Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Feb 12, 2010 05:36 PM

Gumbo & Garlic ?

My wife began preparing Gumbo during the snow event in South Mississippi tonight. She consuted her old standbys- "New Orleans Recipes" (Bremer), "Recipes & Reminiscesces of New Orleans" (Covenant), & "All About Good", (Lafayette). After a bit she called me in saying that it seemed so stange that Garlic was never included in the OLD recipes for Gumbo. All the modern ones seem to list garlic as an ingredient. Is there a story here?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm not familiar with the books you list (though I think the Bremer book dates from the early 1930's.) Probably a culinary historian will weigh in on this but a few thoughts come to mind: books that were published about regional cuisine prior to the 1960's were often manicured for polite readers (a la Junior League cookbooks.) Cooks didn't write cookbooks very often in the US, and people who cooked gumbo for real (as opposed to cooking for polite society) didn't write cookbooks, either. When cookbook writers started to profile restaurants and offer "authentic" recipes from them, there had to be a lot of fiddling around to make measures work in a home kitchen...and so, I think a lot of things got simplified. Garlic started to get included though minimally --Deidre Stanforth's book New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook from 1967 includes it (although not more than one or two cloves) and Nathaniel Burton's book from 1977, which focused on Afro-American cooks in New Orleans, includes four to five recipes, some of which include garlic (a clove or two) and some with none...

    It's an interesting question...and maybe Cajun's spurt of popularity 30 years ago brought garlic into the Creole usage...I personally don't think so, however, because already in 1975, the Collins' book was filled with garlic and in 1981, Leon Soniot's Bouche Creole had garlic cloves galore in his gumbo recipe...

    1. Hello Chowhound Big Brothers and Sisters--
      Can you move this interesting question to Home Cooking, where it belongs, and will likely receive
      more responses. It's a good topic to examine.

      4 Replies
      1. re: penthouse pup

        I tend to disagree, I think gumbo questions are right at home on the New Orleans board. Would you ask a Yankee about stuffed Mirlitons? Their are probably as many different opinions in Louisiana about making gumbo as their are rules for Bourre. Their are even more different opinions about using file. I never really paid any attention to the recipes in my Louisiana cookbooks but more or less used them as a guide and seasoned or doctored it my own way. I'm sure that the majority of Louisiana cooks do just that. As far as your garlic question thats a tough one but their are probably just as many gumbo recipes that dont include okra.

        1. re: stvtunlvzn

          You know, I've never even thought to include garlic in gumbo, and I've been making it a long time. Didn't know that anyone ever put it in!

          1. re: Clarkafella

            Whatever the gumbo, I use garlic.

            1. re: JazzyB

              I occasionally forget to add the garlic when I make gumbo, and it never turns out as good.

      2. Going back to recipes from the 1970's most that my wife has do include garlic. Before that - well, just not sure. She's worked on HER gumbo for decades, and has excerpted from many NOLA cookbooks, plus family, and then from her experiences. Garlic is definitely part of the mix.

        Good luck, and wish that I could shed some light on when garlic became an ingredient.

        Most of all, do you like it with, or without garlic?


        1. garlic is usually in gumbo and as far as a written gumbo recipe is concerned, there are always steps, procedures and ingredients that are not/can not be conveyed in a written recipe but basically, if da trinity go, da garlic go too

          1 Reply
          1. re: ironballs

            That's what we (yes, yankees) were taught in NOLA cooking school on St. Louis Street: Onion, bell pepper, and celery are the Trinity....Garlic is the Pope.

            However, "Creole Cookery" , from 1885, makes no mention (that I could find) to garlic in any gumbo recipes.

            There...I have one foot on either side of the line and no horse in the race...I can mix metaphors with the best of them!

          2. I don't know about historically...but GOT to have garlic in my gumbo, especially in a roux based gumbo...