National Gumbo Day
annually on October 12th
National Gumbo Day celebrates gumbo, a stew that originated in southern Louisiana in the 18th century. Just as the word gumbo oftentimes today means a mix of cultures, the dish itself is a blending of culinary traditions of different cultures—West African (from which the name gumbo may derive), Choctaw, French, Spanish, German, and Filipino. There are many types of gumbo, and common ingredients are meats such as chicken or andouille sausage; seafood such as crawfish, crab, and shrimp; the "holy trinity" of vegetables—onions, bell peppers, and celery; and okra. It is often also made with filé powder, which is made from ground sassafras leaves. A roux, which is a thickener made from flour and fat, is also an important component of gumbo. The stew is usually served over rice, and the two main varieties are Creole and Cajun gumbo. Gumbo is the state dish of Louisiana, and originally was only popular in the Gulf Coast region, but started gaining a wider popularity across the country in the 1980's.