it since I'm not in my younger years anymore. My tastes have certainly changed.

June said...

When I got to the "sauteeing them with..." my mouth started to water!
I have never cooked with fresh okra, and I don't think I've ever laid hands on it. A Florida friend of mine said that once she and her husband cooked a batch of it all by itself, on the theory that if some in other dishes was good, a whole pot of it would be great. It was a great gluey gummy mess, she said, and they threw the whole thing out.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I don't think I've ever seen okra growing in a garden. I didn't realize it had such a pretty flower. The history of food is fascinating to me and makes the dish taste all that more delicious. You're a great cook Vicki.
Sam

Brian Miller said...

very nice...love a good gumbo...also like fried okra as well...sounds like an intriguing book...

Vicki Lane said...

June -- I love fresh okra pods steamed lightly and served with butter. (Yes, they're slimy but so are raw oysters which I also love.)

It's a very decorative plant, Sam.

Deanna said...

I had no idea.

Gumbo is one of our favorite easy eats. I add green peppers, chicken broth, and shrimp to mine - oh and a dash or two of hot sauce. Heavenly!

Star said...

I've never eaten okra but I do see it a lot over here, where it plays a part in Asian cookery too. I've been told it's got a slimy taste, which is a bit off-putting, but looking at your photos, it looks only delicious and very colourful.
Perhaps I should try it!

Kath said...

I've never been a huge okra fan, except in gumbo, or Burgoo, or fried! Give me fried okra over a French fry any day!

June said...

Oh . . . well, Vicki! . . . steam the nylon web lawn chairs and serve 'em with melted butter and I'd love them!

Darla said...

Since I adore okra and black-eyed peas, this was wonderful to find out their origin. They are way more southern than we thought, eh? LOL

Vicki Lane said...

You're cracking me up, June. As a matter of fact, I added a bit of butter to my gumbo when it seemed like it needed something.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Vicki, okra may be our favorite vegetable. I grew up on it, esp. fried, and I love gumbo. I think my first recipe for gumbo came from Rex Reed, who said the secret was in the roux. And the blossoms---yes, they are gorgeous. I would wear them in my hair if I could.
Some interesting Indian recipes for okra that I may get around to trying. Thanks for the history lesson here, the derivation of the names!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I've just had a vegetarian curry , chunky with okra , in an Indian restaurant . Delicious !