Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gumbo : cuisine transformed by cultures

GUMBO : CUISINE TRANSFORMED BY CULTURES AND TRADITIONS Louisiana is world famous for its " seafood gumbo "and claims itself as the as the Gumbo Capital of the world .Gumbo can be termed as an "economical dish" which can feed a large number of people with a small amount of meat or seafood. With this dish, cooks can use up small portions of various ingredients that were not sufficient for an individual meal. Gumbo is sort of a thick seafood and vegetable soup which is rich in spices . It is made of a thick stock and served with rice. It combines the culinary practices of French, Spanish, African slaves, Italians and Germans . In the 18th and 19th centuries, people from these cultures lived together in Louisiana. They all added their special flavors to the " gumbo", it is believed that French settlers and native tribes prepared soups with vegetables like onions , bell peppers and corn.Slave Ships started arriving in early 1700s bringing rice and African slaves who could cultivate rice . They added rice and okra in the gumbo . German settlers added meats while the Spanish settlers were mostly fishermen they introduced fishing of shrimps , oysters and crawfish. They started making the gumbo soup with seafood. A large number of people from Canary Islands move to NewOrleans in that time they spiced up the gumbo with hot peppers and cayenne peppers . Louisiana was purchased by United States in 1803 , after which tomatoes were also added to the "gumbo". Since the 19th century, gumbo has often been served at social gatherings or on other special occasions .In rural Acadiana in southern Louisiana, gumbo is a central feature of Mardi Gras celebrations. On Mardi Gras, local men wander from house to house asking for gumbo ingredients. Members of the local community then gather in a central location while the men cook the gumbo. When it is ready, the group eats and dances until midnight, when Lent begins. Hundreds of restaurants around the French Quarters area in downtown New Orleans serve the finest quality gumbo . It is the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana .