Cooler weather is here in South Louisiana, and as soon as the thermometer gets below 70 degrees, people pull the gumbo pots out of storage and put them to use.

Gumbo is one of those dishes that is always good for your soul and helps you remember your roots but, just like Cajun last names, there are plenty of different ones in Acadiana.

The Broussard Family makes their gumbo different from the Choate Family, and the Thibodeaux Family from down the bayou makes theirs different from the Thibodeaux Family from St. Landry Parish. The good thing about all of these different gumbos? They are all perfect.

By "perfect", I mean this: if you are invited to someone's home for gumbo, you'll eat that gumbo and be happy you had gumbo. Will it be the best gumbo you've ever had? Maybe not, but it's the gumbo you HAVE RIGHT NOW which, to me, is the perfect gumbo!

Anyway, I've judged several gumbo cookoffs and I've had some great gumbo right alongside some not-so-great gumbo. The thing about judging a contest like that is you can actually compare the gumbos side-by-side, which really shows how different gumbos can be from one another. Don't' get me wrong: if I had a bowl of that day's worst gumbo and nothing else, I'd probably think that it was "perfect" because it was the only gumbo I've had that day.

After the judging is over, I try to speak with each chef (or captain of the cooking team) to find out what they did to their gumbo to make it stand out. From those who shared their "secret" to a good gumbo, I was able to put together this list of the 10 things people do to their gumbo to make it stand out.

By the way: you will hate #3 (I wouldn't recommend trying it) and #10 (you can try to take my Cajun card from me, but I won't give it up - and I'll keep putting that ingredient into my gumbo!).

 

 

I hope that one of these tips will give you inspiration for your next gumbo. I also hope I get a phone call to come over and have a taste!