Every Fall I am asked the same questions. "What is in traditional gumbo?" "Where does gumbo come from?" " What's the difference between Cajun and Creole gumbo?" Hopefully this post will help clear up the confusion.
Origin of Gumbo
Gumbo came from Southern Louisiana in the 18th century. It's name either comes from the Bantu word for okra, (ki ngombo), or the Choctaw word for file', (kombo). The dish combines ingredients and culinary practices of several
cultures, including French, Spanish, German, West African, and Choctaw.
Types of Gumbo
This was the original gumbo. It was merely an okra soup with file', chicken stock and the Holy Trinity (bell pepper, onion, celery). It was served over rice or with bread.
The base for this soup is Louisiana Gumbo with a dark roux made of flour and pork lard. Chicken and sometimes andouille sausage is also added. The bone is left in the chicken. In recent years the okra has been removed from the recipe.
It also has the Louisiana Gumbo as the base with a roux but the roux is not as dark. Instead of chicken, there is shrimp and andouille sausage. There are also tomatoes and less cayenne pepper. In recent years, the okra has been removed from the recipe.
Gumbo Du Monde
This is the most common and most recent version of gumbo. It contains the Holy Trinity, roux, file', chicken stock, andouille, chicken, shrimp, crab, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and tomatoes. It is the collaboration of all of the different meat gumbos, hence the "du monde". In my family's version, we do not use okra or tomatoes. This is very common especially for families originating from voodoo practicing Creole ancestry.
This gumbo is for the Lent season. There is no meat involved. It's a combination of the greens, turnip, mustard, collard, spinach. They are cooked until they are a mush and strained. This is mostly eaten in Germany.