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Gumbo is a thick soup popular in Louisiana.

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The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

A bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo, 2023. Melissa Carrier, photographer.

Gumbo is one of Louisiana’s most famous dishes. The word gumbo comes from a West African word for okra, a vegetable that’s sometimes used in the soup. In Louisiana gumbo comes in many varieties. The three most common varieties are seafood, chicken and sausage, and z’herbes (which means many different greens). In most gumbos, the base ingredient is a roux, a simmered mixture of fat and flour that thickens the dish. Okra and a ground sassafras powder called filé are also sometimes used to thicken the soup. Gumbo is often served with rice.

Gumbo’s ingredients and flavors are a product of many different cultures including West African, Native American, French, Spanish, and German.