Monday, April 8, 2013

Challenge: G is for Gumbo. And Gumby!

A G-word didn't pop right out at me. No, not 100% accurate - the word giraffe came to mind, but I didn't want to do another mystical animal story. I mean, I like giraffes. They're funny and peculiar and they do kind of make me smile to look at them. But I haven't been in the mood to write about them.

So when I actually sat down to write this post, I thought again. G. G. G? And the word Gumbo popped into my thoughts so I decided to go with it. The problem is that I'm not from the South. My family isn't from the South. I've eaten Gumbo but I have no basis on which to say that something is or isn't Gumbo. And I realized that I really didn't know what rules there are for Gumbo and what does or doesn't make it Gumbo. Other than a sense of it being from Louisiana or that area, and that it probably includes okra, although I didn't know if that was my food stereotyping or reality.

So I started searching online. Yep - lots of options to tell me what is or isn't Gumbo and who has the best. And recipes. Recipes galore - oh, look! another G word.

One site I landed on was the Southern Food Guide on, where I read
"Gumbo is a Louisiana soup or stew which reflects and blends the rich cuisines of regional Indian, French, Spanish, and African cultures. The word "gumbo" is derived African term for okra, "gombo," and first appeared in print in 1805 ... There are no hard and fast rules for making gumbo beyond the basic roux, okra or filé powder, and your imagination. There are probably as many distinctive recipes for gumbo as there are cooks in Louisiana." 
Good to know.

I also looked at Gumbo images, to spice up this post with a little more color and pizzazz. This one stood out  and the author of the accompanying article swears that his Mom's Gumbo is the best. But as he says, that's what all Louisiana boys are supposed to say. The picture alone makes me want to try the recipe, which you can read about in the article,  Best. Gumbo. Ever. .

But, wait. There's more.

So I started to type this post and as I was putting in the title, it came to me. Another G word I have to mention is Gumby! I'd already started drooling over Gumbo so I wasn't willing to let it go.

But - Gumby!

I grew up with Gumby. I remember his sticky green distorted eraser body. I remember the smell of the his body when he came out of the box - a soft chemical tang of newness, a sweet scent reminscent of green apples (which may have been from the Jolly Roger Green Apple candy I'd eaten rather than from Gumby himself). Gumby was fun to play with and take with me, he was flexible and could be wrapped around things and hang off of my pencil or pen when I wrote. And he was happy. So happy. He had an orange horse, whose name escapes me because I wasn't interested in him.

When he got old, he had ink marks on him, and smudges from dirt or the homemade mimeograph we'd made with gelatin in a shallow baking pan, and then he started to get brittle. Just a little bit in a few places. Then he got a fracture and water leaked in and I remember when his poor arm broke off and there was a rusted wire poking out. No wonder he lost his arm.

G is for Gumbo. G is also for Gumby.